This Friday, we are thrilled to welcome a tremendous collection of bass artists to The Brown Note Tsunami Bass. Our roster of bass mavens for this event includes international tastemakers Khiva and Wraz. representing Truth's Deep, Dark & Dangerous imprint, talented multi-instrumentalist A Hundred Drums, and a wealth of local underground all-stars. One such hometown hero is rising NYC DJ/producer Second Nature.
Real name Kyle Banks, Second Nature has established himself as one of the most exciting artists coming out of the five boroughs. As an integral mainstay of New York's thriving underground bass community, Kyle has enjoyed an unbelievable 2019 with performances at festivals like Big Dub, Equinox and Yonderville, a slew of bookings all across the east coast and support from artists like Space Jesus.
Friday night's event will not only be a celebration of bass music and sound system culture but Second Nature's birthday extravaganza as well. As such we decided to sit down with the man himself and get his perspective on the current state of New York's electronic scene, what it means to pursue his passion and one enigmatic Facebook group.
H<3art Beats: First of all thank you for doing this and being our first guest for this new interview series.
Second Nature: Yeah no problem, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
HB: You had a massive year, from playing festivals like Big Dub and Yonderville, and bookings all over the place. If you could pick one or a few major highlights from 2019?
SN: I wanna say Big Dub. Big Dub was the one thing that, when I came into this year I had two main goals, I really wanted to play Big Dub and I wanted to hit 1,000 followers on Soundcloud. I managed to get both of those goals done, but Big Dub just had this electric energy in the air. A lot of people showed up and everyone was getting down, there was no other music playing at the time, so it was just me playing unopposed. Yeah, that festival just turned out to be overall an amazing experience.
So Big Dub would be my main highlight with a consolation prize going to the Elements (Lakewood Music Festival) set with The Drop. That was fun to just shoot in and play a quick set on a cabin, get weird with everyone in the rain.
HB: Now that you've become so established and your getting booked for these huge shows, did you imagine that this journey would play out the way that it has?
SN: Um, yes and no. Yes in the sense that I knew that I would be doing something within the scene. No to the level that I'm doing it at. I started about five years ago and when I started DJing I was mainly playing in between bands at local shows. So I wasn't really playing for people who were necessarily seeking out bass music or the weirder stuff that I was doing, so I kind of had to sneak in there with other stuff people enjoyed or wanted to hear. So fast forward now and I get to play shows and the music I really want to play, and see people dig it, It's a really a humbling experience to be able to do that for people and provide a vibe for them to forget everything that's going on in their lives for even the briefest of moments.
HB: What were some of your earliest moments of the scene the moments that made you realize you wanted to pursue it as a passion?
SN: When I first started DJing and going to raves, I really just did it as a way to go out and enjoy times with friends. I really started out as a flow artist and glover, when I was first getting into stuff. From there I started to pick up mixing and DJing and growing library from there. I think one of those moments I was hanging out with one of my friends messing around, and they just said to me "this is what you were made to do."
Until that moment I had never really looked at it that way and since then I haven't looked back. I've always had a passion for music, I started out in metal bands when I was 14, playing bass and drums. Once that wound down that's when DJing came into my life. It was a sort of crossroads when what I was used to was sort of coming to an end and moving forward I found something, and it's been almost six years now.
HB: Who are some artists who first got you into production?
SN: The first few people were Excision and Bassnectar. Excision was one of the first shows I went to, and I remember that very distinctly. It was at Best Buy Theatre in 2012, Excision and Liquid Stranger co-headlining and there was almost no one there. There's a lot of people on the floor and a decent amount in the mid-level but there was room to spare in the PlayStation theater. Bassnectar obviously the scale of his production levels we're really inspiring and through the years is involved until I deeper stuff. I got a passion for a lot of the older stuff a lot of Skream and Rusko, and a lot of weirder stuff guys like Um and Sfam. Boogie T was someone who really brought back my love for dubstep of that era. Bands like Sunsquabi and artists like Opiuo who do an amazing job of blending sounds and making very dance-focused dance music. So I try and find a cross-section of all those things. The heavy weird deep sound system culture to the danceable jam band kind of scene plus all the hip-hop and metal, and reggae that I listen to in my personal life and mesh them all together.
HB: I find it interesting that you mentioned an empty Best Buy Theater for Excision and Liquid Stranger as one of your first shows. And now you are part of a scene that has come so far how does that make you feel?
SN: it's crazy you think about not just how far I've come but how far the overall scene has come. To think that a co-headlining show with those two artists could not sell out in this day in age when both of those people just through festivals this summer Excisions on his third year selling out festivals with 30,000 people. Just last week or at the same venue for Jade cicada and all of the artists on that line up weren't around 5 years ago and that show sold out. It's been an extremely wild ride to watch everything grow and evolve and leave these dank underground warehouses to now taking over these big venues and then going back to those dank warehouses with more mindful energy and more of a connected community with a lot more focus on value.
HB: With music being your passion how do you avoid getting burnt out when you're investing as much time and energy into it now that it's also essentially also your profession? How do you keep the passion without it becoming work?
SN: I do find myself getting burnt out a lot It's just about being mindful in the way about it. The metaphor I like to use with any art really it's like taking a crap. You can't really force it! (laughs)
You can try but most of the time you just going to be left backed up. You just want to let it flow let it go, which I think is the hardest part is finding the time to sit down and do it and do it right And also whenever inspiration strikes. It's hard when you get inspired and you're 300 miles away from your laptop and your monitors. I just try to live my life and live within moments, and then take those moments and express them however way they do come about it my art and just be a conduit for whatever is happening.
HB: The dance music is very fragile but very resilient at the same time. I think it takes everyone to be mindful and aware of where it's going and how it's changing. As someone who is so entrenched in the same do you feel like you have to be a steward for others in the community?
SN: I think that's what sets certain parts of the scene apart. When the people that are running it decide to take on that role or not. If they choose to put the community before themselves in a positive way and make it so that we can all do this without the excesses of the scene. I think that's what really separates people who are in it for that (excess) and for those who are in it for the experience. I do try and be a lot more mindful of that, on a professional level. There's nothing worse than coming into a place to play and then making a fool of yourself and then wondering six months later questioning why did that venue not ask me back or why is that promoter not talking to me anymore.
Its a level of personal responsibility but also passing that on to everyone else around you. We have to watch out for each other and not necessarily be doting mothers but concerned tribesmen and women.
HB: Mental health is a subject that gets touched upon a lot in the scene and it's something that a lot of artists have talked about but sometimes it still doesn't get the attention it deserves. Do you think that in the same way harm reduction gets pretty decent attention from blogs and initiatives that mental health needs to also be a topic we take more seriously?
SN: Yes, this year especially I think you saw a lot of artists coming forward and taking time from touring and be very open about that and stepping away for their mental health. I think that was extremely brave for those artists to do and important to show that even if you're on a national touring level or even if you just a local trying to get by, or a fan going to eight festivals a year and three shows weekend you still need to take step back and take some time for your mental health. I think that mental health on a national level is becoming more of a subject of conversation but conversely, harm reduction is not something that gets spoken about on a national level.
HB: What has Dubday NYC meant to you in your personal journey?
SN: Home. 100% home. I found Dubday in 2017 right after FARM fest and I was blown away about how much I needed a spot like this. Especially in that time period in the scene right after Webster Hall had closed, there wasn't really a spot where everyone gathered every week. Dubday gave that to the underground and to watch it grow as a patron and evolve as I became someone who works a lot more behind the scenes and is a part of that crew its really amazing and fantastic. I don't think the scene would be where it is right now and I know for myself I wouldn't be on this couch sitting here talking to you if it wasn't for Wade (Appleton) and Dubday and Deanna Finish who manages me for sure. That whole thing was one of the reasons Second Nature even happened. When I re-branded. I was going every week and one of my first sets as Second Nature was at Dubday and I haven't looked back that place will always be home.
HB: You recently dropped a new song "The Mirror" released with Low Freak Collective. Can you tell me about how that song came about and that collective process?
SN: That song was a lot of fun to make. I was experimenting with a new BPM and a new style. Its at 110 BPM and its halftime. 110 was one of my favorite tempos when I first starting out, a lot of moombahton and Opiuo is infamous for that bpm. I sort of fell out of love with it because it's a hard tempo to get to its hard to mix with other dubstep stuff. Once I heard cats take that tempo and halftime it, I was like alright I'll take a crack at it.
Yeah, it was one of those situations where I got home and just sat down, four hours later I was listening to that song over and over again. Just like how the crap did this come out of me and it's been really enjoyable to experiment with my style. I've been making a lot of new stuff that's in different weirder tempos so definitely keep an eye out for that in the future.
HB: The NYC underground as a whole right now seems to be very supportive. How has that helped you personally and as a whole how does that drive the scene forward?
SN: The support means absolutely everything. I would always rather play to a room of 8 people who are vibing and supporting and want to be in that moment rather than play to a crowd of 10,000 people half of whom don't want to be there and the other half are too tired to even dance. I think the only reason we are able to have so many good production companies taking over so many venues and bringing in so many different artists from all over the place is down to how communal our scene is and how everyone is out to support each other. There's no one really out here trying to take the whole pie. Everyone wants to see everyone get a piece. If they see you don't have enough on your plate they'll take from theirs and put it on there. Its just beautiful and keeps me alive honestly.
HB: So you've got a birthday coming up and a big show on it. How excited are you to be playing on your birthday?
SN: That show is going to be really interesting because one of my first shows ever as a DJ was on my birthday 5 years ago. So its a big 5 year anniversary in that respect and things are coming full circle. One of my best friends in life is coming up for the show from South Carolina. To be playing a show that big, that's where everyone in the scene is going to be that night, its an amazing feeling. I made an executive decision and its going to be 100% an original set and I'm extremely excited to be in that moment. Five years ago if you told me I'd be playing an all original set with people who are making serious waves in the scene and that I would be one of them, I'd be like yeah, cool. (laughs)
Its not an "I made it moment" that I can cash a check on necessarily, but its a moment that tells me yeah im on the right path I'm doing what I need to be doing. Couldn't be more excited honestly.
HB: If you could do anything outside of music what would it be.
SN: Travel definitely. Work for some type of travel blog and just see the world and meet people.
HB: What goals do you have for 2020?
SN: Getting to 2K or 3K followers on Soundcloud. I would love to play Bisco, I think I can make that happen. As for right now, I have some releases I am working out, no concrete dates but I have some emotionally driven pieces coming out in a series of EPs. So keep an eye out for that as well I don't want to give away too much. But yeah I just want to make more music, make more friends and stories.
HB: Could you tell us about how the whole secret society came about and your reaction to it?
SN: So it's in a lot of Facebook groups and because social media such an echo chamber I realize that's a lot of people just sitting around agreeing with each other. In a way it's cool but only if you're agreeing with what everyone else is saying But if you don't there's not really any positive way to express that everyone just kind of seems to attack you. I wasn't about the group thing and my friend Kyle Nelson made a group for me and sent it to me and I just laughed and said you know I'm not going to do anything with this. Fast forward to about two months ago and I get sent this group that's about 400 people all sharing these hilarious stories and pictures of me, candids I didn't know were being taken of me it was great because I had people coming up to me saying "Wow your group is doing really good huh? That shits so cool" and I was like I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about (laughs).
The first few times I just brushed it off and I was like yeah they just must be messing with me or drunk or whatever. As a kept happening I was like okay something else is going on now. The reveal is very anxiety-inducing because I got brought into the Dubday main room and like twelve people had their phones pointed at me. And I was just like "what is happening right now?"
It's extremely humbling and I feel like it's something I took for granted. And maybe I didn't really take it for granted I just got lost within myself and the grind. And it was really emotionally rewarding for me to look back and see the impact that you have on everyone. I wish everyone could have that for themselves just something they can look back on and just say "fuck" All these things that I did I never thought would happen the deeper impact that I had on someone really stuck with them. Like I wish everyone could have that opportunity to look back and just say fuck, everything was worth it, everything is cool.
I'm not in it and I think if it was, it would ruin the fun honestly.