This week our global talent search heads to the United Kingdom, as Newcastle based DJ Nick Rodger supplies our latest ‘Undiscovered’ mix.
Where are you based and what made you decide to start DJing?
I live in Newcastle, North East UK and recently moved back ‘home’ after 10 years living in Leeds. I’ve been DJing over half my life; for me it is all consuming. I grew up in a musically open house, my Mum’s record collection (prog rock, early 90s dance, death metal – quite the variation) kept me entertained. I’d record stuff onto cassettes to hand out to friends, using the dual cassettes on my hifi to edit my fav bits together.
When I was about 15 I went to a school disco where my mate was DJing. I had no idea that what I’d been doing for years on my hifi was actually a ‘thing’. I was hooked and saved up for my first set of decks.
Can you remember your first gig? Where was it and did you rock it?
HA! My first gig was horrific! I was 16 or 17 and blagged a 30min slot at the local students union. It was the first time I’d ever had a crowd (read 10 people who weren’t my family or dogs). There was an enormous live-sound style mixer with about 20 channels, 2 smallish speakers, no monitors, belt driven decks and I turned up with a bag of freshest prog house. Needless to say it wasn’t my finest hour.
The night that led to being offered my first residency though, that was a phenomenally fun gig.
What’s the local underground scene like for the music you play? Plus where are the best places to play?
We’re actually very lucky to have some great nights up in the North East. We have the lads behind Shindig, the Ape X crew, Jaunt in Newcastle and Riff Raff in Middlesbrough, bringing the best in the world to our region. Plus there are always little nights popping up. Underground music is in the water up here, you just need to know where to look.
In terms of great places to play, Cosmic Ballroom in Newcastle is fantastic, as is Medicine Bar in Middlesbrough and a little venue we’ve been using out of town called Pedalling Squares; it’s a cycle shop come café/bar, with a DJ booth and great little sound system.
Talk to us about your DJ setup when you’re performing? How would you describe your style?
As I play a lot of records, I keep the digital side of things simple. I’m not into beat juggling. At home I use 2 Technics 1210s and 2 Traktor decks. Traktor was almost forced on me when my cdjs died recently, so it’s a learning curve.
I play anything from ambient and more chilled out stuff to groovy house to electronica and breaks. My mixes always have a certain style, I really try to select music that says something about me rather than just jumping on popular sounds. I also tend to seek out records from producers and labels I’ve supported for years, which helps define my ‘sound’. My record collection is kinda getting out of hand…
How often are you DJing?
I’ve been quite lazy over the last year, so maybe once a month or so. But at home, its pretty much every night, even if it’s just 15mins when ‘normal life’ gets in the way. I’m a firm believer in the mantra of ‘practice, practice, practice’. I never switch off, I’m always thinking about music.
Do the promoters you know take chances on local talent? Or are they mainly booking big names?
Unless you’re putting on the party and get yourself on the bill, it does tend to be ‘names’ that make up a lot of the gigs I’ve been to over the last few years. But there are such talented local djs who have been at it for years without really getting the recognition they deserve. It’s one of the drives for me to really push things myself.
How difficult is it to get promoters to take you seriously and what strategies have you used to get their attention?
I naively tried handing tapes and cds out when I started out to everyone, I’m sure most ended up in the bin! I’m sure having a huge social media following will help in some circles, but I’ve always found actually talking to people, introducing yourself and supporting the nights and people you want to be involved with shows integrity. Its not about you getting a gig. Its about being part of the scene.
What’s the best thing about being a DJ?
I’m an obsessive record collector. I get to talk music and share music I love with so many like minded people, from all walks of life. And then geek out and play with the tech.
What’s been your biggest achievement this year?
After a few years not really gigging, I’ve pushed myself to get more exposure. I’d say I’m pretty happy having a mix on CU/Pioneer DJ Radio!
What’s coming up next?
I’ve a podcast series in the works which I’m super excited about. We’re also looking at doing more gigs through our House of Requiem collective.
Finally please share with us your current top 5
Gorge & Marcus Homm – Dizz Co (Voltaire)
Dubsons – M Rooms (Wizz Music)
Angel Mora & Tatsu – Uchi Mata (Purple Music)
The Messenger – Exposures (Raygun remix) (City Life)
Ivaylo – Cellar (Jay Tripwire remix) (Variety Music)