Saturday Afternoon Artist – Nightmares on Wax

Hello KEXPers, DJ Michele here. Each week I do a show on KEXP on Saturdays from 3-6pm. And every Saturday I choose a favorite artist to feature, playing three songs and telling a story about them.

George Evelyn, the programmer/composer for Nightmares on Wax grew up listening to soul music. His sister and dad had record collections with artists like Curtis Mayfield and Quincy Jones. He also was a big fan of hip-hop and techno. When he started Nightmares on Wax in 1991, he wanted to use hip-hop beats, but slow them down. And he wanted to add raw element of soul and R&B. Since then, his finest songs combine a lush electronic landscape with warm, slow hip-hop beats and soulful emotional singers.

There’s a simplicity to George’s work. A purity. Like he’s not trying to fill up the space with noise, rather it seems he’s trying to get one simple message across.

My favorite story about Nightmares on Wax is that I made a friend on the dance floor at their show last year. Donna was a KEXP listener who sent me a friend request on Facebook and then she posted that Nightmares on Wax were playing that night. Being a huge fan I thanked her for the notice (how did I miss that?). That night I went to Chop Suey and it was the most amazing, chill crowd. Since the show was on a weeknight, and almost no one knows about Nightmares on Wax, only the die-hard fans were there.

As usual (being a petite female) I was right up front by the band. And dancing next to me was a girl who looked familiar. “Are you Donna?” I asked. “Michele?” she said. And a friendship was born. Since then she’s one of my top dancing-at-shows buddies.

I think Nightmares on Wax fans not only bond because of the sound of the music. And the fact that they make their electronic show interesting by using a revolving cast of amazing live musicians. But also the lyrics are philosophical. And often they are re-takes of famous songs, re-worked, re-imagined. Like this song Moretime. It takes the Otis Redding line “Give me just one more day...” and puts it in a modern context. And like the Otis song, it has an inspirational take on mortality.

‘Cause the fact is that none of us knows why we are on this planet. All we know is that we live and die. (Excuse the morbidity, but this is how I think all the time... really.) And you can trip out that it’s all so questionable and impermanent. That we don’t know why we are here. But you have to also be pumped up that we do exist. That it’s time to celebrate. We are here. And make the most of today...

Michele Myers hosts and chooses music every Saturday from 3-6pm on KEXP. And she promises not to wax too philosophical when actually doing this feature on the radio this week. She also hosts for KEXP in NYC on 91.5FM WNYE Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6-9am. And the rest of the time her job is to make KEXP Documentaries.

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One Comment

  1. Sean
    Posted June 9, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Nightmares on Wax actually consists of George Evelyn, Chris Dawkins and Robin Taylor-Firth. Have look at the songwriter credits on any of their albums - you’ll see those three names (apart from the very earliest ones with Kevin HArper. All he guitar and bass is done by Dawkins, all the keyboards and strings by Taylor-Firth.
    Taylor-Firth has three other music projects - BudNubac, Piano Segundo and SubMachena. You can hear them all at http://www.blancomusic.com
    If you listen to Piano Segundo you might just get an idea where some of the NoW inspiration comes from.
    Contact me at the e-mail address given for more details or promo materials.

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