Sleepwalkr started out like many electronic music artists: with a Mac, GarageBand, and a whole lot of free time.
Nick Brewer is the man behind Sleepwalkr. Four years ago, after a snowboarding injury left him with a torn ACL and space in his schedule, Brewer started tinkering around on GarageBand, a digital audio workstation program, inevitably dedicating entire days to exploring the software and teaching himself the ins and outs of using it.
While he started out emulating his favorite artists and toying around on GarageBand, Brewer’s software and knowledge improved, allowing him to make music of his own.
There’s a huge array of influences that Brewer pulls from, like the moody lo-fi music of Crystal Castles, and the crisp, fast-paced trap music produced by Lex Luger, or the blurred, ambient, upbeat sound of Washed Out.
Film also plays a part in the music of Sleepwalkr. Brewer takes inspiration from both the soundtracks and the movies themselves. He’s even sampled dialogue to play over tracks, using the likes of The Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter and Clarice in one song and Scarface’s Tony Montana in another.
While some music seeks to tell you something, Brewer’s goals with his music isn’t to touch your heartstrings, send a message, or to stick it to the man. It all starts out as creating an auditory sensory experience, generating a song based on what works aurally. “I definitely go for audio stimulation first, and if feelings are brought up later on, then that’s the way it works.”
Making his own music was a way for him to have freedom and control over his music experience. “I would listen to a song and think everything is perfect—except this one part, I wish I could change it,” says Brewer. “But when you start making music, you can do that. You can do whatever you want, because it’s your music.”
Because it’s his own, he isn’t limited by genres and labels. He’s got a wide array of sounds, from the eerie, distorted witch house sound of his track “Coven,” to the tropical, buoyant ambient pop in “Island Lvfe.”
Brewer’s other interests, like snowboarding has opened doors to more opportunities for his music making. He’s been able to make a song specifically for one snowboarding video and his song “Island Lvfe” was chosen to be used in another upcoming video.
Sometimes Brewer sees a lack of formal musical training as a setback. “I don’t know what notes I’m playing” he says. “I think it definitely inhibits me. The hardest part is the mixing and mastering the track and making sure everything is in key.”
On the other hand, it’s one of Brewer’s biggest strengths. “At the same time, I don’t ever go into [making music] with a mindset of how to make a song,” he says. While the rules of musical training might give an idea of what music making should be, Brewer looks at himself as a blank canvas, with the sky as the limit for what he can do and put into a song.
The name Sleepwalkr was inspired “Sleep Walk,” a 1959 song by Santo & Johnny, a rock and roll duo.
“It was my favorite song by them, so Sleepwalkr is an extension of that,” says Brewer.
But the name also denotes how Brewer looks at his music making.
“I like the fact that when you’re sleepwalking, physically your body is doing all these things, but in a lot of ways you don’t have control over it, because you’re sleepwalking,” he says. “Music for me is kind of like that.”