Born Tyler Marenyi, NGHTMRE might be known best for producing intense, bass-driven dance music and DJ performances that are so intensely physical sweat flings around as he headbangs, but offstage, he’s a soft-spoken Southerner. Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Marenyi had acquired a finance degree before deciding to make the move to Los Angeles to pursue music. It was a gamble that wound up paying off—the fresh talent made his festival debut last year at EDC Las Vegas, and he hasn’t left the circuit since. Now, he has a forthcoming EP with Mad Decent, his songs have been repped by the likes of Skrillex, and he’s collaborated with names like Dillon Francis. Though Marenyi is getting a taste of growing fame, there’s still very much an “aw, shucks” vibe about him, a constant self-aware smile that clings to the corners of his lips. Find out what lies behind it, below.
Do you have any phobias?
When I was in Europe, a bunch of us that were playing Lollapalooza Paris went to Disneyland the next day. I’ve been on roller coasters before, but this was the first time where I was strapped in, and it was too tight. I was trying to move, and I was too tall for it so I was squished in, and I got this horrible claustrophobia and panic attack.
If you had to live in a past time, what era would you pick and why?
I’d pick sometime in the 1900s. I feel like anytime pre-1900, I could just die for any reason with doctors that don’t know shit. Like, I want to do the Renaissance, but it’s probably not that tight… maybe I’d pick the ‘50s or the ‘60s. I’d be interested to see what it was like when my parents grew up.
What kind of person were you in high school?
I was the quiet type. I played sports, a lot of soccer.
Where’s your favorite place to write music?
Back at my home in North Carolina where I grew up. It’s where I first started writing music. There’s just a vibe about being at home, it makes me feel like I’m back to where I started when I wasn’t worried about anything and I just wanted to make cool stuff. Nowadays it's like, "Oh, I have to go to the studio to work on this song so I can send it to this vocalist and then send it to someone else…" or I’m thinking, What should I make that will make all the listeners happy? instead of, What should I make that I think will sound good and will make me happy? You have to be true to yourself. When I go home, I’m trying to make myself just get in the mindset of “Okay, I’m just going to make some stuff and whatever comes out of it, that’s cool.”
It can be hard to navigate that line.
One thing my dad taught me growing up, is that no matter what you do in life, you’re never going to please everyone. You have to do what you think is best.
Can you tell me a quality about yourself that you’re genuinely proud of?
I like to think I’m a patient person. I don’t get angry about getting held up or people being slow. Living in L.A. and dealing with traffic and traveling every day and being at the airport, I’ve just learned that I’ll get there when I get there.
What activity do you most enjoy doing alone?
Hiking, especially when I first moved to L.A. I definitely enjoy the outdoors a lot. I’m going to Calgary [for a show], and I’m taking an extra day off; there’s some crazy-amazing national park there, and I’m just going to go around by myself and check it out.
I’ve never been hiking in L.A. but have always wanted to.
There are amazing hills to hike in L.A.; even driving an hour, it can feel like another country. I live with my brother and we just bought an old van we’re going to fix up together. Maybe we’ll take that to Joshua Tree to go off the grid.