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Hot Sugar Makes Music Out Of Anything And Everything

As Hot Sugar, Nick Koenig makes what he calls "associative music" out of sounds plucked from everyday life.
Courtesy of the artist
As Hot Sugar, Nick Koenig makes what he calls "associative music" out of sounds plucked from everyday life.

Pick a sound, any sound: A dog's bark, the crackle of pop rocks in someone's mouth, a stone skipping over water. Nick Koenig is a musician who says he can make music out of just about anything.

Under the name Hot Sugar, Koenig records sounds in the world around him, manipulates them and builds them into songs. He calls it "associative music," because behind the melody and percussion, there's a sound that a listener may already have a connection to.

"I try to capture sounds the same way a photographer would capture an image: If something looks poetic, I'll record it," Koenig says. "As a musician, when you make a song, you select the instruments — you'll decide that a guitar should play this riff, or drums will sound like this. But first I had to make the guitar, I had to make the violins, the choirs, the drums. Extracting the resonances and the resonant howls is kind of the backbone of associative music, and that's how we create the melodies."

Hot Sugar is the subject of a new documentary called Hot Sugar's Cold World. Hear the music, and more about Koenig's process, at the audio link.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.