DJing on Solera's rooftop
One of the first times I heard Nick Gunz play a house set was sometime around 1999 when he dropped a speed garage track by 187 Lockdown called "Gun Man". I remember thinking, "This dude is super cheesy and clearly an ego maniac." I was mostly wrong, because within weeks he would become one of my favorite local DJs, promoting and playing some of the best house music events the scene enjoyed throughout early 00's. Sure, they were extremely dancefloor friendly sets -- nothing heady or overly complicated -- but isn't that what club music is about? The dancefloor? Proving that ravers do indeed eventually grow up, The Gunz is moving on from promoting BLACK in the VIP Room at First Avenue (a night that has proven to be a bit of a mixed bag) and he's also going to be a first-time dad soon. We wanted to know more...
Gimme Noise: First, the question we always ask : What are your current projects and what are you excited about now?
Nick Gunz: I've been involved with a night called "Black" in the First Avenue VIP Room alongside the Particle People, where I focused on bringing both national and international house headliners through Minneapolis. It's ending its run this week. I also co-host a Wednesday night party called Vino @ HOME with Monte Hilleman at the Caterpillar Lounge. We consider it a more soulful night of house music, where each week we bring in a live musician to create an impromptu house jam session. Looking forward into the summer, I'm playing with my boy Little Aaron on Friday night at 414 Sound Bar, and Saturday night in the VIP Room. I'm excited about a trip to Chicago at the end of July where I'll be playing with some of my heroes (Rees Urban & Mike Dunn), as well as a venture to Des Moines for the 515 Alive festival alongside 8 other Twin Cities DJ's, and the VimLab boat party on the Mississippi in August.
GN: With BLACK Saturday nights in the VIP coming to a close, what's the predominant thought in your mind? And please don't use this question to talk about how great Minneapolis has been, because we all know that the dance music scene has been hurting and disenfranchised for some a while now.
NG: Black Saturday nights aren't ending - just my promotion company's (HOME) involvement. I feel that dance music goes through cycles - ups and downs. It's more noticeable when you're closely tied to a particular genre, as I am with house music. I feel party people can be easily distracted - and their interests much more broad than they were maybe a decade ago. In addition to having some amazing experiences hosting Black, I've also had some of my most embarrassing. Having a headliner play for 15 people in Minneapolis, when the night before he played for over 5,000 in Europe says a lot about where we're at musically. I'm leaving the night with fond memories, and hope that the guys who stay behind can spark a revolution in Minneapolis dance music.
GN. You're going to be a dad soon. What if your child develops a major passion for heavy metal and decides s/he hates dance music?
NG: I hope that doesn't happen...but it probably will. I'll be the dad who always brags about how he "used to be connected in Minneapolis" and my son and his friends will roll their eyes at me. I didn't appreciate the 70's & 80's music that my mom listened to in the car when I was younger until fairly recently. I think the important thing is that he develops passion. Music means something different to everyone, and as long as he finds his "thing" - I'll try as hard as I can to support it.
GN: What is your favorite memory in the dance music scene from 1998 to 2002?
The first time I was able to DJ Sunday Night Dance Party. It was the Sunday before the Martin Luther King holiday and First Avenue was filled to capacity. They had the DJ booth setup on the main stage and it was simply a sea of people. I can remember kids signing along to my songs, and just going crazy. I've got more, but that's the only one safe to tell the world about. ;)
GN: Is there a song in the dance music canon that you would really like to never hear again?
I love mid-era dance music ... but I absolutely hate Snap!'s "Rhythm Is A Dancer." I could do without that!