Annie Berman, DJ on WTBU's daily morning show, BU in the Morning, sat down with George Evelyn of the band Nightmares on Wax on Monday night before their show at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Below is their transcribed conversation!
It’s been 20 years since your first album has come out. Throughout the span of your career, your music has been classified as electro/techno, to hiphop is now considered trip hop. What has the evolution of your music been like for you and what were your inspirations at the beginning of your career and what are they like now?
Do you know what? I’ve grown up with all these labels and genres, but really at the end of the day its about making music that you enjoy. That’s what it’s about. When I started out it was all about trends. When you get older, it’s not really about that anymore it’s about being passionate. Yeah, I mean, to think it’s 20 years, doesn’t really fit into my head. Everyone talks about it but it doesn’t feel like that even though there’s a lot going on. But my inspiration I would say that I’ve come full circle now cause inspiration is obviously, really, that music inspires music, there’s no doubt about that. Your environment inspires you as well, but my environment not the same anymore. Its realizing and recognizing over the years that there are times when the music is good and when it’s inspiring. Those are the moments that I’m trying to tap into now.
That’s really cool. So, you’ve very much matured, and I think it shows through your music.
Well yeah, it is an adventure, it isa journey. Just like any adventure or journey, you go off the beaten-track from time to time. And then you come back around again. I feel like I’ve come back ‘round again, but with a lot more knowledge if you know what I’m saying. I probably don’t approach things in the same way as when I started out.
I’ve been listening to the new album, “Though So” and I think it has a much more live feel, as if the album was recorded in a venue, rather than a studio. There are a few tracks in there where you hear people clapping and banter from other people who were there during the recording sessions. Is that true?
We recorded it on a road trip from Leeds to Ibiza…I think the track you are talking about is “Be There”. Actually halfway through the road trip we rented a 400 year old Spanish finca and there was only about eight of us. But it felt like the house was full. We were just jamming and recording stuff. I mean the great thing about our road trip was that we didn’t plan it we just completely had the vision and the idea to do the road trip but made the statement that the music would just be whatever it would be and would just go with that and be part of the journey. It was totally organic, totally free. I’ve spent most of my career talking about “journey” music being a journey. And here we are on a journey making music!
I’m really curious, where did the name Nightmares on Wax come from?
The name was born in 1984 actually. I used to do these mixtapes. I was 14 at the time and there was a guy who was a few years older than me, a guy called John Alinon, he used to make these. He had all this equipment and I couldn’t afford equipment so I used to go to his house and make these mixtapes using all sorts of stuff. We came up this quote about turning your wildest dreams out on vinyl. And in them days, vinyl was called wax. So we basically came up with the name Nightmares on Wax. So it actually means the opposite of what it actually says.
Well, how do you see yourself in the future, maybe in the next twenty years?
Doing this! I don’t mind thinking about my career as twenty years long. It just doesn’t really register…the time is not really a part of it. I mean now because we are into this 20th year, and obviously there is a lot of hype around the idea of “The 20th year”. So we are doing a lot of parties and stuff. So I’m like, you know what? We need to get the full band back on! We would have loved to bring the whole band here, but that’s really expensive. But that will happen in the future no doubt! For now, we are doing the live shows, wow! We are going to be performing 20 years of our music! There is so much reinventing to be doing. So that’s like another 10-20 years! There’s even more music to make. I’d like to just see more and more of that, you know, from a personal side. I’ve started a record label, Wax On Records. That’s the next generation of kids who have doubly inspired me as well. I’m actually doing more now than I’ve ever done in my life. IT just doesn’t feel like it.
Congratulations on being in this industry for so long. I mean, so many musicians fade out so quickly.
I don’t even feel like I’m in the industry!
I know, but I mean you are a part of it.
I know that I am. But as far as making music, I don’t pay attention to the industry. In this industry you start out and you think you are part of club scenes or you’re part of trends. There’s all these different things you think you are part of. But really, it’s about making music. Is it about scenes? Clubs? IS it about you? Ultimately, it’s about you. And to deliver that on stage and not even aware that all of that has anything to do with what you’re doing. That’s what I mean about being off the beaten track. Start looking around and thinking it needs to go there or there, it’s not really.
You have worked with a lot of different people for your tracks. Of the major people is DJ Kevin Harper. How did that come about?
When I started out with Nightmares on Wax with John Alinon he actually packed in the whole DJ thing to build tennis courts. Weird story. But I was in a break dance crew called Soul City Rockers this goes back to ’83 or ’84 and Kevin was in that break dance crew. Me and Kevin were pretty tight. At the time before doing Nightmares on Wax I was in a group called Unique Free. I left there, did Nightmares on Wax. Kevin left Unique Free, moved to Leeds and me and him were just the Nightmares on Wax DJs. Me and Kevin did the first Nightmares on Wax record together and the first album. Kevin is a massive, massive part of the birth of Nightmares on Wax. We’re very, very tight.
I have a question from a fan: what was your inspiration for make “in a space, outta sound” How do you feel this is different from your other albums in terms of your other influences or what you were trying to accomplish? For me as a listener, it was definitely the most powerful in comparison to your other albums like “Word of Science” and “Carboot Soul”.
It’s amazing how much heat we got off of “In a Space Outta Sound” in the states. Especially when we’ve never been here. I wasn’t really knowledgeable of the album’s success in the states until about a year and a half ago, which is a bit bizarre. It was just one of those things you know, hang on a minute! What the, wha? “In a Space Outta Sound”, I mean, really the title, this is always me and titles of records, there’s always some kind of meaning in there. So basically, to be in a space, to be in a particular space and then come out with that sound…that’s what it means basically. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. I feel like I’ve come full circle and have come to understand that my magic moments in music is when I can bring in that space where it’s unquestionable. I’m just doing it. There’s a complete free spirit in it. I’m not there going “oh, where does this fit in? What does that do?” None of that. Stuff is just free and that’s what the album brought. And things going on in my personal life at that time made me realize that I have this magic at my fingertips which was the music. And that’s what the reflection of that was in the album and that’s why to me, I’ve said this has been a big journey going through making all the albums from Word of Science, Smoker’s Delight, Carboot Soul, then to Mind Elevation. Mind Elevation was a different album for me and I know why! Because I was different and it was the first stage in my life where I was totally comfortable financially. That wasn’t something I was used to. I was living in a house bigger than I’d ever lived in. I became a father, I was touring. You know, I was all over the place. I basically was in so many different elements of being, that I wasn’t me. Do you know what I mean? That’s no disrespect to the album, but I understand why the album is that and then going into “In a Space, Outta Sound”, I realized what is reflective in your music is the state of mind you’re in. And that’s what is poignant in “In a Space, Outta Sound”.
Ok I’d just like to ask you a couple of silly questions quickly since we are running out of time and you need to go to sound check! Ok, what’s your favorite color!
My daughter asks me this all the time! Today it’s green.
That’s my favorite color too! Ok, what was it like the first time you heard your music played by someone else?
It was actually at an illegal warehouse party in 1989 in a place called Blackburn. 10,000 people and it was New Year’s Eve and we all sat down on our faces on this sweaty floor and the tune “Dextrous” came on. That’s the one that comes to mind now!
Thanks to George Evelyn!
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