After an eight-year release hiatus, Bristol-based dance music pioneers Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff returned last year under their duo pseudonym Way Out West to release their new album Tuesday Maybe through Anjunadeep – the much-respected Anjunabeats offshoot label dedicated to the deeper sounds of house and techno.
The release also sees the duo embark on their first UK tour in a very long time, stopping in to Thekla on 10 February, with support from fellow Bristol electronic giant Phaeleh who joins them on all six UK dates.
The release also sees the duo embark on their first UK tour in a very long time, stopping in to Thekla on 10 February, with support from fellow Bristol electronic giant Phaeleh
Not afraid to push boundaries, the duo strives to continuously evolve and Jody’s ambitious attitude has seen him go from the DMC hip hop finals at the mere age of 13, to recording on Smith & Mighty’s Three Stripe label two years later with his younger brother under their Tru Funk alias, to filling the world’s most illustrious dance floors from Ibiza to Berlin.
After a chance meeting in a local record shop here in Bristol, Jody founded WOW with Nick, who was becoming increasingly popular at the time with his residency at former Bristol superclub Vision, as well being invited to tour with Massive Attack as their official DJ.
The electronic duo has crafted a formidable reputation during their 25 year partnership, both juggling incredibly successful solo careers
Together, they were able to capture a unique sound that saw them burst onto the mid-nineties dance scene with hits such as Ajare and The Gift. The electronic duo has crafted a formidable reputation during their 25 year partnership, both juggling incredibly successful solo careers and constant touring globally.
We caught up with Nick and Jody as they took time away from their busy schedules to talk about their new album and fast-approaching UK tour. Both were quick to reassure us that, despite eight years since their last new release, they never did stop working on WOW.
‘Way Out West has always been ticking away in the background’, explains Jody. ‘Though about three years ago, we decided to actually get our arses in gear and finish off some tracks. Then came our single Tuesday Maybe and our vibe was still really strong, so our management was like right, do another album boys’.
Way Out West has always been ticking away in the background
Their new album Tuesday Maybe, WOW’s first release since their 2009 album We Love Machine, was released in June 2017 and combines melodic content with interesting grooves. Taking six years in total produce, the album has helped make sure the pair’s return is as emphatic and as welcome as it could ever be.
The duo explain that it wasn’t a case of writing from scratch, as they had a tonnes of half-finished or just started tracks, so it was about finding the time to get together to finish everything off.
‘You could be working on a track for six months to a year, and all you need is that final ingredient to pull it all together quickly’, says Jody.
‘Because we started some stuff years ago, it needed updating’, Nick explains. ‘We weren’t really happy with how it was now, whereas we would have been if it were released at the time.’
With careers spanning three decades and counting, Jody and Nick have witnessed an entire evolution of dance music and are extremely in-tune with the ever-progressing world of music and technology, as they strive to stay one step ahead of the game.
‘We’re listening to new tracks every day,’ says Jody, ‘we’re on the cutting edge. There’s no holidays really, I was still checking my emails on my honeymoon – apologies Luce!’
Our style of music is very, dare I say it, classical
‘We’re very lucky’, adds Nick, ‘because loads of producers send us their music for us to test out anyway, so you kind of know what’s happening. Our style of music is very, dare I say it, classical, as we want to make music that still sounds great in 10 years.
‘If we were to make a dubstep album, for example, it might have a very short lifespan, so we tend to go for a more Western idea of things, which is using samples and melody and various tempos’.
The new album’s title track features a sample from 80s pop band Scritti Politti’s track Petrococadollar, with the title Tuesday Maybe taken from the song’s lyrics – paying tribute to the fact that sampling and melody are an essential part of the duo’s signature sound.
‘The sound collage concept that we’ve had from the beginning’, says Jody, ‘is probably because we couldn’t afford synthesisers so we had to sample to get the sound we wanted. I think it’s nice to keep our original collage-style sound, because it gives our music a bit of a weird flavour and I don’t think enough people do that’.
it’s nice to keep our original collage-style sound, because it gives our music a bit of a weird flavour
It’s clear that the pair has been doing something right all these years. Nick is head of A&R for the progressive house and breaks label Hope Recordings and his impressive discography includes eight compilation albums for the illustrious Global Underground series, the inaugural Back To Mine mix in 1999, and several single releases on labels including Hope and John Digweed and Nick Muir’s Bedrock Recordings.
Jody has released solo singles on Anjunadeep and Dinstinctive Records, achieving Beatport No. 1 with his excellent Cold Drink, Hot Girl; as well as his solo studio album Trails We Blaze in 2012.
Despite such successful and demanding solo careers, with often-aggressive touring schedules to boot, it’s clear that both Nick and Jody remain passionate about working together. Talking about what drives them to keep going with WOW, despite having a load on their plate already, the answer was clear cut: ‘I make my best music with Jody’, says Nick.
Jody agrees, ‘I think we come together well. We’re more than the sum of our parts and I hope people recognise that. I think we’re cool by ourselves, but when we’re together the quality control goes up as we have two opinions’.
‘I might start something and Jody will be like that’s good, that’s not so good and vice versa’, explains Nick, ‘we bounce ideas off each other’.
we come together well. We’re more than the sum of our parts and I hope people recognise that
Reaching a compromise and combining the different elements of their music tastes is what makes for such a fruitful partnership, hitting a sweet middle ground with a distinctively WOW sound.
‘I personally don’t have any influences when I’m doing WOW’, says Nick, ‘I don’t listen to anything else and think I want to do that. It’s very much us just doing our own thing – I don’t like to be influenced by anyone else’.
It’s very much us just doing our own thing – I don’t like to be influenced by anyone else
‘I’m actually more influenced by technology’, says Jody, ‘the latest synths and soft-synths and plug-ins. Though stylistically, older, more obscure stuff that you can’t believe were even released, and probably wouldn’t be in this day and age by a record company’.
Although the duo is more than accustomed to touring, they are usually working the dance music circuit in sunnier climes around the globe. Playing their first home crowd show in a very long time means added pressure for the duo, who cut their teeth on the Bristol music scene.
‘It will be slightly nerve-racking’, says Nick. ‘I haven’t played in Bristol for at least five years. It’s exciting too, as there will be loads of old friends there and people that we’ll know. Though it will also be a challenge as live shows are different to DJing, where everyone is there for a night out and to dance with their mates. Live shows, people come and stand and watch you’.
‘You’re paying for an experience so you kind of have to step it up’, says Jody, ‘I think the challenge is to get people dancing and watching at the same time.’
We do the live shows on the fly, so each one is completely different
‘We do the live shows on the fly’, says Nick, ‘so each one is completely different. Jody is controlling the main bit of the track and keyboards and I’m playing sounds and samples that aren’t triggered at exactly the same time as they were last time, so I think it’s about experimenting live and freestyling’.
Nick informs us that the live tour will be a complete mix of material, with plenty from their new album alongside some classics. Plus an opportunity to experience some of the great music the pair has been creating together over the last 25 years, re-jigged for the present day.
There will be a lot of our bigger tunes remade for this era
‘There will be a lot of our bigger tunes remade for this era’, adds Jody. ‘Similar to our show at Glastonbury last year, though a bit more involved as we will have more equipment’.
Luckily for new and longtime fans of WOW, the recently-concluded long hiatus doesn’t look set to be a pattern for the duo, with a remix album and new single already in the pipeline, as well as some new track ideas.
‘There’s a version of the album coming out called Sunday Maybe’, says Jody. ‘It’s got five of the tracks remade for listening to on a Sunday – as in just chilled remixes. It’s all finished and it’s our favourite tracks from the album with no house drums. It’s all chilled half beat drums or no drums at all’.
They’ve got a new single lined up for release this summer that Jody describes as ‘something completely fresh’. Both Nick and Jody assure us that there is always stuff bubbling, which prompts Nick tell Jody he has about five tracks he’ll be sending over to him, to which Jody replies: ‘Wicked man’.
Words: Georgie Partinton
Photos: Dominika Scheibinger