Undoubtedly one of the leading lights in the Drum & Bass scene, Nookie (aka Cloud 9, Freddy Fudpukker, Main Attraction, Private Productions, Second Vision, Traces Of Guilt and Windy Milla) is London Herts dj, producer, artist and remixer Gavin Cheung.
Nookie is a true veteran of the drum & bass scene, whilst at the same time one of its most forward thinking protagonists. With dozens of releases on key labels such as Reinforced, Moving Shadow, Labello Blanco, Penny Black, Good Looking and his own Strictly Digital and Phuzion, almost a hundred remixes and five albums under his belt, Nookie has been one of the most prolific drum and bass producers keeping a perfect balance between quality and quantity.
An early fan of hip-hop and electro, Gavin Cheung was a member of a break-dance crew that also recorded several sessions during the mid-’80s. After studying for several years, he began working in a record store around the time of the acid-house explosion of the late ’80s. Debuting on wax with a ragga/hip-hop remix of Ninjaman’s “Zig It Up” in 1990, Cheung was a proper player in Britain’s growing hardcore techno scene of the early ’90s.
Kicking off his production career in the early nineties, releasing under the names Nookie and Cloud 9, he released some of the period’s seminal works on crucial labels such as Reinforced, Moving Shadow Penny Black, Labello Blanco, as well as his own Daddy Armshouse (co-owned with his long-time friend Pedro, and with a number of releases to his credit). As his career developed he established more long-term affiliations most notably with Ray Keith, for whom he engineered for many years, including on the classic “Terrorist” under Ray Keith’s “Renegade” moniker, and LTJ Bukem’s label Good Looking.
To his credit is “Give a little love”, one of the first underground rave anthems, which came out on Absolute 2 Records then re-released on Reinforced Records in 1993. “The Sound of Music”, another early rave anthem from “The Return of Nookie EP”, also issued by Reinforced records was to catapult him into the limelight. He recorded for Moving Shadow as Cloud 9 and released several of the nascent jungle community’s most infectious tracks, including the much-anthologized “You Got Me Burnin” and“Mr. Logic”. “Jazzmin” released also on Moving Shadow in 1995 was one of the first tunes to use a real jazz double bass.
That same year (1995) Nookie released his debut LP on Reinforced Records entitled “The Sound of Music”. This proved to be a huge success and gave Nookie a more worldwide status. He has been lucky enough through his work to travel all around the world experiencing different cultures and seeing how others perceive the sound of his music. Countries that he has visited include Germany, Italy, Japan, America, Poland, Yugoslavia, Estonia, and Spain amongst others.
Besides working on tracks with Ray Keith and helping out Moving Shadow label-mate Rob Haigh’s Omni Trio project (for the LP “Music for the Next Millennium”), he remixed Tek 9 and Goldie, and also collaborated with Chicago house pioneer and one of his all time heroes Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers for the 1997 single “Mystical People”, released on Labello Blanco. In 1998 he went on to work again on his second album with Larry Heard. This was released through Sony Records in Japan and helped him reach a wider audience within the dance music scene. Included on this album is the Ibiza/Café Del Mar classic “Paradise”.
A year on and he released his third album entitled “Distant Affairs” also through Sony Records (Japan) under his other artist name Cloud Nine. During this time he got to tour Japan to promote this album alongside MC Five Alive, Ray Keith and singer Beverley who featured on this album project with the two main tracks “Distant Affairs” and “Living in a Ghetto” which was later remixed by Peshay.
His status as a remixer continued to rise, not least due to his interpretation of Goldie’s instant classic “Inner City Life”. Other artists to have received the Nookie remix treatment include Cutty Ranks, Flourgon & Ninjaman, Doc Scott, Omni Trio, Adam F, Ganja Crew and more recently his remix of MC Conrad’s “Energetic Poetry” and The Pedge’s “What’s Up Partner?” released on Dread Recordings. DJ’s who have helped promote his work over the years include Fabio, Grooverider, LTJ Bukem and Ray Keith.
In terms of Good Looking Records, Nookie had already had various releases under his other aliases including New Balance (alongside Blame) “Reflections b/w Secret Portraits” and Second Vision “The Italian Job b/w Runnin’”. In 2001, Cheung resurrected Nookie for the First Light, Oceanic and Free The Funk EPs adding multiple 12″ releases in the way as well as “In @ The Deep End” his massive debut album on Good Looking Records and his fourth album in total. Featured on his EP’s was the massive “Continental Drift” which was a personal favourite of LTJ Bukem being the intro tune on the highly acclaimed Progression Sessions 6 – America live cd in 2001.
Tracks included on “In @ The Deep End” are “Innerspace”, “Dimensions of Sound” and the piano driven anthem “Natural Experience” which Good Looking Records recruit Makoto has remixed. Despite these quality releases, Nookie is not resting on his laurels. He’s always looking at new ways to stretch his musical and dj’ing talents and has already produced some House tunes for his “In @ The Deep End” album. Furthermore, during Good Looking’s long standing Progression Sessions residency at The End club in London’s West End, Nookie was an ever-present face; a fantastic dj and a pillar of the drum & bass scene for many years.
Other projects included Strictly Digital launched in late 2004, which was an mp3 download website featuring exclusive artist’s tune from established and up-and-coming producers. “The current music market clearly shows that people are veering more to the digital form of music for their listening pleasure, it’s also very hard for new, up & coming producers to get their work heard as many labels aren’t in the position to invest money in to new artists”. Strictly Digital after more than 300 digital releases suspended its activity in 2007.
In 2006 Nookie started his Phuzion Records vinyl label and this will be the main outlet for Nookie’s Drum & Bass productions. The fifth Nookie artist album is entitled “Beyond Blue” and saw the light of day in 2007 followed by two singles and the New Beings ep. Strictly Digital has been replaced in 2011 by Phuzion Digital (the digital arm of Phuzion Records) which is growing from strength to strength showcasing the latest in the deeper side of Drum & Bass as well as re-mastered versions of many of Nookie’s classics.
Nookie also periodically hosts his extremely successful Drum & Bass events called “Atmosphere” and has a side-project Urban Deep alongside Ryan Daniels to cater for house and downtempo productions.
The plethora of Gavin Cheung’s quality releases makes it really hard to pick out only 10 tracks. Inevitably some classics will be left out. With unique criterion my own musical taste and in strict chronological order, ten of Nookie’s finest moments are demonstrated below:
- Cloud 9 – You Got Me Burnin’ (Original Mix) (b/w You Got Me Burnin’ & Call My Name (A.A.S remixes), Moving Shadow, Shadow27, 1993)
- Nookie – Only You (b/w Celebrate Life, Reinforced Records, RIVET1268, 1994)
- Cloud 9 – The Ultimate Seduction (b/w Sensory Elements, Moving Shadow, Shadow78, 1996)
- Cloud 9 – See (b/w Twist, Penny Black, PBLR011, 1997)
- Nookie – Funk Be The Flavour (b/w The Magic, Urban Culture, UBC006, 1997)
- Nookie feat Larry Heard – Mystical People (single sided, Labello Blanco, NLB27, 1997)
- Nookie – Beyond Therapy (In @ The Deep End album , Good Looking, GLRMA003, 2001)
- Nookie – Balance Point (b/w PFM & Kyro – Stand Up, Looking Good, LGR044, 2002)
- Nookie – You Can’t Hold Me Back (b/w Get Down, Phuzion, PHUZION009, 2007)
- Nookie – Sunset Over Sopot (New Beings ep, Phuzion, PHUZION016, 2009)
*An extended discography, reviews and everything Phuzion can be found at the following links: