Interview with DJ Nik Weston from Mukatsuku Records

Interview with DJ Nik Weston from Mukatsuku Records

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

by Tat

The best DJs are the ones who stay true to their passion, keep on track, never tire of searching for good music they can share with others. Nik Weston is one of those flag bearers, a tireless music fanatic, DJ, producer, promoter, label boss and buyer for Juno. Nik has DJed across the globe sharing a music thread that intersects soul, jazz, disco and afrobeat among other sounds. His classy Mukatsuku imprint started in 2006 and is edging towards its 100th release, with a back catalogue of carefully curated records from the contemporary to the old school. We caught up with Nik to chat about his music tastes, the label and future plans.

With any eclectic taste in music, that journey has to start somewhere. What’s the source for what’s shaped you as a DJ and record label boss?

My first love growing up was soul music. I bought my first record aged eight and that put me on a path to record collecting and playing music for myself. When we were growing up we were spoiled with magazines, fanzines, national and pirate radio and TV. We had pieces of paper or notebooks with songs on our wants list which we thrust at sellers in record shops and record fairs. Nowadays we have the internet which I find useful for checking playlists, sales lists, Discogs and Ebay with audio links. YouTube is pretty helpful as well for research.
DJ Nik Weston

Your night Mukatsuku started almost 10 years before the label. How important was the night in terms of shaping the label that followed?

We started the Mukatsuku club night as we had many Japanese friends living in London at the time who couldn't get DJ gigs. They had amazing record collections and were brilliant DJs who we wanted to showcase but also as an outlet for our own tastes and collections. The label started when I was working as A&R for Exceptional Records. I was getting sent a lot of demo CDs from artists who wanted to put out albums. But for me, I personally didn't like all the tracks supplied. So I thought rather than not signing at all, that I cherry pick the tracks from artists that hit the spot with my own personal taste and try to licence and release those myself. I set up a singles only, vinyl only label (no digital) to do just that. Each single would effectively be a double A side. That was the plan anyway. The label is run as a hobby rather than a money making venture. It keeps me active as a DJ and that money I earn from gigs gets ploughed back into the label.

Then you got into PR for various labels such as Sonar Kolletiv, that must have been a useful fact finding experience for your own label?

I'd been friends with the Jazzanova boys for a few years so they wanted someone they could trust to look after some of their projects to assist them in promotion.

At what point did you start looking overseas and especially Japan for music?

I had collected Japanese Jazz for some time and then when the Mo Wax thing hit and their collaboration with DJ Krush, Major Force, Monday Michiru etc, that I guess was the starting point to explore further into sounds of the Rising Sun. I started helping out Japanese label Especial Records (Osaka) from their first release in 2000 onwards with promotion and press and did my first Japanese compilation ‘Jazztronik - Inner Flight’ for Counterpoint Records in 2001. 

I began DJing regularly for Japanese or nu jazz artists at The Jazz Cafe among other places. Subsequent compilations followed for various American, Japanese and European labels and often the focus was or included many Japanese artists. At that time I was often helping Japanese labels with coordinating remixes plus doing press and DJ promotion for them and started going to Japan several times a year to DJ or meet with artists and labels to discuss projects and buying records in bulk to sell to DJs like Mr Scruff. I was also writing for many magazines about Japanese music like Plastiks (Belgium) Breaking Point Magazine, International DJ Magazine, Straight No Chaser among others. 

What is it about Japanese music that makes it particularly appealing to you?

Taking essence and influence from western music and production but uniquely creating something different of their own

When did you start working for Juno as a music buyer and how has your expertise as a DJ and label boss fed into that and visa versa?

In 2005 I started doing consultancy and then we set up an office in Tokyo consolidating stocks from all over Japan which we then shipped to Juno. Japanese releases dried up so we closed the office a few years ago so I now just work as a buyer.

DJ Nik Weston

No doubt you’ll have read countless debates about the merits of vinyl versus digital. Vinyl has continued to prove detractors wrong and there’s still an awful lot of love for physical records. What does vinyl mean to you as a DJ and someone who champions the format via your own label?

I love records, but not just the music but the art, the sleeves and the fonts. As well as the knowledge that can be gained from the records. Each record tells their own story.

With such an eclectic label, what’s the ethos that drives it? 

My tastes are quite broad but I don't release them for the sake of it. If it doesn't sell, that's not the focus. What is important is that I'm proud to have released it as a solid body of work and that it will stand the test of time.

How much of your personal drive is about finding and sharing records, either as a DJ or label owner?

I'm still excited by records. I buy records every day and discover new music every day that I've never heard before on a daily basis.

Your label very much focuses on the 7 inch format, why do you think certain genres have an affinity for that more given its limitations compared to its 12 inch sibling?  

I always loved the 7 inch format from my love of Motown. The lyrics and music, a story and a chorus, a start, middle and end all in 3 minutes. POW!  

You’re not too far off from your 100th release on the label. Have you got an idea of what that might be or how you’d like to celebrate that important milestone? 

Not there yet. Probably a nice cake with the Mukatsuku logo!

What plans have you got coming up in 2024, for yourself and the label?

Echoes Of A New Dawn version of KJM ' Substream' then a 45 from Espen Horne and a reissued classic from Omar. Not sure after that

Where do you discover the best new music? 






Rook Records In-Store - Nik Weston [Mukatsuku Records] Vinyl Mix

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