From its inception in the early 1990’s, Tech House, was in its simplest form the combination of Techno & House; at that time two very different scenes…
The heavy, darker, hypnotic grooves of Techno combined with the slower swing & funk of House Music. From there, its journey led to a diverse set of interpretations; twisting Progressive House into more experimental waters, adding fuel to San Fransisco’s West Coast House scene, Europe’s fledgling Minimal scene, alongside soundtracking London town with seminal underground parties, night clubs, record labels and record stores. Over the last 20 years its growth and dominance within Dance Music is unquestionable, drawing influence from other genres and reinventing its sound many times over. This compilation lovingly snapshots three timelines documenting the genre; Way Back When, Then and Now. Tracing the roots and showcasing the many artists that helped shape the sound and continue to push the envelope moving forward.
As Fabric celebrates being 18 years old this weekend and the legendary Wiggle is still being celebrated almost 24 years on, we sat down with Nils Hess to discuss his impact on the scene. A former member of Get Fucked, praised for putting his stamp on the Tech House scene, we spoke to Nils about the genre then and now; how he met Nathan Coles and his 3,000 deep record collection.
Lets start with your productions, you’ve recorded under various aliases outside of your own name, notably with Nathan Coles under the moniker ‘Get F**Ked’. Your name was always fairly uncompromising… Did it land you in any hot water back in the day? How about now?
No. It made our career. It started with the track ‘Dark and Dirty’ and this track flew off the shelves, Vinyl wise. The Albums ‘Dot to Dot’ and ‘Wet Dreams’ did really well too. We got gigs at Fabric, I think we played around 4 times there (Thanks to Nikki Smith and Judy Griffin) who let us do the Live set there.
We travelled a lot too – We went to South America to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Chile. And also travelled to Eastern Europe. So I think our name was good for us! It needed that bit of attitude. It came out in the Music. I don’t think it landed us in any hot water or trouble. I think the promoters, the clubbers and the distributers actually really liked the name. When we started the Get Fucked name, we was based in Greenwich at a studio called Strange Weather. This was with Laurent Webb, Justin Bailey and Dave Coker and Timmy S – They were our programmers and engineers at the time and this is how we got together. We used an Atari of all things and we were running Logic. Everything was really kind of old skool in a certain way.
We had a pub just by the Studio, which made most of our titles up. We called the pub ‘The Mingers Arms’ It would go from one pint, to two pints…three pints and then we were in the studio for the whole night just jamming. So I suppose this is how the titles were made up.
The whole Get Fucked came from us being like ‘We don’t give a shit! We don’t care!’. ‘Let’s call it that! We like it!’ It was an enjoyment we had back then. The only problem was the next morning we did not take any of the glasses back to the pub which they didn’t like. We would also wake up with the worst hangovers the next day and we would always say we would never do this again. And Actually, that’s where ‘Get Fucked on Fishcakes’ came from that day we didn’t want anything to drink but we did get some fishcakes from the Chippy.
In terms of now… I’m not actually sure if our name would get us in any hot water and that’s why we’ve not really done anything since we were together doing our thing back then. I’d love to do another album, but as my partner is in Ibiza a lot and doing his own thing, I don’t know when we will get together again.
Would that be all brand new exclusive you want to do?
It would be! All brand new music. I think it would be special. Probably call it ‘GOT FUCKED’!!!
How did ‘One To Play Your Mum’ come about?!
Well… again. It was to do with being too drunk the night before and us trying to be subtle about it. It was Nathan Coles that came up with that title. These titles were just subtle approaches to what we were up to. But it was also about the music. We wanted to be tough on the dancefloor, but we also wanted people to listen to it. You could listen at home or in a club and think ‘WOW!
When and how did you meet Nathan Coles?
Going to different parties like Heart and Soul and Wiggle. I think looking back now it was a warehouse in East London but I can’t remember it. I was a firm believer in good music and the only people that played that kind of music in those days was Richard Grey, Mr C, Dave Mothersole, Terry Francis Eddie Richards and of course the master, Nathan Coles. At this time I was running the A&R Department at UCMG UK so was always searching for new talent.
So it was really through clubbing that we met.
How did that track come together? Did you each come with different ideas?
Mainly from getting ideas from lots of different instruments Like keyboards and drum machines and we used to fill up the Akai S3000XL with lots of weird but wonderful samples. The machines used were the Roland Juno 106, Roland Jupiter 6, sequential circuits pro 1 and the Roland TB303, Roland TR606, Roland TR808, Roland TR909 and Roland SH101. We would usually get a beat going with a sample and then start feeling out the Bassline. We would work with the bass drum and Bassline quite a lot just to get the right kind of vibe. From there would build the rest of the music around it. Every track was different – Sometimes it would come to us straight away, sometimes it would take days. Studio time could vary from hours to days.
How did you hook up with Nathan in the early days, and out of the tones of releases, remixes and two seminal artist albums you released, what tracks are your favourites and why?
I’d really like to mention this actually; it’s a good question. Me and Nathan would always meet at Strange Weather Studio’s. I think David Coker would always be the first person there as he used to have the Keys.
One of my favourites was the one we did for Hardfloor which was called ‘Communication 2 None’. We called it ‘Too Fucked To Communicate’. That has to have been one of my favourites because it was a pleasure to do something for Hardfloor at that time. I knew them really well and we did a few things together at Silverfish.
The other one would have to be DJ Pierre – ‘I Can’t Stand It’, but our version was called ‘I Can’t Fucking Stand It’. We didn’t have many parts for that, but we played around with it as much as possible. It was a total joy to do. The Bassline was really good, and I think it’s going really well at the moment too, a lot of people still ask me for it now, Matthew B asked me for a copy and I think it was played at DC10 too.
DJ Pierre – I Can’t Stand It (Get Fucked Remix)
One of our favourites is Get Fucked ‘Dark and Dirty’ and to be honest, I don’t think that would sound out of place in a set today. Why do you think these tracks have stood the test of time?
Dark & Dirty
They were made to the best quality possible. That’s the whole thing. We had original engineers and programmers just to get the sound quality right. They were professionally cut and that came out in the sound quality. This is what makes the sound last for years. This track was actually mastered at The Exchange studio in London – It was very popular at the time. It was based in Camden town,at first it was just for cutting records and CD’s master. Nilz was one of the Top Engineers there.
We tagged the album ‘From DAT to dancefloor’, do you still have any DATS? Any unreleased stuff on them?
I have loads of masters and CD masters too. But when we closed the studio, ‘Strange Weather’ with David Coker, Laurent Webb, Justin Bailey, Nathan and myself it was actually Justin that got a lot of DATS! So to my knowledge, they are still around. We did other stuff at the studio too… Jesse Rose came there; Dj Gee from Bora Bora Ibiza, Richard Grey was there; Dave Mothersole and Mike Parsons and Timmy S from Surreal Records… There were all sorts of people at the Strange Weather studios! And we were neighbours of ‘Point Blank’ studios too.
When did you start DJing, how did this lead you to run both the record store Eukatech and the Eukatech & Eukahouse labels?
I got my first set of decks when I was about 14! I started to practice then but mainly on 45’s. When I started playing was around when I was 17/18. I played in a bar called The Dolphin. I basically did some parties there, a little more commercial at the time, introducing House music, like Detriot Techno… That early sound of House.
It kind of just went off and then I didn’t have to play anything commercial again. I just had to play House music, some Detriot Techno bits and it was just great.
From there, I thought to myself… well the bar shuts at 12… So I changed it to a beach party. To be honest, I think this is where my career really started. From doing the beach party, I then got a residency at a club which was at Grimsby at the time.
Loyal and Magistrate asked me if I wanted to start something with them and I was like; ‘Yes! I would love to start a club!’, they said ‘Do you want to do one in a customs house?’ and I said yes right away. So we started this thing called Customs Party Animals. You had a pass where you could go from 10PM-2AM into the club… But then we had the ‘back door rule’ – If you wanted to go on all night, you could through there! We had an all night license. So that’s where I started in Grimsby.
The Eukatech labels were established in 1995 and witnessed so many seminal artists release on them, including Terry Francis, Terry Lee Brown, Pure Science, Didier Sinclair & Inland Knights to name a small few, how many releases do you have in total?
Don’t forget… Thomas Chrome, PED the drummer from Frankie goes to Hollywood, Chris Liebing, Pascal Feos and DAVE the Drummer, Gideon Jackson, Richard Grey, Dave Mothersole, Murf. Around 100 – 200 releases in all. That is with all subsidiary labels we had too. In those days it was essential to have at least 10 releases and 5 or 6 CDs finished every month.
You mixed a lot of the early albums including the ‘Sound Of Eukahouse’ & the ‘Sound Of Eukatech’, alongside the label releasing various DJ mix compilations like ‘Tech House Phenomena’ and DJ Bone’s ‘Subject: Detroit’. Tell us about these? Presumably, putting albums like this together was a lot different to today? Do you still see relevance in DJ mix compilations in today’s market?
I think it is important to spread the musical love, as people need to know about it. I mixed lots of CD’s by myself from vinyl as well as on Logic. ‘The Tech House Phenomena’ was mixed by DJ Murf, Nathan Coles, Dave Mothersole, Dano, Inland Knights and Richard Grey.
The Tech House Phenomena
‘The Sound of Eukatech’ was mixed by myself Richard Summerhayes and Marco Lenzi.
Lets talk about the shop…
You ran Silverfish before the seminal Eukatech in Convent Garden. What years did it run, who worked there, and what was the sound of the shop predominantly?
Silverfish ran between 1993 to 1995 and then Eukatech opened in 1995. The silverfish team was Nils Hess, Hans Hess, Alex Oppido and Marco Lenzi and we had some awesome record Sales people in there like Murf Woram, Ben T, Nick Howes, Julie, and Aztek. When we opened Eukatech in 1995 the people who worked in there was Letty Lyons, Richard Summerhayes Mike Surreal and Marco Lenzi.
The sound was various types of Techno and various types of House as well as some Ambient Electronica, in both Silverfish and Eukatech. I think this was a time when you really used to pigeon hole the sound. Techno Trance, Techno House, shranz was a really funny one to me but this is what they called Chris Liebing’s techno in the late 90’s early naughties.
Record shops really were where communities connected, from DJs, partygoers and customers, to distributors and van drivers, what were your favourite record store memories?
Going to Groove Records buying my first Record as well as Eastern Bloc and Warp Records in Sheffield and WOM in Mannhiem. My good friend Gregor Dietz used to sell me records there! Then there’s shops like Phonica, Quaff, City sounds, Unity, Black market, IQ, Plastic Fantastic, Fat Cat, Swag, wow… just so many…
We remember the store had quite a few DJs swing by and do some in stores, alongside various label nights in the capital. Tell us about those and your favourite memories / nights?
We used to run a night called Cosmos, just underneath Silverfish had the likes of Chris Liebing and Hardfloor come to play! We also had another there called Go Home, which was when Alex Azary and Gabriel Le Mar played. I think that night, Sven Vath even popped in to play with the Robots! I think that was one of the best nights we did. We inflatable stars, loads of lighting, robotic art which was flashing with lasers! The night just kept on going… and going and going. It wouldn’t stop!
Another experience was when Jeff Mills came to Play in the Eukatech Basement now that was amazing. It was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen because, to play in a basement like that, to mix like that, was just unbelievable! The decks were wobbly, it was really warm in that small basement – Just amazing. It was packed, people were sweating.
It was an amazing time but it was also hard. We were running club nights and record shops. Silverfish was just a bit too much for us – We were so young doing it.
Do you think if you were to do it all again now you would do something’s differently?
Yeah, I would! I’d make sure everything was done on time. Back then it was a bit unorganised.
What are you currently working on?
Two things, which I will be releasing on Eukatech this month! One is from my friend in Prague, Risto Skolovski called ‘Get Down’ – This also features a remix from me! And another one called ‘Fabric Dance’ and my remix! I am also preparing a remix Household Recordings, a San Francisco label! ‘Heaven’ from an Artist called Prakash which I’m doing another remix for. And and remix I did for Dubwise which is for an artist called Okeef and is called Must be Lost.
How many records do you own?
Right at this moment, I would say 3,000 records! That’s a mixture of ones from the store and my own. I keep them at my house. I did have a lot more, I used to have a storage unit for them at one point.