MOJOSTOCK 2010 DJ Profiles: Seth Nichols

Another heavy hitter of the EDM scene here in Indianapolis, Seth will also be blowing up the electronic tent at MojoStock this year. Not only did I get the chance to speak with one of Indy’s elite vinyl DJ’s, I was also blessed with the opportunity to visit the headquarters of love vinyl and experience the volume that has become Seth Nichols. I was surprised to find not only a connoisseur of records but a selfless entrepreneur. He has been one of the major players in supplying records to the Indy scene for over 8 years. This DJ lives and breathes vinyl. It is his job, his passion, his life.
Upon walking down into his lair, you are literally smacked in the face by a self-built shelf system that houses thousands of records, THOUSANDS of records. Not to mention a private stash that would make any vinyl DJs’ brain melt. After walking me around on a little tour of his facility, I noticed the set up in the corner where he broadcasts Collective Sessions, for every Wednesday night. It became apparent that I was in for some beat matching later that evening…

Q: What were your early influences musically?

Seth: “I guess being an only child I found a home in music. I would just listen to music all the time. I’d be in my headphones or playing with stereo equipment, setting up speakers different ways. I used to have this end-table that I would throw a speaker in and climb in there just because it would be so ‘boomie’ and loud.”
“I started listening to all the old R&B and early hip hop, and then around ’93 or so, I started to pick up these random club hits dance compilations. It was all vocal euro trance and euro house music. From there, a cd that really opened my mind was ‘Tangerine Dream’, they did this album called ‘Dream Mixes’. It really turned me on to electronic music.”

Q: When did you start DJing?

Seth: “Well, I found electronic music in ’93, although I never went to any function with it until ’99. That’s when I went to my first rave. I had always been a closet dancer and as soon as I walked in there, I just busted out like crazy and started letting myself go and feeling it. It was pretty instant at that point. I saw the DJ and what they were doing. I thought it was all so interesting. After that I went about getting my first set of turntables in my Freshman year of college.”

Q: Why do you continue to spin vinyl?

Seth: “When I first started there was no choice, because it was all vinyl. The reason I stick with it now is primarily because of the sound reproduction. I feel like producers spend so much time perfecting sounds to the littlest degree. I think it should be produced to the masses in the same way, you know, so all those minuscule details can be heard. I also appreciate the collect ability of it, the value involved in the record. I can’t just spend my money on a file and feel like I’m getting my moneys worth. Vinyl just has that authenticity, So it’s definitely sound, the packaging, the collect ability and the hands on or visual aspect of DJing with vinyl just seems more involved.”

Q: Did you have any digital influences or has it always been records?

Seth: “I dabbled with Serato for about a year. I was in the Balance Record Pool which was an all digital advanced releases, everything was unreleased that I could get ahead of time. It was all digital. so I played with Serato then, but I kept hearing the stereophonic differences. That got annoying and I was tired of spending money on these digital files from an advanced promo company. Often times I would end up hunting down the vinyl of the releases I liked, so I bought them twice. I ended up dumping the promo pool and from there I didn’t need to do digital anymore so I went back to vinyl. That was about ’07.”

Q:What are your thoughts on the digital age pushing DJ’s away from vinyl?

Seth: “It’s just art of it, a personal choice,as well as the technological innovations of making things we do easier but not always better. I think the day will come when some people will look back and say that they shouldn’t have stopped collecting and DJing with records, some obviously won’t. Some go as far as stripping away the basic skills of DJing and letting a computer program do it for them, this has no value to me as a performance. No room for error. I also think when there’s an over abundance of tracks to pick from, it’s often easier to take them for granted, as well as be overwhelmed with choices. There is something to be said about the retained and heightened value of a track when you have more of yourself (time and money)invested in it. In turn, you may enjoy and cherish it more than if it’s acquired cheaply or even free (digitally).”
“On the other hand, along with being cheaper, there are many edgy and advanced methods available to digital DJing. Live remixing, sampling, looping, etc. So it really comes down to what you want to do, how you want to do it, and what you can afford. I personally enjoy the challenge of vinyl mixing, and I’ve yet to feel like I can’t do more with it than I already have. So I push onward with this archaic format, haha.”

Q: What are the difficulties of playing a vinyl DJ set?

Seth: “You have factors such as the floor being shaky, the table not being sturdy, basically the needles bouncing around. Vinyl just has a lot more room for error, but the most difficult part are the environmental factors, also, the finesse of dealing with vinyl. Grabbing and changing records, again the physical or environmental factors.”

Q: Talk about your decision to start a record store and how it came about?

Seth: “I was in college and had bought my turntables and then we (Johnny Mack and I) basically started buying collections, or lots of records off of EBay. Go through and pick the records we wanted and then re-sell the rest back on EBay. A lot of the times we would end up making more money off the records than what we bought them for. It was weird but very cool and got us thinking about a record store. In my Junior year of college, I was still DJing, but decided to concentrate on the buying and selling of the records. We were looking between Columbus, OH and Indianapolis to start the store. Indy seemed more sustainable and underground verses Columbus where it’s all about Ohio State and the student turnaround didn’t seem to favor any type of scene. Finally, we decided on Indy just because of the scene we saw here.”

Q: What are the challenges of owning a record store?

Seth: “Most of the challenges surrounded the balance of online verses the physical store. The online demand kept building while the physical store hit a plateau and then started to dip off a bit as digital started to be more prominent around ’05. Vinyl probably hit it’s lowest around ’08 in america when digital really grabbed a foot hold in electronic music. I believe vinyl has been on a come back ever since. Altogether the store has been able to sustain itself and has been a great entrepreneurial adventure. I don’t think I could sell anything I didn’t love.”

Q: Have you ever tried your hand at producing?

Seth: “Yeah, I produce, but I concentrate on it in spurts. I’ve been producing for about 6 years but haven’t really put anything out officially. I have many tracks started, and only a little over a dozen finished, but their tracks I feel are not the stuff I want to put out there.I’m still working at it and hope to have something I can be totally happy with by next year. Some of the reason for lack of focus is the record store itself. The amount of time and energy it takes to run the online store can dominate my schedule, but I still find time to produce music.”

Q: In your mind, what has been one of your greatest accomplishments?

Seth: “Probably the record store, keeping it running and building it up to this point. There’s also everything that comes with it, my own collection and the way it has broadened my musical tastes. The music knowledge that I have gained is priceless. As far as accomplishments as a DJ, it’s as simple as making people dance, smile and enjoy themselves. Just the thought of giving a person a higher moment in life is a great accomplishment to me. That’s really what it’s all about, connecting with people through music.”

Q: In what direction do you think the Indy EDM scene is headed?

Seth: “I think it’s a good direction right now. I like the consistency of events, and promotion. It seems like promoters are starting to work together for the most part. We have the potential to bring new people to it, unlike before, there was astigmatism that has kept people from opening up. The more the culture builds up and the more consistently events happen with better promotion, the more people will get involved with it. I think there is a definite younger generation coming up that will broaden it further, as long as the consistency and quality remains.”

You can expect some funky, bouncing, tribal goodies from Seth this year to go with the fun in the sun at Mojostock. If you cant wait till then, you can also check out some of his production as alter ego, Pax Amo . Seth also broadcasts Collective Sessions on LFORadio every Wednesday night from 7-9pm. So have a listen and prepare your feet for dancing when he shows some vinyl love. Check out one of my favorite mixes.