My 5 Favorite Things: Colleen Nika

By Susie G

If you’re a fashion-conscious, regular reader of Rolling Stone, then you will know Colleen Nika. Editor of the pop culture magazine’s own fashion column that’s aptly titled “Thread Count,” Nika has also written for  Interview, Elle, Dansk, Paper, Blackbook and many other publications over the past few years. When she’s not writing, she’s either working on her own musical manifesto called Nightvision, which she describes as “an ever-evolving platform for presenting music (and the weirder bits of culture) I love through live events, radio, mixes and conversations with artists that fascinate me,” or flexing her DJ skills in NYC and Europe, spinning rare techno, EBM, leftfield house, electro and “future noir” music. We recently chatted with this musical devotee about her five favorite things.

1. The Conet Project. My dad had a shortwave radio, and growing up, I would listen to the “ghost signals” from radio stations too remote to tune in, and soon learned there were, in fact, pirate and off-the-grid entities that could pop up on the radar at random. I later discovered the historical legacy of illicit shortwave activity, and discovered “numbers stations” — almost mythical mystery stations of uncertain origin that were used by spies after the World War II to send encrypted messages. They are eerie recordings: women’s voices counting off emotionlessly, warped nursery rhymes chanted systematically. Chilling stuff. Thankfully, The Conet Project has compiled recordings of the most infamous instances of these numbers stations, and some of my favorite artists, like Boards of Canada, have sampled them creatively. To me, the Internet was invented to house phenomena like this.

2. Pye Corner Audio.
 One of my favorite artists in the world right now. I’ve been following Our Head Technician’s (another moniker for Pye Corner Audio) work for a few years now, and have always appreciated the way he coaxes dance floor elements out of in the dark, cinematic corners of the electronic map; those dichotomies and shifts in expectation make my heart stop, like all good music should. Pye Corner Audio’s debut album, Sleep Games, should be on every adventurous music listener’s best of the year list.

3. Juno 60. My one true love in the form of a synthesizer. Every artist who has defined my musical worldview — from Trent Reznor to John Foxx  — has used it liberally in their work. I am hoping to own one of my own soon enough.

4. Ti West. I’m a big horror film buff, but I’m generally disinterested in contemporary films of the genre, thanks to the infiltration of torture porn. However, I have a lot of faith in director Ti West, whose “neo-Hitchcockian” approach to filmmaking I really connect to. I saw The House of the Devil recently and was genuinely freaked out. A good horror film, in my eyes, should keep the viewer on the edge of their seat, in blind paranoid dread, for most of the movie, before any real evil or danger is revealed. And, of course, have a gripping soundtrack.

5. Alfred Kubin.
Unlike with music, I can’t easily pinpoint more than a handful of key visual artists who have definitively affected me, but Alfred Kubin has certainly has inspired me throughout my life. His graphite and ink drawings predate the work of Edward Gorey but almost definitely influenced his macabre, spidery art and storytelling (not to mention that of Tim Burton). My first serious art purchase will definitely be a Kubin.