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Nick Miamis of Side Liner interviewed by Baz Bardoe

Nick Miamis, aka ‘Side Liner’ has released an incredible fifteen studio albums and had countless tracks on compilations. It is an enormous output, representing almost an album a year since he began producing under this alias. Based in Greece, he also runs the Cosmic Leaf label which is devoted to sublime ambient and chillout music, and is hence the perfect home for Side Liner’s melodic and evocative excursions into the chill zone. I will be doing a separate interview with Nick about the label but for now we are mainly talking about Side Liner. And before we begin please be aware that English is Nick’s second language.

I began by asking him to give some background to the genesis of his musical career, and influences.

As a kid, at the age of 10 (1989), I remember listening hours of music with my favourite red radio-cassette player, my mother always listening her music on radio and I wanted to discover and listen my own too, so she bought me my own.

I was recording my favourite tracks and searching all time radio frequency for new music. My music world changed when I first listened to radio tracks as Age Of Love (1990), Chimo Bayo -Así Me Gusta A Mí (1991), Apotheosis – Obubratta (1992) The Prodigy – Out Of Space (1992) and later in 1994-1996 discovered a local radio station playing 24 hours a day electronica, where I stuck more with psychedelic goa trance of that period and music of Art Of Trance, MWNN, Astral Projection, Tranwave, Etnica etc and starting collecting CDs and vinyl.

I remember around 1994, my good friend George Deligiannis (Cydelix) who was 3 years younger from me and he was amazed also from electronica of that period, he was studying music and we were spending a lot of time listening and mixing records together but also he transfer me music knowledge from his lessons. One day he showed me a full trance track he did with synths with the help of his music teacher. I was so amazed at listening for 1st time, and learning more info how that can be done. Since then we had an increasingly high interest in music production and sharing with me his knowledge almost daily, showing one to other the productions we have done.

In 1997 I had bought my first synth, a Roland MC-303 and my first productions that were trance as “Mendark”, and I started playing at small local events.

Once, on my way home from school on the bus, a young boy talked to me and asked if I could help his friend and teach him to make music with PC and synths. So we started creating some music together, we named our duo “Naga” and as he was higher connected with bigger size events of that period, he delivered our music to local DJs. Until one day one of our tracks when played in one of these events, had such great dancefloor feedback that a local label “Discobole” sought us and we signed with them in an exclusive 5 year agreement as artists in 1998. That was my first entry in music business.

In 2003 I decided to open my own trance label Unicorn Music and in 2004 the sub-label from ambient chill Cosmicleaf. The switch from trance to chill, and the birth of producing music as Side Liner in 2004 caused from the below…

I had been listening from time to time to chill out channels of Digitally Imported music, and once in 2003, while I was in my day job, I listened to The Egg “Lost at Sea (vocal mix)” and I felt magic in my ears, so emotional, that I started listening and collecting more and more ambient chill from that period.

One day in 2003 I received a demo in Unicorn Music, from an Israel artist “Zero Cult” with his tracks “P-Ray” and “If”. For a second time I was so amazed from the feeling, and wanted so much to share this music with world, but Unicorn was a trance label, and I didn’t have any other tracks to combine with them.

So I did my first try on downtempo with “Next Page”. I asked the same of my Unicorn artists of that period and we released “Chill On Ice”. And before I understand it, I had devoted almost exclusive in my new project Side Liner and on label Cosmicleaf.

I have done one album in the last four years – so Nick seemed to be incredibly prolific. I asked him to give me an idea of how he goes about creating so much music. Did he have a schedule he stuck to? What other career path did he follow?

On my first years as Side Liner, I was single and without a fulltime day job always, so I had all the time to make enough music. I used to produce music every week.

I slowed down my productivity in 2010 after I got married, being a proud father of a little daughter, and having a full time day job to pay all the bills. So since then a track can be done sometimes in 8 hours or in 3months. Depends how often I am not tired and sleepy to make a track … if I can produce loud. I love to make music loud if I don’t have any of the almost daily family and label run obligations. Now days I admit I work with a plan, spending less time in collecting the proper sounds, doing the basic mix and FX on a track and composing few midi (files) which can be done fast because of experience. And when I find more than 2 hours free time, I am getting into the heart of the track, to create the emotional part, the groove, and a nicer mix. When it is like that, it is easier and faster to complete the track. But the harder thing is to find that 2+ hours to get into the new track. But I focus on these rules; I never start a new track, unless finish I the last, no matter what ideas I have or requests for collab/remixes. If in the first 2-3hours of production the result don’t give me satisfaction as sound or emotion, I don’t waste much time to try to fix the sound or get into emotion. I accept that ingredients sucks, I delete, and start a new one.

My fulltime day job that I am doing for the last few years, is sales support in the Horeca area. I work weekly, 5 days, 8 hours per day. On my free time have to take care of my second work as label manager and owner of Cosmicleaf Records, my family, and last myself as producer “Side Liner”

I am noticing a trend towards anachronisms …viny l… modular synths etc. Do you think people are fatigued by modernity? Is it a matter that some trajectories of technology are simply not as good as those they were intended to replace? What are your thoughts on this?

No, I don’t believe that. In a world market there is always a place for any trend. What trends more is a result of some talented people who invested their time, their money on something that they believe and love, many times risked everything, but people loved that back and supported hard. Then all similar markets see that success and tries to follow up as fast it can to cash in on something from that trend.

Side Liner at Kiev

Everyone says it – the music industry is dying. Punters now have an expectation that music will be for free. The old model of making an album, selling copies, and being paid seems to be almost entirely gone. I know that personally I have the same costs…yet no one is getting paid anymore. It has always been tough, but bands and artists who have very successful track records are all saying the same thing. Even the old model where you toured to help sell records doesn’t work for smaller artists – you can lose a bundle touring. What are your thoughts on this and what is the way forward?

It’s dying as we know it … surely changing, and royalties not come from the usual ways. Free music may happen at the end for the user, but someone will pay the bill. For example, free listening on You Tube is paid back by advertisers. I am keen and expecting of more fair and transparent royalty collection from royalties societies worldwide, in order of collection of all true airplays of each artist.

The majority of these airplays are either not collected, or not reported. Many businesses around the world are paying these societies a fee, but that fee is not shared fair and transparently to all air played tracks.

It would be a good model online, working with audio fingerprints. It would be transparent for all. It means all artists will receive royalties that are usually ignored. If you collect royalties from a thousand points, even if are few, their total may be big.

During the 90’s ‘ambient’ music saw a huge resurgence with Orb, FSOL, Aphex etc all hitting mainstream charts. Robin Rimbaud described the chillout spaces of the time as being a kind of ‘cultural nexus’. In 1999 we saw the emergence of the term Ambient Media which describes advertising that merges with the ubiquitous environment to influence buyers, much like how ambient music can be engaged with on a more unconscious level, and in turn influence the listener. From here we have Ambient Awareness/Technology/Organisations etc. Do you think you can mount a case that Ambient music has played a role in changing the thinking around other areas of culture and social organisation? I thinking especially of people exposed to it in chillout spaces and experimental music spaces during the 90’s and how the underlying approach may have caused them to look at more subtle ways of approaching things.

Ambient chill music sits you down to listen, feel, dream, think, awake and while parts of her still can make you groove and dance, it s not her goal and is free from that production stress of dance music.

Lower BPMs and softer music certainly affects you in an opposite way that harder and faster BPM does. Anything that slows you down, gives you the opportunity to see and understand things in a different way (is positive) and ambient music involves that.

Since 2005 Nick has been using Cubase and software exclusively, and he is a little coy about providing more detail, with some good reason because he has a distinctive sound that he has worked hard to create. But when asked about career highlights he states that feedback from fans is what counts. This is the real motivator to keep producing music. I asked him how he sees the future of the kind of ambient, electronic music that he creates. It seems to me that the mainstream is now almost a desert in terms of creativity – not something you might have said in the late 1960’s or even late last century… can ambient music survive if there is less and less chance for it to come to the attention of a wider audience?

The good thing with ambient music is that it never gets old, so it is not a mainstream pop music that gets out dated fast. You can still listen to all ambient catalogue nowadays and still love it. There would be always listeners that will be amazed by this genre.

I don’t doubt that will survive and grow up more.

In a wider sense … there seems to be a mass dumbing down. 17 of the top 20 TV shows are ‘reality’ shows. Everything seems to be delivered in smaller and smaller soundbytes. Few people seem capable of analytical thought. The ‘news’ is just native advertising. And so on. Thoughts?

I think is not a phenomenon of today and maybe always existed. Just now we are able to see thousand opinions of people because of internet and social media.

Nothing confirms that we were “smarter” before. There would always be people who seek more, analyze more, and want to get involved more.

Before we had only a small sample to judge and we rarely hearing their opinions about anything happened, to understand their quality.

So some advice for young people…the industry and has never been tougher. Brian Eno might advise ‘don’t get a job’ so you don’t lose your creative focus, but is this even possible anymore? Nick agrees that it was probably easier for the older artists to get a start in the genre. He suggests that given how hard it is to make a living from music now, new artists might be best off just focusing on what they love.

Also there will always be talent and people who can create, communicate and promote their way in a unique way from others…I see new artists that get into scene faster than the old.

So there are always opportunities.

Tell us a bit about your new album and how we can get it!

“Last Breath” is my 15th studio album is digitally available to all music retailers by Cosmicleaf (Was released on February 2 this year)

It is more soft in mood and less groovy than my previous works, including various recordings from Greece seaside, little daughter’s voice, and also my own vocals and lyrics in 3 tracks (Anamnisi Remix, In To Pek Rime, Last Angel Calling). I hope listeners love it.

It took me more than a year to complete because of not enough free time.


Baz Bardoe’s ‘Last Breath’ album review:

lastbreathcoverIt seems incredible that Side Liner, aka Nick Miamis is releasing his fifteenth studio album. From my reckoning he is still in his 30’s, and yet his discography is mind-blowingly vast, taking in countless compilation appearances as well.

But the incredible thing is his level of quality control. Throughout his career Miamis has sustained a very high standard of work, and on his latest album ‘Last Breath’ he sets the bar even higher again. On this album he introduces some of his own voice, and even that of his little daughter. I personally feel the human voice can be an incredibly important part of the sound palette and I applaud Miamis pursuing this angle. It appears on three tracks and sits well with the completely instrumental tracks.

Miamis has a lush and evocative sensibility. The artwork and visual material that accompanies his releases pays homage to the natural beauty of his homeland of Greece, and presents us with subtle vantage points that betray a kind of magical realism. The music itself is masterfully crafted with lush, expansive sweeps of sound melding with gorgeous melodies that trigger imaginative journeys to other places. It is music you can ‘chill’ to, but it also engages the active imagination… I prefer to term it ‘listening music’.

It is an impressive body or work, that continues the style he is so well regarded for, whilst signalling new possibilities. ‘Last Breath’ invites the listener to undertake a very special and private journey to a corner of the imagination less explored.


Side Liner links

Purchase Last Breath here





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