When the Road Gold tour hit Ottawa, bywardofmouth had a chance to talk with Nick Catchdubs about life on the road, the Canadian music scene, his record label and more. Check out the video and read the full transcript of our conversation.
Bywardofmouth: Where has the Road Gold tour taken you so far?
Nick Catchdubs: It’s a bit of an experimental tour, like different combinations of artists in each city. You know, do a chunk one weekend, do a chunk another weekend, and then one more to finish it off. Started out this week in L.A. with Just Blaze, me and Kid Sister… it was crazy. Went up to Montreal yesterday with L.A. Riots, Nacho Lovers and myself. I get to sorta be the glue for these different dates… and then tonight, here in Ottawa, with Telephoned who’s on right now, I played before them. Then Jokers of the Scene, hometown heroes, coming back to close it out. It’s good man! Tomorrow it’s Toronto with me and Karma Rock. It’s nice to get the whole family involved with different dates. We’ve always treated Fool’s Gold as more than just a regular label or like… A-Trak & Friends. It’s meant to be this movement of a bunch of different artists and a bunch of different styles and under the Fool’s Gold banner it all makes sense.
B.O.M: For those that don’t know, how did you meet up with A-Trak, and after that, how did you guys come up with the label “Fool’s Gold“?
N.C: We just became friends through DJ’ing. We both had kinda crazy day jobs – his day job was working for Kanye West, mine was being an editor at The Fader, meanwhile we’d go off and do our own thing to play parties. Then we realized that the stuff we really liked, the stuff that our friends and peers were making – there wasn’t a home for them. It’s like, if there was a cool, sorta weird record on a major label, it would get lost. It wouldn’t get the support it needed. So we were just like, let’s make a home for all this cool stuff that we like. Who’s gonna do a better job promoting it to the world than we are? It was really born out of our own desire to see something cool done properly, as opposed to something cool being shot out into the world randomly, without any context. Fool’s Gold has kind of become the housekeeping seal of approval. You see the logo and you know that even if it’s not your thing or your personal taste, you can at least respect it. It’s coming from a place that really respects artistry, creativity and doing something different.
B.O.M: You mentioned working at The Fader. Can you explain your role and what that entitled?
N.C: I never set out to be a writer. In DJ’ing I would get weird opportunities to, you know, write a review for something. What was cool about Fader was that they didn’t want somebody who just sat on the internet all day. They wanted someone who was out living this musical lifestyle. They wanted somebody who was at clubs, somebody who was at shows, somebody who wasn’t just a passive observer. So that’s how the Fader thing came about – they asked me to do interviews, they liked what I turned in and it just sort of snowballed into this weird, interesting job. When you’re a DJ, if DJ is all you do, you go to the club and you sleep late. If you wanna do other shit, there’s a lot of other opportunities that DJ’ing can afford you. I feel like it’s one of those roles where you’re a curator. You’re taking music and presenting it in a way that gives it total context. That’s what a magazine does. It’s not this quantum leap from one to the other. That’s what Fool’s Gold became.
B.O.M: So you’ve been to Canada before. What is the Canadian experience like for you?
N.C: The cool thing about Canada is that there is a lot of homegrown talent. I feel like the rest of the world doesn’t always recognize how much stuff comes direct from Canada, wether it’s producers or artists. It’s kind of crazy now to see Drake, maybe one of the biggest new stars in the entire world. It’s cool to see Chromeo become this huge festival act. They represent Canada in a subtle way but that’s their thing, that’s where they’re from. So for me, coming into Canada was always a very welcoming place for music, period. All these cities have their own little pockets of talent. It wasn’t like going out into the wilderness. You would go to Ottawa and Jokers of the Scene live here, you know what I mean? They were pioneers in breaking new sounds to Ottawa, like Nacho Lovers are doing in Toronto. A-Trak obviously Montreal, from the rap and turntable hip-hop stuff to the electronic stuff that he does now. Every city in Canada has its own little scene of artists. It changes over the years. What’s cool to me is seeing the young kids coming up, the new generation of artists. It’s great for me because I could DJ forever. I’m more than happy to be the 50 year old dude in the club, you know. It’s always nice to see new talent.
B.O.M: Specifically and personally, what are your plans after the tour? What can we expect from you?
N.C: This is a crazy time of year because I have my own personal DJ stuff. I do a party in Brooklyn called Flashing Lights, I travel all over the place, Vegas next week. For the label, we got a lot of records we’re putting the finishing touches on. It’s about to be festival season. It’s about to be SxSW, where every year we come in and do a showcase. We present new artists to unsuspecting audiences. We got a captive audience down there and it’s like, let’s freak them out, let’s throw some new stuff into the mix. Miami, you know, Miami Music Week, we’re all going to be down there. At Coachella.. Duck Sauce, Chromeo, A-Trak.. it’s a family affair down there.
I’m working on my own solo music. I kinda want to take my time. I’m not the fastest producer so let me just hone it and get it good. I don’t wanna be the dude who’s a good DJ and then you put out a record that’s half-assed. Let me make my shit something that I can be proud of, something that the label can be proud of. I’m excited to do that this year.
B.O.M: Can you explain your signature club set? If I were to come to New York, what could I expect?
N.C: I came up DJ’ing apprenticing under guys who were consummate club DJs, wether they’re playing a rock club for some tight-jean rock kids, or the grimy hood-ass hip-hop party. I was always trying to be the best at all these different styles. I’m still trying to do that. I’m sort of a chameleon DJ-wise. For something like tonight where it’s Fool’s Gold and anything goes, I played hip-hop stuff, I played disco-house, I played more like, 11 o’clock techno, you know what I mean? You can’t just throw bangers right at the start of the night. It depends on the party. I do Flashing Lights in Brooklyn and it’s a lot more ravey.. it’s electronic music of all stripes. When I get booked to open for shows, like I opened for Lil’ B in New York, Odd Future, all these sort of, new rap artists. You gotta play what makes sense for that show. If you got a bunch of 18 year old kids wanting to wild out to some hip-hop shit, you play Wacka Flocka and you bring it back and you drop the gunshot effect and people go crazy. You gotta do what you gotta do for the night.
B.O.M: You mentioned you opened for Lil’ B. How is it working with that guy?
N.C: The crazy thing about Lil’ B is I DJed his first show in New York when he was with The Pack, when he was like 16 years old and these kids had never been to New York before. They came to play my radio show at Fader. To do the Lil’ B show now, when he’s like this crazy, internet into real-life phenomenon.. it wasn’t a huge stretch. He has a cult following. We’re going to do a record with him on Fool’s Gold and it’s sort of a struggle.. like how do you translate the weirdness with something that is maybe a little more accessible. It’s like, he’s a controversial figure in rap music right now. That’s what’s cool to me and A-Trak.. we want to be able to present all these different perspectives on music. We like the true-school shit as much as anybody else, I mean, that’s what we grew up on. We also like the weirdo freak shit because that’s the most exciting stuff that’s out. For us, it’s like how do you put out some music that will be timeless. I don’t wanna be some trendy shit. We have a really amazing track record so far. So now with Lil’ B, he’s the hyped up dude right now. How do we translate what makes him appealing now with some shit that you can still listen to 5 years, 10 years down the line? So it’s cool. We’re picking tracks that we like. We have one of his songs on a Fool’s Gold compilation that came out. It’s a really fresh time for music right now and I’m excited to be able to help promote it in many different ways with the label.
B.O.M: What can you tell me about the Odd Future gig? What was that like?
N.C: That was funny because it’s the same thing with Lil’ B or almost any concert for a new artist in New York. You have a circle right around the stage of super hype kids that know every word. For Lil’ B, they come with their spatulas and do the cooking dance. For Odd Future, they fucking start a mosh-pit. Then around that circle you have the grumpy dudes, the critic dudes, you know.. arms folded like “what am I gonna write on my blog tonight”. Behind that you have the industry guys that work at a record label that might not even care about the music. They might not have any interest in signing this artist but they need to be able to report to their boss like “I saw this thing and the kids are into it”.
It’s a strange dynamic in New York and it’s the same things in L.A. or any city where there’s a music industry there. When you’re DJ’ing you’re not worried about the shit on the peripheral. I’m not trying to play records that dude’s gonna put in his review. I’m trying to make the kids at the very front… fight each other, you know what I mean? I’m trying to make the kids really wild out and whatever does it, does it. The crazy thing about Odd Future was that the hypest song of the night was Lil’ B. “Lil’ B Looks Like Jesus” had the guys from Odd Future running out on stage, dancing like it was their own record.
It’s cool to see a visceral reaction to music. People try to be detached about all that shit. They try to be too-cool for everything. So when somebody’s like “fuck that, I’m not too cool for everything. This is my song, I love it, I’m gonna go crazy and foam at the mouth for this shit.” That’s the most exciting time to be a DJ. I didn’t make this my job to just be passive about it. I made it because there’s something really special about the feeling you get when you make a crowd go crazy. I’m chasing that. I’m a crackhead and that’s what I’m chasing.