Being a driving force behind London’s electronic music scene from the word go as instigator of Wang, a party formed from quality and fun, it’s hard to understand how Nathan Hernando aka Electro Elvis has kept his music under wraps for so long. But it’s now, 12 years after first founding the now ubiquitous party with long term partner in crime Lula, that Nathan’s music is finally seeing the light of day through their new imprint WANG Trax, a label launched to release the music created by the family that they’ve spawned over the years of riding a wave somewhere between electro, techno and left field electronica.
Nathan will be debuting his AV set in Room Two on Saturday as we celebrate the beginnings of this new venture alongside performances from longterm Wangers Radioactive Man and DMX Krew, as well as Dexorcist who’ll be manning the decks - all three of course are the UK’s most admired electro producers and originators of the sound that has come back into influence UK bass music at large. We look back at the beginnings, highlights to date and forward to the future with Electro Elvis ahead of this beast of a lineup set to hit Farringdon this weekend.
Hi Nathan, thanks for speaking to us today, you’ve got a long and established history in the UK’s rave and electro scene, how did it all begin for you?
I started off buying records at the age of 15, stuff like Production House, Moving Shadow, Suburban Base, Basement Records, etc. From there I went to all the United Systems illegal warehouse raves every weekend and just loved the feeling of freedom. I was so inspired that I saved up to buy a soundsystem, even before I owned a pair of decks. At the time there was a really strong DIY ethic and it seemed like more of a cultural movement rather than something to do as entertainment after a week at work. I then put on a series of illegal outdoor raves under the name Electrophonic, before meeting up with Lula and then starting WANG.
Wang has been going strong for 11 years now as a party what’s been your favorite moments?
When Radioactive Man made his world debut live performance at the Premises was pretty special. I’ve known Keith for a very long time, having met at a Fear Teachers illegal rave party many years previously, and to see him bustin out fierce electro with just a few cobbled together little boxes just blew me away.
Also the 10 Years Of WANG warehouse party was amazing. It was so surreal, it was like being a movie. Everything that we had struggled and worked for the previous 10 years all came together for one incredible party. The fattest line-up we’ve ever put on in a single night, the most amazing light show, and the sound system provided by Steve Bedlam was just incredible. We couldn’t quite believe how many people were there.
Squarepusher playing at one of our free outdoor rave parties in Thetford Forrest was one for the memory books. We never have any MCs and word that Tom was playing live spread through the crowd like Chinese whispers. At the end of his set he plugged the headphones in backwards to use as a makeshift mic and the whole crowd went absolutely mental.
And finally the last WANG at The Premises. Lula and I DJ’ed back to back for the last set, and it was so emotional. Those parties were really special and meant so much to a lot of the people that came every month. I know it sounds cheesy, but it really was like one big happy family. You could feel the love in the room, and it is a moment I’ll never forget.
From illegal raves to clubs, how was that transition for you and what were their pitfalls?
I guess we’ve always kind of lived with one foot in each camp, and try to take the best bits from both worlds. I don’t think we really see a big distinction between the two and just try and create a WANG vibe wherever we go.
Some of your productions are years old, why has it taken until now for you to get them out?
I’ve always put more energy into putting on parties than in pushing myself as an artist and I’m extremely self critical of my own work. I get the tracks that I make cut on dubplate to play at WANG and it never really occurred to me to do anything else with them before now. Over the last year or so I’ve been trawling through stacks of old DAT tapes and it’s been really interesting to see if tracks, some of which are up to 10-12 years old stand the test of time. Most of the music I DJ with doesn’t fit into the latest trends and is obscure enough that I often play a 15 year old track next to one from last week without there being a massive clash, and I try to do the same thing with the music I make.
Who’ve been your biggest inspirations?
First and foremost my wife and partner in WANG Lula, without whom none of this would be possible. Secondly I’d have to say the Detroit music scene, U.R., Derrick May, etc. and in particular Juan Atkins, their music it what I aspire to make. Next up Coldcut, I used to tape their Solid Steel radio show off of Kiss FM every Saturday without fail as a kid. I still have 100s of cassettes in crates, they opened my mind to so many different styles of music. Lastly Basement Records. It was the 1st independent dance music record shop I ever visited. As well as exposing me to the whole underground rave scene, the early released on their label are rave classics and I still play them in my sets today.
WANG Trax is in a good starting place with all your firm friendships that have grown over the years, who from the Wang family are you bringing in for WANG Trax you can share here?
It’s still quite early days for the label, the 1st release is called Party In Peace by me with a remix from a well known friend. 002 is Radioactive Man, which comes full circle from his 1st ever live set all those years ago. 003 is something real special that another good friend has pulled out of his archives from WAAAAYYY back when, but I can’t say too much just yet. 004 is from a really young kid that gave us a CD at WANG and makes amazing electro with a very London twist. Watch this space.....
What’s important to you about the label and about releasing records today?
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I really wanted a RECORD label, and so actually pressing vinyl is 100% essential. I’m no luddite, but I still find something hugely satisfying in getting hold of a top tune on vinyl. We’re going to be releasing a real mixture of stuff, much like we play at our parties. Even though the styles of music will vary quite a bit between releases, there is a common thread running between them and so hopefully we can establish a sound to the label. Pre internet, when there was far less specialist press, I used to know the labels more that the individual artists that released on them. I’d buy the new R&S, Warp, Plus8, U.R., etc. without even needing to listen to it. That’s kinda what we’re aiming for.
Out and about you DJ as Electro Elvis - what are your top 3 tracks that are doing it for you now?
1. Radioactive Man - Flying fuck (forthcoming on WANG Trax)
2. Model 500 - OFI
3. Abe Duque - Chaos Rules
WANG Trax 001 to fabric June 11th what else is in store for Electro Elvis this year?
Firstly I’m finishing off my album. Apart from that I’m looking forward to playing out a bit more regularly. I’ve always been a vinyl head and still play predominantly vinyl in my sets, but I recently got into Serato. I can now combine my love of visuals with my DJing, controlling both at the same time from just a pair of 1210s and a DJ mixer, which is just incredible. I’ve been recording lots of vinyl into the computer and editing my own videos for each track, which is really time consuming, but the end results are great, a full AV live show, whilst still DJing in the traditional sense and not hunched behind a laptop. Serato doesn’t mix for you, so the mixing is a bit looser just like vinyl, and I find the energy levels so much higher.