RIP Nathan Coles: 21 of his best tracks picked by Silverlining - Features - Mixmag

RIP Nathan Coles: 21 of his best tracks picked by Silverlining

Following the sad passing of Wiggle's co-founder one of London's underground house and techno early innovators, Nathan's long-time friend and Two Right Wrongans partner Asad Rizvi AKA Silverlining reflects on his music, legacy and electric personality

  • Silverlining
  • 24 February 2023

WARNING: This article includes accounts of suicide and mental health illness, and may be distressing for some people. Resources for support are listed in the article.

It was in the hazy hours of one 1996 night, in the corridor of the newly opened The End nightclub, where Nathan Coles and I had our first full conversation. We had heard each other’s early releases and came to the conclusion that we were both trying to achieve similar things, despite neither of us really understanding what exactly that was. Still in my teens and bewildered by some early experiences in the music industry, I was drawn to Nathan's openness and his gregarious, cartoonish mannerism. That night, he and Terry Francis warmly invited me to a new party they had started called Wiggle, opening a Pandora’s Box of musical energy and camaraderie. While making many lifelong friends at this party, I quickly realised that there was really something uniquely intoxicating about Nathan – in personality, drive and music.

Since his passing on February 12, 2023, at the tender age of 52, there has been an inevitable outpouring of love for Nathan and his musical legacy. As a DJ, he could flow effortlessly between acid house, Detroit techno, Dutch electro, West Coast breaks and vocal house, with his trademark "ruffty-tuffty" edge, as he used to call it. In the booth, he would oscillate between frenzied pogo-dancing and stoic, razor-tight concentration on his groove, while somehow simultaneously keeping track of practically every dancer in the room.

“Nathan was the DJ that dropped a tune and then ran out of the booth to be having it with the crowd, whistling at full volume, shaking his booty with [his late wife], Lou, and then running back to cue up the next track,” Dave Coker from Housey Doingz recalls.

As a promoter, he could unearth some of the most unlikely spaces and transform them into acid house bliss, bringing together the motliest hoard you'll ever see.

And as a producer, he somehow doused anything he touched with his unique character. Nathan was, as Gareth Oxby remembers: “Fun, wonky and up for an excursion into the unknown should a magic carpet become available.” And as Nils Hess says, he offered a whole new aesthetic in making and playing music.

Pictured: Silverlining

Several Wiggles after our fateful toilet queue chat, we realised that we really ought to get in the studio together. Our first effort, 'System Error', was made in a single night of hilarious, farcical punning and patter about all things erroneous. Like all his collaborators, I recall the pogo-dancing, deafening loud whistling and using his mouth to come up with ideas for strange noises and words. I had never considered that music-making could be such a carnival of cheer.

That night in 1996, our friendship was indelibly cemented. We made more music together, started the Wrong label, toured the world and spent many a late night together, generally with Nat taking charge of stand-up entertainment duties. He brought the best out in people – as Gareth Oxby remembers he would melt away their social blockages with his outlandish clownery. Yet he never missed a trick and could communicate a thousand words with a single glance. His presence was powerful and palpable through everything he did. Just as Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters broke theatrical tradition by launching into a life of experiential guerrilla theatre in the 1960s, Nathan's persona breathed through his music authentically and relentlessly.

In this age of measured self-curation, Nathan's countercultural modus operandi is something today’s music world can learn much from. As Eddie Richards remembers, he was an exemplar of not taking things too seriously. He was one of the last true acid house punks – a vibe alchemist, whose aesthetic was simply to amplify moments to their boldest.

Pictured: Wiggle (Nathan Coles, Terry Francis and Eddie Richards)

“Like a Catherine wheel,” says Dave Coker. “He was brilliant and fun if nailed down – exciting, but slightly worrying if not.” And tragically, there came a time when the fuse would no longer ignite, and his own tenacity tragically got the better of him. The 2018 passing of his beloved wife, Louisa, stuck him with irrecoverable grief that led to a severe mental health episode, and eventually, the taking of his own life. Those who loved him know how deeply mistaken he was to do this.

Suicide has become one of the biggest killers in recent years, so please check on your friends. If life is getting too much, please seek advice and support. Mental health is as real as physical health and must never be ignored.

Despite leaving us in this way, Nathan left behind, perhaps unintentionally, a powerful message for us all: to be pure to yourself and live wholly and passionately through all that you love. This is clearly audible through the wealth of music he made, on his own and with others, of which a small selection can be heard below.

Samaritans is a charity that aims to help people suffering emotional distress. They are free to contact 24/7 from any UK or Irish phone by dialling 116 123. Head to for further details

Pictured: Two Right Wrongans playing their last ever set together at The Cause in September 2021

Housey Doings 'Brothers' (Grass Green), 1994

Collaboration with Dave Coker (uncredited), Justin Bailey (uncredited), Laurant Webb and Terry Francis

Ahead of its time, this formative, pre-Wiggle record strips back a late-80s house vibe with an early iteration of the quintet’s signature jiggle. Like many of the records below, this was recorded at the Greenwich-based Strangeweather Studios, run by Dave Coker and Justin Bailey who were uncredited on early releases due to a major label deal. As Justin puts it: Housey Doingz “was bit of a boys club [but] as long as we enjoyed the music, we didn’t really care what anyone else thought.”

Housey Doings 'Ambidextrous Left' (Grass Green), 1994

Collaboration with Dave Coker (uncredited), Justin Bailey (uncredited), Laurant Webb and Terry Francis

This is a rather special slice of deep, trancey house, ordinarily filed under ‘for early mornings’, but at Wiggle, tunes like this would pop up at any moment that felt right. Justin Bailey recalls: “I particularly remember making 'Ambidextrous Left'. It was just me and Nat. He came up with the chord line – yes Nat agreeing to use 4 chords – and it just all fell in place.”

Housey Doingz 'Gobstopper' (Wiggle), 1996

Collaboration with Dave Coker (uncredited), Justin Bailey (uncredited), Laurant Webb and Terry Francis

The A1 track off the inaugural 'Pick-N-Mix EP' on Wiggle that undoubtedly shaped the the label’s sound. Beastly, relentless and hypnotic, this track hypnotises with its simple 808 conga ‘riff’.

Housey Doingz 'Curly Wurly' (Wiggle), 1996

Collaboration with Dave Coker (uncredited), Justin Bailey (uncredited), Laurant Webb and Terry Francis

Another ‘sweet’ from the same 'Pick-n-Mix EP', this track transcends and combines the electro roots of Nathan’s Heart and Soul parties, and the house sound of Wiggle.

3 In Key 'Untitled A1' (Eye 4 Sound), 1996

Collaboration with Jiten Acharya and Terry Francis | Engineered by Bushwacka

A playful, jaunty second release on Terry Francis’ Wiggle sister label, Eye for Sound. Swag Records’ Jiten Acharya recalls that Nathan was “fully involved and brought an amazing energy”.

Cult Fusion 'Allegiance to the Sound' (Alien Funk Movement), 1996

Collaboration with Gareth Oxby

This is one of my favourites on this list. Gareth and Nathan sampled Thompson & Lenoir to devastating effect with sparkling drums and Motor City-styled stabs. “Working with Nathan never involved a script or concept – always a symbiosis, intuitive to the groove," says Gareth Oxby. "We jammed and fiddled until we were grinning and glaring like madmen chomping on a rough House bit. Often emulating the sounds with our mouths, making up strange noises and words which often became the titles of the track or EP.”

Two Right Wrongans 'System Error' (Wrong), 1996

Collaboration with Silverlining

Lots of people ask me what gear we used to make this. At the time, all the Reverberations, Wrong and all related stuff was being recorded at Tom and Paul Gillieron’s Twang Dynasty studio in Brixton Hill. We had not much more than an Akai sampler, a couple of Yamaha FM synths, SH-101, a Korg Wavestation, a Yamaha ProMix 01 mixing desk, and whole lot of fun.

Mashupheadz 'Blue Skies' (Plank), 1997

Collaboration with Bushwacka

Emotive, mid-tempo breaks on Bushwacka’s pioneering Plank label.

Frankie Knuckes 'Baby Wants To Ride (Housey Doingz Baby Dunit Remix)' (UCA), 1997

Remix collaborations with Dave Coker, Justin Bailey, Laurant Webb, Terry Francis

The Housey Doingz boys put their hand to a pacier, trance-tinged dub of the Chi-town classic by Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle.

Mashupheadz 'Pillock' (Plank), 1998

Collaboration with Bushwacka

Yet another example of Nathan’s crackpot track-naming habits. Low-slung breaks lead the groove until things take a turn for the monstrous at 3.23.

Rough Around The Edges 'Claustrophobia' (Surreal)

Solo production

If you spoke to Nathan mid-week, he’d often say that he was a bit “rough around the edges” so it doesn’t take much imagination to guess how this alias came about. One of his first solo productions, I can totally envisage Nathan mimicking the rising-and-falling "twiddly bits" as he’d call them – while pogoing around Bushwacka’s gear-ridden studio. Claustropogia!

A To Z Of Losing it 'Lost' (Subwax), 1998

Solo production

Another one that has Nathan’s human yo-yo manoeuvres all over it.

Get Fucked 'Dark and Dirty' (Eukahouse), 1999

Collaboration with Nils Hess

A big one back in the day, this otherworldly builder tears through any system.

Mashupheadz 'Magic Potion' (Plank), 1999

Collaboration with Bushwacka

The humour in this one is off the scale. Bushwacka recalls that Nathan was bringing the moves and went “deep into ‘vocal’ mode”, and that he would “literally put himself inside the tracks, through his voice, his baselines, his rhythms.”

The Delinquents 'Room On Top' (Wiggle), 1998

Collaboration with Terry Francis | Engineered by Bushwacka

Fast, deep, refined. Pure Wiggle. Dave Coker recalls that Nathan was the “proactive yin to Terry's reflective yang – so the perfect combination for innovation and experimentation.”

DJ Pierre 'I Can't Fucking Stand it (Get Fucked Remix)' (Just Say), 1999

Remix collaboration with Nils Hess

A warm, powerful, house groove that never ages.

Get Fucked 'Get Fucked On Fishcakes' (Eukahouse), 1999

Collaboration with Nils Hess

Guidance-esque floaty deep house, apparently inspired by a hungover trip to the chip-shop.

Big Hair 'Dougie At The Ockie (Delinquents Remix)' (Kontraband), 1999

Remix collaboration with Terry Francis | Engineered by Dave Coker

Monumental bass-and-snare-driven dub of Big Hair’s hilarious party track.

Annette 'Dream 17 (Coles & Coker Love Your Feel Mix)' (DMC), 1999

Remix collaboration with Dave Coker

Another remix of a house classic, this time of the 1988 Manchester house masterpiece, neatly dubbed out with finesse.

Two Right Wrongans 'Sorry Mate, You've Got The Wrong House', 1999

Collaboration with Silverlining

We had supreme fun making this, constantly adding element upon element, using the desk to arrange the drums live. We had a long list of ridiculous Wrong titles, but this is the one that made the cut.

Nathan Coles 'Back Foot Boogie' (Groove Pleasure), 2003

Solo production

Big bassline alert! Colesy on fine form here.

Silverlining is a DJ, producer and label head of Neotropiq and Silverlining Dubs, follow him on Instagram.

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