Feature photo credit: Danilo Lewis
By Carla TorresWWhether you know Nicole Moudaber for her rambunctious and unmistakable mane or her profoundly spellbinding beats, one thing is certain, she’s the undisputed queen of techno. A professional clubber turned promoter turned DJ, Moudaber is a force to be reckoned with. Discovered by Carl Cox who put her on the music map in 2009 when he told “DJ Magazine” she was the most underrated DJ, Moudaber has since collaborated multiple times with the father of drum and bass. This summer, she’ll be joining Cox for three nights in Ibiza at Space and holding a residency at Ibiza club DC-10. She won’t be at Burning Man even though she got invited to play her own stage. Find out why and more from ADANAI’s chat with Moudaber following her very successful Winter Music Conference appearance in Miami.
ADANAI: How was WMC and your MOOD DAY pool party?
Nicole Moudaber: It was a smash. We sold out — it was incredible and it was also our one-year anniversary for the radio show that I have been doing on FM stations around the world and online so we broadcasted the whole day for seven and a half hours to the world. We had 38 countries that took the show for seven hours on a Thursday and gave us their airtime, which is quite an achievement. I had all my friends; the legendary DJs come down to chat with me as well. Carl Cox was there and obviously my guest Victor Calderone, Green Velvet, and the Mood boys were there. Danny Tenaglia came down as well, so it was just unbelievable. And the vibe and the smiles — it was positive and great energy. I’m really happy about MOOD DAY pool party this year and we also had mood night Saturday at Trade that was also a sold out show. Honestly, this year was really amazing not just my parties but all other parties were super successful. The city was buzzing, which is great for Miami and the tourism and economics.
I bet. Did you go to any other parties yourself?
Yes I went to the funk and soul party that Carl Cox does on Sunday. I went to Ultra a little bit to have a radio interview with Carl cause he was broadcasting to the world as well. I tried to go to the Circoloco party but it rained that day and I think this is why I got sick. It poured and poor guys had to stop the party, which is disappointing but hey you can’t do anything about that.
So next on the agenda is Mysteryland in May, which is happening in the original Woodstock location and you’re doing Adam Beyer presents Drumcode. How are you preparing for that?
I am very excited about that. It’s going to be the first time to play with these organizers and to play with colleague is also great. It’s more of a big room and festival sound, so the bigger the chunkier I give them the more happy they’re going to be.
And your show, In the Mood, as you said just celebrated one year – congrats! How’s that process been like and what have you learned in this past year?
It’s incredible. We’re up to 10 million listeners and the show is also broadcasting every weekend in over 45 countries. I learned to dig more in my crate, to actually play the stuff that I don’t normally play in clubs from main sets and festivals and it allows me to play all the music that I love from deep house to vocal stuff from a bit of chill out and ambient sometimes. So my knowledge and love for the music is definitely expanding with the radio show. It’s a weekly show so it’s a big commitment. I actually have to deliver one today. The producers also do Carl Cox’s radio show, John Digweed’s, Armin Van Buuren’s, Adam Beyer’s and many different DJs. The reach is definitely helping my sound to be reached on a worldwide scale, so I’m quite happy about this.
You and Carl Cox are now great friends but back in 2009 he made a comment to DJ Magazine about you being the most underrated DJ. That really put you on the map and in a way launched your career. What was your first encounter with him? How did you two meet?
He just called me up after supporting my music and playing it on his radio show he called me one day and asked me to open for him in London at a really small venue back in 2010. So I opened for him early on that year and then he invited me to go and play at his Space Ibiza weekly nights and ever since we just connected and I released on his label, we consequently produced together and released the single “We’ll See You Next Tuesday” on my label, and now he’s going to do an EP for me for Mood, which is absolutely amazing. We are super great friends, we talk the same language, I’ve played most of his festivals around the world on stages he does with Tomorrowland and EDC and other big festival organizers.
What is something you’ve learned about Carl that nobody knows?
He’s the most humble person you can meet in the business. Not to mention that he really is the number one DJ of the world. The guy packs up arenas and he’s the most humble and sweet person I know. He’s generous, kind, and he’s super talented. His technical skills are just unbelievable and he taught me a lot about timing in DJing. That was key for me to develop while I was learning all this craft.
What about timing specifically?
When to cut a record, when to mix in a record, and how you feel it – that kind of thing. The guy used to cut up records in the park you know. They didn’t have CDJ’s or any of that. It was just vinyl and you had to cut up all these records just to make them sound good. So he taught me that, and his knowledge about the music is so vast and incredible. The guy can play funk and soul, the guy can play techno, salsa, house, deep house, everything, and sometimes he mixes them all together and it sounds amazing, don’t ask me how. He’s an encyclopedia of knowledge.
You talked about Space in Ibiza and have said that it’s the best club for you. Is that still the case?
Absolutely. I am doing three shows with Carl this summer, and I also have incredible news. I’m going to be the new DC 10 Ibiza resident. I don’t know if you are aware of the Mondays at DC 10 in Ibiza. It is a really underground club and the coolest crowd you can have in a club and the best vibe. These guys have launched DJs like Luciano, Loco Dice, Jamie Jones, and Seth Troxler, and they asked me to be their resident this year. I’m doing six shows with them and I’m really excited about that cause it’s going to allow me to play a different kind of sound and explore my creativity.
So what makes up a cool crowd?
Just playing the records that aren’t known or aren’t commercial. The tracks you normally don’t play in big rooms, it’s not the big vibe you play in festivals or main sets. This place you can do whatever you want. You can play the most obscure record ever and people will get it, so it’s exciting for artists to be able to do that.
You were also offered your own stage at Burning Man this year, which you turned down and a lot of people were like whattttt, why in the world?
Oh yeah (laughs). I don’t know babe, I’ve got so much going on and my diary is already booked up until November now, and to be able to do Burning Man you need to block at least two weeks out of your time, which I didn’t have this year. But I’m definitely going to do it next year. It is quite an experience for sure although to be honest I’ve experienced the original “Burning Man.” It’s not called burning man, but back in the days in Ibiza in the year 2000 we used to have those kind of parties when nobody knew about them. You have to know the local gypsy in the island to know where they are doing it and it’s normally up in the woods and you have balloons or colored rocks to tell you where to go and they would dress up the whole woods with the low lights and that bartering culture was there. And all the gypsies and the shamans and the real creatures — the real ones not the ones that come to the Burning Man dressing up like that.
So why did you decide to call your label Mood Records?
Because it’s got mood in it, which is part of Moudaber and you can play on that and what mood you’re in. Whether you’re in the mood for deep house or in the mood for techno.
You said people here in the States don’t tend to be adventurous like they are in Europe and that the EDM scene here is damaging what you as artists do. Do you still feel this way?
Thank god this is changing. I had a lot of comments this year from industry people that the whole pop dance whatever you want to call, electro sound is dying on its ass right now. And I only think it’s cause three years ago the kids weren’t able to go to clubs, now they are a bit older and they are discovering a whole different culture and sound, and this is a good thing. It’s all about timing I think. Sooner or later they are going to grow up a little bit and hear different sounds from the DJs that don’t play that kind of pop trash I call it.
You went from being a promoter to a DJ never expecting to be a DJ. Was it easy and natural or did you face any challenges?
It was very natural. I stopped promoting because I had to build a house in Ibiza that I bought and that took two and a half years so I removed myself from the music business, but my love for the music was stronger and I wanted to get back to it when that project was done, so I went into the studio and did not expect anything to happen from it only cause I wanted to make music. I never thought where is this going to lead me or anything, and obviously when Carl and people started playing my records and the requests poured in I had to take it seriously.
You always talk about the night when you felt the drums for the first time being at a New York club with Danny Tenaglia. Is there any other experience that you can vividly remember that was transcendental?
From that moment on I discovered the artist in me because it reached me on such a deep level when I heard that music and I fell in love. You know, my education had nothing do to with music. I have a degree in combined social sciences, which could have had me either working at the UN or the House of Commons in England, so the artist in me popped out that night and from that moment onwards I became a professional clubber, chasing the DJs all over the world just listening and dancing for 10 hours weekend after weekend. It was a revelation for me and had I not had that education in the dance floors all over the world, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now cause I had that training. My ears were trained so well from all that.
You’re known for doing long sets and routine 10-hour sets. How long does that feel for you – does it feel like 10 hours, a minute, a lifetime?
It doesn’t feel like anything. I just get locked in my zone and I just fly on my music. I don’t drink; I don’t do drugs when I’m on the decks. I’m just clear and sober because the way I DJ is very technical so I need to be really focused and as soon as I hear a kick drum and a bass line I just step into another planet.
Do you have any pre or post set rituals?
Not at all. Normally I like to warm myself up. Since I’m playing from beginning to end I start myself that way, a bit deeper and groovier and build from there.
I know you’ve been asked the question of being a woman in a male dominated industry and you say that it isn’t male dominated but I want to know if because you are a woman you feel if there’s anything different or any added pressure?
Not at all. I’m out there to smash everybody and be the best and do a great set and give a great performance and give them the experience they are there for. Anybody can do that whether you’re a man or a woman. If you have the capacity and the passion and you are good at it I don’t see why you’re not going to succeed. It has nothing to do with gender. It’s what comes out of the speaker and how you do it.
How many hours of sleep between gigs do you need to get to be on?
I have to have at least five hours sleep between a gig and before I fly out for the next one. And sometimes I tell you I’ve done it without any sleep, traveling for hours and hours and hours, and I did it for three solid years. But now I am trying to slow down and have a bit of a more constructive traveling schedule because I got burnt out. I thought I was a machine but I am not. Every machine needs to stop to refuel and I didn’t so I need to be a bit cleverer about that.
How do you stay fit when you’re on the road?
I don’t drink. I’m always on my vitamins. Drink lots of water. And now I have commissioned a trainer so when I’m away I can do it via Skype with her. You can’t be drinking the night before and taking a flight the next day.
How would you describe your sound within the genre of techno itself?
My sound varies. I’m a music lover and I like to play everything. It depends what time, which room, what country as well. So I’m prepared to do every kind of genre. The genre that people know me for, which is techno I can say is a little percussive, tribal, hypnotic, groovy kind of techno. I like to put funk and soul in my techno, and I think that’s what makes it a bit more accessible. However, I do play the dark and nasty, scary techno sometimes, which I love because its very clever.
Are you ever going to cut your hair?
No! I trim my hair obviously, but cut it no. I did have a Mohawk when I was younger and that was the shortest I’ve ever had it. I’ve had my hair since I was 13, and it was as big as it is now.
What is something very few people know about you?
I’m a hygiene freak babe. I’ve got OCD. Oh my god — everything has to be clinically clean. Spotless. Order. My closet is all color coordinated – that kind of thing. It’s crazy. My hotels have to be clinical and now I have to tell you another stupid thing. When I’m traveling in hotels I shower with flip-flops because I just don’t want to touch whatever the hell is in there. These housekeepers don’t clean the way you want them to, so I don’t take any risks. Yeah, I’m a little bit of a freak like that.