DJ Mag recently had the privilege to connect with Nick Warren in London the day after he completed his forthcoming 'The Soundgarden- Volume 1' compilation, then again as he was preparing for a gig in Abu Dhabi, Dubai. Instead of a voice worn out from the intense final stages of the mix project, however, he spoke with pride about his new mix, excitement about his work on a new Way Out West album and with an almost brotherly fondness about his connection with kindred spirit, Hernan Cattaneo. On the eve of the duo’s four-date East Coast US tour, Warren revealed a tireless passion for his craft.
So, you’ve spent the past two days mixing down your forthcoming compilation, 'The Soundgarden- Volume 1'. How did that go & what can you tell us about the mix?
“It’s done and I’m very pleased with it! It’s along a similar line as the radio show. CD1 is a bit more eclectic. I’ve signed stuff that’s for the dancefloor but maybe a bit more for the head. Barry Jamieson, who did lots of engineering for Sasha, has given me a couple of tracks which are amazing. James Monro has written something. These are all tracks that are full of melody, really amazing compositions. Some are breaks, some are 4/4 and some are just straight ambient stuff. There’s something from Nils Frahm on there. There’s all sorts of things. It’s pretty eclectic but I’m really, really pleased with it.
“There are a couple vocal things on there as well and I’m not normally known for vocals. These male vocal things which are sort of quiet - sort of indie - in almost a Depeche Mode style, which work really well. I’m chuffed with it!”
Nice. Now, thinking back to your 'Renaissance - The Masters Series' mix you included a track of your own, 'Devil’s Elbow', on the first disc. Are you including any of your own material, original tracks or remixes, on 'The Soundgarden' mix?
“To be honest, I’m not this time. Jody Wisternoff and I are in the middle of writing the new Way Out West album. It got to a stage where I was doing some solo stuff and so was Jody, and we would try to do some Way Out West stuff while touring, but it was just impossible. We both have decided that until the Way Out West album is finished, no more solo stuff. We’re just going to really concentrate on that, to get that sounding amazing! Once we get that signed and released then we’ll go back to some solo stuff but for now we’re very much focused on the Way Out West album.”
Is any of this material ready or is it still in an early stage?
“Well, I’ll be playing four or five of them in New York on Friday. They’re still not quite finished so it’s quite a nice stage because both Jody and I have mixed down demo versions, and so we play them out and we see how they sound. So we can say, ‘yeah, that works’, or ‘we need to change the arrangement in this section'. We can sort of test things out secretly. That’s what we’ll be doing in New York on Friday.”
Right, so you’re kicking off your four date US tour with Hernan Cattaneo at Marquee NY on March 21. Is there much preparation that goes into your gigs when you play together or are you at the point where you can essentially just turn up at a gig and go for it because you’re on the same page?
“It’s interesting. We don’t really talk about what we’re gonna do before we play together. I’ve done lots of back-to-back sets with people before like Jody, Dave Seaman, Danny Howells, Sasha and others. With some people, it works and with some people it doesn’t to be honest. Or it does one time, and then the next time it doesn’t really work. With me and Hernan, it always works every time because we’re kind of on the same page musically or we complement each other musically. It’s always good fun with him!”
You recently posted this amazing picture on Facebook promoting the four US tour dates of Hernan and you looking out into the crowd with the ocean and the sunset beyond…
“Yeah! That photograph was taken just outside of Amsterdam. It looks like it’s on some lovely Caribbean or Asian beach but it’s actually the North Sea facing England. Ha!“
When you have these experiences in these gorgeous settings, it must be nice to be able to share these experiences…
“Exactly! Me and Hernan always have a really good laugh. More and more now, we’re totally relaxed with the whole process and we really enjoy it. One of the things about DJing is that you should really enjoy what you’re doing as I think that it shows in your sets as well. Me and Hernan have many times stood back and thought, “Wow! What lucky buggers we are!”
You guys clearly enjoy working together. ver thought about recording a set or doing a mix together?
“Yeah! We’ve discussed doing a CD together. I think a live one would be great! We’d pick a night that we’re playing together, record the whole night and then release it as a triple CD or something. That would be a great thing to do. We almost did it at Creamfields Peru last year but logistically it didn’t work out. It would be good to make a plan because I think it would be a great thing to do and I think it would be well-received as well. I kind of like that live thing where the mixes sometimes aren’t absolutely perfect or you’ll throw in the bassline really heavily and it really fits the mood of the night…”
Yeah, it seems like you two doing a mix together would be a really good ‘fit’. It’s kind of rare these days as a lot of DJs are very specific in what they play in terms of genre, but you and Hernan both have that downtempo, ambient side as well as a more banging proggy sound toward the end of the night.
“Exactly. We played in Russia recently and Hernan was playing some really interesting sort of funky, very melodic leftfield dance music, and I was really impressed with it. I think we’ll be bringing a lot of that into New York. We’re playing for six hours and for the first two hours we’re gonna be able to just play what we like really which will be good fun. We’ll play some deep stuff. There are even a couple of new breaks things. Now, I haven’t played breaks for a long time but there are a couple of tracks that I’m really impressed with. So, I shall be bringing those with me.”
“Yeah, it will be both really. Actually, I’ve just posted a clip of another track off the album to my SoundCloud so you should go and have a listen.”
Will do! So you’re in Abu Dhabi now?
“Right, I’ve got a bit of a journey ahead of me… After the gig, I’ve got to get straight into the car, drive to Dubai, get on a plane to London and land in London - on no sleep!”
Oh, of course! Haha!
“Then I have to get on a plane straight away to New York, land in New York tomorrow evening, get to the hotel and then I’m on at 11pm.”
“Yeah, so it’s gonna be a bit of a tough day tomorrow! I think I’ll be needing some Red Bull.”
Ha! Definitely. his brings to mind something that I’ve been meaning to ask you about dealing with the exhausting travel while trying to be creative at the same time…
“Well, I think Ableton has made that whole process so much easier. It’s a really easy program to use. It’s on the laptop, and the laptop goes everywhere with me. So, with all of my travelling on the plane or in the hotel room, if I get a spark of an idea I can just start hearing it and it really evolves fast in Ableton. So that helps.
“Then, once I’m home, you see, I’m a boring old bastard! I’m in bed by 10pm.”
I believe that! You’re trying to catch up on sleep!
“My whole thing is I try to sleep at any moment I can! On the plane, in the car, in the hotel… It really helps to recharge.”
Thanks so much for your time. We look forward to catching you at Marquee tonight!
Words: JOSHUA STEPHENS