[Interview] NickFRESH Dives Into His Family History In Media And SOSMP's Beauty
Cover Photo: Cathy Gloria
Now let me just say right off the bat, NickFRESH is eclectic and radiating with confidence. He and I chatted about music and exchanged many laughs. As the conversation flowed we had bursts of positivity and the idea of spreading love through passion and music.
When did you first start DJing?
I started DJing when I was seven.
Wow! Can you tell us more about?
Yeah! I come from a media based family. My grandfather owned a few radio stations up in Buffalo, including the first black owned/black ran radio station, WUFO AM. It spawned a lot of legends in the field. He ended up acquiring a radio station. He had a choice of either going to Iowa, or Nebraska, or Jacksonville. He chose Jacksonville to take care of this new radio station and because of that the rest of the family moved here.
There were five kids. My mom was basically the only one who followed in his footsteps and she ended up in radio. She was the first live on-air mixing DJ in the city, that was back in 1982. So with that, 10 years later I’m going through some of her old tapes. The show was called Street Sounds. It was on WPDQ-AM. I was going through some of those tapes, after school one day. I was already into music as it was. After pestering her, I should say, I ended up learning the basics from her. And then it just kinda snowballed into not only the classical piano music theory training that I was getting, it also snowballed into me DJing like an hour or two a day for practice and everything.
Wow, there’s a lot of family history there!
There is a lot of family history there. That’s even the condensed version, but yeah it started with my mom.
Are you excited to play at Purple Hatter’s?
I’m very excited! First of all, Suwannee is probably one of the most peaceful places in the world.
I’m telling you I just love that area and I love everything that happens there. Every time I’ve been there it’s always been very positive.
And Purple Hatter’s, to even be asked to play Purple Hatter’s, as it’s been around for such a long time. I mean, ten years! It’s an institution now. It’s right up my alley. I’m into funk. I’m into soul. I’m into jazz. fusion. All of that. So to be a part of that is, just amazing.
Is there anything more you can tell us about playing at Purple Hatter’s?
Well, it will be the first experience for me. I know I am playing at 1:45 at the Beach stage. I am looking forward to seeing some of the great bands there and camping out one of the days. Just really enjoying the people and the weather. Should be great!
I’m looking forward to Zoogma too. Hopefully, I will be able to see them.
It’s going to be cool. The Beach stage is a nice spot.
It’s so rad! I’m telling you. It’s like every time I go to Suwannee all of the stress that I’ve had in Jacksonville and regular life just goes away. Drive to Live Oak. You see the Spanish moss flying in the trees and you get closer and closer to the front of the park and it just feels like all of those burdens have been laid down and you’re able just to be free for a little while and enjoy good music. I mean that’s the guarantee. You’re going to go to Suwannee and you’re going to have good music. And maybe a good basket of fries, if you’re into that kind of stuff.
It’s one of my favorite places. I’ve gone to other festivals before and just never had that same feeling.
Right! It’s down home but also about family. Even with the last events, I’ve had to do, thanks to Vladimir Yakovlevich Kulishevskiy and Trey Hebron. Honestly, if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have been to Suwannee any earlier. They were always talking about how great it was. Then they gave me an opportunity to be there. Then I basically got a chance, firsthand to see it. That was a couple of years ago. I’ve always been involved with Reunion. Of course, it’s not the coolest time of the year. It’s crazy hot, the humidity doesn’t let up, but at the same rate, it’s like a very familial vibe. Everybody is just there, people knew each other, knew you more or less, maybe there’s a degree of separation to you, and it’s nice. It’s just nice.
Even when I did AURA, in fact, that was the first fest that I did, everybody was kind of the same way. None of us really knew each other, but it was still just beautiful. Everybody was just there to have a good time. Period. That was it. No fighting. No drama. No hostility. It was just great. I’m telling you it’s damn near Utopia. Really. It really is.
You’re a very positive person!
You gotta be! You gotta be. I don’t want this to turn into Barbara Walters or anything but I’ve been through a lot in my life. I lost my dad eleven months ago.
Even on his deathbed, I was his caretaker along with my mother. More or less, my father always quoted Gandhi, in this regard, "You always want to be the change that you want to see in the world."
So, I try to take that to heart. I try to live good. Try to live righteously. Not be two faced and shady or anything like that.
How do you feel about Doowutchyalike ending? And do you think it’ll make a comeback?
[Breaks out into long laughter] Wasn’t ready for that question, Annabel!
You know "all good things must come to an end," or the other saying, "good things don’t last forever?"
I was there for seven years. The night went on for twelve. Cameron Gregory, him and I, we did it for those seven years. I must say that we were fortunate. We were in a position where people were coming to us. We were taste makers for the city of Gainesville. I think it was an incredible place to be. A lot of things don’t last forever…
Can you tell us more about The Looseness?
The Looseness is a weekly radio show, that I’ve pretty much put together. It’s on 927thebeat.com. It airs 9 am, noon, 5 pm, and 8 pm. It’s the same show every week, but it airs different times of the day and also on The Sound Of Duval app. Pretty much what I see it as is the other world of dance and soul and hip-hop and everything. A lot of danceable music. It’s also more or less what I envisioned myself doing outside of nightclubs. Of course, you’re in the moment when you’re working weekly residencies, so you’re not really necessarily playing the things you want to play. You want to keep people there, drinking and having a good time.
The Looseness is the idea of what NickFRESH is but without fewer restraints. We have everything from top 40 to trap and bass and juke, even gospel, even if it was Chinese country and it was good and danceable, I would even try to play that too. It’s just great vibes all around. The reception from The Looseness has been very great! It’s also for the people who aren’t in the Jacksonville or Gainesville area anymore if they can’t come out to one of my events or anything of that nature, they have The Looseness. Again, I’m just very thankful for the reception and people actually paying attention to it.
What other festivals and gigs do you have lined up?
We will be doing the RollerJam in the next couple of months.
Is there anything else you want your fans to know?
Don’t be afraid of music that you don’t know, because you never know what will be your favorite. Really the bottom line is: I’m just thankful. I’m telling you to be able to command my living this way and do something that I love doing.
You can find Nick slinging mixes at Purple Hatter’s Ball Beach Stage. PHB just released their full schedule and their BYOB 10th Anniversary Potluck Celebration that will be happening on Sunday after the music festivities are over. They encourage guests to bring their own dish or donate to The Rachel Morningstar Foundation. Don't forget to purchase your ticket!