Nightmares on Wax is a pioneer in the cross between soul and the ever-evolving genre of trip-hop.
His career, one that has spanned close to 30 years of mixing, mastering and recording music for the masses, has seen a lot of places – and people. Perhaps the best part of his job is the amount of travel that leads to the constant introduction to all walks of life that appear no different from the rest of us – although in some cases we’re told the opposite.
It’s the latter notion that sparked the impetus of his latest album Shape the Future, packed with sleek and sleepy vibes than you’d normally hear from preceding albums, but delivering a strong message of consciousness for the world and the ever-evolving ecosystem it hosts. NoW, (real name George Evelyn) has embarked on a North American tour off the heels of a widely successful UK jaunt promoting Shape the Future. One of his first stops was earlier this month playing a sold-out set inside Underground Arts.
But a recent conversation with PW was less about his stop in Philly and his North American tour, but a deep dive into the big picture that served as fuel for Shape the Future. A picture that conveyed just how many of us he feels are allowing the news around us to play us all like puppets on a proverbial string.
How was your show in Philly?
It was good fun, man, it was a little hot in there but it was fun. The crowd was great, loved the response [to the new album] from the folks there in Philly. The vibe and energy was good, the sound was a bit difficult, but it all turned out OK and I had a blast.
You had a very successful tour in the UK promoting Shape the Future, what are you hoping the takeaway is from the show here in the States?
I think the record really speaks for itself to be honest with you, for me, it’s about sharing what I feel … it’s about relationships, not just with each other but with an overall outlook on the world, and how you look at yourself. It’s about connection. How we look at what’s around us, and how we interact with it. Not just people, but our world, our ecosystems, animals, plants all of it, know what I mean?
Where would you say that Shape the Future ranks across all the stuff you’ve released dating back to your debut album in 1991?
[Laughs], you aging me here a bit, huh? No, I think all of my albums are really a part of my evolution, really. I don’t at any of it as a comparison, per se that’s just not how I make music, but instead to me my albums are a reflection of where I am at personally, and it’s really what’s around me or what I’m feeling that I want to express. Each album is a different part of my life and my evolution as a person and as a musician.
Shape the Future focuses a lot having consciousness, especially climate consciousness. It seems to be a trend in the aftermath of some notable world events and political changes to have taken place, that we’re finding more musicians using their music as a soundboard. How much did that play in the production of STF?
Records should always be a response or reaction, obviously we’ve seen a lot has changed in our society and I believe songs should reflect that. Soul has never really been a style of music, soul is an expression and a response … if you look at music history, you can see that during the most trying times, that’s when we’ve had some of the best music reflect what was going on. I wanted to show that everyone makes up their own reality, but also that reality is being manipulated by the mainstream media in such a way that people start to believe – and fear – what they see and hear. Fear creates more fear. I’ve gone around the world, and the narrative I’ve witnessed is something completely different. We need to stop being so damn immersed in what we’re being told and go out and experience life itself. It’s the only way to truly connect on a physical level and on an emotional level with the world around you and the people in it.
What do you believe is happening now?
People listen to the mainstream media and all they are hearing are fragments of stories and not getting the real picture. Now, based on that fragment, you’re being told to believe that things are a certain way or that this is how people of a certain makeup act, and that’s just not the case. It just breeds negativity and doubt, and the media feeds on that to write their reports, you know? There’s always an agenda. Always. It’s information that is made to force people to think of others and their world a certain way, but I’ve traveled all over the world and I don’t see that. I see that everybody wants the same thing, which is to feel valued and respected, be able to provide for their families and live a long life. So why is that never the narrative when you turn on the TV or read something? And that’s really what inspired me to make this record, you know?
Let’s stick with that. Given your line of work and the nature of it, knowing so many different personalities and knowing that there’s a similar goal, does it still arrive with some shock that the division of people in this current climate is as bad as it is?
I think the close-mindedness and the division comes from the hypnotism of the information that’s spread, you know? We’ve got different generations living at the same time with different mindsets and some of those generations believe in the shit they’ve been told and now you have younger generations that question it and even younger generations that are oblivious to it. To me, if you have that information and you choose to not question it to see how much of it is truth and how much of it is utter bullshit, then you’ve already lost. It’s so easy to believe something and then complain about it, but complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. We’re not fed to learn about the constructs around us as situations that we would want, but it’s always situations we don’t want. It’s always, ‘this person is a threat to you, or this thing is a threat,’ and as long as you’re made to believe it, then why would you ever question it? As long as you’re in that space of fear and space of lacking thereof, you can be manipulated. Sadly, I think we’re seeing that more and more in our everyday and to be it’s sad, but inspiration for the evolution of my music at the same time.
So what’s the solve?
Care. Care to find out about the people and things around you. Ask questions, get to know someone or something and stop listening to the fucking boxman [television reporter]. If you do that, you’d learn about other situations and how to care for your climate and you won’t be so easily manipulated. It’s about the facts that determines an energy exchange. What are you getting out of what you’re taking in? Is it good energy or is it bad? And if it’s the latter, perhaps you need to consider opening your mind.