The third instalment of the Half-Lights mix series comes from Nick Cubley. Nick is from Newcastle and co-runs, with a collective of DJ's, his Seekmagic parties: offering a balearic and left of centre sound to the City. The mix he has provided for Half-Lights illustrates a man who knows his heritage just as much as what makes a great sounding record. He talks about the city of Newcastle, market digging and references the many friends that have helped him along the way throughout his years. The old adage of always checking the b side runs true on the mix as he plays the b-side of 'Paul Hardcastle's - '19' a track called 'Dolores' which is really something quite brilliant. I've had '19' on vinyl for a number of years, never checking the b side out. So thanks for that one too.
- Lakis Zois - Maria and George
- Hajime Mizogochi - The Giraffe and The Moon
- Dancing Fantasy - Riders On The Storm
- Frank Harris & Maria Marquez - Loveroom
- Tulio De Piscopo - Silva Male
- Eddy le Vin - Escale tropicale
- Flaming Bess - Cron Endor
- Rosita Celantano - Dal Tuo Sguardo in Poi (Instrumental)
- Lucio Dalla - Noi Come Voi
- Takanaka - 'Illusion
- Paul Hardcastle - Dolores
- Moondata - Let The Moonshine In (Dub)
- The Dream Academy - Love Parade
What are your first memories of music in your life and what was the first record you bought?
I grew up in Southport, a small seaside town just north of Liverpool so it won’t come as a surprise to discover that The Beatles were my first musical memory. I remember my dad playing ‘Penny Lane’ on 8 track cartridge in his car on the way to dropping me at school in the mid seventies. I have an older sister and brother so they were also into music, prog rock stuff like Floyd & Genesis. I probably bought my first record a few years later. I remember buying Art Garfunkel’s ‘Bright Eyes’ on the same day as Sex Pistols ‘Somethin’ Else’, which I bought because it had a rude song on the b-side.
When did you first start buying records to DJ with? Where was your first DJ gig?
I’ve always loved records and music and Seekmagic began life as a blog in about 2006 – mainly as a vehicle for me to share my latest discoveries and I soon began to make mixtapes which I started putting up on the blog and people seemed to like them. One of my good friends Jeff O’Toole was running a successful monthly night at a great little bar in Chorlton called Jam St under the ‘Eighty Six’ banner with his two mates TC & Jif. They asked me to come and DJ with them as a guest one night and I had never really played out before so that was my first gig. I really enjoyed it and I remember TC encouraging me to try and start something in Newcastle. So I went home and rang Dave and that was that. We had a gig within a month.
Where are you most comfortable DJing?
We’ve been lucky enough to play at some great places up and down the country. Outlaws Yacht Club in Leeds is always really nice. Last week’s gig at All The Shapes was super comfortable too. Anywhere where the staff are nice helps. In Newcastle, Ernest and its sister venue Cobalt Studios are great because the owners care about music and they also like a good party! The Tanners is really unique too. I’m probably at my most comfortable in my new home set up where Danny & I record our monthly podcasts. We have a lot of fun doing them and I’ve got my set up sounding really nice now.
Newcastle always strikes me as a place where there are a lot of approachable people to chat too, I went up last year for a visit and I felt like I was talking to people all the time in the pubs and bars, what is the city like as a resident and how has it changed over the years?
I’ve lived in or around the city for 20 years now and I’m now bringing up my children here and it definitely is a friendly place. My kids think it’s a cool place to live. The music and DJ community is pretty close knit, everyone knows everyone else, mainly because it’s a small city and at times it feels like a village. I can’t say I’ve seen too many changes, they’re probably more noticeable to those who come and visit every few years. I still think that people from say Manchester think it’s a big city and we should have loads of places to play with lots of people flocking to see us, but it doesn’t really work that way. I think our music tastes are sometimes not what the punters want in Newcastle, but luckily there are some venues that do appreciate what we are trying to do with Seekmagic.
You have been flying the Balearic flag in Newcastle for many years now, what’s that like – how does it feel to be doing that in the city?
I’m not sure. I think the hardest thing is to try to describe our music to venues because it’s not house or techno, or soul or funk. It’s really hard to describe what we play. We have nice group of our friends who come and support us and a bit of word of mouth really. I do think we have stuck to our guns and we never really wavered from what we set out to do when we started.
What always strikes me in your music and selecting is your clear knowledge and digging abilities, your tracklists with your mixes are always rammed with records, artists and labels I have never heard of, particularly heritage music. Where does that come from and what jumps out at you when buying music?
I would say we are always trying to look beyond the obvious in Seekmagic. Danny and I are sharing stuff with each other on a daily basis and it just… evolves. I spend an unhealthy amount of time browsing countless YouTube channels! We send each other stuff all the time and as our tastes are pretty similar that’s normally really helpful, although obviously we don’t agree on everything. Dave plays a bit harder edged stuff which always works well when we are gigging. I get much more satisfaction from finding something obscure from 1976 than buying the latest release from Juno and I hope that comes across in the mix I’ve done for you.
Any buying tips or digging advice you can offer?
I find it difficult to do a huge amount of digging these days as I have a full time job, 2 kids and a dog that keep me pretty much rooted in Newcastle. But, you know, even last week I found a great Penguin Café Orchestra LP at Tynemouth market for £3 that I was over the moon with! I love finding stuff like that. I tend not to buy expensive records. I have a huge Ebay saved search list which helps. Patience is a virtue. There’s records I’ve wanted for years that one day I will find at a good price.
Do you collect anything specific from a certain artist, genre or label ?
I do love French records. My mum has lived over there for 15 years so I go to France a lot and I’ve travelled all over France. The flea markets are great if you’ve got time and I’ve taken a couple of punts on things that have been real keepers. As far as new stuff goes our friends at Aficionado Recordings keep the quality level high, I pretty much buy their stuff on sight. Also Music From Memory is a very special label in my opinion. Top quality.
Any record stores that are personal favourites? I haven’t bought records in Newcastle before, what record stores have made an impression on you in the City throughout the years?
My favourite record shop in Newcastle is 586 records, owned by my good friend Tony. It’s been a labour of love for him over the past few years and he’s built something special. It’s 3 floors up in a big old building so you have to know where you’re going but he sells allsorts – old, new, and the most important thing is it’s really reasonably priced and he will make you a cuppa and it’s a nice place just to hang out and have a blather. He will let me know when he gets something in that I might like or I’ve been after which is lovely. RPM is also a great shop, run by friendly people, I’ve been buying stuff there since the week I arrived in the city 20 years back. Apart from that there isn’t a huge amount of other places other than the markets which are pretty hit and miss. You can have a bit of luck every now and then.
What labels, record stores, blogs and producers new and old are you interested in?
I wouldn’t say I follow any labels. I will buy records from anywhere I can. I guess we are more influenced by people we meet, DJs and parties. As I said earlier, I love Aficionado and their whole ethos as a party has been pretty influential to us. It was great to finally play there last year and Richard and Jason are lovely people. Inkfolk in Hebden Bridge is an absolutely amazing party. Phil Mison has long been an influence on me personally, I think he’s such a fantastic DJ and has stuck true to his ideals. He happens to be hilarious as well! I really admire a lot of the European DJs like Chris Kontos, Troy Dean, Raphael Top Secret, Jamie Tiller, Tako & Abel.. I could go on.. I love that European sound. Saying that, I’m buying a lot of stuff from Japan these days too. I can blame Danny for that.
I really like the design aesthetic with Seekmagic, the art-work on your Tumblr and the flyers you produce are always excellent, who is behind that?
We’re lucky enough to have a few friends who have helped us out over the years. My friends Lee Bolton & James Carroll run a design agency here in Newcastle called TAC Design and they have done a lot of our posters which are always wonderful. I’m guessing that because we know each other so well it’s pretty easy to work out what the other will do. Also Stuart Daly who is a great DJ in his own right has done stuff for us too. I also do quite a bit myself, mainly based around photos that we use for the mixes.
Can you tell us a little about the mix, where it was recorded and what music is on it?
At the start of the year I converted the garage that is attached to the rear of my terrace house here in North Tyneside. We now have a nice bathroom and a music room down there. It’s worked out really well and as my family got bigger it was a necessity. So the mix was recorded in there, where we do the podcasts too. There was no real idea behind the mix but when I played it back I realised that the newest track on there was recorded in 1991. It got me to thinking about how I really prefer to find older records and avoid the latest stuff that I think in our genre tends to become overplayed. It’s a good cross section of European, Japanese & Brasilian records that have tickled my fancy lately. I hope it captures that sound and feeling that we all love. I had fun recording it.
Outside of music and DJing, what books/films/TV shows/interests do you have?
Most of my time outside of music is spent working. I run a support service for sensory impaired children. My kids keep me busy too, as they seem to have an amazing social life now. I also have a dog so I walk a lot, mainly on my own listening to music, which is a nice escape. I used to be an English teacher and I’m also married to one, so books are a big part of our lives. I love films too although always feel I don’t watch enough, probably because of all the other stuff I do.
Anything else you would like to mention ?
No, but thank you for inviting me to do this mix and blather on to you. I wish you well with the blog. It’s been a pleasure.