Ottawa-based creative Nxghts is quickly carving a lane for himself as both a multi-faceted producer and creative force. It’s a late evening when I connect with the young artist by phone to talk about his recent release, “Fireback.” The smooth up-tempo R&B track will have a video treatment readied by the time our interview is released, and has quickly surpassed thousands of plays on streaming platforms in just a few months.
Featuring vocals from Los Angeles-based R&B artist DCMBR, “Fireback” is Nxghts first self-directed move, and one which shouldn’t go ignored. Including strong production alongside co-producers K Beatz and Ty Leon, the single is a successful introduction that shines light on NXGHTS’ dynamic abilities alongside his work for rising R&B artists like Marr Grey and Kennedy Rd.
“I’ve always been a music guy,” he begins, “I knew I had to do something with music. Kanye is one of my biggest heroes. Listening to him and seeing videos of him in the studio made me want to start producing.” As a classically trained instrumentalist, Nxghts enjoys lending help to additional aspects of the creative process. “A lot of the times I’ll even help the artist with the melodies or the cadences because I kind of know what I’m doing. Lately I’m not even trying to just make beats. A lot of it is about the song. You could have the best beat, but if you don’t have a proper song no one’s really going to hear it. You have to get in the artist’s mindset and put what they want first,” he explains.
Elaborating on his early inspirations, he continues, “I look up to greats – Michael Jackson, and Mohamad Ali. Everything kind of plays into it. Music is one thing, but there’s also the aesthetic. The video’s gotta’ be good. Everything’s gotta’ be proper, right down to the fonts. I’m definitely hands-on. I’ve always been like that.” It’s this same fine care and attention to detail that can be heard in the balanced tones of his production, and will resound with new fans and listeners.
The process of splitting time between his hometown and Toronto to pursue music has proved to be beneficial for the developing artist. “I’ve spent more than half of this year in Toronto but I still technically live in Ottawa. When I really started going to Toronto, ‘Nothing Was The Same’ had just come out. That’s when I really started going down there. The vibe there was crazy. It feels like Ottawa but everything’s bigger, which is what I wanted. I was kind of ready for it. I kind of knew what I wanted out of it and I loved the vibe. Hopefully it will be home soon.”
While growing up in the small Canadian capital came with geographic challenges accessing networks and music contacts in his early years, Nxghts describes a deep appreciation for his hometown. “What I like about Ottawa is that it’s close enough to Toronto that it still has that Canadian sound that everyone’s trying to steal right now, but it’s a bit different because the vibe isn’t exactly the same. Even when I go to Toronto and work with all of these producers, my stuff sounds a bit different and my choices with sounds are different. We don’t have those big high rises, so I definitely feel it affects your sound. It’s who you are at the end of the day.”
Breaking into the music industry is challenging for some, but Nxghts realized the value and staying power of producers early. “I noticed that producers are on another level. I was trying to reach out to artists and I wasn’t really getting hit back. Once I started working with more producers I started realizing that this is a whole community. That pushed me to meet a lot more people. That’s how I linked everyone. Things kind of fell into place for me through other producers to be honest. I think all producers have the same end goal. We’re not trying to be the coolest guy in the room. We just want to make something great. We’re doing whatever it takes to make something amazing.”
On finding mentorship in the industry, Nxghts’ entry was initially supported by some of the most admired urban music producers in the industry. “The first guy was Illmind. I was like 16, my beats were trash,” he laughs. “Illmind would let me send him stuff and tell me to fix things. He saw me get better. One day he was like, ‘Yo I’m doing this thing in Toronto I know you live out there. Why don’t you pull up?’ It was a beat competition that he was judging. I was way too young to be in the venue. I had to sneak in. I did it [the battle] and I was okay, but then I did it again the next year and Boi-1da was there. Cardogotwings was there. That’s actually where I met Nova. He was like, ‘Keep sending me stuff.’ It kind of grew naturally from there. That’s how I met Neenyo and ended up signing with those guys. Since meeting Nova and Neenyo, they kind of pushed me through to everybody.”
Now signed to BSTL Management under one of R&B’s most successful and respected producers (Neenyo), Nxghts is poised to begin the most influential year of his career. He concedes that staying musically inspired isn’t something that he currently struggles with. “You’ve just gotta’ go out and live your life. I don’t think I have a boring life. Going out and seeing new things. Meeting people and being open. It can be anything – even just a drive home on a certain day might inspire something. You can find inspiration in anything,” he tells.
Nxghts shares his broader dreams for his music career and greater aspirations in the industry. “I want to executive produce and have a heavy hand in a lot of the music that comes out – see it spread. Hopefully into things like movies and fashion. I don’t think my end goal has ever changed. I think it’s always been set kind of high,” he confirms.
Concluding our interview, he contributes that his only immediate hope is to keep creating music that remains authentic and honest. “As long as it comes from me and it’s true to what I think it should be, then I’m okay with it. I just want to make music that makes sense to me, and is me. I think that’s the most important thing. Anything I make is part of the score to my life. As long as I don’t lose that, I’m good with it.”
Watch the official music video for “Fireback” below, and follow Nxghts on Instagram.