Some use unfortunate descriptors like “soulless” and “mechanical” to describe electronic dance music, no matter the subgenre. LYOD – the 24-year-old German producer prodigy born Niklas Heidkamp – aims to transform that impression with his debut LP, Forgot How You Dance.
Out in September, Forgot How You Dance is the result of LYOD locking himself in a small cabin by the sea to create new music. Listeners have already gotten a few glimpses, including “Ride Alone Again,” featuring a Nigerian choir; “Fighting For” with vocals from Bad Actor; and “Why Does My Heart,” a reimagining of Moby’s iconic “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” Collectively, these tracks, plus “If You Ever Need a Friend,” have received over 2 million Spotify streams. Over 10 tracks, LYOD attempts to capture the feeling of unexplainable loss and missing something, intense but fleeting encounters, and dance music with more emotional resonance and warmth.
In addition to this release, LYOD has released an official remix for Dutch DJ Sam Feldt and created the track “Never Fall” for the German Google Pixel Campaign.
What influenced you to lock yourself in a cabin by the sea to write and record your upcoming album?
When I was younger, I always dreamed about renting a house by the sea, locking myself in, and just writing music for weeks and spending time on my own. For the album, I wanted to change the vibe to find new inspiration and give the songs a place to live. Somehow, I found this house directly by the sea, and I went there for six weeks and worked non-stop on music. I never felt more inspired, and I came up with the ideas and the concept for the album.
How did this environment help your writing and creative process?
It really inspired me a lot and played a huge part in writing these songs. I am all about views, and this place had something magical for me. Especially during sunset, when it all looked so warm outside with the orange colors and the sea directly in front of me. It was something I always dreamed of, and it inspired me a lot coming up with the songs for the album. Whenever I needed a break from music, I went for walks and invited my friends for a few days. We cooked food together and had a great time.
What should listeners expect from Forgot How You Dance?
Forgot How You Dance is a dance record with a mix of bitter-sweetness, longing, and lots of vulnerability coupled with a late summer feel I wish I could live in forever.
For me, it’s a soundtrack I want to listen to whenever I miss something or feel a certain kind of longing, and I hope people can live with it in the same way or live with it whatever they feel. That’s the most important thing, to live with it.
Thematically, the album explores what it means to miss something. What made you decide on this theme?
I really feel inspired by the feeling of missing something and having a longing. That’s what gets me in the zone. With the album, I wanted to express this inner longing. A longing I can hardly put to words. The title “Forgot How You Dance” came to my mind one day and I loved the emotions it carried straight away. I had so many pictures in my head and a feeling of how it should sound. And, I am super happy with the result of the ten songs.
You mention adding more emotion and warmth compared to the traditional dance music track. How do you do this, be it through instrumentation or vocals?
It’s a mix of both I would say. I always start with the chords. That’s what makes people feel a certain way and let words become more powerful and tell a different story. I try to find the right emotional framework a vocal can live in and find a bitter-sweetness between both. To emphasize these feelings, I love to use warm-sounding drums, organic sounds, pianos, and warm synthesizers.
The release also features a cover of Moby’s “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” What influenced you to update this track, and what do you do differently?
I share lots of childhood memories with this song, and I always wanted to do my own interpretation of it. I wanted to bring some nostalgic feelings of the late ‘90s back and put my own touch on it while keeping the main essence of the original. With the album, it finally felt right to put it out and luckily it all came together how I imagined it.
I worked on the song for almost a year, re-recording the vocals and recreating all the samples of the original and making countless versions until it finally felt right for me. Trying my best to honor the work of Moby and bring it back in today’s era.
Outside of your album, you worked on some music for the Google Pixel Campaign. How does writing for a brand compare to your solo LYOD work?”
Working for a brand is a slightly different approach than working on a solo song because you have to make sure that the music catches the emotions the brand and director is looking for. For the Google Pixel campaign, my friends and I – with whom I am always writing songs together – received a short film of two young people falling in love. So, we had a very clear vision of where to go. That was a lot of fun and a cool new way to work for me. And I am super grateful for the possibility.
As this is your full-length debut album, where would you like your career to go from here?
Musically, I want to build from that. I really like the direction my sound has taken through the album, and I am already working on the next songs. I’d love to bring more genres together and take more vocals from an indie or soul song and give them a new interpretation. And, I would love to work with more talented artists from all over the world.
I hope to play more gigs at festivals and venues all around the world to really connect with the people. And, do my own shows in the future. That would be a dream. I am working consistently on it to hopefully get there someday.