Celebrating Old Skool Music, Culture and Legacy
For three decades Paul Nineham, AKA DJ Brisk, has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the hardcore / hard-dance scene, working as a producer, DJ and label owner. Whatever capacity he has worked in, one factor has remained consistent – the name “Brisk” has been a mark of quality.
Brisk is regarded as a pillar of the scene by both fans and industry peers alike, and whether playing to crowds of 150 or 20,000 he always knows how to rip up the dancefloor and give the punters what they want.
Currently residing in Australia, Brisk streams his live show – The Brisk Selection – every Sunday at 10am (GMT) on Facebook, Hardcore Radio, OSN+ and Kniteforce Radio. The show brings together a range of harder styles spanning from the present day right back to the old skool classics.
Paul will be touring Japan in December (see his Facebook page for more details) and will be returning to the UK for a month next October (we’ll be posting more on our own Facebook page as details emerge).
The Rave Generation caught up with Brisk to discuss live-streaming, the 90’s and Michael Bublé…
Hi Paul, thanks for speaking to us. Early in your career you became synonymous with playing a touch of the harder stuff. What drew you to that sound?
In the early years, a good friend of mine (DJ Betts) and I used to make a weekly early morning trip from our home city of Southampton to Central London to see our mate Derrick (aka Frankie Valentine) at Red Records, who’d always have a big bag of tunes ready for us to check out. Following that, I had the benefit of working in a number of shops including Camden Tunes (London), Jelly Jam Records (Portsmouth) and Tripp 2 (Southampton). During these years I had access to so many fantastic records from around the globe and I soon discovered multiple genres, of which Techno or Hardcore Techno was one.
I was hooked on the kick drum very early on in my career and so when the European rave sound evolved, notably the Dutch scene, the records I was buying then just felt right at home in my sets. My fascination with this style hasn’t faltered to this day, I still love it and support numerous artists across these genres in my sets.
You now live in Australia – how does the local scene compare to the UK?
The UK has always had a very unique and thriving music scene, with a heritage that has evolved from a combination of many factors specific to our country. I’ve found that Australia tends to lean towards the UK and Europe for it’s musical references. That’s not to say that there’s not a wealth of original talent here, however Australia has a relatively small population compared to the UK, and that does lead towards the supporting and promoting of touring international acts as a main selling point, as opposed to more home-grown acts being billed as the headliners (certainly within the hard electronic dance styles).
With that said, there is an extremely vibrant scene here with many events covering many different styles even in the smaller cities, and in the summer you can expect a number of large scale events and festivals. Glastonbury down under instead of down stream would be a nice change huh?!
When the rave scene fractured in the 90’s, what made you take the direction you did?
I was a keen advocate for the early Rave sound and followed both the international and UK electronic music scenes with great interest. When the UK scene divided around 1993, with many moving away from the uplifting rave sound, I was playing a mixture of music from around the globe. I found myself at home mixing up a combination of UK Breaks and European/US Techno with a splash of the dark stuff here and there. The kickdrum-breakbeat fusion really floated my boat and I found the energy of mixing these styles together really brought my sets to life.
These were extremely exciting times as all the harder dance music at the time fell under the ‘Hardcore’ umbrella before everything became fragmented and was tagged “this” or “that” by the mainstream music media. This meant that there was an extremely high volume of music to choose from and as a DJ this was was just total bliss!
Has there ever been a time in your career where the music has taken a direction you’ve not wanted to follow?
The Hardcore scene and Electronic music in general is always evolving. Music changes constantly and falls in and out of fashion and sure, Hardcore has had its ups and downs and twists and turns, but as a DJ and artist it’s up to you what you play and/or produce. If you don’t like the current trend or style then don’t play it, it’s pretty simple. I only play music I like personally, why waste your time on anything else? It’s all subjective and that’s one of the best things about it.
The scene has evolved many times over the last 25 years. Is there a particular era that appeals to you more than any other?
Looking back, I was always a big fan of the 1990s as a whole. It encompassed both my years as a raver and music lover before transitioning into the music business side of the scene. I’m sure that most people into the harder styles of my age can probably relate to it being a special time. That said, I’m loving everything in-between and doing my weekly live show means I have to actively research and listen to a lot of new music, and I can assure you that there’s plenty of amazing material out there currently.
In the last few years there’s been a real resurgence in interest in the old skool scene. What do you think it is about the early 90’s rave scene that endures?
The 90s era was very special for a number of reasons but musically it represented a time of innovation and development for the hard music scene as a whole. Producers were trying out new sounds, ideas and concepts. We saw the birth of a number of sub genres, countless anthems produced and events that people still talk about to this day. Taking a stroll down memory lane to what many refer to as ‘the golden era’ is never going to be a chore is it?
Do you get booked to play many old skool sets?
Outside of my live streams and UK visits, I’ve played just two Old Skool sets since emigrating to Australia, on was a couple of months ago for a local promoter from Brisbane called Candee Flip. It was all 1992-1992 vinyl and the crowd knew the tunes and the vibe was unreal. The other was in Perth, Western Australia where I dropped a 1995/1996 selection, again to a great crowd. I love playing Old Skool and there were so many unexplored and underrated tracks from back in the day that the tunes never seem to run out. I still peruse Discogs to this day to fill in the gaps in my vinyl collection (despite the ridiculous shipping costs to Australia!)
Your live stream “The Brisk Selection” is very popular and allows your sets to be heard worldwide and on demand – do you enjoy this aspect of DJing?
Absolutely. It’s very addictive and I’ve invested a lot of time and investment into making it the best it can be. It’s been a musical lifeline both for me and my fans around the world. I really don’t play out very often in Australia and getting back to the UK to visit only really happens once a year, if that. The live stream gives me the ability to not only deliver a weekly set, but in doing so enables me to showcase many different styles that people don’t associate with me. Essentially, my sets on the live stream are more varied than ever and I can play exactly what I want, when I want, with no drama. Add to this the ability for my fans to interact with me live in the chat and the whole concept is really refreshing.
Where can our readers catch your show?
There are several ways to catch the show. It now goes live on my Facebook fan page, the Hardcore Radio Facebook page, hardcoreradio.nl, kniteforceradio.com and osn.plus. You can also catch up with the live stream archive on my SoundCloud page.
You’ve played at all the big venues over the years – do you have any particularly memorable gigs?
Too many to mention but if I had to pick three (I literally couldn’t choose just one) it would be my birthday bash at Club Kinetic with Carl Cox, Stu Allan and Slipmatt (we sold it out completely and had to open up every room in the venue), and also my debut gigs at Dreamscape and Helter Skelter. They were all defining, pivotal moments for me.
You’ve just mentioned Carl Cox, Stu Allan and Slipmatt. Living in Australia, do you manage to keep in contact with many other DJs from back in the day?
Social media is a fantastic way of keeping in touch, and invaluable when you live 10 hours ahead of most of your pals. So yes, I am able to keep in touch with my friends and colleagues, but it’s not always easy, when I’m up and about and most people back home are sleeping. That’s the trade off from living on the other side of the world I guess! I did bump into Carl Cox over here at one of his events in Melbourne where he was playing classic House and early Old Skool. I said to him “this makes a change from Club Kinetic huh?” and he gave me a strange look before signing some autographs for his fans. I guess I hadn’t see him in over 20 years, I’ve lost my hair and have lots of tattoos – I didn’t really expect him to recognise me. Cheers Coxy, haha!
Will you be gracing the UK shores with your presence this year by any chance?
Unfortunately not this year. I moved house, changed jobs and have only just got on top of everything my end. Add to this some Aussie gigs, a Japan trip and my Mum visiting from the UK and I’m out of time in 2017. That said, I’m doing a live internet link up with the Club Kinetic gang at the next Legends of the Leisurebowl event on November 11th 2017. This will involve a live video stream from my place in Australia beamed live to Stoke on Trent via a big screen in the club. An interesting idea for sure. I have confirmed the month of October 2018 for my next UK visit. It’s a full twelve months away as yet but I’m hoping to score some gigs around the UK and catch up with everyone. I’m sure it’ll be another crazy month and I can’t wait to visit my homeland!
Great news, roll on October 2018! So we know you’re busy DJing but are you still producing?
No and YES! Personal circumstances meant that my studio was packed away for sometime soon after arriving on Australian shores and it’s really been that way for a few years. However, I’m now ready for action and I’m currently working on some online collaborations with Fracus, Darwin, M-Project, Al Storm, ROB IYF and Riko to name but a few. I’m making a short trip to Japan for a mini tour over late December and into 2018 and I’ll be releasing a very limited, Japan only, 14 track CD for my tour via the guys at Weekend Ravers. Soon after that I’ll be working towards my second artist album with Hardcore Underground too. S3RL and I both live in Brisbane and we’ve vowed to make a few tunes happen as well, so there’s lots of exciting production projects in the pipeline!
Exciting times! Any other projects on the horizon?
Yes. I’m working on an album with Kniteforce Records called “The Triple Threat”, it’s a showcase of Kniteforce Records, Knitebreed and KFA records featuring new music from artists on all of those labels, plus Old Skool legends such as Liquid, Hyper On Experience and Future Primitive right through to modern music by Darwin, Sanxion and M-Project and everything in between. It’s scheduled for a March 2018 release on triple pack vinyl, and double pack CD.
Also, this year was my third decade as a DJ and so I’m looking to stage a “30 Years of Brisk” night when I return to the UK. I was looking at doing it here in Australia first, however, my musical roots lie in the UK so I thought it would be better to do it there first. Essentially, it will be a celebration of the harder styles of music across the last thirty years with a selection of my friends and colleagues dropping by to spin some tunes. More news to follow on this but expect a cracker of a night…
That sounds amazing – you’re gonna be kept busy for a while!
Aside from the genres you’re best known for, what other music do you listen to?
Everything from rap to classical. Sometimes letting a streaming app do it’s thing is fun. As is listening to, or watching, Rage TV over here in Australia.
The music you play has a certain intensity. Do you ever just want to kick back with pipe and slippers and listen to a bit of Michael Bublé?
Only when I’m masturbating…
And on that bombshell things draw to a close! 😀