Dubspot’s Nate Mars catches up with techno innovator Nicole Moudaber just after her Ultra Music Festival DJ set to chat about her philosophies on performance, preparing for marathon DJ sets, and advice to up and coming DJs.
Nicole Moudaber has quickly become a well-respected innovator in the world of techno, with original releases topping the Beatport techno charts for weeks on end. Releases on labels such as Drumcode, 8Sided Dice, Kling Klong, Leena Music and Waveform Recordings have all furthered her reputation for producing and performing minimal techno and have keeping listeners locked into her unique groove.
Just ahead of the release of her debut album Believe which is set for release on May 6, 2013 on Drumcode records, Nicole Moudaber sat down with Dubspot’s Nate Mars at Ultra Music Festival to talk about the production process and tools she uses to prepare for her DJ sets.
Dubspot: Minutes after playing your two-hour set for a packed audience at UMF how are you feeling right now?
Nicole Moudaber: I feel really good, I always get off on a high after a set. It was awesome.
Dubspot: It was an amazing set.
Nicole: Nice, thank you! I played all my album that’s coming out on Drumcode, there’s a collaboration with Adam Beyer on the album called ‘They Called” ?. I also played a little production of mine called ‘Organic Love’, and I had Skin from Skunk Anansi, she did the vocals, so I tested that as well.
Dubspot: Can you tell us about how you’re preparing your tracks sets in Traktor? It must be a lot of preparation because you’re often using 4 decks mixing.
Nicole: I always mix 4 decks, I like to loop everything basically. It just gives a different dynamic to the set and the sounds. And I can filter some sounds in and out, it’s just so much fun to do that. I prepare my set normally according to the hour that I’m playing, so if I’m playing early and before someone one like Carl (Cox), I tend not to bang it too much, and try to build the set, start with a bit of tech house and deep tech, and then take it to a bit of funky techno and then go from there.
Dubspot: With so many elements running at once, how do you decide where you’re going to take things?
Nicole: It’s just that once I’m up there I get into a zone and I get locked in a space where I’m 100% listening to every sound that’s coming out. It’s like production, bringing sounds in and out. I also do a lot of effects on my [Native Instruments] X1′s, to create different patterns and different frequencies that I play with. It just makes the experience more fun for me.
Dubspot: How important do you feel effects are to your set and what type of effects are you using?
Nicole: Very important. I use the Beatmasher, the Delay and the Reverb a lot. I try to push everything up and Beatmash and tweak as I go, and I fade out, it’s so much fun.
Dubspot: You mentioned you were playing a lot of tracks from your upcoming album. What are you using to produce music these days?
Nicole: I use Ableton Live all the way.
Dubspot: How do you get started on a track when working in Ableton Live?
Nicole: I always start with the groove. I spend at least two hours getting my groove locked. I start with the drums and I filter so many layers on top of them to make them sound low, and solid. And from there I start with the rest.
Dubspot: Since you’re traveling so much, are you producing on the road?
Nicole: No. Never. I just get inspired, when I’m on the road and playing I tend to focus on my sets and where I’m going to take that show, and I focus on the music that I’m going to play, more than production. Because production you know, you have to be in a certain zone so my time is spent on selection of my tracks.
Dubspot: How do you feel when you’re about to play a brand new track that you’ve just worked on?
Nicole: (expletive) (laughs).
Dubspot: Do you still get nervous?
Nicole: I get nervous all the time before I get on. While I’m playing, if I am venturing into new things I’ll think “oh my god is that going to work?” And then boom, it’s there.
Dubspot: It doesn’t show at all.
Nicole: Really?! (laughs) that’s why I wear my sunglasses! (Laughs)
Dubspot: Although your set today was two hours, you often play much longer. Can you tell us about that?
Nicole: Absolutely, because it’s all building, you know. It takes me one hour to get in my zone you know, to get locked into it. I normally do really good when I play 8 hour sets. In the States mainly I do a lot of that.
Dubspot: How do you prepare for a set that is 8 hours long?
Nicole: Select different styles. I start with deeper music, the deep house stuff, then I take it to very deep tech, and this allows me to, you know, play all the records that I love and just move in that wave you know? I did New Year’s at Stereo, and I did 8 hours then, and I could have gone another 4 (laughs). Yeah, I love it.
Dubspot: That’s amazing. So what would you say to those people that are really locked into your zone, and really looking up to what you’re doing both as a producer and a DJ? Any advice?
Nicole: My advice really is if you are really passionate about the music, and this is what you want to do, then you’ve just got to leave everything and just do it. And don’t get disheartened with the obstacles that you face, because there are many, and it’s a long process to really establish yourself in this business. There’s a lot of competition out there. But you know, if you are passionate enough, and if you are dedicated, and if you do your research, and you collect great sounds and great music – you’re bound to shine. It’s impossible not to.