The Rambunctious Social present Nickodemus!
The RSC bring their biggest name to date, an explosive and very special treat with New York DJ and producer Nickodemus on his European tour. A legendary figure in the Global dance scene will set this night on fire, a contemporary collaborator with names such as Quantic, prolific remixer and running has own successful label Wonderwheel Records. This is a rare chance to see him live in the Uk and the South West! A part of the Acid mambo sessions.
Nickodemus Bio By DJ Griff
Hey there Rambunctious Social Club. It occurred to me that many of you may not have heard of Nicodemus. So I thought I’d fill you in on the lowdown and why you should definitely come out to play on April 25th. There are many reasons to. For a start he has been a massive influence on many many other DJs such as myself. He has been a leader now for nearly twenty years taking his record label Wonderwheel records forward and constantly setting the bar higher for beautiful globally inspired dance music. Bringing North African, Eastern European, Latin and Caribbean sounds together he continues to set dancefloors on fire all over the world.
Some background first. Those of us that are slightly older will remember a massive boom in so called ‘world music’ in the 80s with the likes of John Peel and Andy Kershaw regularly playing the Bhundu boys and Thomas Mapfumo from Zimbabwe, alongside Township jive from South Africa on Radio 1. Peter Gabriel set up Real World music and WOMAD festival became the gold standard festival for lovers of music from around the world. The underground jazz dance scene was alive with afrocuban jazz and Brazilian bossas. But then it all went a bit quiet. Womad festival kept the torch alight but it all kind of disappeared from dance music for a while on the early nineties, as hip hop, house, and drum & bass really established themselves on the world’s dancefloors. At the time I was resident at Jelly Jazz and we always kept the faith with latin, reggae and afrofunk during the nineties. The producers we loved were mixing funk, jazz, latin and African beats into heavy dancefloor beats. But quite a lot of it felt like tokenism. Some producer would stick a cowbell onto a track and call it latin. A lot of the house tracks calling themselves afrobeat didn’t feel very African.
In 2003 a 12” record I picked up absolutely floored me. It was called ‘Bailalo’ by DJ Angola and it managed to be one of the funkiest tracks I’d hear in years but solidly authentic. Real instruments, real vocals, but solidly dancefloor orientated. More followed from the same label and I became a fan. Born and raised in NYC, the founder of the label, Nicodemus had cut his teeth as a teenager playing summer parties on Coney Island and playing for the likes of the legendary Giant Step collective. In 1998 he founded his own night Turntables on the Hudson with a collective of friends like Mariano, Nappy G, Sabo, Zeb, and others. The clubnight, became a new focal point for a new style of music they called global beat fusion as the term world music no longer seemed to make sense. After all Brazilians were making Drum & Bass, whilst north Africans were making hip-hop. Nico had forged some contacts down on Old San Juan in Puerto Rico and started taking international producers down there to record at a studio he had helped set up there. Around this time he began a long and highly productive friendship and collaboration with Brighton producer Quantic. I think Nicodemus can claim significant credit in setting the tropical music fuse alight in Quantic. One of their biggest collaborations was Mi Swing Es Tropical which exploded onto the world’s dancefloors like a Caribbean bomb, drenched as it was with sunshine and good times.
In the meantime Wonderwheel recordings went from strength, to setback, to strength again and became an independent tour-de-force and global giant. Not content with just running the label, in 2005 he released his first full studio LP called Endangered Species and it was an astounding statement of intent about the Wonderwheel Sound. Afrofunk, hip hop and house beats flavoured with arabic oud, mbiras, darabukas, Balkan brass and latin and African vocals. Nicodemus has always led the label in bold new directions, more recently picking up on the burgeoning South American electronica scene and bringing artists like Nova Lima, Chancho via Circuito, Tremor, Lagertijeando and providing the artists with a platform from which to develop. But underlying it all is the funk and breakbeats that he grew up with.
Aside from anything else he is one of the nicest, most modest, most encouraging people in the music industry. I had the good fortune to be invited to play at Turntables on the Hudson in about 2007 and spent several days staying with him in New York. He knows so many people as a result of growing up there that he made one of the largest busiest cities in the world feel like a village. He rarely managed to walk up a street without bumping into someone he knew. After several days with very little sleep on account of his gig schedule, we left a freezing New York January and arrived in tropical Puerto Rico to play at a three day festival there, where again it felt like he knew everyone.
So in summary he runs an incredible forward looking dance music label, featuring music from all over the world. In addition to being a sought after and prolific remixer, he has produced several albums of his own music. But where he seems to be fully in his element is always behind decks with a full dancefloor in front of him, from New York to Berlin, to Cairo to Bali, everywhere spreading the joy of good music.
If you want to check out his taste in music then look up the Turntables on the Hudson series on Bandcamp. There have now been Turntables on the Caribbean, Turntables on las Ramblas, Turntables on Ipanema and many more. The current tour is to promote his latest release which is a collection of many of his best remixes called ‘Nickodemus the remix Machine’.