Nick Warren on Way Out West's New Album: "It's Shaping Out to Be Our Best Yet"
Nick Warren has been a working DJ since around the time Avicii was learning how to hold a baby rattle. And as one-half of pioneering production duo Way Out West, he helped forge the sound of U.K. progressive house, blissing out the entire rave generation with transcendent chart-topping dance hits like 1997's "The Gift."
Of course, retirement is nowhere in sight for Warren, whose prolific solo career has seen him deliver some of the most acclaimed installments of the prestigious Global Underground mix series, among other things. And as it turns out, Way Out West is still alive and well, with a fifth studio album and new tour dates slated for 2015.
Ahead of his highly anticipated headlining show at Do Not Sit on the Furniture this weekend, we at New Times caught up with the legendary DJ-producer to chat about the evolution of electronic dance music, his Hope Recordings label, and WOW's new album.
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New Times: You've been DJ'ing for the better part of three decades and through practically the entire evolution of electronic dance music. What are the sonic elements you continue looking for in music after all these years? What makes a dance floor weapon for you?
Nick Warren: I have been very lucky to experience so many changes in electronic music. Having varied taste in my book is an essential tool for any DJ. I am a huge fan of melody and good basslines. I have always loved the more indie dance scene, vocals with an edge rather than the more diva approach. As for the weapons, something that has masses of energy with that melodic bass vibe always goes down very well.
What keeps you inspired and motivated to keep working as a DJ after all your years in the game? What do you find most inspiring or positive about electronic dance music today?
As a DJ, record producer and label owner, I am always looking for new sounds and ideas. The new -- and let's face it -- much easier ways of making music have brought with them an enormous number of young new producers. Yes, it does take me much longer to sift through the vast amounts of music being released on a weekly basis, but there are so many amazing artists and tracks out there that every day is an inspiration.
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As a pioneer of progressive house, what do you think defines the term progressive these days? Do you think the definition has changed since the '90s era when you were coming up with Way Out West?
Well, that's a question right there! Beatport decided a few years ago to place all the commercial EDM-style music in the progressive section. So the whole process of buying prog is a minefield of misunderstandings and confusion. My tip is to go to the deep house section, and in there you will find the music which sounds like what we would call progressive. Meanwhile the deep house music is now in the house section, maybe! Confused? Yes, so am I and everybody else. That being said, I have never paid too much attention to genres in general and just play the tracks I love.
What is the status of Way Out West these days? Can we expect future material or touring from this project?
Indeed you can. Jody [Wisternoff ] and I are very close to finishing our fifth album, and we are over the moon with it! I think it's shaping out to be our best yet! Touring will also start this year.
What was the concept behind Hope Recordings when you first launched the label in 1998? How has that concept evolved since? Where do you plan to take the label in the future?
The label was started by Leon Alexander and Steve Satterthwaite back in the day, and was a platform for forward-thinking electronic dance music. That is still our aim today. We concentrate on a mixture of young new talent mixed in with some legendary producers. It's very much a labor of love rather than a sound business idea, really, but we love the label and people who release their music on it.
So what can we expect during your set at Do Not Sit on the Furniture on Saturday? How do you typically approach a set for an intimate small room like this one, as opposed to say a festival arena?
I have heard great things about the club and it is a joy to come to Miami outside of Miami Music Week. I have so much amazing music right now, including lots of our new Way Out West material to play. Also, a stack of new signings to Hope Recordings. Expect that all-important melody and basslines to die for.
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Nick Warren. With Jeremy Ismael. Saturday, January 24. Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-450-3809 or visit facebook.com/DoNotSit.
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