NICK Warren was king of the DJ Mix album before the format became common place.
One of the original crop of superstar DJs continues to enthral audiences across the globe and he has returned to the format he pioneered with a new double mix album, Balance presents The Soundgarden which is out now on old school formats CD and vinyl as well as digitally.
The Soundgarden project is Nick and his partner Petra's globe trotting concept which has grown in just a few years to encompass a label, compilations, stunning parties around the world and a global radio show. It is the culmination of Warren’s long and distinguished career in the game, giving him a multifarious platform through which to exercise total creative control.
We caught up Nick recently to chat about the art of the mix album, DJing with his pal Hernan Cattaneo, Way Out West and much more.
We are speaking fresh from ADE. How was it for you? You played two parties with your mate Hernan Cattaneo, combining his Sudbeat imprint with your Soundgarden label… how were they?
We did two fantastic events this year as usual, first Hernan and I played on a boat party cruising around the waterways of Amsterdam which is always great fun, lots of friends came along and we were very lucky that it was a beautiful day.
On the Friday we had our annual Sudbeat x The Soundgarden showcase, and this year we teamed up with Audio Obscura for a huge event at the concert hall Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. It was spread over 4 areas with The Soundgarden and Sudbeat crews, Miss Melera and Dimitri all having their own stages plus Hernan and I in the main room playing for 8 hours. It was a fantastic event with lots of industry people popping in as well.
What is it about DJing with Hernan that makes it so special for you both?
Firstly, we are the best of friends which I think shows in our sets and we have very similar but slightly different styles which seem to complement each other very well. We really enjoy it and both love playing together.
Can you tell us about The Soundgarden project in a little more detail for readers that might not know about the concept?
The Soundgarden as a project started as an online radio show I did for many years, it them morphed into a record label as well and from that stage my partner in life and business Petra became very much involved and was keen to start events as well. The brand has grown at a huge rate which we are both very proud of.
What is it like working with your partner Petra on the project?
It's lovely working together, she steadies the ship very well and has an excellent business sense as well as artistic ideas. Of course, we sometimes struggle to find the balance between work and free time, we can easily end up discussing business first thing in the morning and last thing at night, because we work all over the world so the emails come in 24/7.
Some of my favourite mix CDs from the 90s were crafted by yourself such as the Cream white album which you mixed alongside Paul Oakenfold and James Lavelle or the second Global Underground CD you mixed Live In Prague. These were timeless, inspiring mixes. How do you go about selecting the tracks for mixes like this which stand the test of time as you have with the new Balance presents The Soundgarden mix (which is gorgeous I have to say!)?
Thanks very much for the compliment. For me, compiling an album is a long process over many months where I first contact producers I like and admire and ask them to write something for me. I end up with around double the number of tracks I need and then I spend weeks seeing which tracks work with which and see how it flows, tracks come and go and some I thought would definitely make it just do not work in the mix the way I want. It's a lot of work but thankfully the album seems to be getting a great response.
Can you talk us through some stand out moments across the mix?
The thing I love about the mix is every single track is important to the flow, but a couple standouts would to be Kamilo Sanclemente – Urania (Balance Mix) which has a stunning broken beat vibe with an amazing breakdown and Stillhead – Neu Kobenhavn (Hernan Cattaneo & Audio Junkies Remix). The guys did an amazing job of remixing this track I signed to The Soundgarden.
People digest musically very differently from the heyday of the CD mix compilations like some of the ones I just mentioned. How important are they still for DJs and artists even if they are just on a digital level? There are so many mixes out there to choose from now, recorded live, radio mixes hosted on platforms like mixcloud etc… How do you really stand out with a mix?
There are a lot of DJ mixes out there online and there also seems to be a never-ending appetite for them. Mixes are a great tool to promote yourself and your style of DJing. I'm lucky to have been involved in some great brands throughout my career. In my opinion it's still great to have a physical copy you can hold in your hands and Balance have made a really good job of this album, we're all really happy with the look and feel of it.
There remains great love for DJs and pioneers from the 90s and 00s with most still going strong and some who may have begun to fade slightly have in recent years seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Why is this do you think?
I think that people can see that having many years of experience actually improves your Djing, the secret is still having a huge passion for finding and playing fresh and exciting electronic music.
Do you think the younger generation of DJs have had or even can have a similar impact as your generation? Are the younger generation pushing the music forward or just going over old ground?
I'd say it's important for the next generation to keep breaking new music and new ideas. There is of course huge competition these days so it is harder to stand out but quality always gets noticed, keep focused and be truthful in your musical taste.
What up and coming DJs and producers have caught your ear recently?
Britta and Unders are amazing, Armen Miran, Black8 and Nicolas Rada are just a couple of hugely talented producers out there.
Your collaborations with one great up and coming artist Nicolas Rada have all been super cool. Is this a working relationship that you see running and running as with your work with Jody Wisternoff as Way Out West?
Nico and I have worked on a handful of tracks so far and will for sure do some more in the future. Jody and I on the other hand have always had a special musical partnership that has lasted since the mid 90's which is longer than most marriages last LOL.
Have you got plans with Jody for more Way Out West material / shows for next year?
We have no plans currently because we're both really busy with our own projects right now. It always takes us a few years to get back to the studio after finishing an album. Jody is very much involved in Anjunadeep these days. I have also been working on some solo Nick Warren material which could easily grow into my first solo album so watch this space!
Balance presents The Soundgarden mixed by Nick Warren is out now on 2CD/Digital and 2LP Vinyl.
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