Time travel through the music with Nick Lewis
Nick Lewis combines the best of the progressive era with the latest sounds through a unique blend of music created without restriction. His two shows Universal and Liquid Cool are FRISKY staples, airing since 2009 & 2010 respectively, each bringing an eclectic style based in deep roots with every episode. His “if I like it, I play it” mentality means you should expect to hear something different each time, sourced from his connection and inspiration, as well as almost 20 years of loving and living the music.
Outside of FRISKY, he’s been running Emotional Content Recordings which has featured releases from artists like Jaap Ligthart, Dmitry Molosh, Daniel Glover, and many more, keeping the spirit alive through melodic, thoughtful music.
I caught up with him for a quick chat to get the inside scoop:
What is your electronic music origin story?
After going to my first rave in 1991, I was totally hooked on the music, the scene, and the people that came with it. There was this feeling that anything was possible, and the music very-much reflected that. Then a rave in my hometown in 1992, called ‘Adventures on the Pleasure Planet’, switched me onto house music, specifically it was a set that Sasha played. I’d never heard anything like it before, he played tracks by Lil’ Louis, That Kid Chris, Masters at Work, David Morales, and Clivillés and Cole. It was completely different to any of the other big dj’s selections, and it took the roof off the tent. From then on my taste gravitated to toward the style of U.S. House. I pretty much stayed in that genre until 1998, when a friend of mine gave me a Sasha CD for my birthday, it was the much-loved San Francisco mix, from the GU series. ‘Trance’ had never really done it for me, I found it all a bit flimsy, but this didn’t sound like anything I’d heard before, I guess it would be classed as progressive trance, and it was awesome.
Ever since then I’ve never limited myself to a genre, if I like it, I play it.
Of course, when you get back from the club, you need something to chill out to, that’s when I started to develop a deep love of ambient/electronica, I could gush over the likes of FSOL, Beaumont Hannant (whatever happened to him, his stuff was genius?), Harold Budd, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, etc, forever…
What do you feel motivates or inspires you to continue creating music?
Sorry to sound like a cliché, but “music is life”. What would life be without a soundtrack? Unfortunately I’ve suffered depression on and off for some years, and I’ve never found a better therapist than music, it helps you find beauty in everything, it can be peace, it can be hope, or it can be elation (and lots more in between).
Life inspires music, music inspires life.
You know what, back in the 90’s I used to do a night in a pub called ‘The Frog and Bucket’ with an old mate of mine. We used to play everything and anything, and it was a great laugh. A pair of old 1210’s, ‘made 2 fade’ scratch mixer, and smiley people – simple times.
Can you take us through the process for creating your FRISKY shows? Does the approach differ between them?
It usually starts early on a Saturday morning, I’ll begin going threw the promos I’ve been sent over the month. There are a lot! And unfortunately, depending on where you’re coming from, many aren’t to my taste. If I’ve got enough to make a 2 hour set with a decent build into a final crescendo, then I’ll rarely hit the likes of beatport, but of course that’s not always the case. The next step is to key the tracks I’m going to use, and figure out roughly how I’m going to sequence them. So unless I’ve decided “ok, I’ve been inspired by that dark techno mix I heard the other day, I want to do something like that”, I’m pretty much guided by the promos I receive. My favourite show to compile is Liquid Cool, my ambient/downtempo vehicle. I love pouring a large glass of wine and digging deep into my music collection, finding rare or forgotten gems, and introducing them to a whole new generation.
How has the experience been running your own label? What have been the greatest challenges and rewards?
The greatest challenge is being consistent in what we (Emotional Content Recordings) release, but over the past year or so we’ve forged relationships with a solid stable of artists, and, amazingly, some of them now come to us with sounds that they feel are the right fit for release on the label. As for the rewards, if one single person feels that a release warrants spending their hard earned money, that’s a buzz.
Do you have any upcoming releases you’re really excited about?
Yes! We released a really nice melodic track by Will McGlone earlier this year, called ‘Morning Gaze’ and we have a remix package coming out in December featuring some of my favourite talents, namely: Daniel Glover, Matt Black, James Warren, and Sean McClellen. It’s going to be brilliant, buy it!! Hehehe.
What is one of your favorite tracks of all time?
My favourite is Papua New Guinea by the Future Sound of London (you can hear a guest mix they did for Liquid Cool on the FRISKY site btw). It’s an emotional behemoth of a record, and I fell in love with it from the first time I heard it back in 1991. These days I try to listen to it as little as possible, so each time is like a little present to myself.