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in: Reviews

SoulBounce reviews City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto

by +FE on July 19, 2015 at 1:54 PM · Comments
There is something about the sights and sounds of South Africa that acts as a muse for artists, from the Graceland album by Paul Simon to the latest work by Idris Elba. The impact of South African culture was no different for Nicolay, of the SoulBounce-certified collective The Foreign Exchange, who used it as the creative spark for his latest solo project, City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto. As with City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya, which contains his musical reflections on Tokyo, Soweto is Nicolay's vessel to articulate the richness of his South African experience. While some people show you travel photos after their journeys, Nicolay shares stories with beautiful instrumentals.

City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto is grounded in a combination of soulful house and electronic sounds, along with Nicolay's distinctive interpretation of South African percussive sounds. The album fluctuates between a vibrant house music experience to much more subdued mid- to downtempo cuts that at certain points almost take on ambient vibes. The more vibrant side is found on tracks like "Tomorrow," "It's in the Way You Smile" and the sonically fluid and rich "Day Dreams," which is reminiscent of the music of Roy Ayers.

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in: Reviews

IndyWeek reviews City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto

by +FE on July 11, 2015 at 9:11 AM · Comments
The City Lights series, by The Foreign Exchange producer Nicolay, transforms his travels into obliquely personal instrumentals. The albums are about a place's effect on him, not some cheap cherry-picking of ethnic sounds set to a beat. Nicolay's background is rooted in a complex cultural give-and-take, so these are transmissions from someone who grew up in the Netherlands but loves American funk, soul, house and hip-hop, living in North Carolina and making music about South Africa. Global house music is often tasteful, but rarely this mindful.

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in: Interviews

The Foreign Exchange's Nicolay tours to find new inspiration (via IndyWeek)

by +FE on July 11, 2015 at 8:38 AM · Comments
Phonte Coleman and Matthijs "Nicolay" Rook keep their distance.

Together, they've made several albums, toured the world, been nominated for a Grammy and built a little independent empire under the name The Foreign Exchange. But Coleman raps and sings from Raleigh, while the Dutch-born Nicolay lives in Wilmington. The space between them must be fertile, as they both pursue separate artistic offshoots. Coleman has his hip-hop and TV endeavors, while Nicolay has just released his expansive fourth solo album, City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto, in which he offers up a Euro-soul take on South Africa's native rhythms.

After The Foreign Exchange's May 2014 performance in Johannesburg, the group left the city by way of the colorful Nelson Mandela Bridge, pictured on Soweto's cover. The city's bridge, house music, people, Zulu language and the unexpected pandemonium surrounding their performance there inspired Nicolay when he sat down to make the first City Lights set in six years.

From Wilmington, Nicolay spoke about the thought process behind the record and how he hopes to avoid the pitfalls of Prince and Paul McCartney.

Continue reading The Foreign Exchange's Nicolay tours to find new inspiration (via IndyWeek)

in: Upcoming Shows

Zo! feat Carmen Rodgers at Kranzberg Arts Center, St. Louis MO | Aug 8, 2015

by Aimee Flint on July 6, 2015 at 2:08 PM · Comments
Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103 | (314) 533-0367

in: Interviews

We Be Spirits interviews Nicolay

by +FE on July 4, 2015 at 5:54 PM · Comments
Nicolay is one of the most eclectic and innovative music producers around, full stop. His first notable achievement as producer came in 2004 after Connected was released - the debut album of The Foreign Exchange, of which he is half. The album was famously recorded with the "exchange" of electronic files across the Atlantic; the artists meeting only after it had been finished. He has since gone on to cover new and exciting musical ground releasing albums as a solo artist, as well as part of TFE.

Just as comfortable in a studio setting as in live performance, this gifted Dutch musician, who now resides in North Carolina, recently spoke openly to me about topics such as how both Prince and Thundercat inspire him, the special working relationship he shares with Phonte (his partner in The Foreign Exchange), his opinion on the current wave of African electronic music, and how he views spirituality in terms of his creativity. Read on and be enlightened.

Continue reading We Be Spirits interviews Nicolay

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