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artist biography
Grant Nelson

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Grant Nelson earned his ‘Godfather of UK Garage’ title through releasing a string of club hits on the Nice 'n' Ripe label throughout the early 90's. His productions gave birth to the ‘Sunday Scene’ sound that went on to become UK Garage. Today he is known as one of the hardest-working DJs on the international House scene.

Grant was born in April 1971 on the outskirts of London. He showed an interest in music from an early age and, at age 9, began pulling apart his parents’ stereo system and recording onto an old reel-to-reel cassette recorder. As Grant explains, ‘I used to take a bit of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, throw in some beats from some dodgy old Hawaiian drums LP and, very poorly, scratch in orchestral hits from my ‘Star Wars’ original motion picture soundtrack album. The result was nearly always terrible but it was the fact that you could make something different by layering pieces of music that first drew my attention to the intricate workings of music production’.

By the age of 13, Grant was playing keyboard with a band he started with some school friends; they didn’t progress far though, and Grant went on to complete his first remix of Chaka Kahn’s ‘I Feel For You’ in his bedroom. It went down so well with his friends that he decided to do some more. He blagged his way into a DJing gig and soon gained quite a following in the local area where he played birthday and Christmas parties.

These gigs soon became tiresome because, as Grant explains, ‘They were asking for all sorts of rubbish and although I admit that I bought some pants records in my youth, I was 16 now and had a devastating collection of 70’s disco, 80’s soul and early house…. I was being asked for ‘Congratulations’ by Cliff Richard. It had to stop… It was offending my ears….’.

The solution was simple: Grant teamed up with a friend to organize his own parties, which quickly turned into mini-raves. When one of these parties got raided by police, the subsequent newspaper write-up called the event a ‘massive audio disturbance’. Grant later used this term as the title for one of his recordings with Kickin’ Records under his Wishdokta guise.

In 1990, after returning from a summer season DJing gig in Jersey, Grant began working on a demo tape. Having set up a primitive studio in the TV room of his girlfriend’s college halls of residence, Grant juggled work at Rymans stationery store with his production, eventually recording an entire album of tracks. He sent the tape off to Kickin’ Records; a couple of days later he received a phone call, went for a meeting and had a record deal.

As the face-painted Wishdokta, Grant astounded crowds Europe-wide with his eclectic blend of rock, hardcore, ragga and breakbeats. Kickin’ released several of his singles in the early 1990s; the first, ‘Evil Surrounds Us’, entered into the UK’s Top 75 Singles Chart. ‘Bannana Sausage’ and ‘Post Modern Breaks Volume 1’ did similarly well, as did his early remixes of Twin Bass’ ‘Atmosfear’ and ‘Daze Of Reality’. Grant made frequent appearances at festivals, raves and clubs in the UK and Germany and built up a substantial fan base.

Growing more and more discontent with the musical restraints of the hardcore scene, Grant teamed up with top happy hardcore DJ, DJ Vibes. As Vibes and Wishdokta, the pair enjoyed huge success with singles including ‘Breakin’ Thru/Under Control’, ‘Peakin’ Through The Window’ and ‘Get High/Hey DJ’.

In 1993 Grant met Kiss FM founder and DJ George Power; the pair hit it off and founded Nice ‘n’ Ripe Records. George acted as the financial backer for the label while Grant focused on producing for the imprint. Much of Grant’s work for the label during the mid 1990s would later be attributed with pioneering the UK garage genre.

‘It must have been around mid ’95 when I really discovered how popular my sound was… It was quite a shock,’ Grant recalls. ‘I had known that there were a hardcore group of pirate DJs on my records, but had no idea it was as widespread as it was. I was getting calls from DJs and producers in the states asking me to work with them and considering that I had originally based my style on an American garage vibe this was a huge compliment.’

During his time at Nice ‘n’ Ripe Grant discussed ideas for a new label with his long-time partner, Kate Ross. Talk turned to action and in the summer of 1995 Grant established Swing City Records. Through releasing singles like ‘The Klubb Vengeance EP’, ‘The Trinity Sessions’ and ‘The Soul City Experience’, which Grant produced with Brian Tappert, Swing City became a premier independent house and garage imprint with a global following.

In 1997 he started using the alter-ego Bump & Flex and began to produce UK 2-Step, a mixture of US garage and breakbeat. Under this guise Grant delivered several huge tracks including his incredible remix of James Brown’s ‘Funk On Ah Roll’. His 1999 remix of Negrocan’s ‘Cada Vez’ was a worldwide smash, topping the pop charts in several countries and selling nearly 2 million copies. Despite these musical deviations, Grant always remained a house head, as the Virgin-released ‘Step 2 Me’ demonstrated in the late 1990s. Teaming up with Norris ‘da boss’ Windross, Grant formed the act N’n’G. Their first single, ‘Right Before My Eyes’, debuted at #12 in the UK charts in March 2000.

Grant has remixed and re-produced songs for a multitude of artists including Kelis, Jodeci, Frankie Knuckles, Artful Dodger, Mis-Teeq, Liberty X, Aaliyah, Another Level, Juliet Roberts, Rosie Gaines, Gabrielle, Beverley Knight and Faithless. In 2003 he compiled and mixed the ‘Key 2 The City’ compilation which was given away during Swing City’s massive 2003 US tour. In 2004 Grant was nominated as ‘Best House DJ’ at the Urban Music Awards.

2005 saw Grant release his remix of M-Gee and Mica Paris’ ‘Bodyswerve’ on Swing City. He also released ‘Je Suis Ta Drogue’ on Wyze and ‘Life’ and ‘So Special’ on Swing City, while his production prowess shined through again on Ce Ce Rogers’ ‘It’s Alright’. His remix work continues and Tyler James, Keisha White, Bebel Gilberto, Reel People and The Brand New Heavies have all received the Grant Nelson touch.

Grant is currently in the midst of producing his first ever artist album which, he hopes, will include collaborations with a plethora of international vocalists and musicians. He also recently signed exclusively with MN2S, meaning all his DJ commitments are now managed by the label.

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