Nicky Blackmarket Interview - Part 2 - dnbhub Exclusive

In part 1 we got to know a bit about the real Nicky, where he grew up, who he was influenced by, how he got into the shop and how he has remained busy, likable and excited about drum and bass music after all of these years. 

In part 2 we're going to talk about some of his early and most memorable experiences as a DJ, the friendships he developed along the way, what p****s him off and how to make the perfect cuppa. 

Dance Music, EDM, Techno, Hardcore, House, Jungle and Drum and Bass is now bigger business than Punk, Rock & Roll or any of the other global phenomenon’s ever were. The reach of what were niche musical genres is now untapped and with developments in technology making it easier and easier for people to express themselves via production, the future has never been more exciting or unpredictable.

But that wasn't always the case and back when Nicky was coming up, cutting his teeth and earning his stripes, it was a lot more difficult for people to break the scene.   

NBM: "Me and Clarkey were doing house parties in the mid-eighties at 15/16 years old....we'd turn up, string up and play all night..."

NBM: "Looking back now that was us earning our stripes, paying our dues and doing our time, but we loved it!"

NBM: "And we never really stopped"

Nicky's played most, if not all of the worlds iconic clubs and promotions and has seen his share of madness over the years, good and bad. 

But one particular night in Manchester sticks in his memory at a club born in 1982 with Bernard Manning famously remarking "I've played some shit-holes during my time, but this place is really something" 

NBM: "I was at the Hacienda on set with Grooverider, Bryan, Frost, Trigga and Spyder and the place was really jumping man, I mean they were feeling it big time. Next thing you know I've heard 'blap, blap, blap'

NBM:  "I've turned to Groove and was like, what's that noise?" 

Grooverider: "Gunshot's Nick, they're firing off rounds into the air!"

NBM: "It was mad, they were showing their appreciation by letting off rounds into the ceiling"

This was 1997, the same year that the Hacienda was closed for good, but it's nights like this that will go down in clubland folklore for eternity.  

As you can imagine, with a lifetime spent travelling the world DJ'ing, Nicky's black book reads like a who's who of drum and bass and he counts many of his peers as close friends. 

But in life there's often that one person that we are drawn close to, that one person who upon meeting it feels like you've known forever, a brother from another mother or sister from another mister and for Nicky that special bond was with Stephen Austin, otherwise known as Stevie Hyper D. 

Born in London to a Spanish mother and Barbadian father, Stevie went on to become not only one of the pioneering MC's of a generation but quite possibly a lifetime.

At a time when MC'ing was in its infancy and many were struggling to make any impact on mainstream sets, Stevie took center stage, controlled the dance with his larger than life personality and trailblazing double time MC'ing. 

NBM: "The first time we met we just clicked"

NBM: "I remember the first time we were on set together like it was yesterday; It was a Sunday night at Thunder & Joy which was at the old YMCA on Tottenham Court Road" 

NBM: "We just got on like a house on fire. His style was so fresh. He would sing, chat, rap....no-one else was doing that back then, no-one" 

And that was a reality back then. MC'ing wasn't seen as overly creative, necessary or even marketable, that was until people like Stevie, Navigator, Moose, Fatman, Fats, Cleveland Watkiss, Lowqui and a host of other MC’s grabbed the mic and started their own movement. 

Make no mistake about it, growing up Stevie Hyper D was your favorite MC's favorite MC and not only was he a staple on the club circuit with crowds knowing all of his lines, singing them back to him word for word, but he was also starting to get noticed by mainstream record executives with Island Records keen on offering Stevie a record deal that would've seen him mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, U2 and latterly Mumford & Sons.

When I met with Nicky I always knew that I'd be asking him about his relationship with Stevie and the effect that his passing had on him, but what I failed to appreciate at the time was just how young Stevie was and what a tragic loss his talent would be to the scene.    

NBM: "We were riding high and having fun. What we were doing together collaboratively felt so natural...."

NBM: "We were in Canada together one week, excited about coming back and his record deal with Island, the next thing you know, WALLOP"

And that's what it felt like, a concussive blow to the head. 

As usual Nicky was playing at various events over the Saturday night/Sunday morning when the news filtered down to him that his friend had suddenly passed away. 

NBM: "I was in absolute shock.."

NBM: "But I just carried on, went to work on the Monday, put on a brave smile and kept busy, which was the worst thing I could've done"

If you can imagine a time before the internet and mobile phones, then you can come somewhere near to imagining what it must've been like at Blackmarket Records on that Monday morning. 

NBM: "People were coming in asking me what had happened, every phone call was someone calling to see if it was true, constant calls, constant questions....it was really intense and it weren't good for me at all" 

Nicky then took a couple of weeks off to grieve before getting back to the shop, back on his bookings and back to some sort of normality. 

NBM: "It's left a massive gap in my life, but there's some great things happening with his Legacy"

His nephew Daryl runs the Stevie Hyper foundation, there's a documentary in the pipeline that Nicky's involved with and his influence on all genres of urban music, from Jungle/drum and bass, grime, Hip Hop and reggae is clear to see. 

These days Nicky doesn't seem to be slowing down, playing sets up and down the country, managing his digital label Kartoonz and playing in his 360 collective with long times friends Profile and Fatman D. 

NBM: "I just keep busy. people send me music all the time, I still dig the crates, it never gets boring. When I hear a big tune for the first time I'm back there like day 1, excited to hear it, excited to play it out and get that reaction from the crowd. There's no amount of money that can buy that, none"     

With more production on the horizon and collaborations with Voltage, Aries and Klip & Outlaw already on the go, Nicky's schedule doesn't look to be letting up so we wondered what keeps him grounded among the madness and what his passions are outside of the music...

TEA     

Now I spent a good couple of hours with Nicky over dinner and found him to be very easy to talk to, encouraging and enthusiastic, but never as much as when we got onto the topic of tea.

Make no mistake, this man knows his Barry's from his PG and woe betide anyone who makes his brew incorrectly, as we came to find out...

NBM: "I Nearly got arrested in Prague over a cup of tea" 

NBM: "I sat down and ordered and when the waiter came back he put down a cup of hot water with a tea bag on the side. Now anyone who knows anything about tea knows that you have to put the tea bag into boiling hot water in order to infuse the tea"

NBM: "So I said, I'm sorry I don't want that, that's not a cup of tea. Now they're all looking at me and maybe it was the language barrier but they ain't getting it. I've said, that's not a cup of tea, I want a cup of tea"

NBM: "What you've given me is a cup of hot water and a tea bag, the temperature has dropped. it’s not gonna work, it's common sense!" 

Now picture the scene if you will; It's a summery Saturday afternoon in the Czech capital, tourist boats are slowly chugging along the Vltava river, couples are walking hand in hand across the Charles Bridge and in the midst of it all the self-proclaimed nice guy of drum and bass is at the centre of an international tea based incident.    

NBM: "You've got to have boiling hot water to infuse the teabag, otherwise you might as well have a cup of hot water and put some milk in it" 

NBM: "That's not a cup of tea, get me your manager!"

So the manager arrives, tempers are raised and with nether side looking to back down (this is tea after all) the Police are called.

NBM: "Now I'm vexed! The Police turn up with guns, I'm trying to explain what had happened and it's all come on top!"

Needless to say that the story didn't have a happy ending and the waiter didn't receive a tip. 

Nicky's mum got him into tea and to this day he swears by its body cooling qualities which is why it's not uncommon to see him on set, sipping a breakfast tea on some of the world’s biggest stages.   

NBM: "If you drink something hot in a hot environment it brings your body temperature down, it's common sense"

NBM: "Never Milk first and the best biscuit for dunking is a chocolate digestive"   

So there you have it, the undeniable truth around the perfect cuppa, the answer to the question 'what p****s Nicky Blackmarket off' and a real insight into the life and times of a man who has been lucky enough to share his love of music with thousands of people of all ages across the globe. 

We're pretty sure that Nicky will be one the scenes most active DJ's for years, if not decades to come as he shows absolutely no sign of slowing down or easing up. 

We loved our time with him, he is a true gent and the exception to the rule that you should never meet your heroes.   

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1 comment

Roger Gateson

Roger Gateson

Big ups to you all

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