Interview: Hot Sugar On Associative Music, Using Human Skulls To Make Beats, And His Upcoming Projects

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By Andrew Martin

When you think of a producer sampling a sound, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Someone digging through crates to find the right piece of dusty vinyl? Well, not New York City’s Nick Koenig, aka Hot Sugar. He’d rather crack a human skull or record the thump of a rat’s heartbeat—no joke—to flesh out the melody of his new recording.

While that might lead you to believe his music is difficult to digest, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because Koenig favors a more inventive recording technique doesn’t mean his art suffers from being too “abstract” or left-field. It’s actually quite the opposite.

This is particularly evident on Big Baby Gandhi’s No1 2 Look Up 2, which features four diverse, thick-as-molasses, and boom-bap-indebted beats from Koenig. All of the productions knock, especially the synthesizer-laden “Get $$$” and warbling “Lurkin’,” and further showcase that he’s not just pushing the boundaries of music for the sake of being different.

The best example of that notion came last year, when Koenig and frequent collaborator/gifted vocalist Aaron Earl Livingston’s Young Vipers demo, “Sleep,” hit the most opportune of ears. The Roots heard the track, which Koenig actually recorded as a requiem for his own funeral, and decided that they just had to have it. Fast-forward several months and it appears as the second track on the Philly group’s dark 2011 concept album, Undun.

Amidst all this, Koenig has worked meticulously on building his solo career. This includes last year’s buzzing Muscle Milk EP and the new Moon Money EP, which drops tomorrow. The latter is being released through a newly inked deal with indie electronic music giant Ninja Tune. They, like many of us, were introduced to Koenig’s work through an incredible visual demonstration of his talents that you can watch below.

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  • @mahmoudii1

    The feeling of being belittled (I’m a rapper/producer) after reading this article is astounding. Major respect to Hot Sugar.

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