The ritualistic, inspired electronic art pop of Nixie Unterwelt is a breath of fresh air in a landscape often cluttered with sound-alikes. The ever-evolving brainchild of multimedia creatrix Nikki Vly, the project– which draws its name from the German words for “malevolent water sprite” and “underworld–” is a transformative purging through sound, visuals, and theatrical self expression. Her work is focused on unleashing the sacred feminine and aims to blaze a trail for the continued growth of femme, queer, and poc artistic expression in defiance of gatekeeping by the same old forces of the patriarchy.
Though Nixie has described her aesthetic as somewhere between Rihanna and The Melvins, the expressive, multi-character wails of avant garde legends like Jarboe and Diamanda Galas and the constant reinvention of PJ Harvey also come to mind.
A trained vocalist and lifelong performer, Nixie commands the stage, often in costume, interspersing theatrical intensity with candid banter. In a live setting, she manipulates song sections and tracks constructed in Ableton, plays MIDI sounds and samples on a keyboard, and keens, croons, and screams her inimitable vocals through a headset mic, looping and adding effects as she sings. All the while, she is in expressive motion, acting as a conduit for forces larger than, yet very much a part of, her own diverse life experiences. She invites the audience into her songs through backstory, but is uncompromising in her unique, sometimes unsettling vision. While divergent enough to make her audience a little uncomfortable, the songs are memorable, sometimes hypnotic. In more tech-friendly settings, her performances are augmented with projected artwork, illuminating her song-stories.
Nixie’s work plays on elemental, supernatural and mythological themes. Metaphysical hurricanes, tides of human belief and activity, ghosts repetitively rehashing memories they’re stuck on, healthy forest fires and the hidden corners of the human heart all play a part in her lush work. Hear and see it for yourself, and become part of her underworld.
Photo Credit: Lynne Stone
Bio in collaboration with Morgan Y. Evans