Nisan Stewart was born and raised in Southern CA, and spent his formative years as a drummer in his father, Bishop Carl Stewart's church. He and his brother Rapture (keyboards) and their father would travel to other churches around the country and community playing gospel music. Nisan says his upbringing in the Church had a definitive effect on his interest in music and most importantly the drums. As a child he recalls, "watching the drummers in church and wanting to be able to play drums."
As a member of his Junior High and High School jazz band, he was able to expand his understanding of the drums and while he wasn't on the field playing football, he was head snare drum player in the school marching band's drum line. Nisan cites Dave Weckl of Chick Corea's, Elektric Band for having a profound effect on Nisan as a young budding drummer. Though his love of Gospel Music, R&B, Funk and Jazz bred in him a sense of music appreciation that has helped him in his rise in the Hip Hop community as one of the most sought after drummers by producers such as Timbaland, Sean "P Diddy" Combs and most importantly, Missy Elliot.
Nisan attended Cerritos College and majored in English. After receiving his Associate degree he decided to pursue his life long hobby of playing the drums and landed his first gig with Sony recording artist Puff Johnson. After six months of touring he continued on with R&B star, Jon B, playing with him on tour and his first album. He worked with several Gospel recording artists such as Kim Stratton, Kim Burrell and Beverly Crawford. His love of music is evidenced by his many influences like Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, The Temptations), Gary Novac and Gerald Heyward.
It was in church that he was "discovered" by world-renowned producer, Timbaland. In 1998, Timbaland and Shep Crawford (Producer; Gladys Knight, Boyz II Men, Blu Cantrell) were looking for a band for a television spot and found Nisan performing in church. They asked him to help out with a House of Blues Los Angeles show and at the time there were quite a few people there from the industry. One thing led to another then led to several spots drumming for Timbaland's family members, The Super Friends (Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Missy Elliot, Playa, Magoo). He began touring with them and producing beats for his manager, Sean Combs. He is currently building his own home studio. "I've got my drums set up in one of the bedrooms and I'm snaking all the cables to the control room. I'm thinking about wiring through to that room, but I'm still trying to decide if I want to do that or not."
Building a home studio is not an easy task, or a cheap one for that matter. The construction alone has cost Nisan 30 thousand dollars so far. Though Nisan speculates that, "It's a lot of money sure but you can have one hot track. Just one hit and it will pay for itself."
When it comes to quality, Nisan goes all out for technology saying, "I'm probably going to use that new O2R board. I just bought the new Pro Tools HD system. I've got all my MIDI outboards. It's all sound proofed. Today they were putting in the floor, putting sound soap on the walls. It will be great cause' I'll be able to work from home and not have to travel so much. I do a lot of producing for Puff Daddy since I'm managed by Puff so I do a lot of producing in the hip-hop and R&B field. I'm just trying to fix it so I can just have a spot to work out of that's my own. I'm tired of paying all these other studios all this money. It's comin' along great though."
As far as cutting tracks goes, Nisan says, "I normally get calls, like okay, such and such is getting ready to do something. Like one project I'm getting ready to do some work on and send some stuff off is Gwen Stefani. I know a lot of A&R reps at labels and they'll call me and they'll say, 'We're getting ready to work on such and such and we love your sound and we'd like you to take a crack at doin' a song with her.' A lot of times if it goes that way I'll send stuff directly to the label and then they'll send it to the artist. But sometimes you know you'll build good relationships with certain artists and then they'll call you and come through and if they like a joint they'll say, "let's cut it."
Adding, "There's a few different ways though. Sometimes we'll just set it up and get together and go in the studio and vibe and do it like that."
According to Nisan the process depends on the artist most of the time. "It depends on the artist cause' sometimes an artist is just an artist and they don't have the right kind of creative input. So some artist are more outgoing. It's definitely better to go in with Missy Elliot. A lot of times we'll go in - I do a lot of production for her stuff and with other stuff, but to use her as an example we'll go in and do a bunch of tracks. Just be in the studio, just vibe out. Sometimes if I'm at home, like today I hot track and I'm gonna send it off to her. She's over in Scotland right now."
"There's a bunch of different ways. Sometimes I like working by myself and then just giving it to them. But its so much fun being in the studio that when I go down there (Hit Factory, Miami FL.) I'll spend like a month there writing with her. And just have fun and knock it out."
"I work down in Miami a lot. I work in Miami mostly. This year I'll spend most of the year in Miami. A lot of times it might be in New York. In the music industry they record in shifts like cause' it was kind of slow out here in L.A. for a minute compared to what was going on in Miami. Everybody was down there in Miami working at the Hit Factory. When we were down there a lot of people were there. From Jazz writers - to the Neptunes would be in one room me and Missy would be in one room, Puff Daddy would have a room and Timbaland would be in another room and Enrique Eglesias would be in there cuttin' tracks. I just like to have my own stuff so that's why I've got my own studio so I can do my own thing."
Nisan is supported by DW Drums yet prefers the Pacific line. He was recently given DW's, "Broken Glass" kit or what he lovingly refers to as, "the Bling Bling Kit," for it's diamond like design effects. "DW makes the Bentley of drums and they came out with this "Broken Glass" kit that has this diamond look to it. Though I like to play Pacific kits, they're well built and are affordable."