Jazz Activist: The World of Mukatsuku

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Call him a jazz partisan. DJ, promoter, and label boss Nik Weston has played an important background role in fostering the growth and diversity of nu-jazz, broken beat, and other club sounds. Weston got his start operating the weekly Mukatsuku night at an upstairs restaurant in Chinatown, just as broken beat was emerging in London. The night featured fresh jazz sounds and DJs– an aesthetic he later brought to his Mukatsuku promotions company.

Weston is an opinionated purist who jumped into a job that few others embraced, namely, promoting West London’s fledgling broken beat and nu-jazz music to a global audience. His hard efforts have paid off; formerly niche electronic jazz genres have attracted major label money and fans from Berlin to Tokyo.

Currently, when he’s not crossing the globe as a DJ, Weston shares an office with Goya distribution in Ladbroke Grove and works as a Japanese and general dance buyer for Junco Records in Camden. His efforts promoting and releasing musichave put him in connection with the world’s leading nu-jazz producers and DJs.

In addition, Weston founded his own Mukatsuku imprint (distributed by his neighbors Goya Music), which has issued three releases–two from Swedish jazz man Paul Mac Innes on 7” and one by New Zealand funk group Opensouls. “All the releases are vinyl only–not available as downloads–and limited edition, usually not more than 500 pieces,” Weston explains. “I kinda like the idea of them being collectible.” With years of experience behind him, Weston’s promo contacts read like a whose-who of the nu-jazz scene.

“Over the last 12 years I've promoted everyone from Sonar Kollective to Verve and Universal jazz to Raw Fusion and Ricky Tick,” says Weston. “Plus a host of Japanese labels mostly on the nu-jazz and broken beat scenes.” Weston’s Japanese connections have led to a number of interesting relationships, and even a “nik”-name: Nippon Nik.

He explains of the nomenclature: “I assume [it] comes from running Japanese club nights in London since 1995, selling Japanese 12'' releases privately to DJs for the last 10 years, and amassing a stupidly large Japanese music collection. I've written Japanese music columns for several international publications and websites, released several Japanese music compilations, and completed 12 DJ tours of Japan. My wife (surprise, surprise) is from Japan!”

Weston plans to roll with the changes in the eclectic dance scene he’s helped define. “I'm scaling down the promotion side as I have more 7” releases coming out on Mukatsuku in the next 18 months,” he explains. The label will issue cuts from DJ Mitsu, the Beats, and a few up-and-coming acts. In addition, Mukatsuku has licensed Paul Mac Innes’ music to P Vine and Avex in Japan and signed the awesome live-jazz group Jabberloop to Columbia.

But as Weston ardently forges ahead with new vinyl releases, the future looms on his mind. “It’s getting harder to sell wax, but I personally think mash-ups and bootlegs/re edits are helping keep the vinyl fires burning.” And of the move away from vinyl that many DJs are making? Weston has a typically forthright conclusion: “I saw DJ Spinna playing off Serato in Kumamoto in January and the Japanese kids were walking out of the gig asking why it looked like he was checking his hotmail account when he should have been pulling dusty vinyl out of its sleeves! That’s what the kids want to see!”

Mukatsuku is currently promoting: LTC “Easy Does It” (Ricky Tick), Five Corners Quintet “Remixes Part 2”(Ricky Tick), West/Rock/Woods “Love Cats” (Mukatsuku), and Sleepwalker “Wind” (Especial).