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Grant Nelson Talks UK Garage Legacy, Music Evolution, and Love to Be… Fest: Exclusive Interview.

Kono Vidovic April 24, 2024 157 6 5

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Welcome to an exclusive interview with the legendary Grant Nelson, often hailed as the “Godfather of UK Garage.” Today, we’re diving deep into the musical journey and influential beats of a pioneer who has left an indelible mark on the UK music scene. From the gritty beats of the 90s to the innovative sounds of today, Grant has continued to inspire and excite music lovers around the globe. Join us as he shares insights from his illustrious career, discusses the evolution of music production, and gives us a peek into what’s next for him, including his upcoming performance at the Love to Be… 30th Birthday Fest!

Grant Nelson interview

1. You’ve been called the “Godfather of UK Garage.” How do you perceive this title, and what pivotal moments do you think contributed to earning it?

Well it’s obviously wonderful to be recognised for the work you’ve done, whatever that may be. With regards to UKG it was without a doubt my releases on Nice ’n’ Ripe that earned me that accolade originally but then later with the Bump & Flex (2 Step) stuff too. It’s not a bad title to have really is it 😉

2. In “Rewind 4Ever,” you discussed the legacy of UK garage. What was it like revisiting those days, and were there any revelations or fond memories that stood out during the filming?

It was fun for sure, but that whole era was just one of many other things I had going on during that period. I’d be making a house track in the morning, a happy hardcore track track in the afternoon and maybe a jungle or drum n bass track in the evening. I was wearing a few different production hats at the same time so there was a lot happening. Making the doc was a nice experience though and it was great watching it all complied, hearing everybody tell their story.

3. You’ve done some iconic remixes, including for Mis-Teeq and James Brown. What is your approach to remixing a track, and how do you decide which songs to work on?

First and foremost I have to like the song / track, or at least something about it that I can work with. After that it’s really about what I can bring to the party. I have to feel I can either improve on the original or do something completely different with it, like switching up the emotional mood for example. I like a challenge. It can’t be anything too easy. That holds no interest for me.

4. How has your music production evolved from the early ’90s to now? Are there new technologies or techniques you’ve embraced?

Aside from going ITB (in the box) studio wise and a change of DAW (I went from Cubase on the Atari, then Mac, to Logic and now Logic Pro) not much else has changed really. I kinda still make music the same way. I’m not as fast as I used to be, but that’s likely technology forcing me to slow down. Things that used to take an hour or two, like time stretching samples in the hardware samplers, now take a couple of seconds. It leaves me feeling like I haven’t put enough work in sometimes.

5. As a pioneer in the scene, how do you feel about the new generation of UK garage producers? Any particular artists you’re excited about?

Matt Gillespie and Stratford Toney on the garage house scene are two names that I think deliver consistently good music.

6. You’re playing at the Love to Be… 30th Birthday Fest. What does it mean to you to be part of this iconic celebration?

It’s an honour to be asked back to play for the guys again on their big 30th celebration. It’s an iconic brand and I’m sure it will be one hell of a party to remember.

7. What can fans expect from your set at the festival? Any surprises or special tracks you’re planning to unleash?

If there were surprises they wouldn’t be surprises anymore if I told you would they! Besides the police might try to stop me…

8. With such a varied lineup at the festival, including Adelphi Music Factory and Bez, how do you prepare for a diverse audience like this?

I’m not sure that you can prepare too much when it’s as diverse as this, you just have to do your thing. It’s not my first time playing for Love To Be though so I kinda know what to expect. An audience that know their music and will keep me on my toes and I can’t wait to entertain them again. 

9. Looking back over your career, what do you hope your legacy will be in the world of music?

I guess I’ll live on in people’s music collections. That’s not a bad legacy to leave is it…

10. What advice would you give to young artists trying to make their mark in the industry today?

That’s tricky. It’s an entirely different game today than it was when I started out back in the early 90s. I’m not sure I can offer any relevant advice other than make sure you enjoy the ride as much as possible. It’s easy to get caught up in the bullshit. Just try to remember that it’s a blessing to be able to make or play music for a living. 

12. What are your upcoming projects or goals for the next few years? Are there any new ventures or collaborations on the horizon?

I have a couple of new projects I’m currently working on with Martin Ikin and some other collabs lined up for later in the year. As for future goals, I’ve never really set myself goals, I just make and play music. 

Conclusion and thank you!

Thank you, Grant, for sharing your incredible journey and insights with us. It’s been truly inspiring to hear your story and get a glimpse into the creative process that continues to shape the music industry. For everyone tuning in, don’t miss the chance to see Grant live at the Love to Be… 30th Birthday Fest on April 27, 2024, at Forge, Sheffield. It promises to be a memorable event celebrating three decades of phenomenal house music. Grab your tickets now at Skiddle and Resident Advisor, and experience the magic of UK Garage brought to life by one of its original pioneers!

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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