Reliving the rave scene with Nicky Blackmarket

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Nicky Blackmarket talks raves, radio and remembering the early years.

A true trailblazer on the drum and bass and jungle scene, Nicky Blackmarket has earned his stripes not only as a talented DJ, but also as a pioneering producer, record label owner and record store head.

DJing since the early 80s, Nicky Blackmarket has gone from acid house to breakbeat to drum and bass, developing his own distinct method of DJing and production that fuses these sounds. The former owner of Blackmarket Record Store in Soho, he played an instrumental role in backing and promoting jungle and drum and bass during its early years - and is still at it today. Nicky also heads up the recently revived Kartoon records, representing the very best jungle out there.

Check out our quick chat with Nicky before seeing him live on 29 March at Backto95’s 17th Birthday at Ministry of Sound.


Nicky Blackmarket! Really appreciate you taking the time out to chat with us again. What have you been up to these past twelve months?
These past 12 months have been really full on, and I’m loving every minute of it, playin’ all over the country and abroad, plus I’ve got the Kartoons label runnin’!!!

I wanted to start off this time by taking it right back to your stint at Friends FM. Can you tell us a little bit about your show and how you got into pirate radio?
Wow, you are taking it back, probably 88/89, they were great times where it was a COMPLETLY different ball game. The radio was so important to the scene!!! Playin’ and promotin’ the music and the events.

Your show proved incredibly popular. I think what really made it stand out was that it wasn’t just about playing music, you were essentially building a community. You would even use the show to advertise raves and their meeting points. Do you think this sense of a community is something that’s lacking in radio today?
WE ARE LIVING IN A DIFFERENT ERA NOWADAYS. It’s the internet era. The pirate radio of the time WAS the internet back then - information/communication!!

Dnb itself got massive support from pirate radio - do you think the genre would have gained traction like it did if it wasn’t for the support it was shown by these stations?
NEVER!! Like all the underground dance music genres, pirate radio was at the forefront of the ad/promotion!!

In the early 1990s, the authorities started to crack down on the illegal rave scene, which climaxed in 1994 with the passing of the Criminal Justice Bill. The bill explicitly targeted rave events and led to its containment within the confines of conventional clubland. What effects would you say the passing of this bill had on UK dnb, which at that time was just starting to take its form?
It changed everything and all went into clubland!! That’s when you started seeing clubs that went on to 6/7am, whereas before they would only go on to 2/3am. I saw the same thing happen to the Toronto music scene a while after us.

Do you think the changes in legislation were for the better? And how do you think the rave scene would have fared if the authorities hadn’t come down so hard on the organisers?
I think it was just the logical progression as it had to go legal.

You’ve mentioned before that you taught your kids to play on vinyl and that you want them to know the whole history of music. Why is this so important to you?
It’s part of our culture and a way of life as it was!!! They have to know the whole history and where it comes from!!

Do you hope that one day that your kids will carve careers for themselves in the music industry?
I’d like that very much!! But, most importantly, I want them to do something they love doin’ - like i have!!

You have an incredibly busy schedule playing around the UK and also producing in the studio. How important is it for you to make time for both yourself and your family?
That’s just as important!! You go to have that happy-medium!!

Can you name three emerging artists that have caught your attention recently?
Oh gosh - there’s loads lol. Bou, Tesen and Kanine are just a few, as there’s loads of talent comming throooooooo!!

We have the pleasure of having you come and play for us for our 17th birthday celebrations at Ministry of Sound next month. For those who are coming to see you for the first time, tell us what can we expect from your set?
Or maybe what they might not expect looool. Really pure vibes and reminising through the years!!

Just before we wrap things up, what else can we look forward to from you in 2018?
A busy DJing schedule and a packed release schedule from Kartoons!!