Nick Warren: It's a passion rather than a business plan

Our clubnights editor Mike Warburton caught up with underground dance music icon Nick Warren ahead of his appearance at Liverpool's The Garage on October 25th.

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 22nd Sep 2014.
Originally published: 19th Sep 2014

Photo: Nick Warren

As one of the longest serving icons of underground British dance music, Nick Warren has enjoyed a seller career that comfortably spans two decades. His now seminal work as part of the Global Underground series helped cement his status as a tastemaker for a generation of clubbers and music lovers looking for a deeper, more sophisticated edge to their dance music.

He has also been the head of A&R at Hope Recordings, a label that has regularly found itself at the cutting edge of club sounds, and that's before we get onto his extensive back catalogue of original productions and remixes.

Both Nick Warren and Hernan Cattaneo head to Liverpool for Balance 026 on October 25th - this is what happened when we spoke to him a few days back before his appearance at Nocturnalism in London. 

Hello! Your set to play for Nocturnalism in London on September 20th. Despite your many travels, is London still a special place to play?

Of course ! I love playing in London. There's always a great atmosphere and an up for it crowd. I have heard fantastic things about Nocturnalism too so I can't wait.

What can we look forward to from your set there? 

Tonnes of new music - melodic and deep, but still with the punch I love.

We've been revisiting some of your earlier works in the office recently. Your remix of Der Dritte Raum's 'Hale Bopp' still sounds amazing all these years later. Are there any other past releases of yours that you are particularly fond of?

Well to be honest I always find fault in all of them afterwards. The remix of Shiloh's 'Cafe Del Mariachi' is a good 'un (above) and I still am very fond of 'Buenos Aires', as well as the remix I did of 'Naive' by Tom Glass.

Last year you dropped the sublime 'La Fabrica', have you any more releases on the horizon for this year? 

The new Way Out West material is getting very close - we are planning to release two tracks this year followed by the full album in 2015. I also have a couple of deeper solo tracks that will hopefully get released soon.

Hope Recordings is still going strong some 16 years after it started out. We still remember the buzz surrounding those early releases from the likes of Starecase and Timo Maas. What's been the secret to keeping the label at the cutting edge for so long?

It really is a tricky thing to get people to buy underground dance music these days. Thankfully Leon who started the label still has that passion alongside myself to release new music, it really is a passion rather than a sensible business plan though.

Your Global Underground releases were for many a huge part of getting into underground dance music. Do you think your involvement in the GU project has had a big impact on your career? Or are you sick of people asking you about it? (Relive part one of his Shanghai GU mix below)

Yeah it was a major help to make my known internationally, they were so popular worldwide and also happened when the internet and social media took off, I have so many happy memories from those days.

You've spoken before of your love for playing in places that aren't necessarily known for their clubbing. How has the experience of tapping into new scenes across the globe been? Where on your travels have you been most impressed with?

It really does change all the time, the two most consistent spots for me are Argentina and Greece, followed by Hungary but I have had so many incredible parties this year in Bali, Colombia and Australia... I could go on and on, I am a very lucky boy.

We really enjoyed your Soundgarden compilation earlier this year (below). Would you say that it's a statement of where you’re at musically at the moment?

I tend to make compilation albums with the choice of tracks that will suit an album which will be listened to for a long time and at any time of the day so it is very different from playing a peak time set, although there are a number of the tracks which still appear in my sets

Your sound has naturally evolved a lot since you started out, but what would you say has stayed the same and been uniquely yours? Have you always had a fixed idea as to what works on the dancefloor?

For me its always simple - melody and bass form a major part of my musical taste. Acts like Adriatique, Guy J, Naome and Chaim fit the bill very well.

What’s been the biggest change in the scene since you started out? And how do you rate the current state of underground dance music?

The difference now is that it is a global scene so as one place slips, another kicks off. A lot of what is being called deep house sounds very proggy to me so that suits me just fine.

What advice would you give DJs just starting out? What philosophies have helped you survive this long as a world class DJ?

These days you have to produce to be noticed, DJs are two a penny. I would also personally say try to stay away from laptop DJing - using the Pioneers with Rekordbox and USB sticks means you are mixing yourself and it's great fun to do.

And finally, hypothetical question… You have the power to throw the ultimate rave. You can play alongside any DJ from the past or present. Who would you put on the bill?

Myself and Hernan Cattaneo, Way Out West, Leftfield (The original line up), Fluke, Sven Vath, Jose Padilla, Jori Hulkkonnen and Massive Attack.

Thank you! Catch Nick Warren going back to back with Hernan Cattaneo as part of the Balance 026 Tour, which lands at Liverpool's The Garage on October 25th. Get your tickets here.

Tickets are no longer available for this event