Continuing our series whereby members of CDR’s extended family share their My First… memories, Nick ‘Emanative’ Woodmansey talks drums, $pace Jazz and his involvement in the Steve Reid Foundation.
When and where did you first attend CDR? What do you recall?
Plastic People 2006 or 2007. I recall the likes of regulars like Ben Hadwen, Simon.S, Kay Suzuki, Beatnick, Breakplus, Bruno Bridge and Scrimshire. I remember taking a freshly finished but un-mastered track called ‘illusions’ along, scribbling some info on the CDR in my coolest writing (prob not very cool at all in reality) and handing it over to Simon S, who then went and gave it to Tony Nwachukwu.
I was nervous as hell. Hearing my music on a sound system like that whilst standing side by side with a bunch of producers/musicians half of which I already knew and the other half whom I’d never met until that night (or subsequent CDR sessions around this time). The music I heard that night was fresh, eclectic and inspiring. The response from this bunch of people to MY piece was a totally open and sincere appreciation of it! I was not expecting this at all and it was definitely a much-needed boost.
How did you hear about CDR?
From Kay Suzuki, Ben Hadwen, Max Cole and Simon S; all separately and individually. Ben was keen to hear stuff we’d worked on together that featured his woodwinds/horns, so that probably won me over in the end.
What has CDR meant to you?
Well, following the family tradition I became a drummer, who had become slightly frustrated artistically and had then decided to mess around with some of his own musical creations; I guess I didn’t know if it was going to work out – me becoming a producer? My other option at the time was to buckle down and become a proper session player – learn how to play jazz properly? I don’t know, that all seemed very boring and “now this is what you’re supposed to do!” What was interesting to me was expressing my little musical universe, where I get to choose what goes on!
If you were to ask me now I’d say I was a producer first, drummer second. CDR came at the right time for me and gave me a space to explore this and test stuff out… A community!
Have you collaborated with, or hope to, any artists via CDR sessions?
Yes! I was lucky enough to be blessed with mind-blowing remixes from many of my fave’ CDR regulars like Soundspecies, Jazz Chronicles, K15, Kay Suzuki, Scrimshire and Tony Nwachukwu himself. #Proud #Salute
Any other noteworthy CDR memories?
Yes actually, there is one in particular that I’ll never forget: Tony Nwachukwu playing my first single ‘When On Earth’, (before it was properly finished or released of course) and then whilst I was listening intently; albeit slightly overwhelmed at hearing the slightly free jazz instrumental section at such volume, he walked over to where I was standing shaking his head as he crossed the floor towards me… then he said: “This is bananas….bananas!” (chuckling to himself!) Later that night he agreed to remix it.
Please could you describe your work life/creative life tussle? Any tips or tricks for managing to keep making music?
Well yes… sometimes it is a tussle. I have three kids and $pace Jazz doesn’t pay the bills!! Persistence is the key. You have to confront that it’s not always going to be easy. It might take some serious hard work..Things are different these days. It can be better for you, but you just have to be clever. Yes, there’s money to be made, and yes you do have your own personal musical integrity – stay true, be yourself. and keep on keeping on.
I feel good when I put something good and positive out there for the right reasons. It is for us a spiritual thing! But it always feels good if you can eat and get sheltered from the elements too. 😉
Have you a favourite club and/or sound system?
Plastic People is up there for sure!
Please give describe your current production set up.
Nothing at all to get excited about… shitty old Cubase on a shitty old Mac. Cubase Is The Place…. where it all started for me. Otherwise, it’s all about the musical equipment we use, and the studios we use. I’ve recorded drums for Emanative in an amazing studio in L.A; in not so amazing studios in South London; recorded drums to tape in Rochester; in my favourite local studio in Sussex and more recently with Robert Strauss at Wax Recordings.
I use an old antique Gretsch drum kit, that originally belonged to the late Clifford Jarvis (Pharaoh Sanders, Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane etc.)
Jessica Lauren provides a vast array of analog gear: Fender Rhodes, Farfisa Compact, Vox Super Continental, Honer Clavinet D6, Arp Strings Ensemble, Moog, Oberheim, etc. Plus the Mutron Bi-Phase, Mutron III, Echoplex & Fulltone tape delays. Ben Hadwen plays Bari, Alto, Tenor Saxaphones, Flutes, Bass Clarinet and Gyaling. This gear + quality recording = the emanative spacebeat sound system 😉 Polished off with expert analog mastering.
Any projects or tracks your working on at the moment that you’d like to let us know about?
Yessir! I’ve finished a version of Sun Ra’s ‘Love In Outer Space’ as a follow up to our version of Steve Reid’s ‘Lions Of Judah’ that was released on a deluxe Brownswood 12″ at the end of last year [listen above]. Both tracks feature Ahmed Abdullah original trumpeter and veteran member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra.
There are plans to release a whole album, including these two tracks plus some other material I’ve been working on. Gene Pendon from HVW8 is working on artwork for the 12″ and I am painting again myself and will be supplying artwork for the album (maybe I’ll look at exhibiting this too, perhaps at the launch?)
This will once again have some major connection with The Steve Reid Foundation, a cause that I’m very inspired about and have recently become a trustee of. The charity was set up by Gilles Peterson in memory of the drummer and his visions and legacy: which will provide help for musicians in crisis and support for emerging talent whilst creating resources to help musicians future proof their careers against crisis.
Those involved includes: Gilles Peterson, Koreless, Fourtet, Theo Parrish, Floating Points, Charlie Dark, Simon Goffe, Emily Moxon, Sarah Jones, Ayian Camcam.and myself. Expect to hear more about this very soon!
Finally, have you any advice or words of warning for producers/musicians developing musical works in progress to play at CDR?
Too much bass has definitely been a problem for me once or twice, otherwise if you’re mix is good – it will sound good. But my advice would be not to worry about this and use the process to learn and enhance your sound! Enjoy the whole experience of listening to your own and everyone else’s music.