As long as there’s been electronic dance music, there’s been Nick Warren. He’s that important. Starting out in 1988 playing reggae and downtempo music in a back room bar in central Bristol, he found fame through being the tour DJ for local trip hop band Massive Attack.
From there a coveted residency at Cream in Liverpool followed, and an impressive number of mix compilations for Global Underground. Along side his solo success, he has worked tirelessly in the studio as half of Way Out West, and as Head of A&R for Bristol based prog house label Hope Recordings. As an ambassador for the scene, Nick has always been very open and vocal about his love of the music and its with great pleasure that he has taken a few moments out ahead of his US tour to chat with us at Decoded Magazine.
Hi ! Yes everything is ready for the big tour and I’m really looking forward to it. I have some great new music and after taking a couple of weeks off I’m now full of energy for the tour!
Anywhere on the tour you’ve not been to before? I can’t imagine the reception you’ll get in places like El Paso and Santa Fe. I thought they were Country strongholds…
It’s great to still have new places to play. Of course I love San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles etc, but its going to be so much fun to visit Santa Fe and Lincoln for instance. Visiting new places is one of the joys of this job, so I am very much looking forward to it. Hopefully the crowds will be into my sound.
Can the American crowds expect any surprises?
There’ll be tons of new music from myself and Jody (more of that later) a couple of solo remixes and some killer tracks I have signed to my labels.
I was speaking with Kolsch during ADE. We were discussing the reality of tours; the isolation, the constant travelling, missing family etc. How do you find things on tour, and do you miss home at all?
I know and understand the strains of tour life, but to be honest, ask any DJ to go and work in Walmart or a meat packing factory for a week or 2 and then come back and tell me it’s a tuff life… We are very lucky to be in the position we are, and we should enjoy every minute of it, while being responsible to the ones we leave at home.
Talking of ADE, how was it for you? I heard Panama has rammed for your show on Saturday.
ADE was amazing this year, the Sudbeat and Soundgarden show was a huge success, sold out and such a good vibe. Hernan and I love doing our B2B shows, and it had been a while since we had done one so it was a blast. We had Eelke Kleijn and Olivier Weiter opening for us and they did a brilliant job.
Ahh yeah, Olivier played for us as well, he’s ace. Warm up DJs have been a bit of a bone of contention this month. We posted an article a few weeks back and then more recently Laurent Garnier echoed our thoughts. Whats your take on things Nick? In the modern age, do we place too much stock in becoming famous; being the headliner, but miss the necessary skill building and apprenticeship that residencies and warm ups provide?
Being a warm-up DJ is a form of art in itself and can make or break a night, so I have a lot of time for great opening acts. The nature of the world is that people want everything right now, and that is in all forms of life. No one waits for weeks for a movie to be released, or music, and its the same with success. Everyone wants to get where they are going right now.
Also there is the issue of clubs wanting any warm up DJ to bring a ton of friends in early and if they can do that they get the gig, no matter if they are a right fit or not. But lets face it, back in the day, very very few people actually had the records which made it an easy pathway for the guys who did.
I do think that if someone loves deeper, warm up kind of music, then they will always get work, but maybe they need to lower expectations at the beginning. Laurent and I and many others have had 2 decades of work so look at it as a marathon, not a sprint.
So, I mentioned earlier about whether every thing was organised for the tour, but I expect many don’t realise the complexity involved. Could you outline whats actually required for an artist to tour these days? And especially in the States! Have you employed a lawyer to travel in your entourage?
It does seem as if the world has gone crazy sometimes. It’s me and my luggage, sometimes my manager comes along, but most of the time its me flying solo and to be honest I prefer it that way. The people I work with are so professional I don’t feel the need to have an entourage. I also have so many friends in the USA it means I get to hang out with my mates.
Of the many places you’ve been both professionally, and for leisure, are there any cities you’ve seriously thought, “When I hang up my headphones, Im going to move here.”?
I would love to move around more than stay in one place. I do love the UK and it means so much to me. But I love Argentina, Finland and in the USA would love to spend some time in Montana.
If I could change focus a moment. Away from the limelight, you lead a fairly normal quiet lifestyle with your lovely fiancee. How important over the years has that reflective period been to recharge your batteries?
Very important. Petra is an integral part of the business, running the Soundgarden brand and taking care of a lot of Digital Marketing and other online business for me. We are a team at home as well as in the business and on our free time do normal things just like any other couple. It’s a great way to balance the hectic tour life.
We understand you’re a keen fisherman. D’you prefer rivers or sea fishing? And any good locations you can recommend?
I am an obsessive fly fisherman, Argentina. Scotland, Iceland in fact anywhere with lovely clear clean water you will find me peering into the depths. The USA has some wonderful destinations to fish, Montana, Colorado and of course Alaska.
Of the ones you’ve been allowed to keep, which was the hardest fish to land?
The Atlantic salmon is a wonderfully wild fish and my favourite.
Ever taken Jody or Petra with you?
Petra casts a fine line, I think Jody might get a bit bored!! hahaha
Can I mention the new Way Out West Album, seeing as I shoe horned Jody’s name in there! Any news on a release date yet?
Yeah its looking very good indeed, looks like early summer on a great label (more news very soon) and a big USA tour next spring, exciting times ahead!
As always Nick, its been a blast. Good luck on the US tour and we’ll see you again soon!
Thanks. See you soon.