Drum&BassArena 19 Years: Nu:Tone
Last time we spoke to Dan Gresham, AKA Nu:Tone, he had just completed his fourth studio album Future History. Fast forward 5 months and he’s now part of Hospital Records’ A&R team and behind their incredible new compilation Fast Soul Music, AND gearing up for a very special set at our ’19 Years. 19 DJs’ event in May.
We took the opportunity to catch up with the man himself to chat about his new role, Fast Soul Music, PLUS he gives us an insight into his top 5 d&b tracks from the past 19 years. Read on and indulge in this beautiful D&B60 mix he created for MistaJam’s 1Xtra show this week:
Yes Dan, great to catch up again! What’s the haps, how have you been?
Easy! Yes all good here, a bit hectic, and feeling slightly delicate after a great weekend with two Hospitalities in Reading and Bristol. Can’t complain though!
2015 is looking huge for you already – You’re now part of Hospital’s A&R team, big ups! Guessing your workload has increased immensely… are you now regretting the decision to take the role? 😉
I’m not regretting it in the slightest, but I do have to be much more organised with my time these days. My schedule was pretty chocka before anyway, so now that I have to factor in the A&R work as well, it’s full on. It’s really interesting work though, and I find it rewarding in a very different way from my own production.
Was the role something you always envisaged yourself doing eventually or did the offer come as a surprise?
I hadn’t considered it to be honest. Tony asked me out of the blue, and we chatted about what it would entail in terms of time and responsibilities. The more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me. Now that I’m doing it, it’s turned out that there are a bunch of other skills I can bring to the table – things that we had never thought of in the first instance – but that’s often the way these things work. You don’t know what’s needed of you until you get dirty on the job.
Very true! Let’s chat Fast Soul Music – Hospital’s latest compilation. It’s out this week and it’s absolutely lush. Seriously wicked selection throughout and really showcases Hospital’s roots. How did the concept for the compilation come together? Obviously a nod to London Elektricity’s ‘Fast Soul Music’?
They had come up with the idea of a Fast Soul Music compilation a few years ago, but nobody had the time to dedicate to getting it off the ground. When I started working on A&R, Tony mentioned it as an idea to me, and I was really excited to get my teeth into it. Obviously, it’s a side to the label’s catalogue that I’m particularly familiar with, and that’s especially dear to me. I took home a hard drive with the entire Hospital & Med School back catalogue, and started listening to it. ALL of it. It took me quite a while, but was really interesting and enjoyable to do. It’s amazing to get that kind of perspective over both the labels and artists’ developments.
I bet! Hospital has had so many quality soulful, liquid releases over the years, how did you decide on which tracks would make it on to the compilation?
Initially I drew up a shortlist of about 90 tracks – tunes that I thought reflected the Hospital approach to ‘fast soul music’. I then sat down with Chris and Tony, and we worked our way through the list, cutting it down to 50 or so of our absolute favourites. From that shortlist, I started putting together the two mixes, and that determined the final tracklisting.
Back to Nu:Tone for a sec: Loving the collab with Billon on Holding On. Have to admit before I pressed play I expected something completely different! Is it refreshing to step out of the d&b bubble every once in a while and work on something like this? I’d imagine it’d do wonders for your creativity working across multiple genres?
I find it really helpful, as well as being enjoyable. I’ve made house as a side-project for about 14 years now under the name Danism. Although the project has never blown up particularly, it’s been ticking along quietly, and I still value it hugely. It’s like when you have a little sorbet between courses at a particularly posh meal – a palate cleanser!
Ha! Great analogy 🙂 Are you working on anything else outside of D&B at the moment?
I’m actually on the train now, on the way back from another day in the studio with Billon, so there will be more to come from that connection. There’s a bunch of stuff for Danism slated for release, some on Shadow Child’s label (Food Music) and some on Noir’s label as well.
Wicked, look forward to that! Back to D&B – What’s cooking in the lab?
I had a brother’s session last week with Matt and Nick (Logistics and Other Echoes). We weren’t in for long, but managed to get something knocked out in a few hours. I was talking with my other brother, Tim (Mr Penfold), saying that we need to work on something with all four of us in the studio. It’s long overdue!
That would be amazing, please do! You’re playing at our 19th birthday celebration on Bank Holiday Sunday in May. We’re stoked to have you on board! What are some of your fondest memories of Drum&BassArena over the past 19 years? One of mine has to be Spy:Tone on D&BTV…
Definitely, that session was great fun. There’s always something special about a spontaneous Back 2 Back – it takes me back to the essence of what DJing is really about. You can’t prepare for it, you have to play it by ear and just wing it! Added to which, it becomes a bit adversarial sometimes, a bit of a battle. That always makes things feel more fun for me!
Have you thought about how you’ll approach your set at the 19 years event? You reaching for the classics or packed with exclusives?
A bit of both I reckon. To be honest, that describes a lot of my sets. I’m a firm believer that there’s no point playing a tune just because it’s new. It’s a rare day when my ‘new and exclusive’ folder (not that I actually have one!) contains a selection that is better than the entire history of D&B. And that’s what it’s all about surely? Playing the very best music for the moment. I couldn’t care less whether the tune I’m playing is 24 hours old or 24 years old, just as long as it sounds good!
Well said. Now, we know this is near impossible to narrow down but what are your top 5 d&b tracks from the past 19 years?
Wicked selection! Now let’s chat Nu:Logic – ‘What I’ve Always Waited For’ still ranks amongst my favourite d&b albums of all time. Have you guys been back in the studio since and can we expect any more releases soon?
We’ve been busy, and have plans for lots more studio work together over the next few months. We haven’t got any concrete release plans yet, but I promise you’ll know about it as soon as we do!
You recently went on tour with Metrik and Etherwood for the Hospitality USA & Canada tour.. we know what happens on tour stays on tour, but any funny stories to tell? We wont tell anyone, promise… 😉
It’s not particularly funny, but Etherwood had some pretty intense visa complications (malfunctions is probably a better choice of word), and didn’t make it to any of the US shows. He only made it to a handful of the Canadian shows. Thankfully Reso stepped up to the plate, and filled in for Woody at the start of the tour.
Visa woes are not the one… Reso to the rescue though! What have you got planned for the rest of the year? Scary to think we’re almost in May…
More of the same! Production, DJing and lots of A&R. Hopefully I’ll actually get to see my family at some point in there as well!
Final words of wisdom?
Did you know that the word ‘muscle’ comes from the latin word for ‘little mouse’ – musculus. Because apparently muscles (especially biceps) look like little mice under the skin. Sorry, that’s the best I’ve got.
Haha, you learn something new every day. See you in May! Big love.
Catch Nu:Tone alongside Alix Perez, Technimatic, LSB, Rockwell, Rene LaVice, Hybrid Minds + more at our ’19 Years. 19 DJs’ event on May 24th at Heaven, London. Tickets available here.