Q&A: Nick Warren debuts in Ho Chi Minh City this weekend for Mixmag Asia Vietnam
"It doesn't happen often I go somewhere for the first time these days."
With a list of accolades and a discography like that of Nick Warren, we’re quickly in one of those situations where introductions are not necessary, but we’ll indulge you ever so slightly.
Making his break in the early 1990s UK scene, Warren was quickly known as the DJ for Massive Attack; his early sounds were steered by reggae, house and indie.
Throughout an enduring and legacy-leaning career, Warren has played pivotal roles with some of the industry’s greatest establishments including Cream, Global Underground, Hope Recordings and his most recent venture, The Soundgarden. And we can’t forget his accomplishments as Way Out West together with long-time friend and studio partner Jody Wisternoff, who he met in 1994 at the record store he worked at in Bristol.
This weekend, the mighty producer and global purveyor of progressive dance music, makes a long-awaited return to Asia, first stopping at Aura in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for Mixmag Asia Vietnam’s launch event, and then to Bali to host The Soundgarden at the lush cliffside day club, Savaya.
Ahead of his debut show in Saigon, Mixmag Asia caught up with Nick Warren to hear what he has to say about returning to Asia and being embraced by young and green scenes in the region, like that of Saigon.
What’s your earliest memory of making music?
In the late 80's I bought a sampler and started to learn the process of making dance music. It took several years before anything was worthy of release but it was great fun learning.
What was your favourite album when you were 16?
That is a difficult question, I think either the first album by The Clash or the Sex Pistols. I was a bit of a punk rocker when I was young.
How many records do you have in your personal collection?
I actually just sold my entire collection of around 30,000 records. It was a difficult decision to make but I do not regret it. It was time for someone else to get to enjoy them.
Tell us one thing about you that nobody really knows about.
I love to collect kitchen gadgets! Breadmaker, pastamaker, spiralizer, air fryer and so on
Every record tells a story, what record tells yours?
I suppose the Way Out West albums are very much a statement of my life, alongside Jody of course.
Your last record with Jody Wisternoff as the legendary Way Out West was four years ago (2018). Can we expect to hear more from the nostalgic duo?
Yes indeed the new album will be coming out in 2023!
You last played in Vietnam for Epizode in 2018, in Phu Quoc. What was your first taste of Vietnam like?
I loved the place, great people and of course amazing food.
And on this tour, you’re heading to the bustling city of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). A debut gig must be a strange term for you — what excites you most about playing here for the first time?
I have heard great things about the city and the club so I am very excited to visit for the first time. It doesn't happen often I go somewhere for the first time these days.
The party you’re playing for is the launch of Mixmag in Vietnam at Aura, under the Mixmag Asia Vietnam brand. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Mixmag and how far back it goes?
Mixmag have always been a huge supporter of Way Out West and myself. In my early days it was the bible for clubbing in the UK.
You’ve played in more than a fair share of cities and places that exist on this plane. Does it surprise you to get an invitation to play in Ho Chi Minh City after over 30 years in the game?
It was a lovely surprise, visiting new places is one of the highlights of my job.
Whilst we’re hoping Ho Chi Minh City might become your new favourite spot in Asia, where else have you enjoyed playing the most on your previous tours? (name club, city, and tell us why it was special)
In Asia Zouk in Singapore was an incredible venue for many years. Womb in Tokyo was one of my favourite ever gigs.
Tell us about an out of the ordinary moment you experienced while touring Asia.
I love all Asian food, Vetnamese, Japanese, Korean are all amazing BUT in China they give you the weirdest things, chicken feet NO THANK YOU hahahah.
Another stop on the Asia leg of your tour is Bali, where you’ll be bringing The Soundgarden to Savaya. Can you give our readers some insight about The Soundgarden and how it’s been growing over the years?
The Soundgarden events are the brainchild of my life partner Petra. We've taken the brand to many amazing locations around the world in the past few years and cannot wait to come to Bali on Sunday! Our good friend Valentin Huedo from Ibiza will also be playing.
Electronic music, in various shapes and colours, now holds a firm place in the mainstream. In your opinion, what has impacted the exponential growth of electronic music around the world over the last 20 years?
I honestly believe that the wide range of styles from underground to commercial have been successful because of the passion that producers, Dj's and promoters have for the scene. People love going out and dancing and that will never change.
What are your predictions for the future of electronic music? (Name at least two please)
A move away from techno to more progressive sounds and more female DJ's and producers coming to the scene, a very welcome change in my view.
Do you think we’ll be able to access pioneering sounds from the 80s and 90s twenty years from now? How do you think they’ll be preserved?
Any producer should listen to electronic music from the 70's, 80's and 90's. Be influenced but not copy, that is the secret.
Logic or Ableton?
What’s Nick Warren’s go to piece of studio hardware?
If you could give one piece of advice to a younger you, what would it be?
Take piano lessons every week.
Ramen or phở?
Love both but have to go with pho.