Zero Gravity host Nightmares On Wax for all-day shindig on the beach
What’s On pals Hype previews the special December 19 party in Dubai Marina, when Zero Gravity host Nightmares On Wax from 2pm to 3am.
Contrary to what you might assume from his blissed out discography, George Evelyn talks at one hundred miles an hour. Although his music over the last 25 years has largely been lazily horizontal fare that soundtracks post-club sessions, Evelyn doesn’t rely on hippie clichés or idealisms to get his verbal messages across, but boy, does he have plenty to say.
Speaking from his home in Ibiza, where he has lived for the past nine years, he has literally and metaphorically come a long way from the inner city streets of Leeds on which he grew up. In sonic terms, too, the Nightmares On Wax of today sounds very different to the one that first emerged in 1989 on a nascent Warp Records (in fact, NOW was responsible for the earliest Warp releases all those years ago). Back then, he was making house and techno, as well as what went on to be called bleep. “We never called it that, though,” he laughs. “It was all just a continuation of the electro and hip-hop we were into
His most recent adult chapter starts in Ibiza. Though people assume he upped and left for the music, it was more for his family and a better quality of life. Returning with his wife and child to what he thought was his dream home in Leeds one day, George realised it was mere bricks and mortar and that there were better places to live. Ibiza was one such place, and 18 months later the whole Evelyn family was set up in a rustic farmhouse in the Balearic mountains. “Life’s been better ever since,” says George. “People get strung up on what Ibiza is, but unless you come here, you don’t know about the alternatives.”
One of those alternatives is George’s own Wax Da Jam parties, which take place at one of Ibiza’s oldest clubs, Las Dalias, as well as on the island’s beaches, and see the likes of DJ Shadow and Roots Manuva drop by with their extensive record collections. “It wasn’t until I got here that I realised how much stuff was missing,” says George of the intimate party he started during a five-year hiatus from making music. They now draw regular crowds and play out up to 17 times each summer, whilst the rest of the year is given over to touring and working in the studio.
The spinner also known as DJ Ease speaks frankly about a range of subjects. Currently two things are on his mind: the first is getting into the brand new studio he has built in his new Ibiza home. “I think I’ve released an album made in every house I have lived in,” he says, before agreeing that each space adds a little something to the music he makes. “I’m really happy with the last album [2013’s Feelin Good]. I was happy when I was making it; I was in such a good space and felt like I had a lot of self-discovery going on during the process. I feel very free with my music now.
“A lot of it is to do with getting rid of a lot of stuff. We fill our lives with so much clutter, with ideas we think are our own, but years later you realise ‘actually, I don’t even like that stuff.’ It’s about unravelling, and the more unravelling we do, the simpler our lives become.”
Evelyn’s album writing process also differs from the norm in that he never sets out to create a full length. Rather, he reports that he is always making music, going with the flow, evolving naturally and trying to create with his heart not his head. “Suddenly a sound appears, like it is revealing itself to me: that’s what I like about writing albums, it’s not until the end when it’s all done that you realise what you’ve created. I don’t want to be sat in a studio going, ‘I want to sound like this, I want to sound like that.’ That’s the head being too busy and asking too many questions. I prefer to be open and be more of a conduit for the music to come out.”
Of course, unlike many, Evelyn is in the luxury position where he can allow his ideas to foment and mature at their own pace. Where the bulk of producers have deadlines to meet, profiles to build and labels to answer to, Nightmares On Wax has the full backing of Warp Records, and has since day one. “The reason for their success is that when they sign artists, they believe in what they’ve heard and allow the art to develop. So many labels hype artists up, sign them and say, ‘We see you as the new this, the new that’ and then all of a sudden the artist’s head is twisted and they lose who they are.”
The other thing on his mind is, for once, his own career. It’s been a fine one at that. As well as taking in modern classic albums like Smoker’s Delight and Carboot Soul – which have soundtracked so many lives – so too does George play live, DJ and perform sound system gigs with an MC, as he will in Dubai this weekend.
“I didn’t realise I had fan bases like I do all over the world. It’s been great doing the 25 Years tour to connect with them and hear how my albums have impacted on them as they did on me. I realise now I have great body of work. I’ve made music that’s changed my life, and I’ve never really realised that before. Really bizarrely, it now feels like I’m at the start. I’m standing back, not judging myself like I used to when I was younger. I’m just enjoying what I’m doing and there is still so much more I want to do.”
Aurora, Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Al Seyahi Street, Dubai. 2pm to 3am. Free before 10pm. Taxi: Skidive Dubai. 0-gravity.ae