Nick Bertke, better known as “Pogo,” is making the kind of music that somehow manages to appeal to everyone’s imaginations. Having experimented with electronic music since he was ten years old, the Australian-born DJ goes back to his childhood and takes inspiration from the things he loved – musicals. From classics such as Mary Poppins and The King and I, to modern day movies like Harry Potter and Up, it seems there is no end to the possibilities that come with Pogo’s unique method of composing. By taking countless tiny samples, be they “textures, chords, effects, syllables, anything,” Nick mixes sounds into something completely dreamlike and nostalgic. “The use of music to tell story inspired me,” he explains, “and I always detected small sounds that I’d rewind the tapes to hear over and over again. It seemed fitting that if I loved these sounds individually, they’d make for a sequence or composition that I’d love as well.”
Having gained popularity through Youtube, after posting his first composition, “Alice,” back in 2007 (a harmonious mash-up of sounds from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland), Pogo developed a fan base that was completely unexpected. “I uploaded ‘Alice’ and let it sit there. Then all of a sudden it was everywhere, and I had a group of people wanting more.” And that’s exactly what he gave them.
Despite it taking anywhere from three weeks to five months for him to complete a track, Nick is constantly producing more and more incredible music, and learning more with every song. Since “Alice,” Nick has been commissioned by Pixar to produce songs for their movies, Up and Toy Story, as well as other major brands and studios. Nevertheless, Nick is determined to stay true to his own instincts and work only on what feels right for him, which is why he has to refuse his fan’s requests. “I’m not a DJ,” he stresses, “and if I made ‘Alice’ just to please someone else, it wouldn’t have taken off nearly as well as it did. The internet is a powerful way of getting your work out there, but you do need to keep doing your own thing. Just be you and chase your passion”.
Due to his ever-growing fan base and eagerness to experiment with working outside of his bedroom, Pogo has previously toured around America and Australia. However, due to the intricacy of his work, producing original music live is something that is perhaps near impossible, and instead Nick ended up spending his gigs feeling a little awkward. “I was just standing on a stage in the dark and pushing buttons,” he admits, explaining why he’s giving touring a break – until he feels his shows are more active. “If I do anything live again, it will be in the form of a proper show. Live musicians, dancers, backdrops, themed catering, the works.”
What could Nick dream of creating next? “Well, Star Wars is something very inspiring to me. It has the scoring of John Williams, the richness of the Star Wars universe, vibrant characters, and the earthy analog textures of an old film recorded on tape and celluloid…. But I mean, I could probably do a whole album around just one character, so… you’ll have to wait. Just keep your eye out for new tracks!”