Nick Warren
of Way Out West

'Now that's another fine mess'

Two full length albums and a glittering career as a much sort after D.J. Nick Warren takes time out to speak with Atomicduster, about among other things, his alter ego that forms one half of Way Out West and why exactly in his early days could be found walking Gary Glitter’s dog?

AD: You were spotted at Club Vision, in Bristol by Massive Attack, and soon after, you became their official DJ. This firecracker appears to have started you in your career skyward, and there you were, helping to craft what became the Bristol Sound. How do you see your part in making this little piece of music history?

NW: I think I’ve taken an influence of that, rather than it influencing me, to be truthful. I think if you listen to our stuff, we very much build it around the drums and the bass, bass drums especially, and I think that’s where you can see the influence. I don’t think I’ve been pulled into making the Bristol Sound as much. With Massive Attack, I was their tour DJ, so on their dates I’d play before the band to set them up, and then again afterwards. For me it was really good grounding on how to be a DJ because it was just like, setting your crowd up without actually taking them through the roof. The last thing that you want before the main band, or even as a warm up DJ is to play too big and get everybody vibed up before the main attraction comes on. And I travelled the world, so it taught me how to travel from time zone to time zone and not fall asleep in the middle of my set!

AD: How did you take to the travelling?

NW: Yeah it’s great. I never had a problem with it, because you stay in the best hotels in the world and fly first class. I think any DJ that complains about the travelling is either bored or taking the piss really.

AD: Yep. Now you appear to have two distinct personas. One is, and I quote, “a superstar DJ”, and the other, the second part, or should that be equal half of Way Out West. How do you feel that the former seems to take centre stage regarding press clippings and so on?

NW: Well, I’ve been doing it longer, and I was aiming at being a DJ before I started doing stuff with Jodie. If you look at Leftfield, it’s still Paul Daley’s name that people say first, and I think that’s because people knew of Paul Daley before Leftfield. It’s the same really with us, and I still see myself as a DJ that makes records, and Jodie has always seen herself as a producer. DJing has always been my first love really.

AD: How did you get started?

NW: What, as a DJ? It’s just that I was always one of those annoying people at house parties years ago that always took a tape along and stuck in the tape machine, because I always had this image of myself having a great taste in music and I wanted to share it with everyone. Especially new music – if I’d been buying something new I wanted EVERYBODY to hear it, and I suppose from there it was a natural progression into DJing.

AD: Do you still have time to listen to the music you’ve got? Then again, I suppose that’s your job….(Give the man a round of applause – Deputy Ed)

NW: Yeah that’s right. All the new stuff I get, of course I listen to it straight away. With the old stuff, I’ll take a section of that to my music room and go through that stuff, see what it is or if there are any sounds that I’ve missed. Still I’m finding stuff that I didn’t know I had in there. So yes, I listen to music all day every day.

AD: How has each lent itself to the other, and do you feel that you wouldn’t be half the man you are today if you hadn’t explored both of these facets fully?

NW: Yeah of course. I think it’s difficult, if not impossible to make a good dances if you’re not going out all the time. Not because you’re taking influences from other people’s records, but because you can see what works, and what works in 2002 that might not have worked in 2001. Plus you see the way people react to different moods as opposed to different basslines. I think if you spend too much time in the studio, you lose track of what kickdrums should sound like when you make a dance record. It’s great for a DJ to make a record, and try it out on Friday to see how the crowd reacts. You might find out it’s 30 seconds too short so on Monday you’ll change it and then try it again until you’ve got it right.

AD: So what is an average day for creative Dj’ing Superstar Nick Warren?

NW: Oh, well, I’ve got a daughter so I’m normally up in the early hours of the morning. Then at seven o’clock I’m normally up, take her to school for 8:50 and get straight into it then. That’s great for me, because it means I don’t stay in bed all day, and I get loads done. I’ll do all the home stuff in the morning, and then at eleven o’clock I’ll start going through all the records I’ve been sent, and then I’ll leave a message for Jodie for when he gets up at two o’clock.

AD: In 1994, Way Out West released their debut “Ajare”, followed by “Montana” and “Domination”, but it wasn’t until 1996’s “The Gift” that saw you gain popular appeal. Do you have any regrets at any of these earlier near misses, and off the first album, which track to you holds the highest regard?

NW: Still the best track that we ever made is “Domination” I think, because it sums up everything that I’m into in music, so that’s an easy one to answer. Our first single was actually “Shoot” on a small Bristol label, and our second release was “Montana”…

AD: Right. Oops, sorry.

NW: ”Montana” came out, and that’s the record that Deconstruction signed us for, then we released “Domination” and went from selling 3,000 records to 30,000. So I don’t regret anything and for me the only downer was the success of “The Gift”, because we hadn’t finished an album, and we had a top 20 single, so of course we felt we had to rush the album. Then afterwards, although I was really pleased with every track on the album, all the strongest tracks people had heard before, like “Ajare” and “Domination”, so there was no, like “Wow, it’s a fantastic new album!” If we’d had the album ready at the same time as we’d done “The Gift” and nobody had heard the other two tracks, I think it would have been a massive hit.

AD: So how easy is it to get records out if you haven’t got a deal, like when you were on the small Bristol label?

AW: It’s really easy if your records are good! If people will buy it, record companies will be more than willing to put it out for you!

AD: How much do you have to thank the Halifax for the success of “The Gift”?

NW: None at all. It was only played about a dozen times I think, and that was after the release date, and it was already in the charts. Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it again, because when they first offered us £50,000 to use it we were like “Yeah”, but then they wanted to use it 50 times a week for a year, and we ended up getting about £4,000 for it instead. Sometimes you make mistakes, and that was our biggest one.

With Nick possibily contemplating the third Way Out West epic and avoiding financial institutions at all costs, we left him there. But as Mr Hardy once said of his partner in crime, "That's another fine mess you've got me into!", I wonder who of the two here played the rotund Oliver Hardy, but I think when it comes to money lenders, we may all have cause for comment there.

Interview: Nick James.




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