There’s something different happening at a packed local show. For a few hours, there can exist a community among band, audience, bartenders, sound engineer, everyone else involved from the same place.
On February 11, Hartford groove masters Nikita are aiming to provide that experience at a hometown gig at the Arch Street Tavern. Starting at 10 p.m., they will be putting on a party-like atmosphere all night long until last call.
I spoke with vocalist Billy Yeterian ahead of the show about the band incorporating a variety of sounds into their music, having a home recording studio and practice space, what people can expect from the upcoming show and gearing up for a big 2023.
RD: Nikita has a very energetic sound that incorporates soul, funk, R&B and rock within a psychedelic aesthetic that you guys like to refer to as “Purple Soul”. When the band first started getting together to hash out ideas for songs, how did you go about crafting this musical approach?
BY: I think it just kind of came from what we were all into at the time. A few of us played together in a band that was doing a lot of covers for parties, bars and stuff like that and we were really enjoying funk music. Myself and Clay Zotta, our guitar player, were kind of the ones who first started putting together the original for the group before the other guys joined. We were feeling really inspired by bands & musicians like Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince and D’Angelo. It’s naturally based on what we’re into.
RD: Back in July of last year, you guys released the single “Honeytone”. What was the experience like making the track and did you guys have a specific vision going into the songwriting and recording process or were you just looking to release something fresh & new?
BY: The vision came along as the track came along in terms of the creative aspects. Recording the track was pretty cool, it’s actually entirely produced in-house. We tracked it live in our home studio and besides a couple odds & ends we recorded it entirely at home. It’s produced and mixed by my brother Chris, who was the original drummer for the band and he now does a lot of engineering for us.
RD: You just mentioned that you guys recorded it at your home studio, which is called the “Nikita House”. Do you all live in an actual house together and that’s where you record all your material?
BY: A few of the band members live together in a house. I used to live there, I don’t anymore but it’s a house in the west end of Hartford. I would say the house itself is called the “Nikita House”, the studio isn’t really an official thing but we have a home DIY practice space that we’ve set up to be able to have ready to go for that type of thing.
RD: Is the practice space and studio set up in the basement or is it in a room on the main floor of the house?
BY: It’s on the main floor of the house, we have a bunch of soundproofing built in it.
RD: How did you go about soundproofing the room? Do you have the typical foam on the walls or did you use other things?
BY: We built it ourselves, actually. It’s some wood panels that are framed and we have some stuff in the middle that’s deadening that’s based off the typical foam.
RD: How long did it take to build? Did it take a year? Did it take a few months?
BY: We moved in there during the fall of 2018, then we started in on it and started using the space right away. I think the final additions to it happened during the summer of 2021, it’s kind of just been a slow burn of us adding piece by piece.
RD: For folks who haven’t seen Nikita live before, what can they expect from the show at Arch Street Tavern on the 11th? From certain videos I’ve watched, you guys seem to be very engaging with the audience.
BY: They can definitely expect a super high energy performance. It’s a lot of fun singing with the audience, people like to dance, get close to the stage and just have a good time. I think there’s also a great sense of community at our shows too, it’s a safe & positive space to be in where people can enjoy and be themselves.
RD: That’s how you know it’s going to be a good time, when people can be themselves.
BY: Yes, definitely.
RD: After the show, what are Nikita’s plans for the coming months? Can we expect a release to follow up “Honeytone” either as a single, an EP or a full-length album?
BY: Specific plans are still coming together, but we definitely have a lot of unreleased material that’s either finished or close to being finished so we have to decide what to do with that. Some of it will probably be singles and some of it might come together in a bigger release like an album or an EP., which is exciting. We’re also trying to book some more shows, we’re looking to play outside the Hartford area more this year as well while broadening our scope and keeping things moving. It should be an exciting year for us.
Arch Street Tavern
85 Arch Street, Hartford