Through her blinding productions and remixes along with her hypnotic sets, Nicole Moudaber more than earned the title of the “Queen of Techno” in 2012. Nicole seeks to build on last year’s momentum with the launch of her own MOOD label as well as the release of her aptly-named Roar EP on Carl Cox’s Intec Digital label. The title-track delves deeper into her signature booming percussive techno sound with its elastic groove and its twisted tribal wails. Data Transmission had a chat with Nicole as she prepares for MOOD’s launch party this Saturday at Pacha NY.
Happy New Year, Nicole. On New Year’s Eve, you played a marathon set at Stereo in Montreal. How was it?
Surreal, I love playing long sets. I fly completely- I get to build my sets and tell my story.
The owners and promoters of Stereo told me in their 14-year history of the club they’ve never seen a New Year’s Eve like that before, and for me this is the greatest compliment ever. It’s an institution in Montreal and the best sound system in the world. Getting to experience this refined sound all night is what every DJ hopes for. It was a trip.
Your ‘Roar’ EP will be released on Carl Cox’s Intec Digital label on January 28th. What kind of reactions have you gotten when playing these two tracks out?
Incredible every time- Carl Cox and Adam Beyer have been hammering it (as well as myself) since its inception. A lot of people noticed it too. I’m asked about this EP all the time. I’m very happy it reached everyone in the way I was hoping for. Having another release on Intec at the beginning of 2013 is beyond cool to kick start the year. It’s the label that supported me from the beginning and won me an [IDMA] award in Miami. The anticipation is high on this one.
In addition to the EP, you’re kicking off 2013 with the launch of your MOOD label. How will MOOD stand out from the elite techno imprints like Intec and Adam Beyer’s Drumcode label?
MOOD will stand out like various labels around the world, with its quality. It will be a variation of house and techno releases – what I’m about, what I love and what MOOD I’m in.
A major influence of yours has been Danny Tenaglia whom you’ve played with at Ushuaia among other spots. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming collaboration?
My papi. A great inspiration for me, his music and art are stamped firmly in me. The single is finished. I will let you know when it will be out- certainly very soon.
How have your experiences of warming up for Carl and Danny influenced your skills as a DJ re: reading a crowd, building your set, etc?
Warm up sets- they are the hardest, the most challenging and creative. To adapt to the style of Carl and Danny- very different from each other- is what’s motivating. I’m not the kind of person who comes in and bangs it out before them. My sets are more toned-down but still in keeping with my sound and what I love to hear at that hour.
Looking back at 2012, your collaboration with Victor Calderone, “The Journey Begins” was without question one of the year’s defining techno tracks. Was there a moment when you began playing it out that you realized you’d made something a bit special?
I felt that the minute I played the chords in the studio. I had goose bumps there and then, and I knew it was special- well, to me anyway. When I sent it to my main boys who I love and respect, they loved it. Most importantly, everyone that’s heard it and bought it knew it’s a special vibe and a timeless record too.
To say that you were prolific in 2012 is a bit of an understatement. Can you give us a little glimpse into your creative process when you’re producing and remixing tracks? Can we expect more of the same this year?
I’ve been locked solid recently for 2 months in the studio. The ideas were flowing, and I even managed to slip in 2 remixes as well- Alanis Morissette and Layo & Bushwacka. Working on the album for Drumcode as well as my MOOD label was quite challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’ve been testing out the new material and the response so far has exceeded my expectations. When my crowd flips the hell out to one my records- seeing this reaction is what makes me want to do more.
The trademark of your productions is that dark, heavy percussion. What are some essential tools in your production setup that you use to achieve these big room drum sounds?
Ableton and loads of plug-ins. I filter a lot and jack up the bottom. I spend a lot of time constructing the groove in a track. If it doesn’t hit my core it’s not powerful enough.
You actually played the drums when you were younger. Have you ever incorporated any live drum bits into a track?
Not yet but I’m planning to. I have commissioned drummers in the past when I was still playing around in the studio and not taking it very seriously, but it’s always been a dream to have live drums and percussions on my material. I will one day for sure.
Let’s go back to the beginning. You were born in Nigeria, moved to Lebanon for a few years and then on to London. Who were your musical influences early on?
In Nigeria there’s afrobeat and I grew up on that sound, then I discovered house music and got hooked on it ever since.
You first got a taste of house music in the late 90’s seeing Junior Vasquez in NYC. Can you tell a bit about the night when you had “the revelation?”
It’s that feeling I had back then that keeps me doing what I do now. It’s like a drug- chasing the dragon. I was electrified. Those drums and basslines… I can still hear and feel them today.
Before you were a DJ, you were a promoter. After stepping away from promoting gigs for a few years, you came back to music to DJ and also produce. What was it that inspired you and pulled you back in?
Creating. I had just finished building and refurbishing a property I bought in Ibiza. I had stepped out from the music and promoting for 3 years, focusing my energy on the most challenging project I had ever done. Not speaking the language at first was very difficult too, but the fun began by doing design, furniture, architecture and electronics. When I was done with that, my love for the music was very strong and I missed it so much. I didn’t want to go back to throwing parties, having all that stress and getting smashed all night. Making the music was always a hobby for me then it grabbed me by the hand so hard- it’s not letting me go anywhere. I’m very much submissive to this art form.
Are you the ‘Queen of Techno’?
Is that a question?
For more info on the Mood launch party at Pacha NYC on 1/26, please visit www.pachanyc.com