Photo credit: Corey Blackburn
Ahead Of ONE. MORE. TIME. An event that spans six venues and over 40 DJS, we chat to all-round good guy, doof culture enthusiast, Nick Collings
Owen: Tell me who you are.
Nick: Nick Collings. Pop Culture and Music Over-Enthusiast. DJ, Promoter, Podcaster, Content Writer, Music Historian, Member of the Popsicle Fan Club.
Owen: How and why did you start playing.
Nick: I’ve always collected music from a very young age whether it was high-speed dubbing cassettes off friends or using pocket money to buy full albums. In high school in the early to mid-90’s I’d make compilations to listen to and people would often ask to borrow them. I turned doing that into its own brand and made compilations for house parties and special friends. That appreciation for wanting to share music with others continued and evolved but I found that the more electronic stuff I was into wasn’t available in your local music store, nor was it on tape or CD, so I started seeking out vinyl. That lead to naturally wanting to show off music to a wider audience and with much encouragement from friends in Easter 1997 I decided to start DJing.
Owen: Would you describe this as a good move or an expensive mistake!!?
Nick: I wouldn't change it for the world. If anything I wish I could do it more in my current life but my goals and the opportunities for me isn't the same as they were when I first started. The lifelong friendships and the appreciation for a diverse range of music, people, and lifestyles have been of huge value to me.
Owen: Explain the story of the Auckland Nightlife Year 2000+ Facebook group.
Nick: I’ve been documenting and archiving my time in the Auckland dance scene since I started going out. Collecting and scanning flyers, photos, news articles, and references to the culture. When Facebook first arrived (2007ish) it provided a great platform to share some of my moments via (www.facebook.com/djnickcollings).
Our first Lockdown in March 2020 was a pretty unique time where we all had some spare time up our sleeves and were confined to our homes. Connecting with others could only be done digitally. For at least 15 years I had toyed with the idea of sharing more of my collection yet related to the entire scene in a way where others could interact and add their own memories, after all, electronic music is a communal experience. There is a really great Facebook group called The lost Nightlife of Inner-City Auckland which caters for the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s but nothing past that. So I decided to fill that void and started Auckland Nightlife - Year 2000+ for those that experienced the 00’s, and to include the generation now that are having those experiences.
Owen: Your Facebook video about the group really resonated with me, one because it called for positivity only and used a Gremlins reference (I'm also a massive cinephile). What made you record this video?
This was to set an expectation for the Auckland Nightlife Year 2000+ group of what the group is to create a welcoming positive experience for all.
Owen: Follow up question, with some of the pitfalls of social media becoming known, do you think it's wise to still use as a platform for promotion? Or are we at a point where we have no choice?
Nick: I think more people need to realise that social media is a business. It's there to make money and use all tactics possible to help you to spend your money on what advertisers are paying to advertise. Once you get over that then it's a fun place to engage with your audience. I think it's an important part of how we get information but it should be one of many different ways you interact with people (including real life!). I think it's a necessary evil. What I find toxic is when individual users mistake opinion for fact and also that online, there is no real consequence to your words, at times I think that is dangerous. It's a culture I highly discourage.
Owen: What’s the story behind the One.More.Time. gig coming up?
Nick: Following on from the online presence of the Auckland Nightlife - Year 2000 + group and the wave of memories (or lack of) coming back from all the photos, flyers, and mixes being posted, one of the common feelings is how much everyone misses a good night out. One.More.Time. is simply a call to action to anyone who was there to enjoy a well deserved night out, just like it used to be, with the people that were also there. Most of my age group now have children, responsibilities, and life has gotten in the way of a good party (yuck!). So we wanted to make sure the offering is authentic and represents one of the greatest eras of our life, something that is worth getting the babysitter for.
Owen: Something worth getting a babysitter for is a phrase that has taken over my life, we should use it as a gig tagline... Nostalgia seems to be the flavour of the moment. Why do you think this is?
Nick: We all have an emotional connection to certain periods in our life and for many of us, that time was spent in dark, sweaty nightclubs listening to repetitive loops, meeting strangers that became friends, and went on to become family.
I think nostalgia has always had its place in dance culture, and we are seeing the second and third generation coming through now, who are taking what was created and evolving it further. Not everyone wants to evolve and everyone has that 2-3 years (or 25 years for me) where everything was excessive and their hearts were bursting with love for the dancefloor. This nostalgia wave is simply a snapshot of time.
COVID-19 has given us reason to re-evaluate what’s important and often we take for granted that we have and have had this great nightlife industry, yet if we don’t support it or can’t support it due to a Lockdown that it may disappear forever.
Owen: I love a bit of Nostalgia but in my opinion, House and Techno should always be forward-thinking to keep things fresh and acts like bicep are bringing the old schoolhouse vibes and crowds lap it up. What are your thoughts?
Every generation wants to put their own spin on a classic.
Nick: This generation doesn't want to do what their parents did, they want to do it their way, but there are aspects of the past they love. So it's taking the good bits of the past to create a new future.
Owen: We had a boom in house and techno in the early 2000s, why was this and why did it die down (in your opinion)?
Nick: I think the opposite. Of all the genres in Auckland House and Techno (alongside Drum & Bass) have always been consistently popular. I think this is down to the tireless efforts of passionate promoters not only for big-scale events but especially at the grassroots level. Having a healthy scene where there are loads of events on, club nights, bush doofs, warehouse parties or simply having 10 of your mates into your garage for a musical thrash around is the lifeblood. If no new people are coming into a scene then it diminishes, if there is no constant evolution or reinvention of the genres then it recoils. If there is no culture or platform where people can share music, learn about what came before them, and continue to try new ideas then it disappears.
Owen: This is my point, there was a thriving scene which dipped in popularity, people coming back from overseas bringing the gospel of house and techno seemed to be what was keeping the sound pushing forward, but it seemed like less and less people were returning and more leaving. 2 gigs on K Rd would compete and one would always win. Mainstream or semi-mainstream DJS like Fatboy or Nick Warren but the underground guys who would be huge in Europe would play a small venue like INK. It does feel like everyone's hard work is paying off. Crowds are attracted to promoters gigs a lot of the time without caring too much about the DJs knowing it will be a Vibe.
Owen: We seem to be experiencing a renaissance (besides Covid). Discuss....
Nick: People need each other. It’s that simple. Having a unified experience brings people closer. Being able to escape the worries of the world to get lost in the music for a few hours is essential. Talented people are putting their finances and reputations on the line to do what they love, put on parties, why because no one else will? People resonate and are responding to that and it helps build confidence in promoters to do more.
Owen: Do you see any positives, or think there will be positives post lockdown/pandemic?
Nick: Well for me a HUGE positive was helping to get a live DJ streaming group off the ground called Lockdown Legends!! Out of boredom in lockdown, we had to embrace new ways of playing tunes and connecting with our friends. Every week we have DJ’s from all over the world play live DJ streams, all curated with a schedule and flyer and a community of 12,000. People have commented on more than several occasions about how Lockdown Legends (LDL) saved their life in Lockdown. That’s a pretty incredible feeling. As the lockdown’s are being lifted those people who were previously strangers are meeting and going out partying together. What a result.
Owen: That is a massive result. I have heard a few comments about why are people still streaming. But people are forgetting most of the world is still in some sort of lockdown. Also, a lot of people rediscovered their love of electronica because of the covid streams.
Owen: Give me your thoughts on the state of the scene at the moment in NZ.
Nick: With COVID being such a huge influence on the ability to source international guests I'm really excited about the opportunities for locals right now. NZ has always produced top talent, but we often don't believe how good we are until another country tells us we are awesome, so here is the time to go back to basics, support your local club, and your local DJ's. The downside to this however is line-up fatigue especially over Summer where it will be the same artists on every line-up. They deserve to be there but for me, it's like only having one "Now That's What I Call" CD from 5 years ago on a 5-hour road trip with nothing else to listen to. So it will be a challenge for promoters, to keep it interesting and to get creative! NZ DJ's rule!
Owen: I agree, this has always been an issue though. However we are very lucky Kiwis support kiwi music with a passion, just look at the summer festivals every year. Fat Freddies, Six60, Shapies.. YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR.
I feel this is an amazing opportunity for some DJs to widen their repertoire a touch, maybe go deeper and slower, try a chill set on a Sunday, or if you are deep and slow, dip your foot in the harder realms.
Also, a very important thing to remember is DJs should have residencies... this is how DJs really take it to the next level with their skills and sound. Playing regularly at the same venue. This is something that is a given overseas but lacks in NZ. Scenes and genres are created by DJs having the opportunity to play regularly and create a following. It's hard sometimes for a punter who has an amazing night one week to find that sound and vibe again the next because it's not there, it's a different DJ/Style.
Nick: On this, I feel promoters have fallen into the trap (including me) that in order to sell tickets you need to appeal to as many people as you can, by jam-packing it with as many names as possible. If you really know your audience then you can build and create your own path. This was a huge thing when I was coming up in the early 00's. Playing the same clubs at the same time each week and creating your own sound and following. I was very fortunate to play at some of the best clubs, but I was always well aware that there were 20 other DJ's snapping at my feet to be there too, so it kept me hungry and kept me pushing things forward. Something you believe or not, I champion religiously in 2020 (yet a common misconception is that I'm only about the old stuff) or that I don't DJ anymore.
Owen: Yes, there are some guilty parties out there, hour sets should not be a thing. I think sometimes a DJ should be given the whole evening. It lets a DJ actually express himself and punters get a musical story.
Thanks for the chats Nick and good luck.