It has been four years since ground-breaking DJ Nick Luscombe began hosting the Sunday evening XFM radio show, “Flo-Motion” a focus for cutting edge electronic music from around the world. His programme and DJ sets, including a residency at London’s ICA and appearances at Big Chill, vary from minimal house and techno to textural grooves. In addition to DJing Luscombe also runs the London- and Tokyo-based record label Bambola.
Flo-Motion is a focus for atmospheric and leftfield club sounds across a wide musical spectrum including deep house, jazz, dub and techno. Airing for more than four years it has gained a loyal and increasing listenership from London, the UK and around the world via its webcast. Flo-Motion has since spawned its own regular club nights at respected venues such as London’s Cargo, 93 Ft East and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Guests at these nights have included Manitoba, Murcof, Pilote, Seelenluft and Tom Middleton. Luscombe is also a regular DJ/presenter on a number of in-flight radio channels including Swiss International, British Midland and Singapore Airlines.
During the last few years Luscombe has DJd at various parties and regular nights in London, Europe and Japan. Equally at home playing to large outdoor crowds (such as during his DJ support for Royksopp on the main stage of last year’s Big Chill), or at smaller more leftfield club events, Nick’s DJ sets manage to totally lift an audience with his mix of deep house, techno, drum and bass and jazz.
Luscombe has compiled and produced a number of albums of modern electronica including the popular “Flo-Motion” CD and has recently created the Bambola Recordings imprint. Nick also writes music articles for various British and Japanese magazines, and is increasing asked to contribute record sleeve comments and sleeve notes.
MundoVibes: What were your early musical influences? How have your tastes in music evolved?
Nick Luscombe: When I was very young I would enjoy playing my parent’s records – mainly 60’s pop 7″ singles.The record that had the biggest effect on me at the time was “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. Those strings just got me hooked!
When I was old enough to buy my own records the very first single I bought was “From Here to Eternity” by Giorgio Moroder. I still have it, and still like it! I went on to develop a taste in all things electronic, whilst also getting into records such as Love’s “Forever Changes”, the Byrds and the Velvet Underground. As I grew older my musical horizons kept on growing wider to take in jazz, drum n bass and funk.
MV: At what point did you become interested in radio and how did you become involved?
NL: I always loved radio, and would avidly tape my favourite shows from a young age. I started working in radio for the BBC as a sound engineer, whilst at the same time being in bands and djing. I had no idea that one day I would actually be presenting radio! I started by presenting a show for one of Swissair’s audio channels, playing a fusion of electronic downtempo sounds, jazz and techno. After a few years I was given the opportunity to do the same show for the London based FM station XFM. My show, Flo-Motion, has been on air live every Sunday for the past 4 years.
MV: What are some of the radio shows or radio hosts that have influenced you?
NL: Without doubt John Peel was my biggest influence. He totally opened up my mind at quite a yound age. before that, when I was very young, I loved the sound of the BBC Radio 2 Orchestra – the lushest strings playing pop songs of the day.
MV: What is your opinion of radio today — what is its role now as new technologies have emerged?
NL: I think radio has become a very powerful and positive force, generally for good. It’s future looks very good I think, and can only be better for the moves into new technology like Digital radio and via the internet. There is still a lot to be said for people to actually programme and present music shows – it’s kind of an old fashioned concept, in the age of i-tunes, but I think it’s that human touch that will always draw people in.
MV: Your radio program, Flo-Motion, is known for its open-minded approach to programming. What is the philosophy that ties the music together?
NL: I am so lucky to be able to have chosen all the music that I play on the show since it started back in 2000. As my musical directions have developed and subtly changed since the beginning, the radio show has had to go with it! I think because my tastes are so wide ranging that it helps for an open minded policy to the show’s programming.
MV: What types of music do you program for Flo-Motion and how do you find it?
NL: The music on Flo-Motion varies from Detriot techno to jazz, from broken beats to more experimental forms of club music. I find a lot through the internet, going to record shops and via my letter box!
MV: There are a lot of DJs that could never be radio progammers. What makes a good radio show?
NL: For me a good radio show is one that draws you in, giving a totally immersive audio experience, with real human qualities like humour and warmth.
MV: Does having any international listenership via the web change how you program music?
NL: I always assume that there is just one listener and that he or she could be anywhere on the planet! It doesn’t affect what I program at all, but mostly the music on the shows is very international anyway.
MV: How do you forsee radio in the future?
NL: I think it will become more important thanks to technology. Digital radio is starting to pick up strongly in the UK which means that so called specialist shows like Flo-Motion are nationally available. That will cause other networks to compete with similar programming, which would in turn help to further support artists and labels working in that particular field.
MV: What is your approach to DJing in a club environment, as opposed to radio?
NL: I try to combine some of the elements of the radio show in my club DJ sets, but tend to focus more on music that makes people dance, so will play a lot more latin, jazz funk, disco and occasionally, a little grime and drum n bass too too!!
MV: Are there any types of music that you avoid — that we will never hear you spin?
NL: Hmmm….. possibly I won’t be playing Heavy Metal, although I did see some pretty amazing Death Metal act in Norway earlier this year that was amazing!! (so you never know!!)
MV: Do you feel that people are more open-minded in their listening habits today or are their very narrow in what they listen to?
NL: Generally people are very open minded I think, much more than before. I think this is partly due to the availablity and ease of sourcing all kinds of music, with things like internet shopping for example.
MV: How do people react to the music that you play?
NL: It’s very encouraging for me that when I do get feedback from listeners that it is pretty much always positive! I guess if people don’t like it, they don’t listen…..
MV: Do you feel that you have a responsibility as a DJ and radio programmer to push the limits and open people’s ears to new sounds?
NL: Yes for sure. But gradually and with subtlety. I like the idea of playing new music in an environment of familiar sounds rather than a sonic assault! Again it’s about being drawn in and being taken to places that you weren’t expecting you’d like.
MV: How do you select the music for your compilations? Please tell us about the compilations you have worked on so far.
NL: I have selected for 4 compilations so far. One was a compilation of Japanese club music for Swissair called “Desination Tokyo”. This involved spending a week in Tokyo and Kyoto, meeting with labels and artists and then sitting down with hundreds of CDs on my return, and sifting to find the bext tracks! The next was another Japanese collection for my label Bambola Recordings. I used the same methods to choose tracks. I have also released Flo-Motion Volume 1 via Kudos Records, and The Sky Diaries on Exceptional, which was a mix CD featuring the music from the now deleted 12″ series.
I am currently working on Flo-Motion Volume 2, to be released April 2005.
MV: What are some of the trends in music that are most interesting to you?
NL: I love the fact that the live element is very important again. I love the way that electronic music makers have become much more about live shows with full bands.
MV: What do you enjoy most about programming music? What are the greatest challenges?
NL: It’s amazing to me to be able to hear so much great music on a daily basis. I feel very honoured to be in that position. The challenge is to try and listen to everything I get sent – I don’t wanna miss that classic, great track hidden away as track 5 on an unmarked CD-R!!!
MV: What plans do you have for future projects?
NL: Lot’s more records coming out on my Bambola Recordings label in 2005 from Maki Mannami, Isa and Lopp vs Sista Widey.
Working on Flo-Motion Volume 2 as I mentioned. Also producing and recording with my band which I wanna see playing gigs in 2005!
XFM Flo-motion Sundays 9pm to Midnight in London on 104.9FM, throughout the UK via Sky Digital 864 and worldwide on the internet at www.xfm.co.uk.