After the Berlin edition, the SWEAT crew is now looking at Paris for its second bash at Dalston Superstore. For this special dance edition, it just seemed natural to invite Nick V, the DJ who took it upon himself to bring expressive dancing back to the forefront of the clubbing experience during his eight year residency at Mona in Paris! After a ten year hiatus from playing in London, we can't wait to welcome him to the lazerpit. We caught up with him to chat about the importance of dance as a cultural force, starting an independent label, and musical discoveries!
Hey Nick, first of all and for those who might not know you, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your DJ career?
I was born in Manchester in the UK and lived there for 17 years until 1987. My parents are Franco Vietnamese but the start of my life was very English. Coming from Manchester, music was a strong part of my life. During the 70s and 80s so many new popular music genres were born, including the ones that laid the basis for today’s dance music culture.
I moved to Paris in 1987 and started DJing in 1993, specialising in the more soulful side of house music, from the disco inspired garage sound to the jazz grooves of deep house, still a strong part of my sets today. My first gigs were at Queen club on Champs Elysées opening for US house DJs to a predominantly gay crowd. The people running the club were very strict about having the dancefloor full so I learnt how to push a crowd and challenge myself as a DJ. I was looking for more musical freedom though, so I started the first of a series of residencies in Paris in 2003, playing a mixed bag of records to a mixed crowd. This is was the beginning of what I am doing today at Mona where retro house fuses with newer sounds, vintage disco and jacking acid house or techno.
Tell us a bit about your residency at Mona and what makes this party so special?
Mona started in 2008. At the beginning it was the continuation of my previous residencies in Paris. We weren’t that successful at the start. We decided to turn things around in 2010 by inviting younger cats to play at the party and instantly the crowd started to change, especially when the My Love Is Underground crew (Jeremy Underground and Brawther) came. We like to invite back regular guests such as Daniel Wang, Prosumer, Honey Dijon, Karizma, Giles Smith or Mike Huckaby.
The dance “element” is quintessential to the party ?
The big change came when we started to get involved in the Paris dance scene, putting on events for dancers and also for non-regular dancers who still loved to dance, via the Mona dance class at the start of the night.
I have always been a dance enthusiast but I noticed that except for one or two very specialist exceptions, dance wasn’t really happening in the clubs. I found this is a shame as many dances started in the clubs.
Pavliné: This is where the idea of dance classes came from?
I wanted the ordinary non-dancers to be at the centre of things. With the help of some of the best dance talents Paris has to offer, we set up the classes, devoting the first hour of the night to dance, free and open to all and especially beginners, with every month a different teacher coming down to teach house dance, voguing or waacking.
We then started throwing, every three or four months, kiki vogue balls and now dance contests that incorporate vogue, waack, house dance and even more, so that some of the more regular dancers could show their moves. We make sure the atmosphere stays very relaxed though and having fun is our priority, for the hardcore competition vibe you need to attend the battles! With dance our crowd changed and the party changed with the positive energy that comes with it.
Pavliné: If you had to choose one record to represent Mona?
I like to break tracks into my sets and turn them into Mona classics that the crowd recognise instantly. There have been quite a few over the years. The big one at the moment is the e-smoove remix of Taylor Dayne's I’ll Wait that dates from 1994.
It’s a bit of old news now but Paris has experienced a sort of dance music revival. Can you tell us a bit about that and how does it feel for someone like you who’s been part of the scene for a lot longer than that?
As I said earlier, things haven’t always been this way. About eight years ago parties in Paris were much less diverse than they are today - the successful ones were more orientated towards the minimal techno sound dominant at the time.
Many people were going to clubs outside of France, to Berlin, London or Barcelona and bringing back new ideas and a fresh outlook on clubbing. So it was only a matter of time before they started to do their own thing over here, with the vibrant energy of the younger generation challenging established promoters and pushing boundaries, even literally, with new alternative venues appearing far away from the centre of Paris, which was unheard of in the past.
That’s how it started, in reaction to the lack of a scene. I believe that’s how things happen, so I don’t really mind when things go “bad”, it’s always part of a cycle and there’s always something new and interesting that comes afterwards.
Jeremy Underground and Brawther played some of their first gigs with you. Who are your more recent discoveries and artists to watch?
I’m very much into the Australian producers of the moment such as Harvey Sutherland or Jad and The. In France there’s Gary Gritness, an amazing multi instrumentalist and a great set of producers who produce both house and hip hop such as Neue Graphik, Mad Rey or Hugo LX who signed the first release on my new label.
As you mention it, can you tell us a bit about the record label?
Mona Musique is a project that has been in my head for a while and I have only just started to find some free time to make it happen. I have been curating music for a while and receive a lot of good stuff, so setting up a label was the logical step forward. I wanted to link it to my party Mona, and the idea is for tracks to be designed for the party, incorporating and appealing to its different aspects: the dresscodes, the thrill of the dancefloor, the mixed crowd and the creativity of the dancers. The first release is out now and I am working on the next set. I have come to realise how hard it is to maintain a consistent level of releases and a steady work rate, so hats off to all the longstanding independent labels!
What can we expect from your set at Superstore?
I haven’t played in London for over ten years so I’m quite excited about the idea of coming over, and thank you very much for the invitation. I never really prepare my sets that much, I throw into my box a good mix of classics and recent records that I’m feeling, and everything comes together on the spot depending on the vibe, how people feel and how they react to what I’m playing, so I can’t really say much more in advance.
I must say I like it when people come to dance with an enthusiastic and open mindset, and that they don’t take things too seriously, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know who is making the music, fun always comes first for me. I try to keep this in my own mind myself when I play, so if you see me dancing then it’s a good sign!
Finally, can you think of a track that would fit the tropical and hedonistic aesthetic of SWEAT?
This traditional Gwoka drum track from Guadeloupe in the French Antilles and released on London based label, Sofrito, is fast becoming a Mona classic. It’s a super DJ tool sitting well between any genres and putting dancers into a trance. The kind of track that lets your body take control.
I bought that record when it was released a few months back but never got to play it in a club. If you do play it on the 19th, you can be sure I’ll be dancing on my ass off!
Catch Nick V at Sweat Dance Party this Friday 19 May from 9pm-3am at Dalston Superstore!