Nicholas Kopernicus  

Jason Minnis & Seon Gomez

A few months after working on the Smash Brothers' "Fear Factor" album, Classicbeatz (Jason Minnis) hit me up about working on a project he was developing, which involved live instruments and wanted to know if I had experience in working on live projects and if I was even interested, as this wasn't going to be a typical hip hop project. He described the project as having various flavors, from Jazz, Funk, Reggae, Afrobeat, Soul, Blues, Hip Hop. Having experience with a few projects that used live instruments, I sent Jason an example of something I'd worked on earlier, and just by his description of the project, I was definitely interested. He got back to me and said they liked the clip I sent them and he said they also wanted the project to have a vintage vibe to it. For me, this posed a bit of a challenge because I wanted this project to have that vintage vibe, but also sound current, without it sounding "pop" keeping in mind the various types of flavors on this project. Fast forward to a couple of months after I finished working on this album; Jason sent me a link of one of the songs being played on the radio, and the DJ at the Atlanta Jazz station (WCLK 91.9 FM in Atlanta) says he initially thought the track was something off a War album from the 70's (click here to listen to the clip).

When I got the sessions for all of the tracks on this project, one thing was obviously there from the jump: Flavor. There's something really special about projects like this one, which have a lot of gems that just need to be polished and put in their proper sonic space, and that's what Nicholas Kopernicus is about. Whenever you're having a moment where you think your music doesn't sound as good as you'd like and someone recommends an expensive piece of gear, think about Nicholas Kopernicus and how they're doing it...

I know a little bit on how you guys came up with Nicholas Kopernicus as the name you guys are using for this project, but for those who have yet to pick up your release to read the liner notes, please let them know.

Jason: Well originally the name started as an inside joke. Seon and I work together and we both have a weird sense of humor. Every time he would do something silly I would hit him with the phrase "great job Kopernicus". After awhile it got to the point that we were saying it in almost every other sentence. During this time we had started working on Audiocentric so I jokingly suggested that we call ourselves Nicholas Kopernicus. At first it was a joke but after awhile the name just stuck. It seemed to fit both of our personalities. Also you can find alot of double meanings in the name.

Seon: Ummmmm...what he said

You guys definitely exemplify coming up with good recordings using a limited budget/space. How many years have you guys been recording music, what was your earliest experience in recording sound?

Jason: That a was a challenge during the entire project. We wanted to get the best possible sound that we could with the limited resources that we had. To do this, I had to come up with alot of recording tricks & techniques that would be seen as unorthodox by many of recording engineers. The entire project was recorded in my home studio in my apartment. So I had to utilize everything in that environment, from pots and pans as percussion instruments, to Mic'cing Seon playing the Jimbe drum in my bathroom. We did it all. Ive been "officially" recording and producing music for about 8 years. But unofficially Ive been recording music since i was 8 years old. I just found a bunch of old tapes of me playing songs on the piano when i was in elementary school. I was always experimenting with tape players and recording little songs that I wrote.

Seon: My first official recording was at Jasons place...Not sure what it was. I had only been playing guitar for about a year so im sure it TOTALLY RAWKED!!!

How was this particular project born? Having mixed/mastered the Smash Brothers’ “Fear Factor” album a while back, this took me by surprise; how did you guys get so many styles down in this project?

Jason: Originally the project started out of me wanting to try something new. I have been a hip hop producer for a while but I really wasn't getting any satisfaction of cranking out beats for MC's. There was a musical side of my production that I really wanted to explore. "Fear Factor" was a starting point as far as experimentation within hip hop. But i wanted to take it further and incorporate more live instrumentation. So in August of '08 I approached Seon about making audiocentric and the rest is history. I think the reason that we were able to incorporate alot of styles in audiocentric is the fact that we both have diverse musical backgrounds. I have a background in classical piano (I still play to this day) as well as blues and soul. I'm originally from the south as well so I grew up listing to music in the church. Seon is Trinidadian so he brought his cultural influences and musical tastes to the table. Everything just blended togher into this soup we call Audiocentric

Seon: I think it began with a rough recording of the track "Legacy". I still have that version on my iPod actually. Jason was doing his "soap box" thing on vocals. It was...interesting ;-)

I wanted to acknowledge one thing people don’t know: When we were talking about the overall sound of the album, you guys said you were not interested in competing with other albums in terms of volume, but instead, you said you wanted the album to have a great sound. I think this is one of the reasons why you can hear a lot of “character” in this album, was that because of the sound of other albums out there that are just squashed to death, and you guys wanted to avoid that?

Jason: Yep you hit the nail on head. From the start Ii knew that Ii wanted this album to have a full dynamic range. All the great recordings from Fela Kuti to Marvin Gaye have a character warmth that is absent in alot of modern music today. I didn't want our stuff to be squashed for volume. There were too many subtle dynamic goodies needed to be heard. From Seons guitar playing to the horn players on Legacy. Everything had to have "room" to breathe and be heard. Thats why I came to you L-ROX! LOL!

Seon: Choad McFearson aka Jason said it perfectly.

I appreciate the trust you guys put on me to work on your project! Do you guys plan to do some of this stuff live?

Jason: Aww man that's the million dollar question. Short answer YES! Id love to. but we have limited resources and practice space. As soon as the right opportunity comes along I'm on it!!

Seon: "I'm on it!!" Thats what she said!!

oh I wanna play live too!!
(> >)

I'm a bit surprised, Seon that you said you had only been playing for a year before! You guys also featured some other musicians on this project, did you guys record them in Jason's home studio as well?

Seon: I had been playing for about 3.5 years actually. I had only been seriously trying to write for about a year or so.

Jason: Yep everything was recorded in my home studio (in Brooklyn) I reached out to a lot of my musician friends to come through and contribute to the project. Shouts out to Dylan (saxophone), Brandi(flute), Marcus(harmonica) and Manuel(congas/percussion) for coming through. They added an extra level of dopeness!

Legacy is one of my favorite songs from the project, so much texture there; the whole album plays very nicely from beginning to end though, and I know a lot of times people write songs and when they've got enough to put together an album, they just work on the sequencing, but was this how this one was done or did you guys specifically come up with tunes that would compliment one another, thinking of a specific sequence from the beginning?

Jason: Well basically we worked on the sketch principal. During the first 2 months of the project we recorded as many ideas as we could. Usually the process would work like this:

-Seon or I would come up with a chord progression.
-I would record the chord progression into pro-tools.
-then I would go back and add different elements(drums , percussion, synths , mpc sequencing) to get a skeleton track.

At the end of the 2 month period we had at least 20 different "skeleton" tracks to work with. From there we just chose the ones that we liked the most. Once we narrowed down the tracks that we wanted, we worked on adding musicianship to those tracks to make them complete songs and not just "beats". The completion of the album was a pretty organic process. As far as Legacy goes, yea that song is a beast. It took the longest to put together because of all the elements involved. There were at least 7 or 8 rhythm guitar layers. 3 piano parts. 8-10 layered sax parts, organ solo's , sax solo's , Guitar solo's, vocals, Live percussion, you name it its in there. Hell If you listen close enough you can hear me playing pots and pans in the background! My neighbors were pissed!

(L-ROX Technical Sidenote: All of the Pro Tools session files I received from these guys were pretty involved; Legacy is one of the sessions I remember very well as having a lot of tracks and I did a lot of automation on pretty much all of the tracks on this song, I remember taking a good while automating the horn tracks specifically; this and all of the songs on this project are so organic that I wanted to make sure there wasn't much of a static feel to any of the tracks.)

What would Nicholas Kopernicus play on the album if you guys would be able to bring him to the studio?

Jason: Wow, that's a tricky question. Well the "real" Nicholas Kopernicus was an astronomer. Astronomy has been described as a science as well as an art form so I'm assuming Kopernicus would have been a pretty musical dude. I think he would play the Congas or the Lute. (The Lute is an European string instrument, for those of you who think that was a typo for "Flute" -L).

Seon: Didgeridoo! Hands down!

Please keep at it fellas, any last words?

Jason: Shouts out to all the new fans and supporters of Nicholas Kopernicus. Shouts out to you L-ROX for helping this album reach its sonic potential.


Take care!
See ya!

Those are all last words!

Thanks fellas.

These guys have been getting a lot of ears open to the Nicholas Kopernicus project, Google "Nicholas Kopernicus Audiocentric" to see how much they're already out there; I personally think of this project as a "natural progression" if you will, of a hip hop producer and a musician who are doing something that has proven to be a fundamental sure-shot recipe for making good music, and that is: use what you have available to its fullest potential and collaborate with other musicians to get that musical vision materialized, and forget about what everyone thinks with regards to the studio shit; just make music. As these guys said earlier, Nicholas Kopernicus can mean different things and to me that means = real music. Earlier today, my little guy was giving their album another listen and for this I can't thank these guys enough. -L.


This is a "flyer" that my 7 year-old son (who is Autistic) drew while listening to Audiocentric. He has written several flyers for most of the songs on the album, and asks to listen to Audiocentric in the car. This is the first album for which he has drawn art for!



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