A self-confessed music addict, Nano Records head honcho Regan Tacon has been playing, promoting and producing psychedelic trance for over 20 years, launching the careers of many of today’s leading psy trance artists along the way. With the man himself in town this Friday night for a rare London set at Tribal Village Presents: WAO Festival London, where he’s headlining alongside Eat Static, Dust, Journey aka Jay OM, Razzek, Ebru, System E, Paolo Tossio and many more, we managed to track him down for a well overdue HarderFaster catch up.
Read on as he spills the beans on NanOmega – the new Nano collaboration with HOMmega Records – the great vibes in Goa, life in the UK, his new downtempo project with Dickster, and get some proper party tips from one of the true pros of the psy scene.
Hey Regan, thanks for taking time out of your hectic touring schedule to answer a few questions ahead of Tribal Village presents WAO London launch party next Friday night.
You’ve just escaped the endless UK winter to play in Goa and Australia, how did they both go? Do you reckon the vibe in Goa is as good as it was back in the day?
They were great! I was playing at the Babylon festival in Australia, which was excellent. The production was killer and the line-ups were massive. It was the first event we did with the NanOmega concept for our 2018 collaboration between Nano Records and Hommega, and it went really well.
I was in Goa for a few weeks too and had a couple of sets while there, all of them blasting! The last one was a party at Shiva Valley, which is a great venue right on South Anjuna beach. Honestly you couldn’t ask for a more up-for-it and switched-on crowd, it feels like you are playing to a real core crew of the global scene.
The vibe in Goa is excellent, every year will be different for sure, and this season was not without issues of course, but the vibe on that last set I played there was second to none.
Before that you were in South Africa running Origin Festival, one of your pet projects. From all reports Origin 2018 was one of the best yet – do you agree?
It really was! Origin blows my mind every time, and it's my event!! Every year I walk around the event thinking: “Oh my God this is amazing… how are we going to top it next year?” And then we do!! We have such a killer crew and so much amazing input from talented people that it is super fun to do every year.
This year we shifted up to another level for sure, and next year will be our 15th anniversary of the festival, so we will have to up it even more. I have a long list of ideas for next year that’s pages and pages long, I can’t wait to get to the next one.
Speaking of projects, you’re also one of the founders and now the main owner and label manager of Nano Records, home to some of the world’s most innovative psytrance artists since its launch around 2001–2. How did this come about?
We started Nano Records as a group of mates wanting to have a vehicle for our own music and that of our friends, and it’s grown from there. In 2000 we did the first Nano branded event and two years later had our first release. Over time my partners peeled away to focus on other things and I carried on with it all.
I’m a music addict and love fresh sounds, and I’m super-stoked that these days my favourite producers are now some of my best friends and artists on my label… that’s nuts! I have an incredible team around me now and together we keep the good ship Nano sailing.
Your Nano FB page says that: “We are currently not signing any new artists or releases as we have an amazing amount of music from all of our artists on the way and we just can’t handle any more!” Surely this has to be a great place for a label to be! What’s happening on the Nano front at the moment and what do you have in the pipelines for 2018?
Yeah, it’s definitely a great place to be in. I’d love to support even more acts because there are a lot of great artists out there that we do love, but it’s got to a point where there is only so much we can handle, and ultimately, we want to focus on what we have. We have more compilations coming out this year, so that will allow us a little space to include some of these other acts that we love.
In terms of Nano this year, as mentioned, a few more compilations, Dala (my right-hand man at Nano, and an amazing DJ) has a huge new compilation on the way, I should have one again later this year and Element from Brazil is working on one, plus we have CD1 of the NanOmega concept coming out on Nano.
For artist albums we have a number in the works, some of which will be released this year and some next year including: Mandala and Tongue & Groove both have their debut albums on the way; then there’s Burn in Noise, Sonic Species, Avalon, Loud (The Remixes Pt 2 and Loud in Dub), Bumbling Loons, Headroom – and more!
Before you started DJing you were playing in bands and studied music. Can you remember that instant when you first fell in love with electronic music and the psychedelic culture that goes with it?
Good question… I was into psychedelic music since I was 14, and then into Industrial around 16–18 years old. Just as I was finishing school at 18 the rave scene blew up in Cape Town, where I grew up, and I quickly got into all things electronic, techno and trance. That was 1994. As soon as the Goa trance sounds started to filter through, and the outdoor events started happening there, I was hooked.
Travelling the world playing your music, organising festivals and managing Nano Records, it sounds like you’re living the dream. What have been the highlights of your 20+ years playing, promoting and producing music?
It’s a non-stop rollercoaster for sure, and I have got everything I wished for in that sense, I’m very lucky in that way. In terms of highlights, honestly, it’s hard to say since there have been so many. What really gets to me in a good way is getting to places around the world and people saying how much they love Nano, or how our events have changed their lives. That always makes all the hard work worth it. I also love to see the success of my artist friends and being part of their success, there is great joy in helping others reach their goals.
And is there anything on your bucket list that you still haven’t managed to do?
Mountains of things, it what keeps me ticking. I’m happily getting more into making music myself again, that’s probably the main thing really, making time for my own music, which hasn’t always been possible – and it’s one of the main reasons we started Nano all those years ago!
Your music has taken you to some awesome places. I know what goes on tour is supposed to stay on tour, but what’s the craziest story from life on the road that you can share with us?
Hmmm.. there’s plenty I can’t share… we are thinking maybe doing a book one day, with all names and dates changed, a kind of Fear and Loathing meets Spinal Tap thing!
As somewhat of a festival connoisseur, what, in your opinion, makes the perfect festival? And how do so many rookie organisers get it so wrong?
There are so many details that make for a good festival. Number 1 is location/venue, if you have a good space then you have something proper to build on. After that, what is most key is really taking into account what will make the crowd happiest, and to be honest, top of that list is so often decent and clean toilets: if a festival can get that right it makes the whole vibe way better.
Also the flow of line-ups… man, so many promoters cock that up, putting acts in the wrong order – my suggestion is to consult some DJs and the some of the artists playing to work out the best musical flow. Finding the right people for the job and delegating is also key. I could write an essay on tips and pointers here...
With the line-ups for many European summer festivals now being released, what festivals can you recommend over the next few months?
Europe is spoiled for choice really, is ridiculous. I’m really looking forward to Ozora, Boom, Modem and WAO this year for sure!
The digital age has completely changed the way we play, produce, promote and distribute music. As someone who’s been involved with electronic music since its inception, do you see these changes as mainly positive or negative? Are things like social media a necessary evil, or something you enjoy making the most of?
Change is inevitable, there is no getting away from it, so you might as well be positive about it. I’m not one to look backwards. Social media is necessary and a lot of the time super cool. I love being connected to so many rad people and things all over the planet. Having said that, the task of keeping it up to date in terms of never ending promotion can be tiresome.
You now live in the UK with your wife and family. Why the move to England? It must be quite a culture shock after sunny South Africa?!
There are so many reasons for our relocation. Ultimately my wife and I wanted to give our daughter a different life experience for a bit and open her eyes to as much of the world as possible, so that’s a big one. At the same time, we had pushed Nano as far as we could from SA and felt it was time to get more stuck in worldwide and for me to tour more again, so being in the UK makes that possible and easier.
I see the world as my home, so wherever I am that’s home. I hate borders. We’ve spent so much time visiting the UK and have so many UK friends that there hasn’t been too much of a shock. Even the weather, we knew what to expect, and France and Portugal are close for some hotter days if needed.
How would you react if your daughter told you that she wants to be a DJ when she grows up? And what advice would you give her?
It wouldn’t surprise me and I’d be totally supportive. My advice would be: study music (especially piano), study sound engineering, and understand marketing and promotion, if you want to make a career out of it. Also learn when to leave a party.
As a self-confessed music addict, what do you do in your rare moment of down time? Do you have any guilty pleasures we should know about?
I play guitar every day, mostly just jamming the Blues, but I never feel guilty about that. If I have spare time I just want to chill at home with Netflix or hang out with mates at theirs.
If you could hold a dinner party and invite any four people from any time in history, who would you ask and what would you cook?
Jimi Hendrix, Desmond Tutu, Salvador Dali and Frank Zappa. I’d cook a vegetarian feast, probably all Ottolenghi recipes. I’d have to include his Mushroom and Tarragon Pie for sure. Maybe a raw Cacao desert to finish with though. Starters probably be Baba Ganoush and Hummus, I could happily live only on Tahina... although I need a Cacao fix every day too.
If you were making a superhero movie and it could only star Nano Records artists, which artists would you assign which superpowers to?
Ego-less Man would be Dickster, he could stop super-villains with his utter coolness and just not letting half-wits mess with our vibe. Mandala would be The Guru, we all agree he is the most likely to have a cult following (in a good way), so I guess he would be our spiritual leader, like Yoda, or Splinter. Tristan would be the guy we send out as a first attack, either he will charm the villains into giving up or kick them so hard the fight would be over and the rest of us could chill. Myself, probably Mister Patience, a Zen Master who can wait for tracks for years without losing his marbles.
On Friday night you’re headlining Tribal Village Presents: WAO Festival, alongside Eat Static, Journey aka Jay OM, Dust and many more. How did you hook up with the WAO Festival crew? And why should your London fans come down to the Steelyard on Friday night?
I first connected with the WAO crew via Dust. He is such a great artist and funny dude, and we work together often as he is on our booking agency (Nano Bookings) as one of the few non-Nano acts we represent. So he hooked me up with them originally.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend, that’s such a great line-up, full power! The line-up alone is worth coming to the party for, but I know the WAO crew always put their full love into their events, so the vibe will be great for sure!
Finally, what else do you have on the agenda over the next few months?
We have a bunch of label showcase events and some label parties too, including our 2nd annual label party in Israel. I’ve got studio time booked with a bunch of Nano acts, so I will have loads of new music of my own soon, including a new downtempo project I’ve started with Dickster, which we are both pretty excited about. And and and… plenty more to come.
Many thanks for your time Regan! Looking forward to seeing you at Tribal Village Presents: WAO Festival on Friday night!
The Tribal Village team is thrilled to present one of the most eclectic and innovative psychedelic events in Europe: the WAO Festival 2018 Visionary Ecotecture Gathering.
The 4th edition of WAO is scheduled for 14–19 August 2018 and confirms its scintillating formula of 5 blissful days of psychedelic arts and culture in Central Italy. A stunning natural view provides the backdrop for WAO’s Dance Playground that will host some of the most cutting-edge psy trance acts – including Kalya Scintilla aka Merkaba, Eat Static, K.I.M., Journey, Rastaliens, Parasense, Electrypnose, Sonic Species, Dust and many more.
We’re excited to also be part of the festival program as Journey aka Jay OM, Mononegro, Regan, Dust & Eat Static will all be performing at WAO too!
Alongside its artistic core, WAO focuses on sustainability, eco-architecture, permaculture and spiritual wellness. WAO Festival’s Cultural & Healing Area has a rich program of holistic therapies and healing practices, together with workshops and talks on ecological building techniques, organic farming, responsible tourism and open source business solutions.
We’re bringing WAO’s transformational vibe to The Steelyard for a very special London launch party. The positive and inspirational message of this unique gathering has reached our hearts deeply and we’re looking forward to sharing this feeling with you and creating a unique event of truly transformative proportions.
Check out the WAO website and join us for what promises to be one of the highlights of the summer.
Phase One tickets are up for grabs on www.waofestival.org/en and paper tickets will be available at the event in London on 9th March.
We can’t wait to activate this next incredible stage of our psychedelic adventure.
Relight the fire! The Tribes are gathering…
Two Music Rooms
An amazing mezzanine Chill Out area with Chai Bar by Soma PsyLounge
Amazing deco & cutting edge production by Kailash Production & DreamScapes UK
Stalls including SamiArt & Nina Lilly Svetlova aka Lilly MoonCat
Face & Body Painting by Eva Szolga