Nick Warren has been an influential force in electronic music for close to three decades now – remarkably, its been 27 years since the formation of his Way Out West project alongside Jody Wisternoff, while we still have his eight Global Underground mix albums (more than any artist) on heavy rotation here at 909originals HQ.
As well as his role as longstanding A&R for Hope Recordings, recent years have seen Warren curate The Soundgarden live events brand and label, alongside his wife Petra (check out the excellent Balance Presents The Soundgarden, one of the premier mix CDs of last year), as well as keep busy on the production front.
His latest release is the Freedom Call / Electro Shock EP, featuring Black 8, released on the new Nātiv Records label, which is released on 27 November.
909originals caught up with him.
Hi Nick, thanks for talking to us. 2020 has been a most unusual year, but you’ve certainly kept busy by the looks of things. Did the lockdown help to inspire you at all, or did it give you a renewed focus?
I have found the lockdown has been great for writing music. To stop the constant touring, which I have been doing for so long, has been really great. I have obviously missed playing but it has really focused me on making new music.
The opening track on the new release, Freedom Call, incorporates the same piece of spoken word dialogue as Primal Scream’s Loaded – “Just what is it that you want to do..?” Was this a nod to the late Andrew Weatherall, or does it have an extra meaning for you?
We actually wrote the track and finished it in 2019. I was very sad to hear of Andrew’s death, but it was after watching the movie The Wild Angels, which the sample is from, again that made me want to use it.
In addition, Electro Shock has been described as a ‘homage to early electro records’ – does this hark back to your early DJing days in Bristol?
Yes it does, I have always loved that early electro sound, the breakdancing vibe.
It’s around five years since you and Petra launched The Soundgarden – how has the project evolved since you first conceived it? What have been some standout moments?
The label and events are going really well. For me, on the label side, the Summer and soon to be released Winter collections have been great to compile. Helping lots of artists release their music is very pleasing.
Recent years have seen you adopt a more downtempo/chill approach at times, such as the Sunday Maybe album, and ayour excellent The Soundgarden Wellness Mix. Has this always been part of your repertoire, or is it an area you are exploring more recently?
Yes, I have always loved that vibe. It was in fact the first ever release of the Back to Mine series as well. I collect ambient and downtempo music, it is a passion of mine.
For some years now, you’ve regularly featured alongside Hernan Cattaneo when playing out. What does Hernan bring to the mix, and what do you bring?
We seem to compliment each other. We never discuss what we are going to play and very very rarely play the same track, but we both trust and enjoy each other’s music and mixing. It is really good fun playing together.
You’ve been working alongside Jody in Way Out West since the early 90s – I can’t believe Ajare dates back to 1994! It’s been a couple of years since the release Tuesday Maybe, are we due some more Way Out West material soon?
We are releasing remixes of Ajare and Shoot on our Bandcamp page very soon, and we have started a new EP of material for early 2021.
You’ve been associated with the Global Underground brand since the very start, and have recorded eight mixes for the series. What was your favourite, and why?
My favourite is Reykjavik, and specifically CD1, it’s the best one I have done. I love all the tracks on CD!
New Global Underground releases are a bit more sporadic these days, do you think that the series has run its course to a certain degree, or has its purpose changed?
I haven’t heard anything from the label in years so I have no idea what their plans are I’m afraid.
Describing Global Underground 003: Prague back in 1997, Ben Turner described you thus: “Watching Warren is like watching a surfer ride waves, as he bounces and sways behind the booth with his face buried in the mixer. He is the master of the quick mix, he shows just how progressive hard house and certain shades of techno are closer together than ever before.” How do you think your style and/or approach has changed in the years since?
I think in those days we played every style, and today it’s not so wide ranging. Everything is much slower these days as well. I am organising my record collection to sell at the moment and some of the records from back then are so fast!
What sort of a dance music/clubbing scene will emerge from the other side of COVID-19? What will have changed, do you think?
Honestly I think once everything starts up again it will very quickly return to how it was before, people love to go out late at night and dance. Maybe people will be less hugging and kissing for a while, but not for long… 🙂
[Thanks Nick for chatting to us. Freedom Call / Electro Shock is released on 27 November on Nātiv Records. Photo by Sauriêl Creaative, Sammy Leigh Scholl]