Nick Alvarado, a.k.a. Pumpkin, is known for his unique brand of bouncy, bubbly lovestep that has tickled the fancies of crowds across the country from warehouses to packed clubs, to sunrises on the Playa. His remixes of everything from Peter Gabriel to The Muppets are fanciful and playful, and this sensation of buoyant childlike glee you get from listening to his music has pushed him to the top of the bass and Burner scene. I spoke to Nick on the phone, and his intonations and laidback attitude exemplify the image of a laidback music loving SoCal surfer boy. We talked roots, transformations, and his upcoming show on May 23rd at Temple Nightclub in San Francisco.
Nick started off young, playing guitar and even drums in the marching band where he wore a uniform complete with a cape, “I was a band nerd.” After being in series of bands as a guitarist and dealing with a series of band breakups, he decided he needed a change. “I was one of the guys doing the footwork and that got exhausting. When the band broke up, I started looking for a new scene.”
Nick landed in the realm of house music and started DJ’ing under the moniker of “Nick the Neck,” which he still plays under when he wants to do more house like sets. He says, “Pumpkin is the music from my heart. I play what I want regardless of genre… Nick the Neck is what I want to hear on the dance floor.”
Nick the Neck evolved into Pumpkin in a sort of catalytic moment at a late night set at Fuente Eterno, a regional Burn that takes place in Baja, Mexico around some amazing hot springs. It was late at night, and cold, and almost no one was on the dance floor. He thought, “Why not try something different? What is there to lose?” and began to throw in the sounds that would become his signature. Even though there was really only about ten people on the dance floor, they were digging it and that was enough to give birth to a whole new style for Nick.
This happening called for a new name that fit more with the new bubbly, effervescent style. When he was a child, his Mom had called him “pumpkin” and that pop-ier, prettier pet name embodied his new sound.
Since then Pumpkin has risen to fame for his incredible remixes. He chooses the songs based on “Whatever moves me.” Some, such as Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” have been longstanding favorites, or are linked to pivotal moments in his life such as Blind Melon’s “Rain”. Sometimes it’s just something that strikes him, “I remixed the Muppets because I love the Muppets.”
His talent for ear-catching remixes has landed him in some amazing spots including Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle and Costa Rica’s Envision Festival (check out the Lost in Sound review of his set at Envision here). “I’m just so honored to be a part of it,” he says, referring to the transformational festival movement. “I remember how powerful it was for me the first time I went to one of those festivals. It shows you how good life can really be.”
As his career goes on, he is constantly evolving. Up until this point, he’s only really done remixes. He utilizes the vocals and other samples and lays down such an intricate electronic beat framework that he considers the final product to be practically his own productions. Still, he has his own productions in the pipeline and we can expect to see an EP soon. He says his friends have said it “sounds Pumpkin-y,” which can only mean good things. He also has a new DJ mix called “Within Four Walls” coming out in the next couple weeks. The man is clearly on the up and up.
Catch him live at Temple Nightclub this Thursday in San Francisco. He says “I’m excited. I’m stoked to make some good memories.”
Thursday May 23 10PM
540 Howard St.
$10 Advance | $15 Door 21+
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