2018 was a big year for Nathan Micay. After a half decade making music as Bwana, he released his first records under his own name, on Whities and ESP Institute. He started Schvitz Edits, a label for club versions of tracks as varied as Gordon Lightfoot's "Oh, Linda" and Dead Can Dance's "Song Of Sophia." Most significantly, though, he realized more fully than ever his unique personality as an artist, homing in a sound that's emotional, tongue-in-cheek and touched with a sense of anime theatrics (let us not forget his last best record, Capsule's Pride, a reinterpretation of the music from Akira). You hear this in his tracks, like the epic "First Casualty," as well as his DJ sets, like his gleefully eclectic summer edition of Beats In Space.
RA.656 shows this style in full effect, confidently blending old rave records and modern club cuts with Micay's own edits and upcoming music. (For the keen-eared listener, there's a classic anime theme in there, too.)
What have you been up to recently?
I just got back from a month-long stay in Japan. I played two shows in Tokyo and Osaka upon arrival and then used the rest of my time to see Kyoto, Hiroshima, Koya-San, Hakone and Nara. I've spent the better part of the last year trying to teach myself the language and wanted to see how much I'd actually learned. It was surprising and super rewarding to be able to hold down basic conversations and read the signs in train stations. I still don't know tons of Kanji characters and I know my grammar needs a lot of work, but everyone I met was super encouraging and helped me stumble along. Being there was a perfect way to reflect on a rollercoaster year for me.
When and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded a couple months ago at my friend Avalon's flat. It was done with three CDJs, one Technics 1200 turntable, an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer, and my trusty Tascam recorder. I got there on a sunny Saturday morning around 8 AM with two bags of groceries. It took all day and three meals but by around 11 PM I had something I was happy with (and a very sore back).
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I tried to give this mix as "live" a feel as possible. Personally, I like being reminded there's a real person at work during a DJ set. I look at DJing now more as building a perpetual collage, constantly bringing multiple tracks in an out of the mix for longer stretches of time.
This mix is meant to convey the feeling of playing a set to a full room of dancers as we approach that wonderful weirdness at 4 AM. I've discovered so much great music in 2018 and feel more than ever that I'm zoning in on the vision I've had in my head the last couple years. It contains a lot of obscure oldies that I think actually sound more relevant than ever and a couple newer bits. There's also a forthcoming track in there that's been getting a lot of "B's" (apparently that means "bump") on a track ID Facebook page. It's been exciting to see people trying to guess what it is from some videos of friends playing it out. Well, put away the phone cameras because here it is in an actual mix, name and all! Out early 2019 on LuckyMe.
2018 was a big year for you. What were the highlights and lowlights?
Finally feeling like I was releasing music in my own voice and in my own time. It took a while to get here but I finally feel like I'm getting a handle on things. Getting to start my own vinyl only label, Schvitz Edits, was also a pipe dream realised. Very thankful for all the support that has made it such a success so far.
Playing b2b with my Scorpio Sister Avalon Emerson in the Berghain Garten this past summer. Avalon was my first music friend I made when I got to Berlin three years ago, so it was very meaningful to me. Later in the summer going b2b with Tasker in Sicily closing out Ortigia Sound System Festival as the sun came up on the massive countryside villa we were playing in. Many misty eyes that morning. I'll never forget it. Thanks Nic for everything this year!
Oh and I can't not mention Chapter 10 in London. Super hot party.
Jumping into the world of film composition has been a wonderful challenge. I worked on a few shorts and my first feature length. Excited for more of that in 2019.
Getting a full page spread in the print edition of The Japan Times so I could ramble on about Akira was pretty surreal. 2020 is nearly here people.
Returning to Beats In Space with Tim Sweeney, the most muscular DJ in the biz.
Working with the Give Something Back to Berlin Open Music Lab. The school offers an inclusive space for free workshops, courses and special events to help people learn how to make electronic music. I was given the opportunity to teach a four-week beginner course on Ableton Live. If you're a DJ or producer in Berlin, hit them up. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. They're doing wonderful things.
Being asked to do this mix. I've listened to this podcast and read these interviews every week for years. It's a huge honour for me. Thank you.
Seeing my mom take the huge leap into retirement after an incredible career teaching music to hundreds of students. I'm very proud of her.
As for lowlights, I got really sick in April. I was trying to pack too many things into my daily schedule. I learned that not getting enough sleep can have real consequences.
This mix is going out on Christmas Eve. You got plans that night?
Planning to keep tradition alive and do what us Jews have done for over 5000 years: get some Chinese food and head to the movies.
What are you up to next?
About to head off on a little holiday tour of North America which I'm excited about. Playing some new parties and returning to a few favourites. Always nice to get to see friends and family at the end of the year. On the music tip, prepping my debut album for LuckyMe and the preceding single 12-inch (A-side in this mix) that should be out early 2019. We've also been working on a physical comic book to go along with that.
Prepping the next Schvitz Edits for spring and another 12-inch of new originals I hope to get out in fall 2019. Just finished up a remix for the absolute legend David Holmes that should be out on Heavenly Recordings. I also decided to go super outside of my comfort zone and created a bluegrass cover of Eleven Pond 's "Watching Trees" with my insanely talented friend Ben Osborn. That will be out on the next covers comp for DEEK Recordings.
Outside of that, getting back to my day job personal training all your favourite Berlin DJs and music people every weekday from 7 AM. I'm very proud of all the hard work they've put in this year.
Thanks so much and hope everyone has a great new year. See you in 2019!