Martin East talks to Nicole Moudaber about how she transitioned from the person throwing the party to the person playing at it.
Nicole Moudaber is a music producer and DJ born in Nigeria, raised there and in Lebanon before moving to London. In 2009 Carl Cox described her as “the most underrated DJ” in DJ Magazine, which helped launch her career. Her 2013 debut album Believe was number-one for a month on the Beatport techno, tech house and deep house charts. Her MOOD Records imprint was launched in 2012.
Nicole, so what brings you to Bali?
This is actually my first time here. It’s been a pretty busy time for me with touring and gigs so this is actually an opportunity for me to take a break. I travel a lot, sometimes three continents in a week. So this is a moment for me to just chill for several weeks and take in some of the spirituality of Bali.
Where are you based for your producing nowadays?
The studio I work out of is in East London, in Dalston to be exact, and it’s from there that I work on the releases and the remixes. Presently I have a number-one in the charts with a techno remix of the classic track Give me luv by Alcatraz. It’s been there for seven weeks now so 2015 has started off on a good foot. I use the Abbott Street Studios and I have lived in East London for 13 years now and spend most of my time between there and Ibiza and on the road. My label is called Mood Records and we have a nice EP coming for WMC and also I am working with Skin from Skunk Anansi which will be released in the summer. That’s what I have coming next.
Bali is starting to be known around the world as the Ibiza of Asia. How would you compare the two?
The spirituality is similar, obviously. I wouldn’t say there is a club scene in Bali but there is a similarity on a spiritual level. I am actually playing a club called Jenja and they book really credible DJs. It’s going to take a while for Bali to get truly on a club trip and to be honest I’m not sure that it should actually happen here. It’s not why I have personally come to Bali. I don’t look for “club experiences” when I come here. The sunset scene could be lovely. It could become something but it sounds a little safe. Sunset sets on the beaches. Trying to push the scene within the ideas that work here. Not necessarily pushing them into a club.
You started out as a promoter, so who would you like to see here? If you had control of one venue for all of your friends for one sunset here, who would you be booking to DJ (aside from yourself obviously)?
For a sunset I would be looking at someone like Dixon or Hector. Maybe Guti. There are many DJs out there doing great stuff.
How do you find that your cultural background influences what you do?
Well I have a mixed background between Nigeria and Lebanon. Drums and percussion heavily influence my musical production and my DJ sets. Very repetitive and trance like. It is most definitely a part of what I do. I think you can hear it in the music I make and the way I play.
Aside from music that you play in clubs what are you listening to?
I really like listening to a lot of quite chill stuff and in particular Spanish music ranging from Flamenco to Salsa. I am quite a music lover so I like a bit of everything.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the journey to when you threw your first party in Lebanon. That’s a place that has gone through quite a cycle from hotspot of the Mediterranean to being ravaged by war. At what point were you there?
After the war, obviously. I came back and started throwing parties there. The first one was a location that I chose in the middle of the derelict city. Next to a Mosque and a Cathedral that were completely bombed out. So we took that space and I booked DJs from London and I got dancers from Paris, set up the whole thing. The city helped us a lot facilitating everything to happen and we had about a 1,000 people. We broke down all the barriers. So we had Muslims, Jews and Christians all together under the stars and music has the power to do that. Music has the power to unite and that night was quite euphoric.
How did you make the transition from the person who throws the party to the one person playing at the party?
So l left Lebanon and I had a record label running in London at the time and I wanted to focus on that. I started promoting in London and I did five and a half year at the legendary club called Turnmills. After that I bought a house in Ibiza and I wanted to break away from promoting as it was quite hectic. I spent a lot of time finishing the house, and when I came back to the music the only way that felt natural was as a producer and a performer. I went into the studio without knowing where it was going to take me, without thinking of an end result for it, but just because I loved it. Then one thing led to another and Carl Cox started playing my music on his radio shows and he invited me to play at this small gig he was doing. Consequently he started inviting me to his Space Ibiza Nights and things spiraled from there.
And finally, what is the best gig that you have done?