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      Nightmares On Wax

      originally published in Klublife Vol 3 #3 and bits elsewhere 1999


      Leed's Nightmares On Wax has had an unique road from their 1990 debut in the UK techno scene that launched LFO, 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald. That year they scored a UK top 40 hit with the Cuba Gooding-sampling "Aftermath."The Nightmares' sound also included elements of funk and hip hop which placed their 1995 album Smokers Delight (Warp/TVT) right in the middle of the excitement over trip hop.

      Smokers Delight "We only expected to sell about 5,000 albums and now we're knocking on 100,000" said the group's founder George Evelyn aka DJ Ease, while in Toronto for a DJ gig at the JVC Urban Rhythm Festival. "It's kind of bizarre really. After going out one night in 1991 and listening to the KLF's Chill Out album, I thought "what would it be like if you could do a hip hop chill out album?" I've been working on it ever since. The whole Mo Wax sound happening was perfect timing for me to bring it to the forefront because there was that buzz there."

      Now DJ Ease has dropped the sequel, Carboot Soul (Warp/Matador), another laid back set of bass-heavy slow groovin' tracks perfect for late night listening. Since Smokers Delight, Nightmares On Wax has become a live band, but it is still the 60's breaks found on obscure records in dusty places that inspires DJ Ease's mellow music.

      "This is the beauty of hip hop, you see, that I've discovered music that I would never of had the opportunity to hear. Now a lot of that music is quite trendy to listen to. But at the time of buying the old stuff, your old Ike Turner and Curtis Mayfield, that was an underground thing. Now nine years down the line this is quite popular."

      A Word Of Science

      Nightmares On Wax's signature track, "Nights Introlude" was inspired by Quincy Jones' "Summer In The City," which they sampled for the beginning of their first album, 1991's A Word Of Science (Warp). A second version introduced Smokers Delight, and afterwards was also found on many trip hop compilations. Now they've taken the big step of taking their arrangement to a 52-piece orchestra for the newly renamed "Les Nuits" that introduces Carboot Soul.

      Carboot Soul

      "That Quincy Jones tune I had such a long time ago I remember thinking: "when I get a sampler I'm going to sample that." That's how old my idea was. On the first album I just purely sampled it. On the second album it was part sample and part live. And now on this new album we've done a completely arranged version of our live part for 52-piece orchestra. It's all right having an orchestra, but you want an orchestra that's got swing. If you've got one that is just going to play stagnantly or too rigid with it, you could be spending thousands of pounds and it's just not happening. But this was pretty hot. The whole day was such an experience for me. Halfway through the session I was saying "I've got to do this again." Then I heard one of the fixers speaking to the arranger and actually saying: "man, this piece can't have one bit of it wrong. You have to play it all like it is or it stands out like a banana. And it is such a beautiful piece." And to hear that from a serious musician was just such a compliment. It was great, and now I've got a piece of music that I'm really, really proud of. It was my ambition to do an orchestrated version of the tune and now I must say it's my baby. But obviously down the years the inspiration was Quincy, which I can never forget."

      From sampler to composer has been the natural progression for DJ Ease, who's refused to be pigeonholed by assumptions about styles and labels.

      "People always said: "how does it feel to be on a techno label?" And I would say: "well, what are you talking about? I don't know what you mean." I'm the longest running artist on the label, if anything is different it is the things that have come afterwards. To be honest all the cliches that were being made we were out to break 'em. People need to label things - look what happened with the trip hop thing. Before that there was the whole thing about the "bleep" culture because people were saying techno was "bleep" music. Sweet Exorcist took the piss out of it by doing an album called Clonk, as if "clonk" was the next sound. It is quite funny to look at it now. As far as we were concerned we were just doing club music, dance tracks."

      The new NOW features a new vocalist, the gossamer soul tones of Sarah Winton ("Finer" and "Survival") who George wanted to work with for years but couldn't find!

      "Sarah did an album back in '91, which was only on a small independent called Sounds For Money. I had the album but I didn't know anybody who knew her. It was a really weird scenario, we did everything to try and get a hold of her. We went through the musicians union, and directory inquiries, everything to try and find this singer. In the meantime I had auditioned 60 vocalists for this album, but I never really heard anybody who quite jelled with my music. Loads of good artists but no more than like what I had heard before. Instead of something that sounded fresh and like someone singing with my music rather than over it. So I already had most of the album written and stuff, and time was knocking on. Then a week before I was going to London to record the strings and then to the States to work with De La Soul I got a phone call saying that they'd found Sarah. And I was thinking "this is got to be fate, this has got to work.""

      And it does. Carboot Soul is not a nightmare on wax but a pleasant midsummer night's dream.

      Nightmares On Wax interview transcript