Hail! Ouch, nice one. Just what I need when I'm on my way to an interview with a man that has been said to be able to 'bottle sunshine'. Maybe he can sort me out. Although I don't like being too hot, it's a fine line. Anyways, in through the side hatch, and I'm instantly welcomed with a warm embrace of the Iration Steppas Soundsystem. Mmmmm, toasty. This is where I hang around for abit before anything happens.
Here we go. Nice to meet you. Make some almost inaudible small talk before we get down to business. This, guys and gals, is George Evelyn, Nightmares on Wax to you and me. He's back with a new album, 'In a Space Outta Sound', and is embarking on a UK tour with the mighty Iration Steppas. Those who know the soundsystem will understand what a perfect combination this will be. Anyway, on with the questions…
Contactmusic: How does it feel to be on tour again?
Nightmares on Wax: Well good, just can't wait to get this shit outta the way really. It's the first gig, [I've] been puttin' it together for, like, the last month, y'know? The whole show, the production n' that, and now I just wanna release it. [I've] been cooped up in my studio tryin' to do it all… I can't wait really.
C: How did working with the Iration Steppas Soundsystem come about?
NoW: Well I've known Mark [Iration] for twenty years, and we kinda grew up through the whole 'DJ' thing anyway. I grew up around soundsystems anyway and
Mark's been living it, and I just thought about taking this album back to the essence of my upbringing. Which is soundsystems, Dj's and everything. I thought it would be great to just go back to that, give people abit of insight to where I come from, and I wanted to go deep into the sound as far as my musical upbringing. I thought what better way than to just represent it in the sound, and what better sound is there in the country than Iration!? You know what I mean? And its local. We're Leeds boys at the end of the day. It's good to give him the profile, and at the same time its good for us to step into his arena, of his dub scene.
C: You've collaborated with a lot of people over the years, who else would you like to work with?
NoW: There's quite a few people. The person that's on the top of my list at the moment is Jamie Lidell. I've been trying to sort that out for the last year. Me and Jamie talked about it awhile ago, and its just timing. Hopefully we can make that happen. Apart from that It's more about focussing on local talent, from Chyna B and Sara Garvey, just some of the local heads. I get a lot of pleasure working with the girls, especially Chyna B, because I got given a demo tape of hers so long ago, and what I could hear in it has kinda shone through now, and that kinda makes me proud. I'd love to get a chance to work with Quincy Jones, but I don't know if he's even interested in going in the studio anymore, do you know what I mean!?
C: Has your relationship with Warp (Records) changed at all over the years?
Now: I suppose it's matured. Just the same as the music has. Just the same as the 'mares has. I don't think there are many artists who can talk about being on a label for sixteen years. And Steve the co-founder, we're mates really, and we've stood the test of time in the way that they understand they've gotta let an artist be to get the best out of them, and I'm comfortable with them because they let me be. There's none of this 'we're a label that releases this, or releases that'. Sometimes people talk about labels as though we all sleep together, and, you know, it's not like that at all.
C: What do you think about the music scene in Leeds at the moment?
NoW: I think it's really good on the creative side of things, I think it's great. I think Leeds has been crying out for it for a long time, twenty years. I've just always had an issue with venues. There's never been a 'hub' in Leeds for music. That's the thing that frustrates me more than anything. I just think that for such a great city it seems to have a lot of 'hot air', when there's smaller towns, and smaller cities that have a music scene, that have a 'hub' where all different musicians go and hang out. I'm not talking about being 'clicky' or anything like that. There just seems to be a lot happening in Leeds, but there doesn't seem to be a lot happening together, but hopefully we're kinda coming over that hill now. Leeds has had alotta heat because there's a lot of guitar bands here, but there's alotta talent here. It's just down to the venues and the clubs to recognize the local talent, instead of trying to tap into things that come from out of town.
C: Do you ever have any ideas that wouldn't fit on a NoW release? If so, what happens to them?
NoW: Loads. They're either on a CD or on my hard drive. I always go into an album making twenty plus tracks, and I pick the best of that bunch that I think makes a good album. Some of the rest of the tracks come out on B-sides and some of them don't, they just don't surface. I don't know if we'll ever get to the day of releasing the unreleased projects and stuff like that. I've always been the kinda person to have loads of ideas, and makes a lot of tracks, I have done since '88. I've still got the demo tapes now, so I think that will always be the case.
C: What inspires you to make music?
NoW: Life, Love and all of the above, that's what I say. Apart from, obviously, hanging out with the family, that's the only place I feel completely true. You can get into that creative space of bouncing ideas off of other musicians, but I'm better on my own. There's nothing stopping you from the freedom in your expression, and when it feels as good as it does, it's as simple as that really. There's nothing more beautiful than that.
C: Do you still dig for records in car boot sales?
NoW: Yeah, I do actually. If I can get up, and I've not been up all night. It's just harder on a Sunday now. I actually believe that there's no such thing as a Sunday now, It's just two Saturdays.
C: What's the best thing about your job?
NoW: The freedom. The sense of freedom, and the happiness. I think that's the best thing about it. I always have to remind myself about how lucky I am, that when Monday morning comes I don't have to get up.
C: How would you describe the new album, 'In a Space Outta Sound', in three words?
Now: Honest, Soulful Vibe.
C: What was the last record you bought that blew your mind?
NoW: It has to be the J Dilla album. What makes a great record for me, personally, is one that makes me wanna make records. That can go from a Jazz record, Soul record, a record that's new, a record that's old. If I hear a record that makes me wanna make music, that's a great record.
C: What should people expect from this tour?
NoW: Fun. Nothing but fun and positive vibes. That's what Nightmares has always been about. It's always been about projecting fun. Just coming into our little space, into our zone, and realizing that we're real about what we do. It's not just a hobby, its life for us.
C: What does the future have in store for Now?
NoW: I've just set up my label 'Wax On' records, which is incorporating a lot of local musicians like JD-73, some guys from Liverpool, some guys from Cork called 'Green Monitor', a guy called 'D-Ward', local producer. Just basically trying to share the platform really, with lots of unknown talent. Apart from that we're doing a 'Smokers Delight' concert at Shepards Bush Empire, London, the full album 'unplugged', that's to come in July. We're doing the 'Big Chill Festival', 'Sonar Festival', and then another album really. Business as Usual.
'In a Space Outta Sound' is out now on Warp. Do your best to catch NoW out on the road with the Iration Steppas Soundsystem. You wont regret it, and if you do, get in touch with me, give me an earful. I don't mind, my ears haven't been the same since I saw them. Enjoy