Ireland and her music is really what this story is about.
When I think of Irish music, I think of Belfast and seminal artists like U2, Stiff Little Fingers, and Van Morrison who all weave a rich tapestry of the romantic poet traditions as old as the Emerald Isle itself and the modern problems that plague all divided nations.
But Northern Ireland and Belfast are also part of the UK as well as being Irish, so when acid house came sweeping across Britain it also came across the Irish Sea as well.
Us Yanks may not know it but Ireland does have a proud techno heritage rooted firmly in the Motor City as well and has spawned and nurtured a few of it’s own DJ heroes along the way.
However at no time have Irish producers enjoyed such a high profile as Belfast has developed. The city now has its own sound which is finding deep kinship with us California techno heads (witness the genius of the new Timmy Stewart release on SF imprint Utensil to get thy bearings) and suddenly discovering love and open arms all over the world.
Desy Balmer, owner of Nice & Nasty, has been there since the very beginning and has an amazing perspective on this newish phenomenon. He hit it right on the head in our recent conversation-the Irish like it hard but not fast and with lots of melody.
I cannot think of a better way to describe the best releases coming out of Ireland (and therefore more favorite releases period) right now than that.
Without further ado I turn things over to Desy…
Give us a brief history of Nice & Nasty, the label has been around for a long time so please share a little background info first.
Nice & Nasty is 15 years old this year.
It was a dream of mine. At the age of 19 I got a local enterprise grant, some money from Prices’ Youth Trust and got a few heads together and decided to set up a label. Today I carry it around my neck like a cross. One day it will bring me salvation though.
The label was also a club promoter up until last year. We have released the first bits of music from Ubiquity (who went on to form Agnelli & Nelson); we released the first ever remix by Matthew B who then, with Layo Paskin, became Layo & Bushwacka; and alongside Dee Lynch’s Blue records, Mark Kavanagh’s Red imprint, and Holmes & McCready’s Sugar Sweet were the first labels to emerge from the Ireland post-rave scene.
I think that as Red, Sugar Sweet and Blue disappeared or morphed into something different we stuck around and until Eamon Doyle’s D1 and a few others that have since went off my radar.
Today though we are just the old man of the Irish sea. I have helped Richie Parker set up KKD and Diarmaid O’Meara set up Gobsmacked and through a deal with EPM got many local labels digital distribution, such as Acii Tone, Static, Skream Science, 0x3 so I think we deserve a little mention in the history of Irish electronic music.
As a DJ and promoter that’s a whole story for a different day involving touring with the Prodigy, fighting with Keith from the Prodigy (ten years later), going from acid house to drum & bass to techno. Playing techno and the odd back room session of funk and soul. Claiming to be a house DJ but playing techno. Supporting Garnier, Billy Nasty, Alex Smoke, Shades of Rhythm, DJ Sneak and Derrick Carter, N-Joi, Richie Hawtin, Octogen, and Nick Warren. Writing for various publications. Stalking Richie Hawtin (interviewed him 4 times now). Getting far too drunk. Being obnoxious and yeah getting more drunk, among other things.
Today, however, I am focused on the label 100%. I still DJ and yes I’ll play at your gig, but I no longer focus on my career as such as I really would like to have a label with a legacy of good music that fostered new artists, acts as a platform for Irish artists and stayed true to certain punk ethics, D.I.Y. traditions, and some good old fashioned parties.
Any time I got the chance of an interview I used to roll out the past achievements, but I intend on celebrating the bits we have done and concentrating on the next release, the next remix. It’s the only way, just keep moving forward, no real plan other than just find good music, get it together, maybe a remix and release it. See what the reaction is and move on to the next and the next and the next.
One day I’ll stop but until then watch this space.