If you currently play House Music of any sort you’re sure to know who Groove Assassin (facebook, myspace) is. He remixes and produces gems on a near weekly basis for pretty much every staple label in the game that touches anything deep or soulful from Defected and MN2S to NRK and King Street. On the DJ tip he rocks venues from Cielo in New York to mainstream club events like Erick Morillo’s Subliminal Sessions and David Guetta’s Fuck Me I’m Famous. Here Nick discusses how Chicago has influenced him, what’s going on for House Music in his hometown of Sheffield and his formula for success.
You’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the most recognizable vocalists in House Music. Who has been the most interesting to work with?
It was a great pleasure to work with Stephanie Cooke. I’ve been a massive fan of her work for a very long time; to get the opportunity to work with her has been very special. She’s a true professional singer and songwriter. I’ve even got the chance to work with her directly at a gig in Jakarta, Indonesia. We were both booked to play this incredible party: an open air venue, 4,000+ people for full-on Soulful House. It was one of the best parties I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. To get to hang out with Stephanie was amazing and she tore it apart with a live PA. Incredible!
What’s a happening night for House in Sheffield?
Well I hate to say it but Sheffield is pretty dead right now for deep soulful House. There’s only a very small scene here now and it’s not really a club scene, it’s more of a late bar scene with just local DJs spinning. Back in the mid-’90s it was banging with lots of international DJs passing through on a weekly basis. Now it’s mostly cheap student nights playing indie, pop or the latest David Guetta sounds. It’s very disappointing but I think more places are getting like this all across the world.
You’ve become friends with one of our local favorites, Gershon Jackson. How did that come about?
Yeah, Gershon is a great guy and it was great to get the opportunity to work with him and Mina. I can’t quite remember how we got to speaking in the first place, but yeah we hooked up and worked on a couple of collaborations which were received very well, so I’m really excited to get on another project with them both soon!
You churn out a lot of quality tunes and the production is quite elaborate compared to a lot of other people that release comparable quantities of music. What’s your secret?
Late nights! It’s hard to find the time to spend in the studio but hard work pays off and I’m most definitely a night bird, so lots of coffee keeps me going through those long nights.
I have a great keyboard player too who I use for almost everything I do, Bennet Holland. He’s a genius and we’ve worked closely for the last few years so he knows exactly what I’m after and we seem to work very quickly.
How has Chicago influenced you and your music production & DJing?
In a big way! When I first started DJing and collecting, the music was mainly coming from Chicago from the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, DJ Pierre, Larry Heard and Trax Records. These producers were a massive influence on me. They are the true pioneers of the House sound. Chicago is most definitely the birthplace of House and is still the home of House with so many of today’s major players in the scene hailing from the Windy City. It’s been a very big influence for me and I’ve been lucky enough to have had the pleasure of seeing the great city – what a place!
What is the most tedious or frustrating thing about making music today?
I don’t really tend to find making music tedious but you have to be in the right frame of mind and mood; and obviously mood has a major part in what style I come up with when working in the studio. I think it’s really gotten a lot easier to create a track nowadays with software. I never really get frustrated except maybe sometimes when I’ve been trying to mixdown a song for a long time. Some tracks just take longer than others to mix – especially big vocal projects.
What motivates you to keep making House Music? Do you have any desire to dabble in other genres?
Getting positive feedback from key players in the industry is very inspiring and definitely motivates me. Seeing your tracks and remixes in the top 10s of recognized DJs and producers in addition to hearing your tracks being played all over the globe is inspiring too.
I’ve dabbled in some downtempo bits and am working on a few R&B things. I’ve always been a fan of that sound but never had the chance to work on anything, but watch this space.
Why do you think House Music hasn’t seen real success with major labels and the like since the late ’80s & what do you think can be done to change that?
I think House music has never really had the backing from the major labels, maybe because it’s a lot harder to market than say R&B, where you usually have an act to push through the press with videos and live performances, etc. Although recently I’ve seen a lot of producers making some promotional videos for YouTube and the like, which is very refreshing. I think the main thing is that most of the kids growing up now just aren’t into the real House Music because they’re never really exposed to it. It’s still very very underground and you gotta know people who are into that scene to get exposed to it in the first place.
I really don’t know of a solution. The death of vinyl stores has obviously made a big impact on sending House Music more underground.
What were you in a past life?
A footballer [soccer player]. I lived and breathed nothing else until I got involved with music. I still enjoy a regular game, and got the injuries to prove it!
What can we look forward to from you in 2011?
I have a couple of album projects & compilations I’m working on. One is for MN2S and the other album is for Seamless, which I’m really excited about. I’ve also got various remixes and projects on labels like King Street/Nite Grooves, Deep Haven, Soulful Beats and many more, plus a handful of tours planned around the globe. I’m very excited about 2011! Hopefully we’ll see more underground House pushing through and see some new upcoming producers coming onto the scene, spreading the vibe…