In this week's podcast rising star Nicholas gives us a mix of forthcoming productions and remixes with a healthy look to the past with a couple of his inspirations. James Huxley spoke to the Italian as he following a day in court for his day job in the law firm about his work with NuGroove and making magic behind the decks (literally).
Scroll down to download Pulse.079 - Nicholas
You're one of the few artists that is performs exclusively live. You'd had a string of releases before you took your show to the stage, how did you find starting out? Was it a bit of a baptism of fire? I have a friend who is the fellow that introduced me to professional music making, he is specialized in music technology software and things like that, It was his suggestion to set up a live act. I had no thoughts of doing something like that, but he pushed me towards this live project and really helped me conceive it. Starting out was quite thrilling has I never performed in a club as a DJ before, so I had no experience in the rear of a DJ booth and in front of a crowd. My first time was at a rather notorious party in my home town called “Dancity”, so I had all my mates over and the local crew supporting me. It was a rush of adrenaline for sure, I felt just like when I was in University, that moment just before taking an oral exam in law, same kind of emotion. It actually worked out really well that night, after I finished my set I was eager to play again somewhere else, it was a great feeling.
Do you have plans to develop the live set in anyway moving forwards? Absolutely yes. And this is what I’m working on right now with the guy I was talking about before. But It’s never going to get too crazy, I like to keep things simple and focus on the musical outcome rather than getting too extreme over tons of equipment. Sometimes with technology it gets really tricky so for me it’s significant to keep things rather trouble-free. But absolutely after the summer I will be going around with some new toys.
You're still buying vinyl? What have been three of your favourite tracks of 2012 so far. Of course, although I don’t deejay I’m always on the prowl for records, especially older ones, collectibles. I’m fortunate that I used to live in NYC, so often I go back there and purchase tons of disco, funk & soul classics at a few good spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I also buy a lot on discogs, you really can get anything from that website, especially the house classics which go for very cheap right now, although postage costs in Italy are out of control and chances of your records getting lost too many. I have to admit my record buying is more leaned towards old records but I’m always taking note of new releases and what’s coming out at the moment, there is a lot of great fresh music out there, my favourites of 2012 so far have to be:
The Mekanism – Can’t believe (needwant);
Washerman – Basement Chord (drumpoet);
Wbeeza – Peckham Fly (Third Ear).
We've given you 500 to spend on Discogs. What overpriced rarities do you blow it on? For sure I would spend the whole budget on original P&P records/ Queen Constance and their sub labels originals from the disco era. All those great Patrick Adams obscure disco tunes are my guilty pleasure, but way to expensive for me. I have most of the reissues but would be a dream to have the original ones, like the Donna McGhee album, so amazing. I was lucky enough to find some cheep originals in New York, like “Cloud One- Atmosphere Strut” album, but other than that it’s way to expensive stuff.
Is there any chance of seeing you behind the turntables in a club any time soon? Not really, I’m sticking to the live set right now . I can’t say that it’s not going to happen because spinning records is something that has been floating in my mind for a while. But in this very moment I want to focus on my live set and try to develop it. That’s the most important thing for me now.
You run the No More Hits vinyl only imprint. How important was it for you to keep this exclusively vinyl. Do you have a particular ethos behind the label?
Sorry to disappoint but NoMoreHits is not my label. I don’t really know the reason, but absolutely everyone thinks it is, probably because I was the only one putting out music on that label in it’s early days. So keeping it vinyl only was not my policy, although I was totally with it and happy about it, I started as one of those vinyl only purists. But now I’ve changed my views a bit, I think what’s more significant is to have your music accessible to the majority of the crowd that wants to support it, which in many cases is using digital only formats, so the best thing for me right now is to have a vinyl plus digital release of my tracks. This doesn’t mean I would do a digital only release, no way, I want my music on some sort of tangible format for sure. Anyhow, for the record, NoMoreHits is putting up part of it’s catalogue in digital format, so I guess this means it’s not going to be vinyl only anymore.
Last year saw two relatively milestone events for you, the Nu-Groove remix package and then an RA podcast - Did these have a big effect on your career? I suppose the Nu Groove project helped my music to reach a wider audience, I think for several reasons. First of all remixing the Nu Groove catalogue sure doesn’t remain unnoticed, weather you like it or not people are going to ear about it because it’s definitely an audacious project, I don’t know how many producers out there would take the responsibility of building a whole album based on remixes of tracks that have made house music history. On the other hand I have to admit that the label who released it, Needwant, did an amazing job with marketing the album, I can’t deny that, it was basically all over the place. Anyhow, I guess this album together with the RA podcast were good to get my name circulating a bit more, it sure helped in that way, although this wasn’t the motive behind these works. I don’t do an album or a mix for some sort of career strategy, for me it’s just genuine passion for music, I know it sounds cliché but that’s the way it is.
You went from releasing on a number of cool, smaller labels to your a stronger association with Needwant and 4Lux, was this an intentional move? If so what was the motivation behind it? As I was mentioning before I don’t plan my moves as some sort of strategy to achieve popularity or whatsoever. It’s more simple than that, 4Lux and Needwant got in contact with me and I gave them my music because I liked the labels, the music they were pushing and their artwork. Artwork is something I give a lot of importance. To me it’s relevant almost as the music. If a record label has a bad artwork I usually reject any offers. I’m a little bit extreme over the artwork issue, I know.
How closely did you work with the Burrell Brothers to get the Nu Groove back catalogue?
I was never in direct contact with them as it was Sean from Needwant that was handling all the business with the brothers. He bought the rights for the songs that I wanted to remix and that was it. I didn’t even get masters from them, as they lost them or something, so I just recorded from my 12”s and started sampling and editing.
A quick look at your upcoming dates sees a pretty international schedule, how's this jet setting effecting your outlook on what you are doing and your production process? It’s effecting it for sure. Let’s say that previous to playing out in Clubs I wasn’t really conscious of some dance floor dynamics, most of my songs weren’t really dance floor friendly actually. I remember the first time I played abroad, in Berlin, I started my live set with 100 bpm, peak time set. It actually worked out super fine because the crowd there was truly opened minded. But I would never do that today, especially in Italy were I could get killed for that.
Because I’m playing Live it’s important for me to make tracks that can have a good impact and potential on the dance floor. That’s were my music is going right now, it’s definitely more pumping and energetic compared to the early releases. However, lately I’ve been making a lot of music exclusively for the live set, so I can have more freedom when making other music to release, experimenting with weirder sounds, atmospheres and styles, while I can keep my exclusive live set music more straight forward.
There is quite a tradition of smaller cities having strong house scene's Nottingham, Milan, Cork for example. Would Perugia fit into this category?
Absolutely. Perugia has one of the biggest house traditions in Italy. All thanks to a rather popular club here in our city, and well respected all over the country, that goes by “Red Zone Club”. Although I don’t think the name has anything to do with David Morales and his legendary red zone remixes. Although they all became staples and classics here at red zone club.
They’ve been running since 1989, or something like that, and have always played the best and most obscure house and techno music there is. They were bringing people like Louie Vega & Tony Humphries to Italy back in the early 90’s, they were one of the first to do that I believe. And it’s still running, bringing over people like Omar S & Carl Craig for example. But to me all the magic resides in the resident deejays, Sauro & Ricky L. That’s were I took my lessons from, their murky and obscure DJ sets, filled with rarities and never heard before records. The interesting thing about this club is that it has always been the most popular club in Perugia, basically all the crowd goes there weather they like house music or not, so essentially this helped house music became strongly rooted in our culture, we were raised with that soundtrack. Thanks to this influence Perugia is filled with amazing deejays and good producers that are just starting to make waves.
Excuse my ignorance, but my knowledge of the Italian club scene is limited to say the least, pretty much starts and ends with Moxa. What else is there over there? I don’t really know too. Moxa I’ve never been but I heard fine things about it. I don’t feel the club scene is really strong in our country right now, at least compared to other European cities. Most of the times the club’s musical offer is far away from being good house and techno music. Definitely one of the most famous clubs in our country is Cocoricò in Riccione, a city that used to be the mecca of all Italian clubbers back in the 90’s an still is rather energetic in the summer. They used to play remarkable house and techno in Cocoricò in the 90’s but now the offer is rather uninteresting in my opinion, this means the usual Richie Hawtin, Locodice and friends. It’s really a shame because the structure of the venue is one of a kind, a tall glass pyramid, extremely amazing, especially when daylight approaches. Anyways in Perugia they just opened a new club this year called Serendipity, they had notable guests from the likes of Jeff Mills, Kyle Hall and others. So I can’t really complain!
You've recently started to make headway in Italy AFTER playing all over Europe including Germany, UK, France and Romania. Can you tell us a little bit about this? Yes that’s true, It’s a very slow process because Italy is a weird country from this point of view. Usually promoters are more concerned with foreign dj guests. So they aren’t boosting the local artist as deserved. But eventually they catch up later on.
Can you tell us a little bit about the podcast you've prepared for us?This podcast is merely a showcase of my own music, remixes, mostly unreleased and forthcoming stuff merged together with a few house classics that have influenced my productions. It’s cool because it gives the idea of were I’m coming from and were I’m at right now.
And finally, i hear you're somewhat of a magician. What's your favourite trick? Yes indeed. I was really into proper magic and illusionism while I was living in New York. I even had a chance to perform one of my acts in Broadway next to a class A illusionist. Favourite trick right now has to be I-phone in the balloon, so watch out for that behind the dj booth, I might pull it out of the hat!
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