BILLY NASTY has been DJing half his life; a career that has seen him spin professionally for over nearly fourteen years. He has continually travelled the world as one of the most in-demand techno/electro DJs, and has performed at the most prestigious events, and infamous clubs – across the globe. As a result, he has been one of only a handful of more ‘underground’ DJs who has consistently featured in the annual DJ Mag Top 100.
Billy is not, and has never been, just a DJ, though: he’s enjoyed an extensive recording career; runs three record labels widely-regarded by a broad range of DJs and record buyers alike; and also established a DJ agency, Theremin, that looked after the bookings of many of techno’s leading names, as well as nurturing new talent and allowing them to progress upwards through the ranks. Theremin closed last year, and, after signing up with the reputed DJ agency, Decked Out, Billy has now been granted additional time to concentrate on his labels and DJing.
Having spent a handful of formative, pre-house years, soaking up the rhythms of rare-groove, go-go and funk, Billy was already a committed DJ when house music exploded in the UK in the late eighties. He secured a job at the cutting-edge, Camden-based, Zoom record shop in the latter stages of 1989; this frontline job was extremely important and allowed Billy to regularly meet other prominent figures on London’s burgeoning club scene, as well as helping him to enhance his reputation as a DJ.
At the beginning of 1990, Billy took up his first residency at The Exploding Plastic Inevitable night (with accomplice and Lost founder, Steve Bicknell), at the legendary BrainClub in Soho. It ran for two and a half years with Billy playing a mixture of sounds and styles that proved a precursor to the progressive house scene that followed.
By 1991, Billy’s reputation behind the decks was such that he was invited to record the first mix for a new CD series entitled, Journeys By DJ. Seamlessly weaving between artists of the day – including Leftfield and Eagles Prey – Billy gained entry into the Guinness Book of Records for producing the first commercially-available DJ mix. Shortly afterwards, he undertook his first studio project when invited to remix St Etienne’s Join Our Club; he later accompanied the band, as tour DJ, on their 1992 Japanese tour.
Throughout 1992-93, so many bootleg mix tapes of Billy's were flooding the UK that they proved the ultimate marketing tool and resulted in requests for his presence at burgeoning nights nationwide, most notably: Venus, Renaissance and Back2Basics.
At the front of the pack when Progressive House boomed in ‘93, Billy's DJing schedule went through the roof. Besides being a regular at four of the most prominent clubs in London (The Drum Club, Open All Hours, Final Frontier, and Strutt), Billy began to reach wider audiences as he travelled the whole of the UK and undertook an increasing amount of European gigs. He enjoyed studio adventures with Dave Wesson (Zoom owner) as Shi-Take – who had a six-single career on the shop's in-house label – and also, future Chemical Brothers engineer, Steve Dub, as Vinyl Blair; the latter partnership led to releases on Leftfield’s recently founded Hard Hands label.
1995 saw Billy's workload multiply further still, to the extent, that, working at Zoom was no longer an option: he was now DJing 3-5 times a week in the UK and further afield. Such a hectic schedule required greater levels of professionalism and, it was with this in mind, that the Theremin DJ agency was launched; initially it looked after fellow UK DJs – Jim Masters, Mark Williams and Phil Perry – but European DJs were quickly added to the roster: Adam Beyer, Marco Carola, Umek, The Youngsters and Oliver Ho, as well as many others, would not be so widely regarded amongst UK clubbers if it had not been for their association with Theremin.
In 1996, with the airmiles continuing to stack up, Billy was nominated for best national DJ, as well as best Radio One Essential Mix, at the Muzik magazine awards. He also played peak-time sets at the seminal Tribal Gathering festivals in the UK and Germany.
Billy’s style had shifted dramatically by 1997 and he was now widely-regarded as one of the premier exponents of hard-edged techno. A second mix-CD – Race Data, released on the Avex label – documents this perfectly.
Due to frustrations with the number of UK labels championing the style of techno featured in his sets, Billy established his own imprint, Tortured, in order to provide an outlet for his favourite producers. A bi-monthly night, Open To Torture, at London clubbing mecca, The End, was established during the same period – it provided the perfect opportunity to showcase the talent directly involved with the Tortured label, as well as those linked by association: Adam Beyer, Umek and Marco Carola all played their debut London gigs at the night.
A fantastic year was enhanced further by, arguably, Billy’s greatest achievement – he became a father to the first of his two daughters.
1998 saw Billy's first expedition to the States: the Americans quickly warmed to him resulting in frequent return trips to venues in: Chicago, Detroit, Washington, San Francisco, LA, Toronto, Seattle, and also throughout Canada. The US expeditions ran concurrently with dates in the UK and Europe; Billy had become especially popular in Holland by this stage and was voted second most popular international DJ there in 1998.
In May 2000, Tortured released The Torture Chamber, Billy’s third mix CD, which showcased the label’s high-quality output. It was the first instalment in a series of Torture Chamber mixes and, two years later, the second volume followed: Slovenian DJ Umek contributed a three turntable mix-up of incredible intensity that perfectly demonstrated his jaw-dropping deck skills.
Umek also had the honour of launching Tortured’s sister label, Electrix. Electrix was established with the proviso of pushing boundaries and putting out “experimental electronica – encompassing everything from Maurizio-style dubby tracks through to straight-up, dancefloor-oriented 808 workouts”. The label quickly proved popular and is now regarded as one of the UK’s finest for dancefloor electro with support consistently forthcoming from Dave Clarke, Laurent Garnier, Andrew Weatherall and Freddie Fresh. Electrix was also a more natural home for album projects than Tortured and long-players from both Transparent Sound and The Advent now reside amidst a back-catalogue approaching 20 single releases in length.
In order to demonstrate his long-standing involvement with electro, Billy compiled his favourite electro tracks for his fifth mix CD, BN02, which was released on the trustthedj.com label in 2002; the first volume, BN01, which concentrated on techno, preceeded it.
The third of Billy’s labels, Painkillers, was established in 2002 – it acts as an outlet for remixes of tracks previously released on Tortured. The first release featured a Ben Sims remix of Ben Long’s Imperial Leather, as well as two Oliver Ho re-works of Umek tracks (recorded under his Mumps guise). Billy is currently working on releases two and three.
Four years after Billy’s first successful tour of the States, his deck skills took him even further afield: he has made several visits to Brazil and Columbia, both of whom have burgeoning techno scenes that proved a real inspiration, as well as an Australian expedition that took in Singapore’s world-renowned Zouk club on the way.
2003 saw Billy look to establish Tortured as more than just a label with parties held under the Tortured banner worldwide: the first took place at the Miami WMC, followed by a session at New York’s Arc. The label also hosted tents at the Impulse and Dance Valley festivals in Holland.
Now in 2004, with Tortured and Electrix both well established, and after nearly fourteen years as a professional DJ, Billy can boast a diary busier than ever before. He continues to turn his back on the cash-lined path, preferring instead to play for appreciative, knowledgable crowds worldwide.
- Journeys By DJ - Billy Nasty Mix, CD (Moonshine)
- Journeys By DJ Volume 1: In The Mix With Billy Nasty, CD (Music Unites)
- Zoom Progressive House - Volume 1, CD
- Flux Trax 02, Cassette (EXP Recordings)
- The Torture Chamber, CD (Tortured Records)
- BN01, CD (Trust The DJ)
- BN02, CD (Trust The DJ)
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