London's veteran DJ, tastemaker and MPC lord Mr. Beatnick provides a gutsy on the fly selection, packed with dusty Detroit house and techno goodness.
While he’s best known in some circles for his wizardry as hip hop beatmaker, Beatnick aka Nick Wilson is no slouch when it comes faster rhythmic territory, with a string of recent groove heavy house EPs for the label of which he calls home, Don’t Be Afraid. He’s also one of the most knowledgeable music historians we’ve come across, with his contributions to FACT magazine on Sun Ra and Tangerine Dream both essential entry points for anyone understandably daunted by the question of ‘Where do I start?’
We caught up with Nick to find out more about the mix, his recent tribute piece on Tangerine Dream and his account of the final night at Plastic People, the London club that helped shape him as a DJ.
What have you been up to?
Hi Melbourne Deepcast! I’ve had a couple of months off DJing to work on some studio projects. The main one is my new private press vanity label, Mythstery records, which I’ll be launching properly soon – that’s taking up most of my time and I’m really excited about it. There’s a new DBA record in the works, we’re aiming for June for that, and some other bits too, as well as planning a bunch of gigs between now and August, including my first time at the legendary Rex club in Paris. I’ve also been fine tuning my character on Dark Souls 2, I’m a level 159 mage with 125 casting speed. Pretty sure even Burial can’t test my stats at this point.
I’ve quite enjoyed your occasional contributions to FACT magazine, with your latest piece ‘A Beginners Guide to Krautrock Legends Tangerine Dream’ a lovely tribute in honour of Edgar Froese’s recent passing. What sort of influence has Froese and Tangerine Dream had on your own music production over the years?
I love them because they’re so ubiquitous in a way that we mostly take them for granted – I don’t think they are considered “cool” in the same way that say, John Carpenter or Goblin are – despite the fact that you can find their records littering any bargain bin in your local record shop, many of which are amazing. The soundtracks for the likes of Thief, Sorceror and Risky Business are some of the moodiest, forward thinking synth music you can take home for 50 pence. I’ve always picked up anything I’ve found in charity shops by them, including Edgar’s solo albums like “Ages”, “Aqua”, “Stuntman” – amazing kraut-ambient stuff that rewards on repeat listens. Dilla was a huge fan, “Ruff Draft” is built around a load of samples from Peter Baumann’s “Romance 76”, and he flipped plenty of Edgar Froese stuff too – their music always reminds me of Detroit hip hop as a result. I might have sampled the odd bit here and there as well, if you listen close. A seminal group, well known but weirdly underappreciated. That’s why I included “Love On A Real Train” as the parting shot on this mix.
The majority of your output in recent times has come out through Semtek’s fantastic Don’t Be Afraid label.. What is the story behind how you guys came to work together so closely and are there plans in place for more of your releases to drop on the label this year?
Well it’s a long story, I’ll try to keep it brief – we are old friends basically. We started off just hanging out and going to clubs, listening to records – there’s a lot of areas where our taste overlaps, and a lot of others where it’s like chalk and cheese – I think that’s really healthy in the way we’ve approached releasing my own work, cause it’s two contrasting, overlapping perspectives. Anyway, he set up DBA initially as an outlet for his own music, then it became a home for my music, then a home for our friends music as well, and 5 years later it’s now a force to be reckoned with, with real Detroit trailblazers like MGUN and Dj Bone on the roster, and remixes from the likes of Kevin Reynolds, Max D, and many more. It’s all Semtek’s hard work and I feel so happy about the story and my contribution to it – I hope it will be around for many more years to come, like all my favourite labels I grew up with. And yes I’ll always be a core member of the roster – the interesting thing now is that it feels like the label actually has a sound. I’m thinking a lot about how I can contribute to that sound and take my own music forward. We’ve both learned so much about making records over the last 5 years. If I was Ron Burgundy I’d say of the story, “Well that escalated quickly.”
I saw you recently attended the farewell night at Plastic People before its closing, the club that you’ve said ‘defined your taste in music’, how would you describe that experience given your obviously quite personal connection with the club?
It was an incredibly moving moment for me, with Ade, Sean, Beni, Benji B, Tony, Floaty P, Paul Camo and a bunch of the core Balance DJs behind the decks. That club defines a decade of my life – it was the main reason I moved to London in the early 2000s – it was the place I met most of my friends in the scene, the place where I first heard so many of my favourite records for the first time, the place where I tested out many of my early tunes, and I have so many great memories and anecdotes. I’ve played there a bunch of times over the last decade, the most recent was last summer, we threw a Pride Of Gombe jam with Lukid, Bnjmn, Samoyed and the lads and it was a blast, like old times. Plastic People closing really says everything about the changing club landscape in London – to paraphrase The Specials, I remember the good old days before the ghost town, and I miss them more than ever.
What can you tell us about the mix that you’ve put together for us?
Sure thing. I recorded a couple of different takes at my friend Charlie Leahy’s house and sent you guys the one that I thought was more interesting, and maybe challenging – I didn’t want to go for a straight club set, I wanted something that was more personal, and a better reflection of what I listen to at home. There’s plenty of new upfront bits in there, from friends like Seven Davis Jr, Rezzett, Braiden, and something from the new collab album from Bnjmn & Best Available Technology – a great record. There’s also a track from a guy called Kemback who’s been sending me some interesting demos, and a demo version of a new acid remix Amir Alexander has done for Tief records. There’s also other tracks in there that are just records that never leave my record box, like the Mr G, Mood II Swing, Stephen Brown and Dj Skull tracks. I guess this is a deepcast, the key word is “deep”, lol. But maybe not in the obvious “deep house” sense of the word. My definition of deep instead.
What do you have coming up next?
I’m not too clear on the what-when-where’s but there’s plenty of stuff, and some cool plans afoot, I’ve been very hard at work. Best to keep it locked to my facebook page to stay in touch. Shout to all listeners and supporters around the world – thanks for your ear time – and to you guys for hosting. Peace!
Seven Davis Jr. – Let Somebody Love You (Ninja Tune)
Dj Bone presents Differ-Ent (Hrall) (Dont Be Afraid)
Rezzett – Twizzta (Trilogy Tapes)
Adjowa – Science & Soul (Don’t Be Afraid)
Manuel Fischer – Toolboy (Amir Alexander Acid remix) (Tief Music)
Anthony naples – Zipacon (Trilogy Tapes)
Mood II swing – Function (Music For Your Ears)
Stephen Brown – Pablo (Subwax Excursions)
Pepe Bradock – Brad Beat (Kif)
Braiden – Solar Poise (Off Out)
BNJMN & Best Available Technology – Tred (Astro:Dynamics)
Theo Parrish – Dance Sing (Harmonie Park)
Retreat white label (Retreat)
Mr G – record store day black label (Relative)
DJ Skull – Revenge Of The Synth (Chiwax)
Kemback – Goodnight (unreleased)
Tangerine Dream – Love On A Real Train (Virgin)