Mixing It Up: An Interview With DJ Nick Nice

Nick Nice

Well guys, this is it.  2010 may be taking its last breaths, but with this passing we have a brand new year to look ahead to.  A year that deserves to be welcomed with a party like no other.  We are, of course, alluding to our Dirty ‘N Nice New Years Eve all-night dance party at The Orpheum, featuring one of Madison’s most prominent DJs, Mr. Nick Nice.

We’re thrilled to have him on the bill along with other talented crowd favorites like Dirty Disco Kidz and Team Bayside High, a sentiment that Nice shared while we recently chatted over coffee.  “It’s going to be great because it’s New Years, everybody’s in party-mode.  It’ll be perfect.  The Orpheum is always a fun time…I think we’re all equally excited because it’s one of those things where we’ve been wanting to play with each other, but it just takes someone to organize the event to make it happen,” he said.
Granted, these words may sound a bit biased coming from the lips of one of the event’s headlining artists, but trust us, if anyone knows what it takes to make a great dance party, he does.  As well he should.  Nice, though a Madison kid at heart, started cutting his DJ teeth in France with a resident gig at the ultimate dance hotspot, The Queen, just as their rave scene began to peak.  “A lot of it was kind of just right place, right time,” he said.

“I did my junior year abroad in Paris.  This would have been, I don’t know, 1990, 1991?  The rest of Europe had already caught on to the whole rave explosion, whereas France was a little bit behind.  In England, their Summer of Love was like ’87, ’88, something like that.  I happened to be there [in France] when everything was sort of starting—the rave scene and whatnot.  Because I didn’t know anybody there, the first place I went was the record store, and made some friends.  They invited me to these crazy parties.  I remember the first one I went to was in an abandoned subway station…they paid off the cops to be able to have the party.  The thing is, at this time, it was all the people that eventually went on to become the French scene, if you will.”

Upon returning to the states after spending several valuable years abroad, Nice returned to plant the seed of rave culture in the Midwest.  With 20 years of experience now under his belt, he has a strong perspective on the role of the DJ in today’s musical community.  “It’s something about the recession and people just wanting to go crazy.  I mean look at the seventies.  Disco [was] a very escapist type of thing.  I don’t know if you get that with a live show as much.  It’s not as escapist.  I feel like your focal point is the stage, the band, whereas I feel like at a DJ event you can watch the DJ if you want, but you’re probably going to have more fun partying and dancing with your friends.  It’s much more of a personal thing as opposed to a rock star type of thing.”

That’s not to say all DJs are created equally.  Nice, whose mixes and sets are always created live on stage, expressed frustration with the notion that some are making a name for themselves by doing…well, not much of anything.  “They have a pre-made set, for one.  Some of them aren’t even mixing.  They’re using this software, Ableton, where they’ve got this stuff basically all laid out.  It’d be like going up and air guitaring, you know?  It’s totally lip synching, and I have a huge issue with that.”

“I think DJing is one of these things that people say, ‘I could do that,’ because it looks very easy on the surface,” he went on to explain. “There’s the argument, ‘Oh, you’re just playing other peoples’ stuff.  You’re just pushing a button,’ blah blah blah.  [But] I think with the advent of all the DJ software that’s out there, iPods, and how everybody has access to it now, people actually realize it isn’t just pushing a button.  I mean, anybody can mash two songs together, but how do you read a room?  And how do you make it into a party and take people into a different dimension and have that escapist moment?  The DJs that continually get booked, those are the ones that read the room and figure out what’s going on.  I wouldn’t be DJing now if I went up and just hit play and was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to hang out at the bar,’” he said with a laugh.

Though sometimes burdened with the task of challenging ill-informed generalizations about his craft, as long as fun is ultimately the name of the game, Nick Nice has no intentions of slowing down his high-demand career.  Luckily for us, his passion for music has held fast to his heart since childhood, and shows no signs of loosening its grip.  “[When I was 7 or 8 years old or so] I’d do a fake radio show from my closet that would broadcast though the house with Mr. Microphones, and I would play 45s and stuff,” he recalled.  “It’s kind of funny–I’m sort of still doing the same thing in a weird way.”

Tickets are still available
to hear Nick Nice (along with Dirty Disco Kidz, Team Bayside High, and more) sculpt the music that will ring in the new year at The Orpheum Theatre TONIGHT.  We hope you’ll be able to join us!

Visit Nick on Facebook, and download his much-coveted mixes here.

–Shelley Peckham

One Response

  1. nice interview (no pun intended)…

    nick’s fans may like knowing he’s going on at 1:00am. in big cities like NYC and Chicago, DJ parties usually don’t start until after midnight and they go on all night. hustle down to the Orpheum and dance dance dance the night away.

    happy new year everybody!!!

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