Four times a week in the early evenings, you can find LIU Post student Nick Butera heading north on the Meadowbrook Parkway. On Wednesday morning, March 19, he sips on his coffee, the beverage burns his tongue, and he increases the volume dial on his car, as he heads to his 8 a.m. class. The beats per minute (BPM), is steady and supported by multiple synths and sirens. “It’s mixed well; the lead isn’t too loud,” he said. The song ends. However, this wasn’t some famous radio DJ — it’s Nick’s original material. He goes by the name DJ Niko.
Butera, a sophomore Business Administration major has aspirations to one day make a living from music. However, currently he is also dedicated to creating electronic dance music (EDM), which is a form of music that rose in popularity during the late-2000s and reached mainstream popularity by 2010. Electronic dance music is categorized by percussive rhythms for dance based entertainment and is usually played at concerts or nightclubs.
At 12:30 p.m., the same day, Butera opens up his laptop while seated in the media lab in Humanities Hall and reveals he has an independent album coming out soon. “Right now, I have five songs on my Soundcloud from it, none of them are available for download yet. It’s going to be between eight and 11 songs.” Butera further explained that he plans to release the album this summer.
Butera grew up in Merrick, 20 minutes south of Post. He recalled his first experience with creating EDM and how it coincided with the mainstream explosion. “I made my first complete techno song on Fruity Loops [a production program] in 2009. Soon after that, it really took off. I really appreciate it and enjoy it making it.” Fruity Loops is a pattern- based, digital audio workshop used to sequence music as you please, for various forms of music.
At 1:30 p.m., Butera is still talking about his music and insisting that his tracks hold a sincere amount of originality. “I try not to veer too far off from what the majority of EDM is today — at the same time, I try to spend as much time as I can to make my song sound original.”
Burcu Altintas, a freshman Psychology major, has heard Butera’s dance songs in between classes and likes what she has heard so far. “It was different with Nick; his music was actually something different. It didn’t sound like something that the kid in my Bio class formulated. It sounded like something I would have heard partying in Cancún.” Butera cites multiple influences, ranging from heavy metal, rap, and pop in his EDM music.
At 2 p.m., Butera gets up to go study for an exam. He will go to work at 4 p.m. He works on music roughly 40 hours a week, all the while going to school full time and also working part time at the Greenvale Pharmacy.
“I have my set up at my house and working on music is always readily accessible whenever I want to use it. It is something that I enjoy so much that whenever I get a second — even if it’s for 10 minutes, I’ll hop on and mix a couple songs,” he said.
“It could be in the morning before school, during common hour, after work when I get off work after 9 p.m.; any free time I have, I’ll use,” he added.
“Not that well,” Butera said jokingly after being asked how he balances school and his music aspirations. “I think the most important thing is to always keep your priorities in order and always be ahead of yourself. Try to plan ahead, think ahead, and think about the next day. I have class at this time and work at that time. I always bring my laptop and head phones everywhere, so I can always access my music.”
Butera, claims he will always have music in his life, whether it’s through having his own studio, seeing thousands of fans dancing to his music as he gazes out at a festival venue, or doing engineer work for productions and recording. He is always thinking of ways he can incorporate his Business major into music. Labels and music brands are never out of the option.