While attending Moonrise Festival this past weekend, I had the chance to sit down and speak with Tyler Marenyi, better known as NGHTMRE. Over the past couple of months, NGHTMRE has put out tracks that blur the lines between future bass, trap, hip hop, and everything in between with his masterful sound design and drum work. NGHTMRE shows no signs of slowing down, having just released “Street” on Mad Decent, and I personally cannot wait to see what he puts out next. His set at Moonrise absolutely blew me away, and if you ever get the chance to see him live, do not miss it. I only expect bigger and brighter things from him in the future.
How did you first get into production?
NGHTMRE started very recently, about a year and a half ago. I actually started making music towards the end of highschool. Back then, I was listening to a lot of rock and hip hop, stuff like that. Then I heard Girl Talk, and he was making all these mashups of dance music with other songs I really liked. So I emailed him asking how he did it, and he just told me he makes his own beats then samples everything. From there, I decided I needed to start making my own beats, so I downloaded a copy of Reason and started making my own beats all through college. I got a finance degree from Elon University, and some of the aspects of business school definitely transfered over to music, especially everything they taught us about branding. Towards the end of college, I heard about Icon out in LA, and figured with all the success I had up to that point, I had to at least go out to LA and give it a shot for a year, since making music was the only thing I really enjoyed and was passionate about.
How did you come up with the name NGHTMRE?
I was producing for about 5 years before NGHTMRE under TMARE. My first name is Tyler and the first 4 letters of my last name are M-A-R-E. As a little kid when I would play soccer, everyone used to call me TMARE, so originally I went with that. Once I got to Icon, I started looking for other names, and since nightmare is the only cool word with “mare” in it, I just sort of went with it.
What advice do you have for college students who are trying to break into the scene while juggling schoolwork?
I just enjoyed it so much that I was doing it in my free time. I went to a really rural school, so there really wasn’t anything else to do besides go out to the occasional house party. It’s gonna take awhile to get your music to sound the way you want it to, so just making as much music you can is the best way to learn. Everytime I start a new project, I learn something new because I am always messing around and trying new things out.
How much of an impact has going to Icon had on your career thus far?
Icon was awesome because they have a great curriculum put together for you. I had an amazing mentor I got to work with every week, who was an Ableton certified trainer. I would just sit down and learn every single tool Ableton had to offer one by one with my mentor every single week. In addition to that, it was even better for networking, and it’s actually where I met Slander.
So you met Slander at Icon?
Yea, there were about 12 of us in the class. We had been wanting to do a track together for forever, and then we put out our We Like To Party Remix, which had perfect timing. We put it out about 2 days after the original came out.
Wow, how did you manage to do that so fast?
We actually just used a bootleg version of the original before it came out. We were both home over christmas break, and we were messaging each other over Facebook. I asked him to check out this remix I was doing, and he said he wanted me to check out one he was working on. Turns out, we both sent each our We Like To Party remixes we had been working on at the same time! So as soon as we both got back to LA, we both finished it up, and when the official version came out, we just switched the wav form we had been using and released the remix. Slander’s manager became my manager as well, so to go back to the Icon question, it was definitely huge for networking purposes.
“I was at the point where I had been producing for a couple of years, and my stuff sounded melodically interesting with a cool structure, but I just couldn’t get it to sound like all the other guys out there”
Would you say that living in a big music city like LA has helped your career thus far?
I would say with any industry, it always helps to be able to meet people face to face and make connections like that, especially with the entertainment industry. In LA, you have a chance to be able to make those face to face connections, and going back to Icon, I would be guestlisted every single weekend at the best clubs in LA, like Create and Avalon. Every Friday, at least 3 major DJ’s you’d know play those clubs, and all of their friends and managers are there. So just being able to go back there and become friends with people and meet them goes a long way. You don’t have to push your music or anything onto them, but if you’re genuinely nice to people they’ll remember that and be more inclined to help you in the future.
Could you talk about the creative process behind Gud Vibrations?
I had heard the original of that song a lot, Love Sensation, so I tried it in a house track and never really did anything cool with it. A bit later, Derek from Slander and I were working on a track and it had a really cool melodic breakdown, and we thought hey lets try to incorporate this into that other project. Everything came together really quickly after that, the whole track was finished in about 2 days. Our track “Warning” only took us about a day.
So how did you guys create the "Nuclear Bonds" EP?
Basically whenever Slander would come over and chill at my apartment, we would always work on stuff. We’d be hanging out for 8 hours or more at a time, so if we were feeling something during that time, we would sit down and work. If not, there wasn’t any really pressure to create anything, which helped to make our work flow that much more enjoyable.
Do you prefer to work with audio or midi?
If I had to pick one, it would be audio, but I like to use everything. The sample I used in Street was a pots and pans sample that I put into a sampler. Ableton is really great for manipulating audio in general, you can freeze and flatten stuff to make your samples sound that much cleaner. All that being said, I am still really big into sound design. When I first started out producing, thats sort of what I nerded out to in highschool and college.
What are some of your go to VSTs?
Most recently, I’ve been using Serum and Spire the most.
I recently watched an interview of you where you talk about an Ira Glass Quote about doing creative work. Did you ever reach a point where you were constantly frustrated because your work didn't match your taste?
That was towards the end of school for me. I was at the point where I had been producing for a couple of years, and my stuff sounded melodically interesting with a cool structure, but I just couldn’t get it to sound like all the other guys out there. I was really frustrated my last year of school because I just couldn’t get my music to sound the way I wanted it to. When I got out to LA, I was still producing music for about another 2 years before I started playing any shows. Even January and February of this year, I had already made Street and a ton of remixes and I still couldn’t get booked at any shows because I didn’t have any big DJ’s supporting me. Finally, once the Nuclear Bonds EP come out and I had a bunch of other remixes that all got released after that, I finally started to get booked and play shows.
What Plans do you have for the future?
We just announced the Street tour which has about 25 dates to it. Additionally, I am working on a bunch of new material that I can’t wait to share with everyone!
Any advice for up and coming producers?
I would just say to learn your tools inside and out. Pick one or two synths and just master them. You’re going to overwhelm yourself by downloading a bunch of vsts, so it’s much better to just learn one synth and learn how to make any sound possible with it. For me, when I first started out, I picked sylenth as the one synth I was going to master, and it really helped me with my sound design because I could make basically any sound I wanted with it.
Alright man well thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Sure man, anytime!