Ahead of this Sunday’s inaugural Dig A Little in Camden Town, we thought we would ask the man who’s spinning the tunes in the evening to share some of his treasured vinyl memories.
Nik Weston is no stranger to records. Since starting his first club night in the UK in 1995, he’s been playing them, importing them, selling them and producing them to much acclaim. As the founder of the Mukatsuku Records imprint, he’s reissued numerous hard to find tracks from around the world, as well as given a step up to some lesser known (but no more talented!) producers. His travels as a DJ have taken him across Europe and Asia, while stop offs in his beloved Japan, where over the past decade he has been instrumental in bringing the country’s own cosmopolitan sounds to a European audience, have been plentiful. He is of course equally at home in our fair capital and with numerous long running residencies under his belt, he’s more than aware of how to coax the customary London wallflower onto the dancefloor.
As a champion of all things vinyl, Nik is of course no stranger to the odd dusty basement or remote record store, and over the years he’s amassed an enviable Jazz collection that he is more than happy to showcase (as a cursory glance at his Mixcloud page will attest). With that in mind we’re more than happy to welcome him onto the decks as a special guest at our first Dig A Little at The Forge Arts and Music venue in Camden Town this Sunday. In between and after the band sets, he’ll be supplying plenty Jazz dance and assorted rhythms for the evening crowd, while of course, Jessica Lauren (keys), Claude Deppa (trumpet), Ben Bastin (bass) and Gaetano Di Giacomo (drums) will be on hand to make sure the live segment sizzles!
We all love a crate digging tale here at Dig A Little HQ, so with that in mind and as a little precursor to Sunday’s event, Nik gives up the goods on three tasty morsels. If anyone has got the Veda Brown 45 going spare, give him a shout and help a digger in need!
#1: Teramasa Hino Quintet “Snake Hip”
My first trip to Japan was in the mid to late 90’s. At that time Tokyo in particular was a goldmine for records, especially Brazilian, Jazz, Disco and boogie. The preceding years had seen Japanese diggers bulk buying some of the best records from Brazil and Europe as they visited outside their homeland scouring for wax. There was over 70 record shops in Shibuya alone and it used to take me 4-5 days to get to most of them before shipping crates back to Blighty. Additionally, there used to be a massive five-floor HMV in Shibuya and on my first visit I remember sinking to the floor in amazement at the size of the Jazz department! It was huge and had the most amazing selection of Jazz, Latin and Brazilian CD reissues I had ever seen. It was all too much – they seemed to have EVERYTHING!!
Even though I was reeling from what I had seen at HMV, for my first visit to Japan I had wanted to secure a copy of Teramasu Hino’s “Snake Hip” on the Columbia 7 inch with a fold out poster. A friend suggested that we go hunting in Recofan (a massive video, books and record building in Shibuya – alas since closed down) as they had a great Jazz section among rows and rows of funk, rock and pop. Four hours later I took about forty albums to the cash till but still no elusive 7 inch. It was just as I was paying that I looked behind the counter to a brightly covered wall adorned with picture sleeve 7 inch records of English punk records, rock, disco and one 45 that caught my eye, YES, there is was TERAMASU HINO “SNAKE HIP”! complete with fold out poster sleeve. Happy? Trust me I was ‘Pharrelled’ to have found that 45!
#2: Seikou Nagaoka “I thought It Was You / Speed Of Love”
This elusive 12″, which came out on the small Aosis label imprint and was restricted to 400 copies only, originally came to my attention in 2000 via respected diggers Mark ‘GV’ Taylor and DMR Tokyo buyer Mitsuru Ogawa.
The interesting thing about this 12 was that it had a terrible version of Herbie Hancock’s ‘I Thought It was You’ on the A side so people tended to ignore it, especially the Japanese who would often overlook their own home grown artists. The gem however was on the flip… ‘Speed Of Love’ is a killer modern jazz dance fusion track. I soon secured my copy, but after only a few weeks, I stepped on the record at home and cracked it so it became unplayable. On my next trip to Japan my number one priority was to secure replacement as well as some additional copies for my music hungry friends. Luckily for me on the second day of digging in Shibuya, I found not one but five mint unplayed copies in one of the Cisco Record stores. The record went on to become expensive, fetching at one stage almost £100, although now you can pick one up for 10% of that price.
Three years after its release, I met Seikou Nagaoka whilst compiling a Japanese compilation for Aosis/Victor Music Japan and I put the track on a 12″ again (this time on the A side!), as well as including it on the full compilation CD. It still sounds good!
#3: Veda Brown “Take It Off Her”
Last summer I managed to finally find a copy of a seven inch that I had been looking for since 1988. It first came to my attention via the Stax & Volt (Sirens & Vamps) compilation and I’d been hunting down this 45 ever since. It had been on my watch list on eBay for eight years and although copies turned up often, I was either outbid or the condition was battered. One Sunday I was in Brighton digging through a side street Sunday market off one of the Brighton lanes. There was an Amercian guy selling off a mixture of soul and funk 45s as well as tatty Jazz and funk LPs, many without sleeves. The odd interesting title but generally the condition was not all that. One of the interesting things was in each of the LPs there were 45s and the odd family photo snap tucked down the side of many of the sleeves. Most of the 45s were Stax artists… Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin and in one Funkadelic sleeve there was tucked the black gold of a Veda Brown 45! I was sweating, shaking and felt myself going red – Good job I don’t play poker! I tried to play it cool but failed miserably and in the panic just picked up a random pile of LPs/45s, gave the man a wad of cash and walked away very quickly. The 45 was spotless. The story might have had a happy ending but three weeks later I was DJing at the South London Soul Train outdoor festival before Rob Messener and it was so dark that I stupidly left a pile of records on the floor when I had gone home after my set. Rob kindly sent a message saying he’d found them there (I hadn’t even realised before leaving) and that Snowboy had picked them up for me. I went to see Snowboy after his Lisa Stansfield rehearsal and he gave me what Rob had given him when he found them. Alas there were a few records missing and although I’ve managed to replace most of those 45s, the Veda Brown “Take It Off Her” remains sadly elusive and back on my eBay wants list. Anyone out there got a spare? Come on people! I need it!!