Jason Nevins- From Run DMC To Rock & Roll- I'm Finished With Rap/Dance
Author: Jonty Skrufff
Thursday, 4 September 2003
Chatting from a mobile in a clearly public place, Jason Nevins appears distracted by his surroundings. Ever since his house remix of Run DMC's It's Like That sold 5 million copies worldwide, he's been viewed as a man with a crossover-style Midas touch, though he's at pains to stress his new I'm In Heaven (built around the Michael Jackson sample from Human Nature) is anything but contrived.
Manufactured pop hits aside, he also appears keen to distance himself from hip hop, despite P Diddy's belated attempts to merge the genre with house.
"To be honest I've been down the road of the hip hop, and I am really stepping further and further away from the rap and dance thing, trying instead to combine rock with dance," says Jason.
"It all depends where you live as well. In the UK and Europe you seem to get a better reaction to dance music in general compared to the US, so for someone like me, it is more productive to be based over here and also it's a lot more fun. The US is gradually opening up to dance music, but the scene is still predominantly dominated by rock."
Skrufff (Jonty): House legend Kevin Saunderson, who grew up in Long Island like you, chatted to Skrufff recently about sneaking into the Paradise Garage when he was a teenager, how conscious were you back in the '80's of the Manhattan club scene-
Jason Nevin: "Not very much, I was more into doing my own thing and my influences were definitely not deriving from clubbing."
Skrufff: Dance music back then wasn't as big as rock, I suppose. Did you hang out with clubbers socially-
Jason Nevin: "I was more on my own and I've always been like that. I don't have friends or acquaintances in the music business."
Skrufff: Did you get a straight job after college or started a career in music straight away-
Jason Nevin: "I went straight into music after college."
Skrufff: How easy was that step-
Jason Nevin: "Actually as soon as I finished college I released a record that sold immediately, which started me off in the business and everything took off from that point. That was about ten years ago."
Skrufff: How did you connect with Todd Terry-
Jason Nevin: "I've know Todd for as long as I've known Gary (Saltzman) my manager (who also manages Terry). They were actually two of the first people in the industry that became friendly with me. I've known them both for 14 or 15 years. It all started because the first record I did came out on a label part owned by Todd."
Skrufff: When you did the remix for the Run DMC's "It's Like That", did you have any idea of its potential commercial success-
Jason Nevin: "None whatsoever. I knew it would be big, but not that big. It took me a couple of days of work and it's more a track that merges both the original record with one of mine. I wasn't even aware that the remix was doing well, until I got a call from someone at the label advising me to get my make up kit together, as they were going to shoot a video for it in LA. That was the first indication to me of what was going on."
Skrufff: What was your first impression of success-
Jason Nevin: "It is something very difficult to grasp, something out of the ordinary. The fame and craziness of it all is something not so easy to accept. It's hard work, interviews after interviews, shows, appearances, TV, radio, and to have it thrown at me so much at one time, it was just difficult to cope with."
Skrufff: On your website you mention Jam Master Jay's assassination and being devastated by it. What did you make of that whole episode-
Jason Nevin: "I don't really know much about it, I'm just really sad it happened."