Nightmares On Wax Talks The Perfect Marriage Of Digital & Analog In iEDM Exclusive Interview
Nightmares On Wax has been producing electronic albums since the late 80s. A true pioneer to the electronic industry, Nightmares On Wax, whose real name is George Evelyn has been paving the dance music spectrum album after album.
George Evelyn started the NOW project in the early 90s and since has released albums about every 5 years that have progressed from early British techno sounds to more downtempo electronic with layers of live instruments.
Previous years at Okeechobee, NOW played at the Jungle 51 stage for late night tech house vibes. This year was extra special because NOW performed with with a live band on the HERE Stage.
iEDM got to sit down and talk to George before his Nightmares On Wax Live Band performance at Okeechobee 2018.
iEDM: A lot of people that I personally know credit you for some of their first exposure to electronic music. How does that make you feel?
George: It puts a smile on my face. I think any time that people tell me about their little testimonies about they get connected to my music is always beautiful, is always different. Yeah, it puts a smile on my face, 'cause you never know where music's going or where it's traveling. So it's nice to get that feedback in that way.
iEDM: You've always had a really space vibe with a lot of your music and previous years at Okeechobee you have played the Jungle 51 stage.
George: Last year.
iEDM: This year you play on the HERE Stage with a live band, tell me about that.
George: Yeah, the band, it's different, I was telling the band about last year and stuff and I was actually looking at the line up for the Jungle 51. I think I did the last song last year and we went until crazy o'clock.
This year, I'm promoting an album but I'm gonna play some classics as well. Live shows are completely different to my DJ shows. There's a different look there, but I'm still looking forward to it, to bringing that good positive energy to make people smile, make people feel good.
iEDM: Who will be playing the live band tonight?
George: We've got Sadie Walker on vocals, a guy called LSK who've I've known for a long long time, an amazing drummer and myself.
iEDM: Your new album is called Shape the Future. Tell me about that.
George: Well it's a collection of songs really that was written over four to five year period. It kind of really came together 18 months ago. 'Cause I'm always writing music and you never really know what it is until it kind of reveals itself to you and from traveling all around the world was kind of inspired by it really. And Shape the Future really is about opportunity because traveling all around the world I kind of realized that everybody wants the same thing regardless of what we're told.
You know, I felt that in many different countries, whether that was China, whether that's Beirut, whether that Israel, whether that's Germany, you know wherever. I just kind of, with all the people that I've connected with, not just in the party scene, but just generally, I kind of just got the underlying sense that everyone wants the same thing.
So that got me to question reality and what we're being fed and what does belong to us and that made me realize that we need to reclaim our imagination, we need to reclaim our vision and we need to start thinking about how we want to see the world, not what it's like you know to change it and that's why it's called Shape the Future.
iEDM: I like that. That's deep and an interesting societal perspective.
George: Yeah I kind of like to use the analogy if you've got a bunch of kids in a room that was not affected by dogma politics and stuff like that and you asked them how they'd like to see the world, I'd guarantee it would be optimistic.
So I think we need to tap back into our inner child in order to get there in order to think of a brighter future.
iEDM: Yeah, that's beautifully put. So you've been releasing albums since the early 90's and you kind of started as a group. Tell me about the evolution to what the genre of what this album will be now.
George: Even though I said I don't want to grow up, I think it's got maturity in there and the offset pieces of wisdom that I've been given from different sources and experiences in my life. It's got more vocals on it, more song-based vocals on it than I've done on any of my other albums which kind of gives the sense I've got something to say.
So I've pushed my production a little bit further I feel on this album. It's still got the depths of Nightmares and works, and it's still got the lineage and thread of Nightmares. I kind of like give myself a personal mission of creating the perfect marriage of digital and analog.
George: It's kind of my personal mission.
iEDM: That's a good personal mission. Do you think you accomplished it with this album?
George: I think it's on the way. They're becoming a good solid couple.
iEDM: Maybe another five years? Then you'll have accomplished it?
George: Well, there definitely won't be a divorce in there.
iEDM: Five years for an album, that's a long time.
George: It is, but I don't think there's never a rush to make a record for me. I think that music should be allowed to blossom in its own way to me. Because you can listen to one thing today and then listen to it tomorrow and it sounds completely different, so it's all about spaces for me. Being in different spaces and seeing what really resonates with you, so I take my time with that.
iEDM: Yeah. I'd love to know who influences your sound.
George: Wow, my life and people around it and coming to places like this. You know, obviously being a DJ and making it to the dance floor and other people producing and stuff like that affects, because I'm always hungry for new music, but I'm always hungry for old music as well as new music. There's always stuff to discover for me, so I'm always kind of like ... great music to me is music that makes me want to make music.
I hear a record, it makes me want to make music, that's when I know it's great music.
iEDM: Do you have a current favorite producer?
George: I tell you what I'm really into at the moment is a guy named Illa J. He's J Dilla's younger brother, and he dropped an album called home.
J Dilla passed away like nearly eight years ago or something like that. But Illa J, the younger brother, he's done production before which I thought was okay and this album he just stepped up. The production on it and everything and the whole composition to me is like really really inspiring and really beautiful, so he's the person that's kind of shining out.
And I've got a couple friends as well who are techno producers called Acid Mondays. Absolutely amazing. So those are the kind of heads up, kind of watching acts right now.
iEDM: Where are your favorite places to play in the U.S.?
George: Favorite places? Well, I don't want to be unfair to the whole of America, but I love Colorado.
iEDM: Colorado? Cool, you've got Freestyle Session coming up there soon and Sonic Bloom, right? I live in Colorado actually.
George: Do you really? Whereabouts?
iEDM: Denver. Downtown.
George: Denver? Yeah, I'm actually toying with the idea of living six months there.
iEDM: Oh yeah?
George: Yeah, coming out there, I just get a great energy there. You know it's great. I've had amazing shows there. Just the people.
I'm all about energy, so there's load so places in America I've played and I've had amazing times, but that's the place I kind of gravitate to. It's like for me, I live in Ibiza. It's the same energy.
iEDM: Yeah I can only imagine living there. It'd be a party all the time. How do you not party all the time?
George: Life is a party right?
iEDM: Touche. So you're doing Freestyle Sessions soon with Bassnectar. You've played a lot of shows with him.
George: Yeah, I'm honored to go play again in Colorado again with him. I did Red Rocks, which was an amazing experience. I don't know this location that we're doing now with this event and I'm not gonna look it up. I like to just turn up and absorb it as it is. But when I played the first show with him, I didn't really know much of his stuff. Do you know what I mean?
iEDM: Yeah, it's funny. I was there, Red Rocks.
George: Yeah it was wonderful to go and experience something you don't know anything about and to feel the cult movement within it and I found that pretty amazing.
iEDM: It is a cult movement, a little bit.
George: To me it was the digital version of the Grateful Dead, do you know what I mean? That's how I felt.
iEDM: It is. Yes, I love that. I've said that for years myself, so that's cool. So even people who are haters of electronic music love your live band stuff and you've really kind of merged some of the scenes with people being like, "oh there's not instruments, so I don't like it." What do you have to say about that?
George: I'd say you probably don't like music. Music's there for listening. If you're one of these people that just like to deconstruct everything and take everything apart, judge it, you're not really listening, I don't think. Do you know what I mean? You're always gonna get people that are gonna be critical of things, I think that's fair enough. My focus is on what I enjoy. I don't focus on things I don't like.
iEDM: Yeah, that's a good answer. You're right. So I gotta ask, why do you call your project Nightmares on Wax?
George: Well it goes back a long long long long long time ago. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, and a friend of mine was in the same break dance crew as me told me that he knew this guy who had some turntables. And this sounds funny, but I didn't know anybody that had two turntables, like not that many people had two turntables. And I was like you need to introduce me to this guy who has two turntables.
Anyways, this guy's name was John Halnon. We became friends, he had two turntables, and a reel to reel, which that'd do mega mixes together, which was like mixing sound, film music, indie music, goth music, hip-hop, reggae, all kinds of shit together and just this crazy mash of mixes. And one particular day we did this mix and I could never remember which way around it is but it went like this, either John said to me, "oh my god that sounds like a nightmare" and I said, "yeah on wax" and then he either said or I either said, maybe we should call ourselves that.
Then he either said or I either said, "yeah but it sounds a bit negative." Then he either said or I either said, "yeah but we could say it's to turn out your wildest dreams on vinyl."
iEDM: I like that!
George: And that's what it means to turn out your wildest dreams on vinyl.
iEDM: So what are you working on now?
George: Right now I'm remixing a track off the album, "Deep Shadows" I'm doing that at the moment and I'm doing and EP that we're gonna drop probably after the summer, probably just more dance floor, mock up style of things.
We just finished a sell out European tour. We've got the Summer to do now, festivals, and then there's another European tour to happen in the Fall.
iEDM: Awesome, and then maybe move to Colorado.
George: I think, definitely. We're planning six months there, six months in Ibiza.
Thank you George for taking the time to chat with us! You have been a pioneer in the electronic production world, and have turned "EDM haters" onto your wildest dreams on vinyl.