Published on September 7th, 2012 | by Gerry Galipault0
Nutritious sees the retro-future
Nutritious has been serving up tasty treats as a world-renowned DJ for years. Now he has a new mission: record company mogul.
The New Yorker recently launched SpinSpin NYC, and his aim is true. He wants to provide the world with party music.
He digs deep for his label’s first release: “Nutritious Presents Duke Williams and The Extremes” (released on Aug. 14). It’s a six-song slab of retro funk straight from the 1970s. The Extremes released two long-forgotten albums on Capricorn Records, including 1973’s “A Monkey in a Silk Suit Is Still a Monkey.” Their other claim to fame was that Richie Sambora took over for guitarist Paul Plumeri in 1980 before co-founding Bon Jovi in 1983.
Nutritious took some of the Extremes songs and gave it a contemporary spin, without sacrificing any of their original raw energy.
In a recent interview, Nutritious talks about SpinSpinNYC, Duke Williams and The Extremes and what’s up ahead for his fledgling label.
Pause & Play: Congratulations on the label launch. Must be very exciting. Was there a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved in getting it started?
Nutritious: Absolutely, and some people reading this right now will know all about them. Others will assume my life is all rose-petals and rainbows. But the fact is, the music industry is full of insanely difficult people, especially through the sophomore stages and it takes an incredible level of sophistication to thrive as a business, just like any industry. Some people circumvent the battle by tossing around huge sums of money, but I’ve built this from scratch. And I could complain, but why? I make hot records and DJ parties all in the name of amazing good times. But if it’s any indication as to the toil, I purposefully and slowly carved the foundation and infrastructure piece by piece for five incredibly long years before launching SpinSpinNYC as a record label. I have a lot of friends and family to thank for being there for me when I needed an ear, or even a few extra bucks. And, Zoe (Wilder), my partner, she’s a ninja. She’s helped SpinSpinNYC grow and break through nearly impenetrable walls.
P&P: What’s your manifesto, or goal you want to achieve, with the label?
Nutritious: On the business side, I have a promise to treat every artist with grace and integrity, my wish is for our artists to never have to fight as hard as we did, or even still do. Otherwise, we have one distinct mission, to adapt and lead. Deeper than that, we provide our listeners and patrons with the finest music featuring the finest musicians around. We’re focused on New York at the moment because it’s the city that raised me, and raised our business. Without NYC, we wouldn’t be here. The label is our way to give back to this amazing community. And it’s important to me that the musical vibes enhance good times and inspire good feelings, probably why you’ll see a lot of party music from us.
Nutritious: I wanted to launch the label with a statement: great music is not disposable. It’s not some ‘loss leader’ as these writers and corporate-types like to refer to it as. Our music is made with great intentions and it’s pure art and it will shape people and the world around us. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to produce music that has a deeper meaning than the lyrics alone. Our music is about great people, with great lives, and great love in their hearts.
So for Duke, growing up in New York rooted me in the tradition of early New York style DJing; break juggling of funk/soul records, turntablism. When I first started buying my own vinyl and DJing in 1997, I was heavily into breakbeats. I also began collecting the newest EDM breaks emerging at the time. I enjoyed mixing the two styles and still do. Anyway, Duke & The Extremes wrote some smoking breaks back in the ’70s … and fast-forward to 2012 and this art is just sitting there, nearly dead and buried. All of these amazing musicians with their history forming some of the most influential music of our time. Duke’s on Grace Jones’ ‘Portfolio,’ T.J. on ‘Disco Inferno’ – the list goes on. It spoke to me so I unearthed it. And Duke’s local, he still gigs from time to time in Trenton, N.J., so it was perfect for SpinSpinNYC.
P&P: How did you approach putting a new spin on their music?
Nutritious: First and foremost, the masters were not happening. My first thought was to find the tapes and fully remix. I spent months working on getting them. I was completely bent on making it happen, but the deeper the search the more complex the project started becoming. The songs I wanted to feature were scattered everywhere, parts in L.A., Philly, Colorado, New Jersey, possibly Georgia … and remember, lots of this stuff was finalized in the early ’70s … so, with Capricorn defunct, and trying to locate the reels, after a while, I simply had to tell myself to simplify the project. Otherwise, it may never happen. It became more important to me to do something rather than possibly nothing. So I chose to create edits of the master two-mixes … with only one goal in mind, make it something I would rock a dancefloor with but keep everything that made the sound so special intact … the tape saturation, the sounds from splices … it was all about preserving the vibe and authenticity of the originals.
I edited the three songs over a few months time, adding the tiniest touches and slight rearrangements … helping move the songs to a comfortable form for the dancefloor. Then, when it came time for processing, I called up friend and Grammy-nominated producer Jay-J Hernandez to assist with the mix and master. Jay-J’s Grammy nod was for an underground remix he did of Jill Scott’s ‘He Loves Me.’ Eventually a copy made its way into Jill’s hand and she was so impressed she included it as a hidden track on her live album ‘Experience: Jill Scott.’ Her label Sony later released Jay-J’s remix as a single.
I’m all about second pairs and third pairs of ears on a project and Jay-J’s got two of the most impeccable ears in the industry. And as one of the pioneers of the San Francisco house scene and founder of Moulton Studios in S.F., I just craved his West Coast take on what I was chomping at over in my Brooklyn studio … he brought the smooth balance to my rough New York pace. Over the course of a few days, Jay-J and I dialed in the finishing touches on the ‘Nutritious Treatments’ and then I created the artwork.
P&P: Have you had any communication and/or feedback from Williams or any of the other band members?
Nutritious: Certainly. I won’t name names, but they’ve had some pretty great comments — everything from “pretty cool” and “thrilled” to “definitely a rave mix” and “Where’s my damn ecstasy?!”
P&P: What else is in the future for SpinSpinNYC?
Nutritious: I’m sitting on a ton of releases. Like I mentioned, we’ve been building this for five years before launch. Now, our vehicle is available to drive this music to market. We can’t wait for people to hear it. We’re signing artists left and right and producing some wonderful singles, albums, and EPs. We have a nice relationship with Converse and their Rubber Tracks Studios here in Williamsburg so we’re teaming up with them on a few projects. Our next release, for example, portions were mixed and recorded there and will hit worldwide September 25th. We fell in love with music from this Brooklyn electropop duo named Infernal Devices. Their music is the epitome of Now. They have four originals on the EP. It’s really much like new-wave but with this extra slice of something undefinable, a certain intangible soul and spirit that can be felt amidst their electronic synths and rhythms. They’re great and the boys, Andy and Mark, have huge hearts and incredible talent. I remix on the album and feature Chuck Love rocking some amazing multi-instrumental, well … Love, on the remix. Together I think it can only be defined as a journey into punk-bop house. Brooklyn dreampop duo Savoir Adore also remixes on the EP; and they’re just fantastic.
Just for fun …
P&P: What was the first concert you ever went to?
Nutritious: This is great story. It’s political too, as I know some crabby bastards the world over would argue whether or not I was alive yet. But in all seriousness, my mom took me to a Meat Loaf concert when she was 6 months pregnant with me. That was probably my first contact high. I don’t remember the music but I’m sure it’s in my DNA somewhere. I really like eating meatloaf and yet I’m primarily vegan, so if that tells you anything …
P&P: What was the first record you ever bought?
Nutritious: I don’t remember but it was probably some ’90s East Coast hip-hop. I had already inherited an amazing collection of ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s soul, folk, pop, rock and disco from my parents and older brothers and I needed records to scratch and practice juggling those breakbeats! But, truly, I can’t recall. I remember my first favorite record though. I stumbled across a Walter Murphy record on my dad’s player when I was around 11. I’d play it over and over again day after day, then one day I went to scratch it and I immediately broke the needle. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I craved some real DJ turntables.
P&P: We have a regular feature at Pauseandplay.com … “Shoulda-Been-a-Hit,” where we list songs that we think should have been hits. What do you think should have been a hit?
Nutritious: So here’s the deal with this one. I have a few in mind but I can’t tell you about them … yet.