Phillip Cardona Interviews DJ Nick Fresh

September 8, 2009 6 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Phillip Cardona well known for his amazing depth and breadth of musical knowledge interviews Nick Puzzo, aka NickFresh, the ubiquitous dejay of the urban core scene.

     A fresh Thursday dance night has arrived on the club radar. What is this night? It is DOWATCHALIKE (do what cha like) and takes places at the Eclipse on St John’s Avenue, in Avondale.  The man behind this new and vibrant night is local Jacksonvillian DJ Nickfresh, who also has a resident spot at club TSI every Friday night for Get Loose (bands play and Nick DJs). In an era when laptop DJs play requests exclusively and individuals’ selecting tracks on their iPods are considered DJs in certain circles, DOWATCHALIKE provides a breath of fresh air for an otherwise monotonous club scene.  

Music Writer, Phillip Cardona

      Many bars and clubs around town cater to song requests as a means to keep patrons interested or resort to playing the same cliché club bangers every week to get a floor moving. Nickfreshs musical savvy absolves him from utilizing such frivolous tactics, he has the ability to light up a dance floor and get a party started by playing the hottest tunes, old and new, obscure or mainstream. His passionate understanding of music represents what it is to be a DJ, which is authenticity.  He has the ability of introducing new and old music with from across the musical spectrum.  During a Nickfresh set you might hear Michael Jackson followed by a bumping Italo-disco track which might be unfamiliar to most but still grooves in its own ’80s euro robotic fashion. As the cosmic musical journey ranging from early ’80s Electro-Boogie followed by a four-on-the-floor bass-oriented house track moves forward, Nickfresh will always make sure to slow down it for a hot a minute, and allow the crowd to get down.  Utilizing swiftness of the decks you’ll unexpectedly receive a pleasant dose of hip-hop, which if mainstream can be irresistible to grind to when you’ve been drinking all night. Let me put it this way, you and your friends’ asses will be shaking once you’ve heard him spin.  

Nick Fresh

      In addition to mixing different musical genres throughout the entirety of the night, rest assured that each song will be mixed properly; awkward pauses or crude transitions which can damage the energy of the dance floor are absent from DOWATCHALIKE. Nick, just like any DJ should know, understands the importance of beat matching, a technique that matches the kick and snare of two songs to create a smooth transition between tracks that keeps the dance floor alive. Now that summer is approaching its end, fall for many of us brings a time when life’s priorities or obligations can cause anxiety or stress; I can say that dancing all night alleviates these feelings for me, and with NickFresh DJing you shouldn’t have any trouble gaining the courage to tear up the floor – his warm personality will encourage even the most timid individual to let loose and dance the night away. Nickfresh took time out of his schedule to answer my questions, here they are:  

 At what age did you start DJing?

Age Seven.  

How did you first begin DJing?

I was around music my entire life as my family is in the radio, television, and music industries. My parents had a serious record/cd/8-track collection that span throughout the house and in the garage. That led to using my Panasonic stereo system (which I got for Christmas in '90.. i was seven) being used as a "radio station" of sorts, and I started making tapes for family members and friends. The next year, I was very curious about mixing records together so it could "flow better" on said tapes. it was my mother, who happened to be the first live on-air mixing DJ in Jacksonville (starting in '82 on WPDQ-AM; Arbitron rated #1 twice -amongst numerous awards-), that taught me the basics of mixing records with the knowledge of finding my own way. I started mixing the record with the cassette, but I wanted tables of my own. within the same year, my grandparents caught wind of how serious I was and decided to buy my first set of turntables, mixer included! (by the time I was 15, I got my first pair of Technics 1200's) After practicing and practicing (and practicing) for a year, I did my first house party. I was 10 (and since it was a party with adults, I had to dj in the other room with the speakers outside of it).    

When did you realize you wanted to pursue DJing on the professional level?

Must say I was 12, after that house party, when I had adults coming up to me asking for my autograph and how they could get a tape. haha. But I've always wanted to do music years before the tapes because it really made me happy... self-fulfilled, even. so being that this was apart of music and how I saw the happiness on the faces of the people I mixed for, also in me... I knew at that point that was one of the many activities in music I wanted to do.  

Explain your origins as a DJ in the Jacksonville club scene –  when, where, and how did it start?

I was in a metal band "Deadweight" whom I was with for five years mixing records, playing keyboards, and traveling the world. This led to the interest of doing regular sets at these different clubs, mainly top 40, but the top 40 experience (at that time) didn't necessarily gel with me. Once the band dissolved and I started studying new sounds (at least, new to me), I put out a 18 minute mix called "Musical Advents of NickFRESH." that got the attention of DJ Roy Clark (then of clubTSI discotheque). I was hired, pretty much on the spot, by TSI to work "Channel Wednesdays" back in March of 2008 which then led to GET LOOSE Fridays (TSI) which I'm currently doing alongside DOWHATCHALIKE Thursdays at Eclipse and other shows in and out of town.  

How would you describe the type of music you play during your DJ sets?

  A melting pot of sounds from Funk to Indie to Italo Disco to Hip-Hop, some Mainstream, Motown (etc.). Start out a little mellow then go all out. Full Throttle!  Some of the songs are not as known as the others, but the bottom line is that they are being played to put you into a party state of mind.  

Describe a Nickfresh set; what sets you apart from the other DJs in Jacksonville?

I just do my own thing and always give as much as I humanly can and be of high energy with each appearance and set. I'm really thankful that a lot of Jacksonville is appreciating what I'm doing. There's really no party like a NickFRESH party.  

Describe your night at DOWHATCHALIKE – in what regard is it unique from the other Thursday nights in town?

One thing you can't do in this town is take your audience for granted. That being said: we're all inclusive. It doesn't matter what you consider yourself. the only criteria of the night is to have a fun time and jam. and don't be afraid to dance or sweat.  

Is there a renewed interest in ‘dance’ music on a national level? If so, how does that translate to the local Jacksonville scene?

I feel that the interest in dance music on a national level never really died. Like every genre that fluctuates in popularity and changes its face often, in dance music, the feeling and rhetoric always remains the same. it often provokes positivity and awesome vibrations in the grooves and rhythms and that's what we don't see nor hear in the world much. Jacksonville, of course, is always close to the cusp of what's happening around the country, so that message and good vibe translates nicely here.

Any last words or thoughts?

I'm just very happy to get this opportunity. Thank You.  Please note that I'm also in After The Bomb, Baby (as a Keyboardist/Trumpeter/Synthlord) and that I also have a very active Soul Train Fangroup ( and youtube channel under the name "NickFRESHAlive" where I post mix collages and dance videos.