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Meet Kristopher Escajeda of NKRIOT in Boyle Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristopher Escajeda.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kristopher. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
NKRIOT is an electronic artist, label owner and pioneer to genre concept GOJI, the fusion of Electro-House and Rock. The artist born and raised in Los Angeles, California began as a cyber-punk project in the summer of 2013, that has now morphed into a powerhouse electronic cyborg combining all the elements and tones of full-scale electro-house artist, producer, and engineer. Having disassembled the insides of various unused electronic music equipment, such as KORG boards, NKRIOT developed a one-of-a-kind setup that would become known as the ‘RIOTLAB.’

In an attempt to organically interact with the audience, the RIOTLAB is played without any pre-recorded loops, midi, or computer software. Chrome coated, resting on a bed of LED lights and polycarbonate glass, the RIOTLAB is a one of a kind machine that is perfect for a futuristic and technology-driven pioneer. Following the development of this unique setup, the NKRIOT helmet was created, soon becoming one of the most iconic pieces of custom hardware in the Los Angeles music community.

This recognizable NKRIOT helmet was designed to allow the artist to sing, talk and interact with the headpiece itself, wearable technology like no other. In the winter of 2013, NKRIOT began with the “unofficial” E.P titled “V.C.R,” that encompasses an electronic and progressive sound that captures the true noise and glitches of a cyber-robot. The single “Virtual Climax Recording” made its way onto radio stations in both Los Angeles, and the UK, including the renowned local radio station, 98.7 Saint FM.

Having been on Saint FM NKRIOT got the attention of independent Russian film director, Mary Ignatova. Ignatova traveled from Russia to Boyle Heights to film NKRIOT’s first ever music video. Keeping up the momentum, NKRIOT released an E.P in the summer of 2014 and the single ‘’LP DISCO 83’’ was met with commercial success with an underground rave-esque music video. The video featured a cameo appearance by Jeremy Ruzumna, of Fitz and The Tantrums.

In the summer of 2015, by using technology to share his vision with the public, NKRIOT developed his most interactive creation, “The Holo Display.” The Holo Display is a personal, hand-held, portable device that allows users to simply place the polarized recycled plastic structure onto their mobile phones, to see any holographic video in 3D.

He released this device to the public to accompany his latest music video for the song “We are the Future,” which later became a revolutionary anthem and a rallying call for RIOTEERS everywhere. To honor his love for the film “Back to the Future,” he worked alongside director Ben Trandem to take viewers on a journey through time in the same way time travel is portrayed in the infamous film. In the video, NKRIOT drives around in a flashy Delorean seemingly traveling to visions of the future, much like deja-vu.

With a little bit of movie magic and his enthralling music, it makes for an amazing handheld adventure when viewed with the Holo-Display. Captivating the Los Angeles electro scene and further establishing himself as an artist representative to a new era in hardware technology-based music, NKRIOT began to collaborate and play alongside well-known acts and spent much of 2016 centerstage.

With offers to play festivals, exclusive dance parties, and concert events, NKRIOT played a near 600 shows through 2014-2016. Some of the more prominent performances include Coachella after parties, Echo Park Rising, MainFest Alhambra, and Night on Broadway.

He has also been the opening act for bands such as Les Butcherettes, FartBarf, Chvrches, MGMT, Big Freedia, Harriet Brown, Arthur Baker, Cut Chemist, De Lux, and Tennyson.

He also performed on multiple live radio showcases, including KXLU, KSPC, KUCI, and KPFK. NK continues to perform live but now puts a major emphasis on the performance art factor of his live sets, incorporating imaginative audience interaction tactics and enthralling visual displays. True to his sound but out of growth. The artist who started in 2013 with an idea to do something original and focused heavily on utilizing technology to share his vision with the public, has now progressed and transformed into something beyond expectation. In summer of 2017, NKRIOT underwent a 12-week hiatus to write, record and self-produced his debut album “RIOT.”

The album gained a fervor and momentum as being a ‘’dark dance hymn.’’ A rhythmic (Four on the Floor) euphoric anthem, led by a trance-inducing dirty sub bass. Followed by a grievous and nurturing vocal timbre. The lyrics in the album create an impactful poetic cloud beckoning caution for those who fear change of direction in one’s life. Reminiscent of artists who provided the late-nite underground soundtracks to crowded dancefloors filled with club kids, ’’RIOT” will guide a new generation of these House devotees, before the sun rises.

Following the release of ‘’RIOT’’ in June of 2017 the album now currently plays in rotation on college radio stations such as KSPC, KXLU, and KUCI. Having been featured in write-ups in The Knockturnal, GIRL Underground and other independent media sources, NKRIOT’s fan base has only continued to expand. The album received consumer success after clearing the shelves of Amoeba twice within six weeks. This positive audience retention led to NKRIOT’s most successful and last show of 2017, on stage at the world famous Amoeba Hollywood. NKRIOT’s 2018 started out with a bang as a featured creator in Linkedin’s worldwide marketing campaign, ‘’in it together.’’

The campaign begs the questions ‘’what are you are you in it for” and how we can all inspire each other to find purpose within our work. Cue NK who’s daily motivation is to curate a movement of DIY innovators and pioneer a new genre where no one is cast out, and you have the perfect combination of ad success, inspiration, and unity. LinkedIn was able to chronicle the roots of NKRIOT and humanize the robot by taking film and footage of the backyard he calls home, Boyle Heights, CA. They sat down with and discussed what makes this GOJI musician so different and what came out was so humble and honest, “take the little things that you have, make big things out of it.”

LinkedIn fell for NK and invited him to perform live for all of the employees at both headquarter locations in celebration of the ad’s success; New York City’s Empire State Building and San Francisco’s brand new office. In all, one of the most exciting accomplishments from the whole campaign came from NK’s first ever 10-Story billboard on the side of the Andaz Hotel on Sunset Blvd proudly displaying the phrase ‘’Inventor/Pioneer: Boyle Heights, CA.’’

In March, NK began prepping for the re-release of ‘’Virtual Climax Recording’’ or ‘’V.C.R’’, the follow-up EP to the hugely successful debut release ‘’Riot’’. ‘’V.C.R’’ was to mark a transition in the artist’s career where we hear a sonic evolution of digital sound design developed using new tools and concepts not yet used in the NKRIOT repertoire. In April of 2018, ‘’Shogun 8.0’’ was released, the first single from the official ‘’V.C.R’’. What was heard could only be described as a ‘’cinematic-electrifying composition’’ worthy of a visual landscape to pair. This sparked the idea to bring the EP to life using a live 3D performance where an audience would immerse themselves in a theater setting while NK at the forefront of the stage would be your aural guide down an ocular rabbit hole.

‘’Shogun 8.0’’ hit radio play on rotation of the world famous Groove Radio, and for the first time ever Boston’s nationwide syndicated Top 20 station 92PRO FM. As the concept began to take shape, NK was in and out of radio interviews across the country promoting the single, the new EP, and the 3D Live performance both of which finally had a date set; May 25th, 2018. Following an exciting press filled weekend in early May with IHeartRadio and the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas for EDC week, attention and excitement began to grow for what kind of experience audience members would be in for the release of ‘’Virtual Climax Recording: 3D.’’

When the release day finally arrived NK was met with eager writers from EDM World Magazine, FestPop and OneEDM at The Downtown Independent in Downtown Los Angeles in anticipation for what kind of visual presentation was about to take place. As NK took the stage to a room static with energy, the beginning claps to NK’s first track off “V.C.R” ‘Chromium 5’ filled the room, and the stunning original black chrome and silver visuals began. Soon there wasn’t a jaw that hadn’t been dropped as the new EP transitioned with ease to the live visuals, and the room lit it up. The world now had the new NKRIOT EP.

After the 3D performance, June saw a month full of immediate press releases, interviews and magazine articles claiming the EP and innovative release format were nothing short of true electronic dazzling pieces of work. Hauling an entire stage into a movie theater to perform new material live set to essentially your own movie had everyone talking, and people wanted more. NK played in and around his home of LA all through June but wanted to take the step into an endeavor he had yet to accomplish. With the crazy idea to start a record label, to curate the kind of music culture he wanted to see in the LA scene, he did exactly that.

July saw the incarnation of XAR Records, an independent record label, with the idea to distribute artistry on platforms locally and worldwide. Focusing on the vast variations of EDM music and helping each artist master their craft, starting this label was a dream turned reality for the electronic artist. NK assembled a trusted team and announced the label would be releasing an eight-track compilation featuring the now eight signed artists of XAR and their eclectic dance sounds. Under this label, NKRIOT will be releasing his newest single “Are You Ready?” August of 2018 which will be available digitally and on the compilation and the label will have their first-month long residency in Downtown LA where each artist will have their showcase.

It’s fitting for the new single to be called “Are You Ready?” because really, are we ever ready for what NKRIOT has next? Between a constant stream of interviews, shows, music releases, and now the CEO of LA’s newest indie label, there is no sign of this electro-’tycoon’ slowing down or stopping. The future looks bright and just keeps getting brighter. Look for “Are You Ready?” available on XAR Records August 9th, and be sure to follow NKRIOT for more updates, releases, and shows.

“As an independent artist and from the humble roots of East LA, NKRIOT will continue to promote artist alike, break down barriers, and push the limit representing everything that any artist should be… true to yourself. “ – NKRIOT

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Growing up, I was never really accepted by my community and peers. I was either “too much of this” or “not enough of that,” it was really rough. It took a major toll on me, but now I look back, and I realize it is what made me who I am today. If it was not for standing out and not fitting in, I wouldn’t have been able to accept my need to be different and that it is okay to be, do and create whatever you want. Even though I am embarking on these new territories as an artist in the mainstream, I always remember back when I was a kid, to my struggle, and that’s what keeps me humble, and the drive alive inside of me.

Please tell us about NKRIOT.
As an artist, I specialize in creating live electronic music from hardware I developed and constructed on my own. Though as time has progressed, this has began to evolve into live performances incorporating several forms of electronic music and live instrumentation. Something special about an NKRIOT set is that no two are ever alike.

Each performance is unique in so many ways, and because I am constantly working on new music and harnessing my sound, there is almost always unreleased music being played. I am actually proud of the hard work my team and I have put in within the last year, to bring NKRIOT to where we are today. Big Shoutout to Marisha Weikart, Emily Tan and Dennis Delgado for all their support and efforts for turning my dream into a reality.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Honestly, there’s not a thing I would go back and change. Even though I didn’t have the best school years, high school years, and there have been plenty of ups and downs, every single thing has brought me to where I am today. For that, I am very thankful.

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Image Credit:

Ben Ingham, Kelly Salazar

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