15 Minutes And A Mix: Nick Curly
One of the many wonderful aspects of House music is that two decades on due to its ever growing international appeal, technological advancement and accessibility, it continues to evolve and surprise even the most weary of the scenes many decorated veterans. A the forefront of one such evolutionary stage was Nick Curly in a movement that sprouting out of Germany that became popularly defined as the “Mannheim Sound”. It’s not a label Nick applies any value to as he rightly states that great music comes from across the globe but it’s hard to ignore the achievements him and fellow luminaries from the city such as Robert Dietz, Sis, Johnny D amongst many others made whilst reinvigorating the scene. So with a great deal of excitement we caught up with Nick ahead of his imminent performance at the UK’s We Are FSTVL to discuss his rise to prominence, plans for the future and chilling out in Turkey before a hectic summer!
If I could take you back to the beginning and ask you what first drew you to electronic music?
‘Milk’ was a famous club in Mannheim back in the day which a lot of my older friends used to go to. As soon as I turned sixteen I started to go along with them. I also started buying vinyl around this time and I remember the first vinyl I ever bought was on ‘Knight Force’.
In your career you’ve seen a lot of changes. What changes do you think have been for the better and is there anything you’d like to change back?
In general I think the electronic music scene has become much bigger worldwide in recent years and I think this is a positive thing for all of us. For sure I miss the small illegal parties we used to have back in the day in the forest or at an old warehouse. These days the police are always watching here in Germany.
How has the Mannheim sound developed since it first entered the international consciousness several years ago? Why do you think it became such a phenomenon?
With 8bit, Cecille and Oslo Records, me and my friends like Johnny D, Ray Okpara, Federico Molinari and Gorge didn’t expect any hype and we didn’t try to create a new sound, we just produced the music we loved. It became such a phenomenon because people liked to listen to groovy house music again after a long minimal period. Then the press started talking about our music and gave it the name ‘Mannheim sound’. I think we were in the right place at the right time but I don’t think there is such a thing as a Mannheim sound. We made house music, that’s all. The tag came from other people – you should ask them…
How important do you think the internet and social media is breaking new artists into the scene?
Oh I think the internet and social media change a lot and help create new characters. These days you can become a popular DJ without even producing or releasing any good music. You just need to be the right character to promote it in the right way on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Where was your first gig? How did it go?
My first club gig was in a club called ‘Vibration’. I used to go there almost every weekend with my friends after ‘Milk’ closed down. On that night I played with two guys from the UK called ‘Cruze and Vuish’ who used to be the residents there. It was something really special for me to play the warm up set that day and I can remember being so nervous that I had problems putting the needle on the record!
Tell us what are your favourite bits of kit both to play live and produce with in the studio? (Do run analogue, digital or a mixture of the both?) Is there a special or any unusual process you go through when building tracks?
In my sets I use 3 Pioneer CDJ 2000 and also 2 turntables as I still like to play some vinyl. For effects I have the mini Kaoss Pad from Korg with me.
In the studio I use Ableton. We have some hardware but to be honest me and my studio partners don’t use it very often.
Do you feel that mixing on vinyl is a dying art?
I feel sad to say that, but yes I think it’s a dying art. Not only because DJ’s are buying less vinyl, but also because many clubs do not care about their turntables anymore.
How do you feel the rise of digital software has help breed a new generation of electronic music?
The rise of digital software has made it much easier to produce music now. Back in the day you needed lots of money to buy all the hardware before you could start producing a track.
How do you go about set building? Off the cuff organic mixes or do you have a rough plan for where you’re playing? Where are your favourite places to play?
I never plan my sets before I have seen the club and the crowd. It’s very important to feel the vibe of the club or festival before I start to think about the tracks I’m going to play. Of course I know when I play big festivals not to play too deep and too slow. The most important aspect of my set is the groove.
My favourite place to play is at an open air, and club wise I love Japan as the crowd is really enthusiastic and the sound quality in their clubs is always first class.
2013 has been the year of the collaboration. Are there any collaborations we’ll be seeing you engaging in the near future?
I plan to do an EP with my younger brother Steffen Deux and I will also continue working with the vocalist Worthy Davis from my album ‘Between the Lines’.
If you could play literally anywhere and with anyone where would you play and who with?
The year for us DJ’s is kind of a circle. We start in South America at the beginning of the year, then go on to WMC in March, followed by the first festivals in Europe such as Time Warp. Every event is special and every country has its beautiful and bad side. I like people and I’m very thankful that I get to meet so many different characters all around the world.
In my sets I prefer to play alone. I did some b2b sets last year with Mathias Kaden and my brother Steffen Deux which was great but usually I play the best sets on my own.
Can you tell us a few names of producers’ work you are really enjoying at the moment?
There is so much good music on the market at the moment and it’s hard to name just single names. But some of my favourites are definitely Johnny D, Tuccillo, Mr G and Livio & Roby.
What are you own plans for the future both within music and outside of it? We’re always fascinated as to the many side projects many producers have…
Music wise I’m working on some different EP’s. After releasing my album last year I now plan to release some club tracks again. Also this year I won’t be playing exclusively for Space/Kehakuma in Ibiza, I have some dates coming up with Sasha, Solomun and Defected.
In my private life I bought a place in Antalya, and will be staying there for 4 months to build up some energy before the summer in Ibiza and all the crazy festivals start. We have the beach and the mountains in view from our living room. I love it here.
UK based readers can catch Nick in the flesh alongside a host of other big names in electronic music at We Are FSTVL on 25th May. For more information and tickets click here. Check out his exclusive mix for Data Transmission below!