Life Is Sound

035 | Bars & Business w/ Nika D

October 25, 2023 James Mayer Episode 35
Life Is Sound
035 | Bars & Business w/ Nika D
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Show Notes Transcript

Join us in the latest episode of Life Is Sound where we welcome the incomparable Nika D of Manchester's renowned Virus Syndicate. Dive deep into an intimate conversation as Nika reveals the highs and lows of his journey. From grappling with anxiety to mastering the music industry, Nika has faced it all with unparalleled resilience. How has he continually bounced back and thrived? It's all about having a crystal clear vision of his life's purpose and aspirations.

In this episode, Nika candidly discusses the challenges that have tested his mettle and the philosophies that have kept him grounded. Plus, get an insider look at how he's established a flourishing label amidst an ever-evolving music industry. Whether you're a fan of his music or seeking insights into perseverance and passion, this episode promises an inspiring deep dive into the life and mind of Nika D.

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Hello, good people, and welcome back to life is sound. With me, your host, James Mayer. I hope you're good, I hope you're well, I hope you're blessed. And if not, let's see if we can get you back there. I guarantee there's going to be something in this episode with today's guest that's going to resonate with you in a way that's going to help you on your journey. If you haven't already seen, head over to our Instagram at Life Is Good. Life is sound. Life Is Sound is now stepping into a brand new era of well being. We're going to be hosting events to help you guys relax and detach from the modern world with some sound relaxation, so make sure you cheque that out. Today's event is with my brother Nick Nagaka from Virus syndicate, Manchester's very own how you doing, bro? Welcome to life with Sound. Yes, bro. How you doing, man? Yeah, I'm good, bro. It's a privilege and a pleasure to have you here, man. Our journey has been a long one. Yeah. We've known each other since 1516. You're a part of Virus syndicate. You've been going since that time. So if I didn't know you today, if I didn't know Nick, what do I need to know about, bro? Starting with the big ones, I'd say I'm a good person would be like, the first thing I'd think is what I'd want someone to know about me. Now, from a career perspective, I'm an MC businessman, try to build that entrepreneurial portfolio that would sum me up. It's hard to try and say it without sounding like an arrogant dick. Yeah. But, yeah, now, that's kind of what I would say would describe who I am today. Father, friend, brother, all of that as well. So, yeah, when I think about you, I always think about a guy who's definitely busy. Yeah. And I think over the past year, my life has taken on many different roles, where it's music, podcasting, other things that I'm doing on the side. And I always think of you as a reference because I think when we kind of linked up again around 2016, I think, yeah, when I met Prima around that time, and to see what you'd built with, like, EY Three from where we started, which is just MCs in the garage range with it. Yeah, pretty much. And we'd always bump into each other over the years, but to see what you built and your mindset and then things you've done since then, what was the transitional period when you thought, I'm going to take things beyond just the music? I think for me, it was we've had a bunch of record deals over the years and I think it was the instability of constantly having different situations in terms of record labels and different agents, managers. It was turbulent and I'm a bit of a control freak, bro. Like I said it before, off camera, I'm a bit of a control freak and I don't like that kind of instability in my life, do you know what I mean? And I think we got an opportunity to set up our own label, basically, with a bit of investment to set it up and like a big sort of platform behind us which would promote all the music and whatnot. So it was a good opportunity for us to do something that could give us that stability, almost, because if you fuck it up, it's on your terms rather than somebody else's. And I think once we got that situation, we started building our own content for that label, which was essentially just for Virus, but it wasn't really a full time job for someone because we hired someone in to do it. So we started trying to outsource that person's time a little bit more. And I think that just organically gave me the vision of, wait a minute, from this we can build this, and from that we can build that. And I think I organically just got there, I suppose. And also I'm money motivated as well, being just transparent, do you know what I mean? I wanted to make sure that you can't rap forever, do you know what I mean? And at some point that income stream is going to dry up, so better to start getting them wheels in motion from now, making sure that no matter what, I'm going to be set. Because after you've been doing this, like I said, since we're 1617, you can't go and get a job, do you know what I mean? And I've got no qualifications to do anything else, so it's this or the roads, you know what I mean? And that's not an option. That's the reality for a lot of us. There are times where I kind of like, dipped out of being a professional musician, life circumstances, just being crazy and having to go back to, quote unquote, the real world. And those jobs I had in those years were so humbling to me. And it's like, 1 minute you're like, I was a rock star last year. This year I'm like cleaning carpets, bro. And to be back in a space where I make music full time, I can't tell you how much that time served me for now, I'm so grateful to be doing what I do. Yes. And that's the reality of, like I said before we started this, people that are still doing music now, like yourself, from when we started, it's beautiful to see what you're achieving and still doing music as well, because it's not like you've just forgot music. Yeah, it's 50 50. It's like half my time on music, half my time on the business and whatnot. But, yeah, bro, I remember there's times when I've had to get jobs when my music hasn't been paying. I've been in call centres and my videos on MTV, bro, in the call centre, bro. And it's just like, the reality of that, this isn't what it was meant to be. Do you know what mean? Like, this is not what I didn't sign up for this. When your video makes it on MTV, you're supposed to be shining. You're supposed to have made it, made it fucking in a call centre, six pounds an hour or something. What did you learn in that moment, though? What was the lesson that being in the call centre and looking up and seeing your video, what do you, in hindsight, think about that moment? I'll tell you what, it's a big moment, actually, because about three days later, my line manager in this call centre, he was a dick and I needed to go to the toilets when he had to log off my system, do you know what I mean? And I said, I'm going to go toilet. And he says, no, you got to wait. And in my mind, I just thought, did this guy just tell me I can't go to the toilet? Yo, it's got my coat left. And I vowed to myself, walking out that door, I am never, ever getting a job again, come hell or high water, wherever it takes. You know when you make a decision in your soul, and I literally left. All my boys were out somewhere. I think they were at the pub. Like it was a sunny day and they were all just chilling. So I just literally left that friggin call centre, went there and I just sat there quiet like I'm broke. What am I going to do? But it will work out. And guess it did. Those are the life defining moments, even though they're small at the time. You look back and, like, I can. See it so vividly. I remember how I feel, even like I can even feel it in my chest saying it. I remember it so vividly at that point, making that decision, and it was just banglad. Fuck this. Like the ultimate fuck this. Do you know what I mean? It was from my toes to my chest of, Fuck this, I'm out of here. And, yeah, literally just got my coat, took my tie off, stuck that in my pocket, never to be worn again, and then I left. And I think part of that commitment that I also made to myself that day was a bit of a driving force in what happened after that, because I knew that I've now really got to make this work, no matter what, because the other options are call centres or roads. Do you know what I mean? What do you think it is about us musicians? Because we rarely do this thing until there's no other options. And it's not like I know a lot of people do tap out. They go, Nah, they see a different future because they're like, this looks like a treacherous road. There's some of us that just go, I'm going to continue doing that no matter what. And I think it's great for people to see what is possible. And I hope these young people looking at people like yourself, people like Jay, people that are still in the industry doing big things that have made it work for this length of time and the fact you two have still maintained a relationship, being the brothers that you are, is great to know. Jay being a beast in the production world, doing his thing, you smashing music and business and things that you've achieved. What would you say is like which is the one you have a bit more love for or is it 50 50 music, man? Yeah, 100%, man. No bread, no questions. Is there some days with the business you're like, can't be. I love it now. I love it because we do sick shit, I do enjoy what we do, but I've got twelve staff. That's incredible, man. And it's stressful, like massive overheads every month. It's a lot, do you know what I mean? It's a lot to bear on your shoulders. Whereas with music there's just me, Jay and the manager to worry about, do you know what I mean? It's a much simpler business in that sense. Obviously. It's music I enjoy. It obviously the writing, spitting, performing, it's second nature to me now. I've been doing it for so long, it's literally second nature with the business stuff, it has become second nature as well, but took a bit of a minute to sort of get there with that how to navigate, especially when dealing with big brands and TV channels or whatever, do you know what I mean? It's a different communication style, it's a different approach, it's a different language as well. Does the music help in terms of that? When you're having these conversations, people seeing that you're an active musician as well, do you think that helps you land some of these deals that you're getting? Because some of the stuff you've done and obviously you can talk us through some of the stuff, it's huge things, big documentaries and things that are outside the realms of what you naturally do, music. So do you feel like the music helps? I think it gives you relevance culturally. It definitely has that part of it. I think the music side has helped me in terms of learning music business, which is like the most brutal business in the world. Everything beyond that kind of easier, do. You know what I mean? So I think it's definitely helped in that perspective. But yeah, I think some of the projects that we're doing with some of the clients that we've got, I think they like the fact that they've got someone who's an active touring musician working with them. It gives them confidence that they're going to get a next level of creativity in their product, you know what I mean? Yeah. And knowing the music is going to be on point as well. When you're in that world, that's like exactly. And that's a big part of the visual thing in it. The music is 50% of what you put forward, 100%. Let's jump straight into the thing you've been doing recently. Manchester to Mumbai, is it? Yes. I've not released it yet, so it's kind of like it's still in production. So basically I'm half Indian. My dad's Indian, so I've been going to India since I was, like, eight years old. And every time I've been there, obviously, mixed race over there. Have you ever been to you're not. I've been to mainland India. Yeah, mainland is a little bit different, but how can I describe when you're a foreigner, you're a foreigner, you stick out like a sore thumb. So I think going there and kind of always feeling a little bit alien out there, never really feeling that Indian or culturally relatable to that world. I don't know. Always I kind of, like, felt separate from it. But then weird story. So we're coming back from Australia, and this is just before COVID and we just finished like a month tour out there with Jay, and we're flying back. And during the internal flights, we'd watched every single film on, like, virgin Atlantic. There was nothing left. So I'm crawling through the World Cinema part section on the thing. I'm getting desperate now. I've got a 23 hours flight and my boy Tricks told me, he said, look, there's this film called Gully Boy. You need to watch it. It's a Bollywood film, but it's good. They're all shit. I don't like him not watching it. But anyway, I'm desperate now, so I need to watch something about 23 hours. Go on world cinema. Gully boy pops up. Fuck it, give it a chance. At least it's something to chat to him about when I get back. Do you know what I mean? Put it on. And the film was sick, bro. It was basically about the explosion of rap in India, but authentic rap in Hindi. And it's sick. Like, the cadence delivery, the flow, production, the authenticity of it. It's not like trying to replicate American rap or UK rap. It was totally authentic to itself. And I was like, for the first time, I kind of felt something like, this is where I can resonate with India a little bit. So then universe works in a mad way, bro. So I'm on Instagram and someone's, like, shared a story or something, playing one of the virus tracks. And you get them tags all the time. You don't even click on the profile for this one particular reason. I just thought, Let me see who this is. So I clicked on it and I seen in the Bio, like, producer at Gully Gang. I went gully gang. Isn't that the group from the film that I just watched hit Google? Seeing what it was and it was and I was like so it was basically Gully Boy is about a guy called Divine who's like one of the biggest rappers in India. And it's about his story coming from the slums, getting into rap music and making a track that blew up on YouTube that basically exploded the entire scene in India. He then went and founded a label called Gully Gang with Universal and they've got like it's like the big rap label in India now, basically. And then so messaged them and he from Gully Gang, he's like, yeah, let me send you my beats, send me his beats. Got a guy was sick, tunes was sick. Started making tracks with him. So he made that track that's in Manchester to Mumbai. He linked me with Altaf, he got Altaff signed to Gully Gang, he got him on it and then, yeah, we started that whole process. We're going back in January, we're doing three more collabs, three more music videos and then just sort of filming that entire process as well. And that's basically the whole journey of how we confuse UK grime with Indian rap and what the story is behind all of that. What's that done for a sense of self with you immersing yourself in the culture that's your heritage, but bringing the culture that we've grown up in. Exactly. Yeah, it's beautiful, bro. I love it. Because of the way Spotify works out there, it's not really going to be much of a money maker, do you know what I mean? Even if you get big streams, Spotify discriminative against the rupee, do you know what I mean? Really? Yeah, it's bad. So you might get 4000 pounds for a million here. You get like 2000 for a million there. Yeah. I'm not really doing it for financial gain. It's definitely more of a passion project and it's definitely like just connecting them dots in a way that I never, ever dreamed would happen, do you know what I mean? Like our culture here, our grime culture that we've grown up with, and then seeing how that's actually really been influential over there and it's kind of come full circle. It's weird and it's a great time in it because when we started out, the sound that's reaching the world now, we probably would have never have dreamt this would have happened. So do you think it's the perfect age for you to be doing this? Could you have imagined doing this at like, 21 year old Nick? No way. I mean, maybe if the scene was there, I probably would have tried to do it, but I don't think I would have had the resources to get it done. I don't know. Now I've got the film company, I've got everything there that I can make this happen in a way that I probably wouldn't have been able to do at that age. What's, like some of your values and beliefs that have enabled you to succeed in business? Because it's not easy. Like you said, even just looking after twelve staff might not sound like a lot to some people, but like you said, it's not just staff, it's people's lives. People's lives? Paying people mortgages and kids? Bro, it's stressful, I'm not going to lie. What are some of the beliefs and values you've had that have kept you moving forward in that world? Just treating everyone like friends, keeping it there's no higher. I don't believe in having some big pyramid structure. Everything's very horizontal in terms of how we operate. Everyone's equal from the most junior person to the most senior person in the team. Everyone will be treated with the same respect. The way that the office is laid out, there's no, like, oh, management sit there and team leaders sit there and lower people. It's not like that. Everyone sits where they're sitting and it's all on one bank of desks. Do you know what I mean? I think equality, in that sense, is important to me. It's important to the culture of the business. Making sure everyone's happy, making sure that everyone who works there believes that they can go to the top of their chosen field and that there's no ceiling. And providing an opportunity, providing a situation where the harder you work, the more graft you put in. You can fly as far as you want, there's no limitation because I know that's what I would want if I was them. I wouldn't want to be in a place where I can only go here. So it's a cap and I think that's why we've had a lot of the people that have been there for years and I think that's partly to do with it. I think that creates a lot of loyalty to the place that you work as well. Yeah, 100%. Because I want them to win. They win, I win, we all win. So the more they grow, the more they earn, obviously the more we're earning. So it's a win win for everyone. I feel like that's definitely been a very important part of why the business has done so well. And also we expect world class standards. That's the deal. Yeah, you can work from home here and there, yeah, you can go as far as you want, you can earn whatever you want, but the deal is you've got to make sure you're the best that you can be at all times. That's the only requirement. And, yeah, I think it's fair, I think it's worked out. I think that's a great ethos as well, because when you say that to people, you are getting the best out of them and I think it can be quite demoralising when there is a cap on what you can achieve, because I think we are limitless to what we can do in life 100%. And when you click into that motion as an individual, but then as a team, who knows where things can go? And that mindset is a really important one. Something I started to realise over the past couple of years. You can be in places of comfort or you can get busy and see what's possible. And fail. Exactly that. Go and fail. Yeah. That's what people are so scared of doing. The only way to win is to fail. No one sees the fails. Just go and fail. It's the best thing you can ever do. Embrace it. Your best friend failure is like it's a gift, because the more you fail, let's say your first time you fail 100%, the next time you fail 99%, then 98%. Yeah. It's a long fucking road, but eventually you're not going to fail. Something's going to click and you're going to get there and everyone's only people are only going to see the win. People only see shine. Yeah. They're not going to say, oh, you failed 99 times before. You got it right. Still got it right, though. Yeah. Do you know what I mean? It's a good comeback, you still got. It right eventually, but then you won't fail again at it. And you'll grow and you'll learn and you'll develop, and I feel like people need to if that was one thing I've learned that's really helped me, is just embracing failure. I'm not even asked. Fuck it, fail safe. Do it again. Yeah. Fail tomorrow is what I'm what it's good. What's the mechanism of your mind? Like, if you were to try something new tomorrow, it didn't work. Is it a rapid, Right, move on next thing, or is it an assessment of where we can do better and try something different? I think I make a decision before I even start. If I'm going to do something and if I'm going to do it, then I'm going to do it and I'm going to die before I give up. So that'll be the first thing. And then we'll become the process of failure. And then I'll be like, Right, okay, that's not working, that's not working. Reassess. Reevaluate. Change that. Change that. Go again. That didn't work either, right? Change that. Change that. Oh, that kind of worked a little bit. Take that and then move. Do you know what I mean? But before that, I'll either make a decision, this is happening one way or another, by hook or by a crook, this is happening. We just got to figure out how we're going to do it and then it's go. What's been the biggest lesson throughout this time, would you say, in business, when things haven't gone right? What's been the biggest lesson for you? Biggest lesson when things haven't like, for example, COVID. When COVID hit, that was devastating. That I remember. March 17. It was a week before it was Tuesday, March 17, and it was a week before they did the lockdown. And at this point, there was nothing agreed from the government. There was no furlough, there was no grants, loans. There was basically the world just ending slowly. So on the 17 March. I call it Black Tuesday, but basically I had like bare of my clients pause all the contracts or just cancel them and then had all my gigs with Virus cancelled like the whole years. Whatever we had planned, we just got our new US visas. I bumped into you at that time, do you remember? Yeah, I remember. You were like, oh bro, I don't. Know what's yeah, yeah, I did saw you in. So basically everything that I had was like just obliterated in a day. But then I just had to pay these staff because I can't just obliterate them what they going to do. They've still got rent to pay and I'm responsible for them. So I remember thinking, I think we spoke to More, said, right, how much is your rent? That's what your new wage is going to be, your rent and your food. We're going to have to go down to basic hierarchy of needs. That's serious conversation. Yeah, that's what we were having. And then I remember at that point I was like, but I had this one contract with Discovery that had just come through and I'd signed my part of the contract, sent it back, and they hadn't counter signed it. So this is like the next day, I'm in my garden. I think I'm painting my fence or some ADAF just try to bid in my mind. And it was like hot, wasn't it at the time? Do you remember? The weather was born in it. It was amazing. It was like weird ass warm weather for like March. So I was painting the fence in my guy, like painting it white or something, and I'm ringing the guy at Discovery, said I've not had this contract back. And he goes, maybe they're pulling out, let me cheque. Didn't give me any reassurance. So I was like, I need this money. You need to sign this contract. So then about 20 minutes later I get a contract free and it's for like 10% of the total value of this contract. And I'm like, I need the full thing, not 10%. So I rang him back, said, yeah, they've just sent me one through now signed, but it's only for like 10% of the money. And he's like, maybe they're reducing the size of the project. I'll call you back. This guy is just killing me. He's giving me no confidence. So I'm sat there patting my fence waiting for this call, like desperately waiting, checking my watch constantly. Like, when are you going to ring? When are you going to ring? And then he rings me back. He goes, oh no, they're just going to do it in ten contracts. So I'm like, what do you mean? He goes, oh, just the way that they want to do it. Because it's like ten episodes, so they want to do it one contract per episode. But don't worry, we're just going to send them all back now and within half an hour they'd send all ten. So then after that it was like, well, whatever happens, I've got that. And then the next week did furlough so I could pay everyone without losing all my money. And yeah, it was all right after that. Had three months off, basically. Yeah, it was a strange time and a lot of people went through their own individual things and it was the people that are business owners and it came out of nowhere. It's like something you don't really prepare for film, bro. Yeah. What do you think now? Do you have like, a safety mechanism? Do you have like, a forward thinking strategy? No. Hope that don't happen again? Yes and no. Touchwood. It's all going well at the minute, so I wouldn't want to, like wouldn't want to jinx it. But, yeah, we had like when obviously the world's a mess at the minute. Got cost of living crisis, inflation is through the roof, property markets down, like there's war everywhere. Who knows how things are going to pan out? But it's got to stay positive, man. Stay positive. All of this stress can eat you alive. Definitely. If you start looking at what's going on in the world around you, there's all kinds of rabbit holes you can go down, do you know what I mean? Yeah. How do you keep that positive mindset when things get difficult in life? Pressures from your business, family, things that we all go through in life, how do you maintain that positive mindset? Gym, bro. Literally gym. And I don't but you just have to though, don't you? I don't know, bro it's like anything, there's ups and downs, isn't there? So some days you're more positive than others. Other days I get anxiety. So it's like some days my anxiety going through the roof, but then you kind of got to send it yourself. Know that it's just anxiety, know that there's no real reason for whatever it is, it's just there and you just got to find that centre point within you and it kind of eases or then I just go gym. Go in the bag for like half an hour. It's gone five K run, it's gone, it's gone for 8 hours, by which point evening. Better morning. It's the worst. So, yeah, if you could put it into like a sense, where does anxiety sit for you? Stomach. Yeah. Nerves? Like butterfly feeling. Would you say it comes from a place of thinking about a specific thing? No. Or is it just a feeling you. Have just had it there for years, since I was like 14. Just constantly? Not constantly, it comes in waves. So up until Monday, actually, this week's been pretty good, but I've had a few months where it's been quite bad, like Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is like the worst kind of days. Kind of eases off over the weekend, but I've got loads of personal shit going. On, so I'm guessing it's kind of related to that, but then I go through waves and don't have it for months. So, yeah, it's a constant thing. But I think at the same time, one thing I have noticed about it, or one thing I used to notice about it, is that if I'm not progressing, it gets worse. So, like, if I don't do a lot in the day, if I have a productive day the next day, it's going to be anxiety level 5000. But if I do have a productive day, it'll be less, and if I have a productive day that day, it'll be even less the next day. So do you feel like it's a fear connected to not moving forward? Yeah, it's probably a fear connected to failure, but then I'm here embracing failure. But that's the beauty of kind of the juxtaposition of what we're in as humans. We believe this thing, but we also believe that thing and those two things can exist. Yeah, I think it's an overall failure or overall of like I used to get anxiety about not being able to get to a certain point in life and I used to get real bad and I used to break that down into every day. I've got to move forward every single day, seven days a week, no days off. There's 24 hours in a day. Use 16 of them. You can sleep for like four, chill for four, or some mad math like that. I used to play within my mind, you know what I mean? And I'm giving myself weird rules like that, but as time's gone on and things have, like, I'm in a better situation, I've kind of loosened up on them rules a little bit, but still they're still kind of there, though. I still will live like an eight, sort of break my day into like, three sections of 8 hours. Do you feel like you put a lot of pressure on yourself? Yeah, massively. I feel like I do that and I don't know if it's like a trait as a man, but I might say to my girlfriend or one of my friends, I need to do this by this. And they go, do you actually need to be doing that right now? And I go, that could actually wait. But can it, though? This part of me goes, that could actually wait, but my real answer inside is, you don't get it. I just want to get that done. But then when I take a step back, I think you can get in a momentum. Like, what I'm in now is I really struggle now to just sit and not do something that's cohesive to my overall plan. Yeah, you're the same as me, bro. That's why I think it's been great for us to connect to this time, because you're someone that I've always seen that's got that mindset. I've probably come more into it over the past couple of years. But say, if I'm sitting and watching Netflix, I might go, right? This is a night off I can enjoy. Yeah, that's what I do. But if I go, I've got things to do here. Let me just go and watch Netflix. Ten minutes in, if something's not really caught me or inspired me, I'm up, and I need to go and work. At the same time, when we talk about opposing beliefs, I'm also somebody that is really pushing for people to detach from everything. So there's part of me that will go and do that. But if I'm spending time that feels like I'm wasting my time here on this planet, I go and do something productive, something like edit this, make a track, something that is leaning towards my overall vision, because I've just hit that point in life. I just feel like I'm wasting my time. Yeah, same bro. For example, even I've got a few tracks to record at the minute, and I got back from Switzerland on Sunday night. So I thought, Monday I've earned a day off because I was touring on the weekend. But then Tuesday night could have gone, studio. I've got a studio in my house. Could have gone. But I didn't because I thought, chill. And because I feel like because I've noticed I've loosened up my rules on myself. There would have been a time when that would never happen. There would be, no, sorry, you can chill. You've got to go in there right now. Right now, you fucking loser. Get in there now. Literally, I would talk to myself. Get in there now. What are you doing? Watching Netflix, you loser. Get in there. Get off that computer. Playing FIFA. Loser. What are you doing? Get in there. But I've kind of got a bit like, sorry, you can chill. Just chill. But at the same time, my mind's constantly aware that I've allowed the rules to slip. Do you know what I mean? Like, I'm disciplining myself constantly. I'll let you off tonight. You can chill. But yeah, I don't know, bro. I also feel like without that, where would I be in life? Would I just be smoking weed and playing FIFA all day? Do you know what I mean? There's so many people sat there blazing, and the life just goes by. That's it. And they sat there gassing all these dreams, but nothing ever happens. Nothing ever comes of it. All they do is talk. They don't ever walk, and it's just gas, gas, gas, gas, gas. Playing smoking. And before you know it, ten years have gone by. That's the reality of life in it. The ages. We're at we're at an age now where it's like, we still understand this side, but we know life is moving on. We're getting to ages where wisdom is really starting to sit in. And you can hear that from conversations we have with peers. Like, when Jay was here, you can hear there's a wisdom there now at this age, and I think without realising, 510 years can just go by and you've been doing the same thing. And I think it's such a really important point that you've made that is, if you've got ideas, just forward motion into step one, step two, step three, like you said, if you fail, go back, try again, keep going. But you can waste ten years talking about your ideas. And I think it's talking and never taking. Important point. Yeah. I think if you've got a dream, your dream might not be realistic. Let's be realistic. A lot of people don't have realistic dreams. Some people do, but if it isn't, you have to at least try, because it might take you to a point that something similar or replicative of what that ideal was. You might get somewhere close to it, but by sitting around talking about doing this, doing that, doing the other, and just gassing, but never actually taking action, you will never know. It's like you said about the universe doing its thing. You can't just sit at home playing Xbox or PlayStation and the universe just drops something in your lap. You can have an idea. The motion you take towards that idea, the universe goes, oh, I see what you're doing here's. This conversation for you, Nick. Let's see how you respond to that. And you go, that's kind of like what I was thinking. Here's this DM from that person. And you go, this is nuts. And then you realise things come towards you because you've gone out. And I feel like a lot of people not that I'm a master of law of attraction, not with loads of millions, but I can see the coincidences and the magic and the intertwining things that happen, the synchronicities and go, oh, it's moving, something's moving. But I think a lot of people sit and talk and just wait, not realising you have to go and make things happen yourself. Yeah. I think it's belief and self esteem. I think it's those two things that come together, make the universe get out of its way for you. I think you can have belief but no self esteem, which is all self belief. So you might have belief you've got the ability to do something, but you don't believe that you can actually do it. Or you might have the self belief that you can actually do it, but really, when it comes to actually doing the thing you want to do, you know you're not very good at it. And it's that voice in it, the voice of comfort, the voice that says, Just chill tonight. I think I start to see that voice as a challenger. Yeah. And I think that's probably how you see it as well, is, Come on, man, what are you doing? Yeah. What are you doing right now? And then instead of waiting and trying to quiet that voice down, I just get up and respond to it. And I think a lot of people, and I've definitely done it in the past myself, can fall victim to the other voice, the chill voice. That idea probably won't work, bro. Yeah, just chill tonight. Yeah, no, you can't do that. Start Monday. Monday comes. Nah, nah, you can't start Monday. Yeah, man, I'll probably do this tomorrow. People who want to lose weight said I'll start next month. Why? I don't get that. Do it now, start right this second. Why are you going to wait till next month? What's happening next month? I get it. Like if you got a wedding or you go on a holiday, some of that, I kind of get. There's no point in trying to go on some sick diet or some sick exercise routine like a day before that, because that's going to go out the window. But just the mindset of like, I'll do it tomorrow, it doesn't really work. I feel like even though it's a bit of a curse, like we were saying before, because it's kind of anxiety fueled, but I think that's the gift of anxiety. Do you know what I mean? It's a gift and a curse because the curse doesn't feel great and it can be crippling and it can make you miserable, but it also can be like the biggest rocket up your ass that there ever could be. And I think that is the blessing of flight anxiety for me. I think I'd probably be nowhere as far as I am without it. Definitely wouldn't. No way. I'd be chilling. Be happy. Happy and ignorant. Bliss playing FIFA, getting high. But we are where we are. And I think as time goes on, you learn to manage things differently, don't you? They're like creatives can be quite hard on ourselves as well. And like you said, it becomes the driving force. Those times you are having, those negative conversations, they definitely can be the creative force that leans you down a path. And as long as you're pursuing it and you're active in those creative endeavours, new things come out of that and then you run a whole different thing to what your original idea was. But if you let that voice win, that voice of comfort, like you said, ten years done. And then you get to a point, I would assume, where it's like there's just no point. It was just too late. There's no point in me doing it now. Yeah. And I think that's such an important thing, especially when I see you might have witnessed it yourself. When you see musicians that are coming out the 1920, they get some momentum and then they chill. And I think at these ages you want to go, Yo, you need to go hard. Keep going, man. You only get that time once. You don't get to go again and again because when you're like say 18 to 21, your risk taking mind and your creativity is unrivalled at that time. You got freedom, got nothing to lose, nothing to lose, not as many responsibilities. And you see people just take a step back and I think we're at that age now where we're like, Yo, come on, man, keep going. What would you say is, like, the biggest difference between Nick and D? And where do you use both? Does Nicodee come into business sometimes? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, he said that's a mad question because it's kind of all becoming one now, but for a long time it was kind of separate. Or was it was it the other way around? Was I that more than that? I can't really remember. Here's the rabbit hole. But I'd say, like, the stage character and the record, I think Nicodee gives me a licence to be as rags and as real and as brutal and as truthful as I can without me fully feeling overexposed, because I can do it through that persona, almost. And I think I bring that into I definitely do bring that into EY three. Definitely. Yeah. I do quite a lot, especially I don't want to say too much on it, but I do have to bring it in in certain scenarios. But it's masks in. It because of this music career that I've had when I got into business, there was no way for me to pretend to really be anyone else because everyone kind of knew who I was. So it wasn't really like I couldn't come in and pretend to be like some educated business guy who's trying a new venture because everyone knew that was bullshit. You're a rapper, we know who you are because you all over YouTube and you have been for years. So. I kind of had to embrace that. And that was a bit difficult, to be honest, because I didn't really know how to gel the two worlds between my music world and this media business world. And only as time has gone on have I realised how close it all actually really is and always really was. It was only in my mind that I had different perceptions of it. So I think as we're back to my original point, it's like I kind of feel it is all coming together now at this stage in the game. But, yeah, it's a weird one in it because we all wear a mask in them professional circumstances. What's the thing that you think that we have that I wouldn't say it's an embarrassment, but I've been in situations where you want to hide that music side a bit, but now I'm like I look back and like what I've achieved in music. Some people will just never even step into that arena. Never like you guys. Some people never do a world tour. They'll never see that in their lives. But there's certain scenarios throughout life you'll find yourself in and you kind of I don't know, it's like you don't want people to see that side of you. As you get older, you realise you can use that to your advantage to help you over on this side as well. It's a very strange thing that we do. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I still like the questions on it because I think it's when people who aren't educated in the music industry ask you questions about because they just see one thing and that's super success, and they don't realise that actually there's levels to this shit. And there's obviously there's people who are just trying to ting. There's people who are earning money off it, there's people who are doing pretty well, and there's people who do sort of kind of where we're at, which is know, we've got a good fan base, we're touring, we've got a good legacy in it, but we're not Jay Z, do you know what I mean? We're not Drake, we're not on that level, but we're not like some guys just having a go, do you know what? And that's the awkward conversation I can't really be asked, explaining to random people, they go, oh, are you famous in some worlds? Yeah, but not in your world, bro. Do you know what I mean? And it's like, yeah, but that's a great answer, because you guys seeing your transition out of the early days, we did music to kind of like a different sound, but then growing that demographic there, where you can still go on world tours now and hit venues. Our biggest fan base in America. Can you believe that? It's incredible. It's crazy, considering, like, viruses, like a South Manchester Grime crew, when you think. Bro, just take a minute, just where we started. And I think it's hard for people beyond the people that were around those circles to realise those were really gritty times. Yeah, it was great. Bro. Everything came with that anxiety that you said. Anything you were venturing to to touch Mike came with a wave of anxiety because of the characters we were surrounded by in very sweet music. Garage music was very sweet before it transitioned to Grime. There was an anxiety just attached to those places. And we were kids. I remember being, I think I've said this before, but 1516 going down to Luton with night riders and stepping on this guy's trainers and bro, he was a giant compared to me. And I looked him in the eyes and I know my face just said, Bro, I am so sorry. And I think I forget, he would have been looking at me like, this is a yeah, but we were really in very strange places. England was different as well back then. It was darker in a lot of ways, but, yeah, I don't know, man, it's them times. It was just a bit more rags back then. I think it's a bit softer now. I think iPhones have made the world a little bit softer. Everyone's on social media, we didn't have social media. It was MySpace and Facebook just about, you know what I mean? It wasn't really like there wasn't Instagram. Then, or TikTok dubplate netplate. Net, yeah. But now they were the character building times and I think the people who got through that and turned them times when we were kids, just trying to think in the youth centre into a career. I think there's only been a handful of us who've come from that era who've done it. Yeah, it's incredible, man. I think it's me, you or Virus. You adeo Tyler, Bugsy kind of that just a little bit younger, but probably at the back end of that, isn't it? I think he would be. And DJs as well that are doing the thing as well. Yeah. Bare DJs. Yeah. People are still like it's just great to see people from that era that you see a lot of people detached from music, but you see people now. And whenever I see you put out a new song, jay put out a song together, or when a message is like, bro, you come on the podcast, bro, I'm touring, and then you're like, I'm going to be here this day. I'm like, I love to see this. Because music, as we know, is not an easy thing. And if you can, 20 years later and it's paying you incredible. I love to see it and seeing new artists, but people that have been there from day one, like Children of Zeus doing the thing, how long we know those people in the circles, but now this new thing comes out and it works for them. And I think such a key message is also just keep going. You never know what's around the corner and enjoy it. I think you get the most out of something when you've got a passion for it and there's an enjoyment to it. If everything's a chore, then it's like, yes, so true. You get sucked, you get ramped with your energy, but you got to enjoy it, man. But I think you've got to be strategic about it as well. It can't all be fun, but at the same time, your funds got to fuel it, do you know what I mean? You got to use the fun, use the passion, but then just find your strategy for it. Find your way of how you're going to get from A to Z, where you got to get to B, for starters, do you know what I mean? And break it down into little micro steps. But I think the thing is, anything's possible. Anyone can do anything if we can get this far in life, bro. That should have been impossible. It's so true. That should have been impossible. That should have been a miracle. So if we can just we just listed a bunch of people there that are technically should have been miracles. That's five, six people we just listed there's only 500,000 people in Greater Manchester. That's five miracles. That's a miracle every 100,000 people. That's a lot. And that's just one's wave just conjured up now. Yeah, just off the top of the dome. So think how many there would be. And it means point I'm making is there's endless opportunity and there's no reason why anyone can't do something if they want to do it. Do you know what I mean? If you look at England, 70 million people look how the impact? Good or bad, do you know what I mean? But a lot of bad. But as a country, that impact that this country has had on the entire world for 500 years is insane for a small little country. It just goes to show that anything is possible, even from small beginnings, do you know what I mean? Yeah. It's keeping that consistency. And what I said to Prima on the last episode was the last guest episode and Dale brought this up and it's such a great point, is how many songs we keep on our hard drives, how many musicians just never let it go. And I think we're in a day and age where you never know what's possible by just releasing that. Once you've released it, it's kind of like there you go, next thing and keep that forward motion. For me, I think music has helped me so much in terms of probably same with you. It's a therapeutic process and when I've gone through difficult times, I've actually sat back and thought, what do people do like when they go through life stuff and they can't just sit a laptop for 8 hours straight, make a tune and then leave the room and go and left it. I was just in a state of just pure in the moment. Can you imagine being a normal person? I genuinely would like to experience not having something like that. I suppose people find other things that works for them but I think about what I've been through in life and it was music that has always carried me through, even to today. If I'm feeling a certain way, maybe emotionally, I have to process it, but at some point I'm going to sit down and that's going to come out. I just think about how people process these things without having these type of outlets. Yeah, it's mad, bro. Sometimes I think, like I don't want to alienate myself or irrelevant myself by saying this, but fuck it, I'll say it. Imagine having a job, which 99% of people do. Like going to work


00, finish at five, you got your 20 holidays a year, you come home at six, you make the tea. That Groundhog Day of that routine. I just don't think I couldn't live it. It's a difficult thing and it's not what we're supposed to do by nature. By nature we're supposed to get up and hunt. Yeah. Create. Well, yeah. And create and be those things where we're not constricted to time limits and do this by this times. Yeah, that really boxes my soul in that. I think that's the nature of a creative in it when we get those boundaries, we're like, no, you don't get to and we find ways to exist outside of

those boxes. Like, my sister says to me, what, she'll ring me at like 10:

00 or so much, what are you doing? Or don't know if I'm going to go

gym. What do you mean? It's 10:

00? Yeah. She go, what are you doing? She goes, I'm in the office. I'm like, Good for you, but I'm not. I'll be there when I'm going to be there and I'll be where I'm going to be when I'm going to be it. And that's a life you've created for yourself? Yeah, that's what's possible, definitely. I mean, I've always pretty much lived like that because once I quit that job, I kind of said, I can't do it, I have to work, I have to be on my terms, work on my terms, on my calendar and yeah, we agree, stuff you do stuff. Obviously it's not like a dereliction of responsibility, but at the same time, I like to be able to be in charge of what I choose to do, whether that's meetings, studio touring, shit like this. I want to book that in according to what I want to do, rather than being told, yeah, you will be here at this time and you will stay there until this time. It's a great way to live, it's a very blessed, amazing way to live because I think having that choice, we're only here for a limited time, so to live your life that way, it's amazing when you think about if we take away Nicodee the artist and we just think about Nick. What's a time in your life when you remember all the walls came crashing in and nothing made sense just for Nick and what got you through it? The walls have come crashing in a bunch of times. What's got me through it, I'm resilient, man, and I think I've always had a vision of how I want to live or how I want to be or how I want to feel even. And when I've got to places where everything's fell to pieces or someone's died or just some bad life changing has happened, yeah, I'll go off the rails for a bit, but something in me just kind of always gradually brings me back and also I'm lucky, man. I've got good people around me as well. I've got good friends, got good misses, I've got really good people. I've got friends from when I was twelve, like a big group of friends from time, do you know what I mean? Who aren't industry related or anything like that, do you know what I mean? Just friends that you just chill and chat shit with, you know what I mean, and I think having that kind of support network has been really important, I would say. But yeah, I don't know personally what's got me through it. I'd just say I'm an optimist by nature as well. And even though I can be self destructive, I can only be self destructive for a certain amount of time before I say, what the fuck are you. Doing that voice again? Yeah. Comes back, says, you're a loser, mate. Sort your head out. Stop crying. Stop feeling I don't believe in feeling sorry for yourself. Victim mentality. Stop. It like someone dies. People die all the time. People's parents die all the time. They get over it. Why can't you? Or do you know what I mean? Things like that. I will always school myself back into being in a better place. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. I think, like you said, I'm very similar. Again, allowing yourself that time where you might go into this period, do whatever you need to do in that time and then be like, right, come on. It's forward motion now. If we stay here, this is where we're going to end up. Back on the treadmill. Let's go. I think it's a great mindset to have I want to say a big thank you for this, bro. To have you here. I feel like we could keep going, bro, easily. So there's an invite, as I said, whenever you feel like you want to do this again or you want bro, it's something you want to get off your chest or share. And we're going to start mixing up with multi guest episodes. Yeah, 100%, bro. To see your journey, bro, and see what you're doing and what you're going to be doing. It's been amazing. And I know there'll be some parts of this episode that really click with people. And that's what we want. It's those gems in the conversations of people's mindsets, people that are doing great things. People have been through really difficult things and how you maintain to keep it moving. So if people want to tap into your world, nick Nicodee virus, where can they find you? Yo instagram at it's Nicodee or artificial virus syndicate. Facebook, primarily at virus syndicate. On Facebook. TikTok at it's Nicodee. That's me mom. Incredible, man. Yeah. So big. Thank you to you, bro, for passing through. Thanks, bro. It's been a pleasure, man. We've been meaning to do this for a while, so I'm glad we did, man. What a deep one, bro. I knew it was going to be a deep one. Anyway, bro. That's what I said to Prima. I don't know what happens in this space, but people come, bro, and they. Feel energy, though, isn't it? Yeah, they open up. And it's a beautiful thing because people I've known for a long time, but we've probably never had discussions for this long and also got to those places. Could feel myself zoning. Yeah, that's. It, bro. That's the beauty of it. So I've had a list of people since I started and I'm just getting through people as they're available, so I'm a big believer in timing. Yeah, man. So to sit here, bro, and know that we're very similar. Yeah, we are. And we'll probably connect more on that. And I just want to see you keep shining, bro, because it's been great to see the things that you've achieved and will achieve. And to you guys listening, thank you for coming back week by week to listen to life is sound. This is what it's all know. Finding the people that can help you guys on your journey and if you're going through it, those little nuggets that can just help you realise what is possible. So thanks a lot for listening. Thanks to Nick. Remember, no matter what you go through, life is good, life is sound. See you the next one. Stay blessed. Bye.