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Drum-kit fall won me ovation ; DJ and music producer Nathan Hadley has used music as his ticket to travel the world. NADYA AHMED finds out how he...

October 12, 2013


Drum-kit fall won me ovation ; DJ and music producer Nathan Hadley has used music as his ticket to travel the world. NADYA AHMED finds out how he went from a short- lived acting career to performing alongside Public Enemy

WHEN you are given the opportunity to perform at a gig supporting your childhood idols, you want to avoid any slip-ups.

For DJ Nathan Hadley, a slip-up five years ago created one of his funniest memories when he was asked to be the warm-up act for American hip-hop group Public Enemy, when they came to Nottingham's Rock City.

I was sat at home when my friend Hayley, the promotions manager then, gave me a call. I knew Public Enemy were playing and she explained to me the warm-up act had backed out and asked if I'd play that night, says Nathan, 36, who is also a club promoter.

They were my childhood idols, and my first ever album purchase. Unfortunately, Nathan arrived still hung over after being out the previous night and had some more to drink to help settle his nerves.

There were more than 1,000 people in the audience, it was amazing, but when I finished my set I went to step down from the DJ box and fell through the drum kit.

I got the standing ovation I wanted but it was all thanks to the fall.

That was one of my golden gigs though. The whole time I was like, 'wow'! Nathan stopped drinking soon after that.

He admits: To get ahead in this industry Partnership: Nathan Hadley with Nile Rodgers, co-writer of number one hit Get Lucky and a member of the band Chic. They met in America.

you have to be professional about what you do and in the early days I probably wasn't - you learn from your mistakes.

It does come with the job though. You get free beer wherever you go and when I was young it was all party, party, party.

Nathan has also played alongside many of the biggest names in the dance industry including Calvin Harris, PeteTong, Sasha and Faithless.

Tong, Sasha and Faithless.

Faithless and Calvin Harris were my favourites, he says.

A couple of years ago, Faithless came to Gatecrasher and not only did I get to meet them but I got to play back to back with Sister Bliss.

One of four siblings, Nathan's late father Peter Grundy was a joiner, while mum Frances Clayton was head of the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama (MADD) in Carlton.

From the age of three she put him on stage to dance and act. Nathan admits he was never a good dancer, so decided to pursue acting.

He worked his way around a number of television programmes including ITV's A Kind of Living, Bloom, and Peak Practice after training alongside Notts actresses Sam Morton (Minority Report) and Lucy Pargeter (Emmerdale).

I sit and watch old friends acting on television and in Hollywood and do think 'what if?' but being a DJ was my own choice - I was never guided by an outside influence.

At school, Nathan set up his own mobile disco, which is how he got his first gig at 14, putting on a party for a school friend.

At 15, I started going out with a fake student ID and saw all the big DJs - they were like gods. That's when something clicked and I quit acting.

He got his first gig outside the UK in Ibiza's Eden nightclub after launching award-winning club night Lovezoo with a friend.

For seven years he worked as Lovezoo's promotions manager and resident DJ.

I quit the industry for a while after that to reassess things; I'd had 15 years of straight DJ'ing and partying and wanted a break from it all.

That's when I trained as a plumber and ended up working for five years, he says.

But the enjoyment of being a DJ was a strong pull and he is now the resident DJ at Nottingham Gatecrasher, in Queen Street, on Friday and Saturday nights, occasionally working at West Bridgford's Pearl bar.

Although I'd quit the industry, the friend who I had launched Lovezoo with asked if I'd DJ in a small room upstairs for Pounds 50 - I said I'd do it and I'm still here, he says.

The Bench-sponsored star has also developed a huge following in America in the past four years after attending The Winter Music Conference in Miami.

After meeting Jason Klien, stage name Monster Taxi, Nathan was asked to remix his track Pornstar Hot.

The music producer had no idea how big his first Stateside project would be as it exploded in the US pool charts hitting number three and then number 36 in the dance Billboard charts.

This success has seen him play numerous gigs in Miami in the past two years while also featuring on's Strictly Dance Radio Channel.

I came back to the UK after that and released my track Monster and when that hit number one in the progressive house charts here I was shocked, Nathan explains. It's not quite the money-maker you think it will be, which is why most music producers like myself DJ.

Dj-ing is where my heart is, I love the vibe and the crowd, there's nothing like it.

However, when it comes to performing, the US audiences win hands down over the UK.

My last gig over there was in San Francisco in March, they're just so celebratory of success, they make a big deal of me, they're friendly and so enthusiastic about everything, says Nathan.

In the UK I find success can often be a barrier which is why I have America firmly in my vision and want to get over there permanently.

The music producer, working on new track 'Fire, featured on Ministry of Sound TV, and has gained huge interest from dance label Musical Freedom, which manages major dance act Tiesto.

Musical inspiration for Nathan comes when driving his van up and down the country as he regains the tranquillity lost when playing nightclubs.

I don't really like listening to the radio as I try to give my ears a rest from music.

He has 35 and 45 per cent loss of frequencies in each ear and now wears hearing protection.

I battered my ears, he admits. If that's one bit of advice I could give upcoming DJs, it''s wear hearing protection because nobody told me and it's a definite eye-opener when the tinnitus symptoms kick in.

Miami-based management company Trigger Entertainment has also shown interest in Nathan as they look to build his fan base in India and South America.

India is a strange one but Ministry of Sound are doing gigs out there and dance music just seems to be exploding around the world.

Another US tour would be immense. It was my first time on the West Coast this year and that was awesome. San Francisco is definitely one of my favourite places to be in the world.

He adds, cautiously: I don't like to say things before they happen. This industry is pretty fickle and things can change pretty sharpish - but I'm so excited for the future.

. ? Nathan Hadley is resident DJ on Fridays and Saturdays at Gatecrasher in Queen Street. His music mixes can be downloaded from and fans can keep up to date by visiting his website or Facebook: DJNathanHadley

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