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Nick Warren: 'Argentina's got the best scene right now'

Author: Skrufff
Saturday, 30 June 2001
"Warren is a DJ who has achieved something rare in dance music; he has retained his musical integrity without losing his immense popularity with clubbers and colleagues."
Virgin Encyclopedia of 90s Music.

Ever since he started his DJing career in 1990, spinning alongside his old friends Massive Attack, Nick Warren has maintained his status as one of the world's top 'progressive' DJs, simultaneously building a reputation as one of the most charming and credible DJs in the business. Not that he's bothered with ranking, he said this week as he prepared to set off for a new bout of global travelling: "It's nice to be recognised but I find it almost bizarre how there is now almost a league of DJs all fighting to be the number 1," said Nick. "How can you judge two DJs like Oakenfold and Andy Wetherall who play completely different styles of music-"

Alongside his DJing, he's also devoted considerable energy towards his own (equally acclaimed) progressive trance act, Way Out West, which he still runs today with fellow Bristol native (and DJ) Jody Wisternoff. While critically popular, the band's career reached its nadir (lowest possible point) in December last year, when they were unceremoniously dropped from their major label BMG, just weeks before their completed album (Intensify) was due for release. For Nick, the experience left him feeling angry if not surprised. ""We got all the reviews, loads of good ones too, then they dropped us on the 18th December right after the magazines came out. That's what pissed me off, the fact that they could have told me sooner and saved all that press exposure."

He's also less than impressed that the same major will now be taking a percentage of all sales of the same album, Intensify, which is now coming out on Distinctive Records this August. "They don't say, "We're dropping you, here's your album back', they say 'We've decided not to put the album out - you're welcome to have it back and sell it on to another label, as long as we get this percentage of everything that comes from that album," he explained. "BMG are making 6 or 7 percent off everything we do on this album. That's the major label game, you trust these people when you go into things but you're being naïve. Unless you're selling loads of albums, then major labels don't want to know you at all."

While his production career was encountering apparently insurmountable obstacles, Nick's parallel DJing sideline had reached the point where he'd routinely be turning down bookings both from excess demand and his own perfectionist tendencies. "I'm not one of those DJs who plays three or four nights every week, I take at least one full weekend off a month plus a Friday or Saturday night too," he explained. "It works out that I play about four or five gigs a month and no more. I find that I perform much better by keeping it down to that number of gigs. So many DJs I know are constantly DJing and travelling and I often bump into them at airports and see that they're really fed up with the lifestyle. They're moaning 'Oh God, another gig' and that's the worst way to be. If you're about to perform and are actually looking forward to it, then that's reflected in your set." He's also the kind of DJ that uses his sets to test his Way Out West productions.

"Both Jody and I also use our sets to gauge how well Way Out West tracks work on the dance floor, and we often play tracks out before they're finished - just to see what the reaction is and whether we need to change the sounds. In a normal set I'll play about 5 or 6 of our tracks or remixes, which is easily the most tracks from any individual artist."

Skrufff: You've been on the house scene since the beginning, how does today's vibe compare to the early days-
Nick Warren: "There's a spilt now, worldwide it's really good, there are fantastic scenes and gigs all over the world. South America's really strong, as is Asia. Australia's picked<
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