James Nardi Interview
So James tell us something about yourself, what label/s do you run?
Piranha Trax is mainly for my solo productions & some friends who’s stuff I like. Mostly the darker side of hard house.. Deep bass lines, nasty synths, pretty moody stuff usually. I’m not really signing or making stuff that has mass appeal, just the sounds I like which for me is more important then trying to be ‘in’.
Twist Trax (run with Steve Darragh) is pretty varied; usually tracks that are going down well at the club or ones we think will go down well.
After winning Record Label of the Year last year at the Hard House Awards we’ve had another great year with lots of number 1’s & some very big sellers.
How about events? You were involved in Insekt in London weren’t you?
I currently run Twist with Steve Darragh. It’s probably one of the last remaining regular proper hard house nights in the London.
We’ve had some amazing events this year including The Beast of Easter, Red Hot Monday & The Karimathon.
Up next we take over a never used before warehouse space for Twist OneZero – The 10th Birthday. We feel clubbers are getting tired of the same old limited venues, so its time to do something totally different.
insekt was me, Marc Johnson & Chris Comben.
We actually stopped in 2008 after a good run of a few years. I think we all agreed to stop on a high.
So where are you from?
I’m originally from Hampshire, but moved to London when I was 17.
I’m 33 now so that seems like a long time ago.
When did you get into the music?Was it a tune in particular that got you into it?
I’ve always been into my dance music.. when I was at school I was the one swapping rave tapes & flyers & we used to get my mates older sister to get us into some of the big out door raves.. Fantazia & Dreamscape, Vision etc..
I was only 15/16 at the time & obviously far too young to be out at raves, but looking back they were very exciting times.
Also when I was 15 I saw The Prodigy Live… The gig was on a school night & was meant to end at 11.30pm. We planned for my mum to pick me & a friend up outside, but it carried on for hours & we didn’t roll out of there until 3am.. She wasn’t too pleased waiting in the car for us..
And what about clubbing? What got you into the scene?
I first stared going to places like Club UK, Leisure Lounge, Cloud 9 & Chunnel Club in the mid to late nineties & after a few years we began to search out different clubs playing a harder style of music..
These clubs were all on the gay scene. Not sure why, but the music played at these places was harder & more forward thinking.
Places like Sherbet (Pete Wardman’s club @ Shoundshaft/Heaven), Trade, Warriors & Melt (at Turnmills) & Tinrib’s night Fish, not Super Fish when it got massive, but the Friday night, the more underground night it started off as. All these places were all rocking back then & they defiantly played a big part in the style of music I still produce & love today.
What makes me laugh is this new breed of djs & producers, that bang on about making Trade style music for example, but they’ve never been, never experienced what was actually happening back then.
In 1997/98 I was resident for a club called Savage in London & got to play the sets before people like React legend Blu Peter and Baby Doc & SJ, Wardman & Ian M.
How about music in general what’s the earliest track you remember hearing?
Erm.. Probably the Pet Shop boys. My dad used to play their albums a lot when I was a kid.
What was the first track you ever made (not released) how did it go?Looking back on it how do you feel about it now?
I have no idea.. I’ve been producing now for about 16 years, so the very early stuff is very hazy & pretty rubbish too. We were just messing about really, not knowing what we were doing.
I met Julian Dwyer through friends whilst out clubbing years ago & whilst out one night buzzing away we spoke about making a tune some time. The next week we hooked up & the rest is history.
With your style it seems simple but very clean and well made which considering some of the stuff out there really makes it distinct – your synth work in particular is very impressive. Im sure most people out there producing would love to hear, if there’s any tips you can give to up and coming artists?
I would just say make the sounds that you love & don’t try to make your tunes sound like something if your not into it 110%. I’ve been into hard house pretty much since the beginning & I’m still as passionate about it now
One tip I can give when producing is trial & error can be a great tool..
It takes 2 seconds to highlight a few tracks, cut & reverse them.
Or duplicate a track with a vocal on & add a crazy delay, loads of feedback.. just play around.
Computers, VSTs & synths are all so fast these days, its easy to drop a riff (MIDI file) onto a new track playing a totally different sound & suddenly you have something totally different to your original sounding riff when they are played together.
Just don’t be afraid to try things out. If it sounds rubbish, then undo it & move on.
Like I said above I just make the sounds that I like & for me that’s the most important thing….. I’m not one for jumping on the latest bandwagon & trying to be cool by making funky warm up tunes or a cheesy vocal type tune hoping a certain label will like it or certain DJs want to play it.
What annoys you about Dj’s & producers of today?
Since the use of social networking sites like Facebook clubbers, DJs & promoters are now able to interact very easily. This never used to be the case, but now everyone knows everyone else’s business & has an opinion on things that don’t have anything to do with them..
Now I’m older & hopefully wiser I really try not to get involved with any online politics, especially between other promoters & DJs. It’s a shame really.. I’ve had people, some I’ve known for a long time remove me from friends list, & cancel DJ gigs etc purely due to silly politics between clubs.
I’ve lost a lot of respect for people I used to get on well with.
Another thing is everyone used to want to be a DJ, now with fewer regular club nights DJ’s really have to be producing to get noticed & keep on top of things.
The thing that winds me up is the amount of ripping off that’s going on. Yes everyone uses samples etc, but copying riffs from other hard house tunes that aren’t really that old, putting your name to it as an original production, all your mates blow smoke up your arse telling you how amazing it is.. it’s a joke. Especially stealing from your own genre.
Where do you draw the line with sampling & then selling it as a new tune…?
At least establish your name first, prove you can come up with some decent originals before diving straight into the world of ripping others off just to make a name for yourself.
You opened up your studio recently tell us more about it!
Yes I did after almost 2 years of silence
I sold everything when my wife was pregnant with our son as I knew I wouldn’t have much spare time & we were about to start massive renovation project to the house.
Almost 2 years later the house is finished & Rocco is no longer a helpless baby.. & my new studio is complete.
It’s totally sound proof & treated myself to an Access Virus Ti full keyboard which is where most of my sounds come from these days..leads & basses etc.
I have done a few engineering projects this year, but my time is limited as I do a lot of work for films & trailers & enjoy working on my own stuff when I have the spare time so I’m not actively looking for engineering work, but if people want to come & make a track then get in touch.
And do you have a day job or does hard house pay the bills?
Yes I have a day job.. I’m Head of Audio at a very large film Creative/Production company. I run 2 x Pro Tools HDX (5.1) studios in Soho & work on a lot of big feature films & trailers & cover anything from sound mixing for cinema to recording director’s commentaries for Blu Ray & DVD & recently worked with the likes of Simon Pegg, Keith Lemon, Julian Gilby & Terry Stone.
Unfortunately hard house doesn’t pay all the bills, but all those people that moan that there is no money in hard house are talking crap.. or just not doing it right.
You’ve been over to Australia & New Zealand a few times. How was it, any plans to go back?
Yes, I’ve toured there a few times now.. My first time was with Karim in Adelaide & since then I’ve returned to Adelaide a number of times & toured most of New Zealand.
Its great & going back time & time again you get to make some great friends I still keep in touch with today.
I’ve had to turn down all tours the past couple of years due to starting a family & re building the house, but a big return tour could be on the cards pretty soon.
A Few random questions… Zombie apocalypse – where do you run and any weapon of choice?
I’d run to my underground bunker at the bottom of my garden of course. It was built during the house renovations just in case such a moment was to arise.
Whats your favourite thing to do when you aren’t making music?
After 4 years off I’ve started training at the gym again, so that’s 4 days a week at the moment & I’m loving it.
Weekends are spent hanging out with the family mainly. Nice normal things like taking the kids to the park, then out for lunch.
So tell us what new releases you have out, and are you playing anywhere soon? Any new mixes we can download?
I’ve got a load of new material out soon including the V Series (Vauxhall Sunrise/Nights) & Tell me Why on Piranha Trax, Higher & T10 on Twist Trax & my remix of Ian M & Ben Townsend’s tune Pop Idol due out soon on Smalltown.
DJ wise I’m next playing at:
10.11.12 – Hard, Fast & Dirty presents James Nardi – Portsmouth
17.11.12 – Twist OneZero – London
31.12. 12 – Twist NYE, London
A new mix is def on the cards, so keep an eye out over the coming weeks.
To keep up to date please follow me on FB:
& check out the studio website:www.piranhastudio-london.com
Thanks for the interview.