Oak Park's first daughter of industrial music

Julia Nash preserves Wax Trax! Records legacy with new documentary

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

In the early 1980s, Chicago was becoming an epicenter for a new genre of electronic music that experimented with unorthodox themes and often abrasive sounds, known as industrial music, and Oak Park resident Julia Nash had front-row seats.

That's because her father, Jim Nash, was cofounder of the legendary Wax Trax! Records store, formerly located at 2449 N. Lincoln Ave., and subsequent record label that released albums by cutting-edge bands like Ministry, KMFDM, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Front 242.

Nash and her husband, Mark Skillicorn, have spent years working to preserve the history of the record label — their most recent effort is producing the documentary film Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records.

The two have given test screenings of the documentary in Chicago and Los Angeles and are close to completing the final cut of the film.

Skillicorn said in a recent interview that they began working to preserve the material they gathered when Jim Nash's longtime partner, Dannie Flesher, died in 2010. 

Nash and her brother traveled to Flesher's home in Arkansas following Flesher's death and found a stockpile of video footage and other memorabilia hidden away in his barn.

Nash arranged a three-day reunion show, known as Retrospectacle, at the Chicago concert venue Metro a year later with performances by Wax Trax! Records veterans like Front 242, Chris Connelly, En Esch and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult.

At that show, Nash said she learned for the first time how much the music meant to the fans. People approached her throughout the show say, "Thank you," and, "The music rescued me and saved my life," she recalled.

"It really fueled the documentary being filmed," she said. "I felt like this has to be done for these people. They need to know more about the two guys behind it."

Nash and Skillicorn have spent the last several years reviewing hundreds of hours of video footage and traveling the globe conducting dozens of interviews with former Wax Trax! artists and others connected to the record label.

Nash said the documentary was originally envisioned as a supplemental video to a live recording of the Retrospectacle show, but ultimately the couple refocused their energy on the documentary itself.

Skillicorn said they are now working on the final cut of the documentary and aiming to begin showing it at film festivals in 2018. 

"We're plowing through this next year trying to get as many of those [festivals] as possible to get it in front of people," Skillicorn said.

Releasing the film commercially on DVD and through online streaming websites could take longer to negotiate, he said.

This is all as the two juggle their professional lives – Nash as a nurse and Skillicorn as a professional illustrator – and caring for their children.

"It's not a big studio with a big budget," Nash said. "This is a cliché but it's a labor of love, not just for us but for the people who [chose to] be part of it – it's their story."

More information about the documentary is available online at www.waxtraxfilms.com and Nash maintains a website, which shares a brief history of the label and record store, at www.waxtraxchicago.com.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Caerann Isdeirinnme  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 11:23 AM

The Lucky Number Club 950 Annual Reunion wishes to acknowledge the paramount role Wax Trax! Records played in the success of the prominent Chicago nightclub from which our reunion derives it's name. Wax Trax! store employees and musicians were also employed by and performed at Lucky Number aka Club 950. The club manager, Noe Boudreau and resident DJs regularly received Wax Trax! promo material with ground-breaking, never before heard styles of music that had so many of us begging the DJ for the artist and title so we could run and buy it or put it on order the very next day at the Lincoln Avenue store. We drove the DJs absolutely CRAZY with our need to know who, what song, what album, what single, IS IT AVAILABLE YET???? It's a wonder the next song of those nights even got played! Wax Trax, we're all very grateful to you for many, many happy hours of dancing and discovery! Your fan, Mixtress Annie -Lucky Number Club 950 Annual Reunion

William Hollaway  

Posted: December 9th, 2017 11:18 AM

This is great love the music and am ready to see the film wax trax! Not sub pop haha

Greg Lewis  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 9:11 AM

A great story. Good Luck!

Kymberlyn Rosalind  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 7:33 PM

In my 20s, WaxTrax and the music that resulted from it was a staple in my life. This is the music I danced to at the clubs. Such memories!

Mary Pikul  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 6:20 PM

I loved this story. Brings back so many memories.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal Wednesday Journal Employee

Posted: December 6th, 2017 3:43 PM

I remember Julia talking about her dad and the record label. So I'm glad the Journal is covering this story. Mainly, though, Julia, I miss Flybird. Haven't bought a really fun, wonderful Christmas present for my family since you closed shop. Hope all is well.

Jennifer Malloy Quinlan  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 3:04 PM

Julia and Mark are a gift to Oak Park. We are so lucky to have them.

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