In Conversation With Nu:Tone

Cast your mind (and ears) back to 2013. The year that everyone and their Nan made a Vine, the year Tesco got in a spot of bother over some horse meat, the year the Harlem Shake went viral across the globe. We were blissfully teetering on the edge of a soon to be revealed age of cyber mayhem and yet, deep from within the four walls of Hospital Records HQ, a beautifully raw, soul nourishing project by the Gresham brothers, Nu:Logic (Nu:Tone & Logistics), was unleashed. A flawlessly timed release, What I’ve Always Waited For was both a project that inadvertently nurtured us into a post-modern era and an album that would later become an undisputed staple within the Hospital archives.

Cherry picking some of the scenes most dynamic and exciting talent (Technimatic, T>I and Flava D) to remix classics from the album, we caught up with Dan (Nu:Tone) to dig deeper on their new Remixes I’ve Always Waited For release, their relationship as a working duo, but also as brothers, and their experience headlining Inkwells at the last ever full D&B event (Hospital Records) at Printworks.

Hey Dan! First up, little check in.. how are you doing?

I’m good, thank you. How are you doing?

I’m wonderful, thank you! We meet straight off the back of you guys headlining Inkwells at the final ever D&B event at Printworks…. How was the show?It was a lot of fun. It was the first time that Matt and I have done a b2b as Nu:Logic in a while so that was awesome. A lot of fun to roll out. Harry Shotta was a nice touch as well. That link up was something that came about after he recorded a ‘Hospital Records Pulse Check’ where he used one of my tracks for that set. Off the back of that, a lot of people told him that he rolls really nicely over the more soulful sounds in Drum & Bass. He started tweeting that he’d like to do more soulful sets so when we were booked for Printworks, he jumped to mind. So yeah, it was a really nice collaboration.

That’s like two beautiful – but super different – worlds colliding. I saw his Instagram post saying it was one of his favourite sets of all time too.

Yeah it’s crazy. He was saying from a musical perspective that it just sort of ticked all of his boxes, which is really nice.

So Dan, you have a stellar remix EP out this month, celebrating 10 years of your debut project as a duo, the What I’ve Always Waited For album. Let’s start with how guys picked the artists you did to remix these particular tracks… It’s an eclectic mix!

It was a conversation between Matt and I and a few other people from Hospital. First of all we worked out which tracks we wanted remixed, which wasn’t actually totally straight forward. The most obvious way is to go for the most popular tracks, which is kind of what we ended up doing, but then we also all have our own personal, favourite tracks that we really wanted to include. After some back and forth, we finalised it and we were happy with the selection. In terms of picking artists to remix, it was a matter of going for artists that we loved but we also wanted to get a real variety in terms of sounds. A broader appeal, mixing it up a little bit, for example, someone like T>I for ‘Everlasting Days’, a more obvious route would’ve been someone from a more soulful side of D&B, but I loved how he approached it. That contrast was what we wanted.

Yeah, T>I is a great choice, the contrast worked perfectly. What were the other personal favourites that you would’ve picked in addition to the 4 selected?

Probably ‘Brown Shoes’. Which is such a simple tune but it’s one I kept on playing for a long time after the album came out and I still love dropping it now. It would’ve been nice to have a fresh new version of it.

Wicked! What do you think Matt would’ve picked?

Ah that’s tricky! I wouldn’t want to speak for him. Other than the four that we chose… You’ll have to ask him, I’m afraid.

I’ll be sure to do that… whenever I see him next… Dan, the LP obviously went on to become quite an iconic Hospital Records release, but why was this album important, to you, to be celebrated in this way? What does it mean to you?

Matt and I have made music since right back to the start. When we both started putting stuff out, my first release was a release between the two of us but that album was the first time we actually sat down and decided to do a project together. It’s definitely special to me for that reason alone.

The thing is, we have very different skill sets. The things that I’m really good at, Matt has slightly less experience in and visa versa, there’s a whole load of stuff that comes very naturally to him that doesn’t come naturally to me at all. So when we work together, it’s a nice combination of skills. At the same time, we have very similar musical tastes and most importantly, we’re brothers, so that whole chemistry side of a collaboration is just not an issue. I’ve always felt that having similar musical tastes when it comes to making music is important but the real importance, whether you’re working with another producer or a vocalist, is the chemistry between you and whether you can be honest with the person. Whether you feel confident putting ideas out there, because sometimes that doesn’t feel easy. You have to be brave enough and confident enough to be vulnerable.

Absolutely. On the flipside to that, I guess because you are brothers, do you feel like you can perhaps be too honest? Or too direct?

We have an easy, close relationship. There’s been points where we don’t agree but I think that’s healthy because in a collaboration, you’re not always going to agree, so being able to tell them that you don’t like something and for it to not be taken as a really hurtful thing means that you can move forward from that in a positive way.

Talking of just being brothers, have you found that you’ve had to set clear boundaries so that you can actually BE just brothers? Yaknow, have dinner, chill with the fam, no snare talk…

With this album in particular, I had a much more conventional work routine when we were writing. I’d work my day job Monday to Friday 9-5pm and then in the studio every night until 9pm. Matt would work around the clock, he’d easily work all the way through the night sometimes. So right at the start, we decided that studio time was studio time and everything outside of that was family time.

Got you. It’s important to make sure you’re brothers too right… Whether it’s a remix or a track, what is usually the catalyst for getting back in the studio together?

Usually we won’t work on Nu:Logic projects whilst we’re working on solo projects. So sometimes it’s to do with when our album projects align, when we’re both in-between album cycles at the same time, at which point we can start working together. Matt makes music constantly, I tend to go through periods of writing more, then writing less. Sometimes when I have ‘writers block’, although it’s not really as sinister as that, it’s more that I just don’t feel very creative, sitting down in the studio with Matt tends to kick start my creativity and for me, it’s actually quite a handy way for me to get going again. I think for Matt, it’s an opportunity to do something different because working as a solo producer can be quite an isolated, lonely world. You’re in the studio by yourself day-to-day, unless you’re working with vocalists and instrumentalists. So taking all of these different things into consideration, I often find that when we start on a project together, it’s a totally different beast.

I find it so interesting the contrast in a producer’s lifestyle vs the other side of your work which is of course, the DJing, which is quite extroverted in the sense of being smack bang in the spotlight. Where would you say you thrived more?

I would say I like the mixture. I’m 20 years deep into producing music so I’m very used to that lifestyle and to being on my own in the studio… but I couldn’t only do that. I need to come home to my partner and spend time with friends and family. But also, working with people regularly breaks it up. 

Dan – what does the future hold for Nu:Logic?

We obviously did the VIP remix of ‘Tripping In Space’ for this EP. Other than that, Matt has been busy working on some solo bits so once he’s done with that, I imagine we’ll be straight back into the studio working on some Nu:Logic bits.Lovely stuff. We’re ending with a top tip for aspiring producers, what would yours be?

Make lots of music. Every tune you make you learn something new and you get better. You can’t get worse by making a new tune. There are shortcuts, but they are just that, short cuts. If you want to get better in a meaningful and organic way, you have to make lots and lots of music.

That’s good advice. Top tip for life?

Wow! That’s a deep one. Take one day at a time. Yep. I’m going with that.

I like that! And last but not least, please give me a random fact about yourself. The more random it is the better…

Before I signed to Hospital, I filled out an online form on a website that made me into an ordained priest in America. Not in any particular church, it just means I can do weddings and funerals, but only in the states. Not here in the UK. But, stupidly, I told Hospital when I was signed and they put it in every single press release when I first started out in d&b and I would turn up to gigs and people would ask if I needed a room to pray in… it was a bit of a joke that a lot of people took very seriously.

Brilliant! One of my favourite random facts yet.

Yeah, it’s pretty random.

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