Nathan Gregory Wilkins: "Weekends are perhaps a little more for the amateurs"
Nathan Gregory Wilkins might not be topping the charts round the world but he’s definitely more of a DJ than most of the people in these charts. He’s as at home in the most obscure and interesting parties in London as he is in fashion events round the world. He’s also a close mate of Ivan Smagghe - and the friendship has been broadcasted on NTS Radio since earlier this year.
Right before his Monday randez-vouz in Vilnius I chatted with Nathan Gregory Wilkins about his two decades of music and different forms of his profession. Meet him tonight in Vasaros terasa.
It took a lot of years for you to finally get on the radio! Why only now, why with Ivan? How is the show doing?
Nobody had ever asked me before! Ivan and I have been close friends since the mid 90's, we have very similar tastes (sometimes) in music and even more importantly we have a very similar sense of humour. NTS approached Ivan and he asked me to do it with him because as he thought it would be fun doing it as a duo. And it has indeed turned out to be lots of fun. We just found out that ours is one of the most popular shows on the station which was a lovely surprise.
Which musical - and, obviously, historical - epoch is the most appealing to you; where would you like to time travel of you had the chance to?
It's a dreadful cliche but I guess late 70's / early 80's New York for the fascinating cross pollination of hip hop, disco and new wave.
How big is your record collection? When and how did it start? Are you a digger that could trace a record for months and pay enormous amounts for it? What sorts of music prevail in your catalogue?
I have never counted how many. I have run out of space though. I started buying records when I was 10 years old (the first album I actually bought with my own pocket money was Juju by Siouxsie & The Banshees). I do still occasionally spend a lot of money on one record but generally I have my addiction under control, although I do buy music pretty much everyday of the week in one form or another. I'm not sure if any style prevails to be honest.
Is there a certain sound, instrument or vibe that you tend to look for when deciding whether you like an artist or a certain release? 
No, I'm very open minded.
What was the reason behind establishing History Clock? I must say all of the releases are marvellous and pretty different from each other - is that a logical decision in order not to become predictable?
The whole thing was a flight of fancy. There was never any grand plan. It was all a time travelling accident. Me and Jonny Burnip (the other half of History Clock AKA Capracara) are just about to start making music together again for the first time in a couple of years. We're quite excited.
Discogs reveal your production side as well. Not too much of that, though. Why so?
Because I'm shy.
What about Cowboy Rhythmbox - was it only a one-hit-wonder? Hehe...
Oh no. There is new stuff ready to come out. There will be a new single out in a few months time. We're just about to sign with quite a well established record label, I can't say who just yet as we've not signed contracts yet - we've shaken hands though.
What was the most inspiring person you’ve met during your career?
This is a very long list. And I wouldn't want to write it in case I forgot to include somebody important. But needless to say Ivan has been a constant source of inspiration and amusement since we met. Likewise Mo Morris (of Mountain Of One fame). There are lots lots more….
You’ll be playing in Vilnius on Monday. Are weekdays your cup of tea, or do you prefer good old Friday night?
I love parties in the week. Many of the best parties in London used to happen in the week, although this changed a few years ago (no idea why). Weekends are perhaps a little more for the amateurs.
Do you ever agree to DJ just because you badly need the money? What was the weirdest event you had to play in?
I have done those gigs yes. But not for a long time. The weirdest event I ever played at was a thing called Baby Disco at the the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. It was a disco for children from around the age of 3 - 8, in a tiny shiny red padded room. I played very strange records, and the kids ate sweets, drank fizzy pop and got very over excited. It was organised my Marc Jacobs so the children mothers were generally quite well-to-do and rather attractive. It was fun. I can remember playing The Poor People Of Paris by The Goons and being overwhelmed by the absurdity of what I was doing.
And what was the most pleasant booking ever?
Actually two spring to mind. The opening of the Prada shop in Tokyo. And a couple of parties in Rio, one for Mario Testino and one for Calvin Klein. Two truly excellent cities to spend some time in.
Tell me about the Tropical Hot Dog parties. I’ve only read the fact that they existed and that they were invite-only. Why this concept?
They were something that myself and Mo Morris came up with. Guest list only / free entry. We'd tricked an alcohol brand into sponsoring us. To be honest I don't remember much about them. I can remember Thomas Bullock (one of my favourite DJ's) playing at one, that was fun.
Do you think the right (or wrong!) music can help perceive fashion in a different angle?
Of course. And I cannot believe how many people get it so very wrong. The majority of people in the industry want everything to be so obvious these days.
Have designers ever rejected or changed your music proposals for their show?
More times than I can remember. And now with iTunes, Youtube etc. everybody is a "music expert". So these days I only work with people that I have a connection with.
Which of the fashion labels you’ve worked with appeals the most to you personally? 
I've been doing parties for Prada / Miu Miu for 16 years, the first party I did in 1998 was at the Oscar Niemeyer designed Communist Party Headquarters in Paris (an amazing venue), and then I did one earlier this month at the Chiltern Firehouse in London. Their parties are always the fantastic, the attention to detail is second to none. I do the show music for Marc by Marc Jacobs with my friend Steve Mackey (Pulp's bass guitarist), that's fun as we're working with Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley who we've both known forever. In London I also work with 1025 and SIbling, I get on really well with both of them so it's always a pleasure, never a chore. All of the people that I work with in fashion these days are actually really interested in music.
Some might say DJing in private parties is selling out.
Well I never play records that I don't like. I generally just play a slightly more obvious selection at a private fashion party. I think that's fine.
Being a culture for a few decades, DJing is still seen as something „not too serious“ by mass media and people who „listen to real music“ and „go to real concerts“. Should something be done about that, or is it fun to stay in the shadow and not to be overexposed?
I cannot speak for anybody else but I'm more than happy skulking around in the shadows.
D.D. 2004 - 2016
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