William Nastri is many things to many people. After all, you don’t span the history of UK techno without putting a few fingers in at least a small number of pies.
Whichever of his guises you're most familiar with though, there’s no denying that the guy is universally regarded as a pioneer.
More widely known as Billy Nasty, he’s synonymous with the world’s first commercially released DJ mix (Journeys By DJ). But he’s also a revered resident at BLOC Weekend, and regular guest at places like Exit Festival, Fabric, and Awakenings. Then again, his collaborative work with Gregor Tresher on imprints like Terminal-M and Crosstown Rebels’ Rebel 1 has also turned plenty of heads in the public and press alike.
And all this is before you mention the two labels he has run; Electrix and Tortured, his agency Theremin, and his not-so-small part in introducing wider audiences to names like Adam Beyer, Umek, The Advent, and Marco Carola. And, to bring things up to speed, his project with Radioactiveman - Radionasty - was just unveiled as the first release lined up on The Nothing Special, a brand new label from Craig Richards.
So with a forthcoming date in front of a very intimate 150 people at Manchester’s Kraak Gallery, we thought it only right to call the man in question for a quick catch up on all of this and more. In between offering an insight into his love for Brighton, along with new school producers like Addison Groove and Martyn, he confesses how DJs of his generation really need to evolve, and makes it clear that he’s done just that. Read on if you want to understand more.
Hi Billy, how are you today, and what’s been going on?
All fine yeah. I was up in Scotland last weekend, with Keith Tenniswood - Radioactiveman. We were doing a gig at The Caves in Edinburgh. Then on Saturday I was in Glasgow, which got pretty messy, as expected, but everyone had a great time.
You and Keith are obviously working on the Radionasty project now. How did that idea come about?
Well we had been friends for ages, and had bonded over electro, and the Radioactiveman stuff has always been a big part of the electro sets I’ve done. Then after meeting up at BLOC, sitting up getting messy, we decided to do some stuff together properly. He came up with the name, which I thought was an inspired choice, and we’ve been writing stuff together for about a year and a half now.
We have our first tracks coming out on Craig Richards’ new label, which is about to get promo's. All the tunes are called ‘Radio 1’, ‘Radio 2’, and so on, so Craig’s putting out one and two, and three actually came out on an EPM compilation earlier this year. ‘Radio 4’ is ready to go too, we just need to decide where to take it. I’m even considering maybe restarting Electrix, but we’re unsure about that.”
- Date: Friday 25th November 2011
- Event: CONSTRUCT w/ Swayzak & Billy Nasty at Kraak Gallery
- Venue: Kraak Gallery
- Artists: Billy Nasty, Swayzak
So restarting the label is a possibility?
Yeah, sort of. It’s a lot to take on, and ideally I’d like to concentrate on DJing and just co-produce with Keith, leaving distribution and stuff to someone else. Then sometimes I just think 'fuck it'; I’ll do it myself and keep it all pretty low key.
Your other big collaborative work is with Gregor Tresher, with Mixmag describing last year’s single, 'Real Mad World', as a new breed of electro. Are we still improving on dance music then?
Absolutely, I think so. Some of the electro the dubstep guys are making now - people like Instra:Mental, Addison Groove, and the stuff on Martyn’s 3024 label - I think there’s a lot of great music out there at the moment. Originally electro was actually quite alienated and disjointed from anyone, other than the completely addicted. Now there seems to be threads of it in dub, techno, whatever - it makes the style more dancefloor friendly, and more interesting.”
Your biography states that DJs of your generation need to evolve these days. How?
I just think a lot of people in my generation were there when the whole Balearic thing kicked off, and then later with progressive house - which is a bit of a cringe-worthy term right now when you think about it. Ultimately though it was all techno, on labels like R&S or whatever. But you have to move on, and appreciate things have got slower, funkier, and more shuffling when compared to the banging early-90s stuff. You have to embrace new sounds; nobody can eat steak every night, and the more you widen your tastes the more you improve your knowledge. I mean, you don’t want to see a comedian, then go back five years later to hear them telling the same jokes.
You're based in Brighton now right? How is the scene down there?
No, I actually own an apartment in Brighton which I rent out, but I’m living in London again with my girlfriend. I did live in Brighton for a while though, and thoroughly fucking enjoyed myself… People down there complain about the club scene a bit, but if they lived somewhere else chances are they’d complain a lot more. In the last few weeks I’ve seen Marcel Dettmann, Modeselektor, and Flying Lotus on line-ups in Brighton. I mean these are people that play in Tokyo, or London, or wherever - major, influential cities - so it’s impressive to see them going to Brighton. I love the place, it’s really open minded, and has a complete cross section of society.
As for Manchester then, when was the last time you were in town?
I think the last time was part of a Megadog tour, with me, Jim Masters, Derrick May, and people like that playing. I also used to play in a tiny place off Oxford Street…
Yeah, that’s right. The night was run by ‘the two Steves’. I always had a top time up there, and at Sankeys or wherever - should be good again.
And, finally then, what have the highlights of this year been so far?
Well I played Awakenings Festival in an 18th Century gashouse, with over 5,000 hardcore Dutch techno fans all going insane, and this absolutely incredible light show. There’s a video doing the rounds of me playing Murder Was The Bass in there, and it looks fantastic even on You Tube - that was amazing.
I also got to go back to Exit in Serbia this year, which was great. On top of those BLOC is always really good - Keith and I are lucky enough to be residents, and so we’ve been at all five of them so far. I always love it, they get a really open-minded line-up, and you get to see things you wouldn’t catch on a normal weekend. It has introduced me to a lot of great artists, so that’s been a highlight of the year, every year, for the last five years… and, hopefully, coming up to Manchester for this little party next week will be pretty memorable too…
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