While the rest of us travel the world at the touch of a keyboard, Nicole Moudaber traverses the same in person. She is a truly international player on a global scene. Born in Nigeria to Lebanese parents, she first made her mark and learned much of her trade acting as promoter and booker for half a decade at major London club Turnmills in the city she'd moved to for studies. Following several years between living on Ibiza, where she built her own house, London is once again the city she calls home. Not that she can always be found there.
The last two years have seen Nicole cross the globe endlessly in her role as DJ, achieving notable success in north America where she has taken her club brands MoodRAW and MoodZONE (named after her label, Mood Records) to clubs and festivals respectively, sometimes playing incredibly lengthy sets herself.
Her journey to such a prominent standing started in 2009 when Carl Cox described the Ibiza mainstay as the most underrated DJ around. Since then she has accompanied the legendary Cox on many nights, particularly at his Ibiza nights, started a production career which has seen her release several EPs and an album on Drumcode, launched her own label and entertain tens of thousands of dancers with her journeys through house, tech house and techno.
With UK dates approaching at SWG3 in Glasgow on Friday 24th November, where she presents her own MoodRaw party, at Printworks London on Friday 10th December as guest of Richie Hawtin, and at Underground in Liverpool on Saturday 16th December, Skiddle dispatched Marko Kutlesa to ask her about her life and passions. Nicole Moudaber tickets can be found below.
Hey! How are you? Wow, what a morning I had!
Hey! Where are you?
I'm in London.
And what did you do this morning?
I've been up since 7am doing my radio show and answering 500 emails.
What was the theme of the radio show you did today?
I did a studio mix today, it's nice, deep, groovy and melodic, just to step back a little from the madness that I had all summer. Sometimes I feel like doing some chill out mixes as well, and I will when I have more time. Just some reflective kind of vibe.
You mentioned the madness of summer. Do you find you play different kinds of music in the summer to the winter?
No, but I do play different kinds of music depending on where I am, what time I'm playing, all that. Especially having the radio show, that allows me to play all the different kinds of music I don't get to play normally and showcase my love for all the full spectrum out there.
When you go to DJ in different territories, all over the world, how do you research what kinds of music the local audiences enjoy?
You know, this comes with experience. I don't tend to change too much. I play between house and techno and I read the crowd, see what they're into and build it from there.
Where do the audiences go the wildest?
Oh my! Holland, they really like their techno there. You can get really deep and meaningful. Glasgow and the north of England too. They like it really tough. They're really crazy up there, I love it. They just go off big, ha! In the States, it's deeper, more chunky. So, there's a bit of everything. You just follow the vibe, the energy. These days, everyone's really receptive. People are very clued up. Whatever you play for them, they get it. They've been clubbing for a while.
You've remixed 'Cover Me' by Depeche Mode. Their music is a gift to techno and dark house remixers, no?
Oh my God, yeah. I'm a huge fan obviously. I got to hang with Martin Gore ten years ago. He's a party animal. I used to go up to his country house and spend the weekend there, party like mad people. Amazing person. I never thought that one day I'd be doing a remix for Depeche Mode. Wow.
What tracks of theirs are your personal favourites and which have you played out?
'Enjoy The Silence' is one of my favourites, obviously. I've been playing a lot the remixes of their new album. 'Going Backwards' by Chris Liebing is fantastic. I've been hammering my remix as well. The response has been incredible. I sent it to Carl Cox the minute I finished it and he dropped it. He messaged me the next day to say “My God, that is a moment” He dropped the whole vocal at the beginning as well.
What was the general musical ethos for Mood Music when you decided to set it up?
Anything between house and techno. Anything that's got groove. Anything that needs to be heard, I release it on the label. It's not one specific genre, it's everything. House and techno.
What do you have forthcoming on the label?
We've got an EP coming from Fabio Florido, one coming from Gregor Tresher and Petar Dundov, which is amazing. Also, the new guys like Marino Canal. There is lots up and coming. I'm also doing a remix package of 'See You Next Tuesday', which was my collaboration with Carl (Cox) and was the first release on the label. It's coming out mid December. Truncate is on it, Danny Tenaglia, Raxon, Black Asteroid.
Sometimes people describe the music you play as techno, but I can hear a big influence of house music, particularly in your productions. Would you agree with that? Would you say house music was your first love?
Absolutely. US house. I was very much into that; it's quite drum-y and percussive. That's in all my productions, yes. It can be a techno record, but it will have a touch of funk.
When you started buying US house, what labels and producers, in particular, were you interested in?
Strictly Rhythm. I've probably got the whole collection on vinyl. All the Masters At Work stuff, some Subliminal, Twisted Records. They were part of me growing up.
Do you think you learned anything as a promoter that you've been able to use to your advantage as a DJ that people who go straight into DJing don't have?
I think programming my nights. That helped me a lot. My ears are trained into having that kind of build in a set. When I was a promoter I would build the night musically; the warm-up, the middle and the closer. Three DJs every night. Building the night like that is what I tend to do in my DJ sets too, especially if I'm playing twelve-hour sessions in North America.
If you were to program your own night again now and choose anyone to play, who would you choose to do the warm-up set?
What do you want? The up and coming ones or the established ones? Because there are loads. I could program twenty nights for you like that, right now, haha. If I want to talk today, the up and coming ones, I'd probably put Marino Canal to start off the night. Then maybe I'd slot in the middle and Chris Liebing would finish.
I've been doing lots of stuff like that at my MoodRAW parties and MoodZONE stages at festivals around the world. Tons of incredible producers and DJs play for me, mainly in North America.
How did you come to work with the vocalist Skin from Skunk Anansie?
I knew her from the Ibiza days. We used to hang out and party and stuff. Four or five years later we shared a flight back from Porto to London and we sat together for a couple of hours. We chatted about everything and I thought, well, I need to pop the question. Would you consider working with me? And she was open to the idea. As a result of that, we did a whole EP of five tracks together. It was an amazing journey, learning from such an incredible songwriter. To put that into techno was challenging, interesting.
Have there been any other vocalists that have appeared in your life since who you've wanted to collaborate again in such a concentrated way?
No. Not since then. Last year was crazy with touring, this year as well, but I'm putting aside more time now to be in the studio. I'm going to do an album and hopefully approach some more people to work with. We shall see.
You've lived in several places. Where feels like home?
London is home. But also Ibiza is home. New York and Miami as well. But London is my home. I've been here almost seventeen years, I studied here. I sold my house in Ibiza three years ago, but whenever I go there it's still home. I don't know, my home is in airports and aeroplanes right now.
Whereabouts in London do you live and what do you like about your area?
East London is the best area. Clerkenwell. It's just nice. A design and media district and it's quite central. I love it. It's buzzing, it's what London is.
Do you have any particular clubs you like to go to when you're in London, perhaps ones you like to visit even when you're not DJing?
Well, I wasn't DJing last weekend, I took the weekend off and the club I actually went to was club duvet. My bed. Ha! It feels like I don't want to be in a club right now. But, obviously, Fabric is down the road from me. That's the club in London right now.
If there was one DJ coming to town who would definitely make you get out from under the duvet, who would that be?
It would have to be someone like Carl (Cox) or Danny Tenaglia.
You're quite into cars. What's the appeal?
I like speed. I always did. I love cars, I've always driven them and have always loved driving fast. It seems like I'm very good at it, as well.
Have you ever picked up a speeding ticket?
Ach, yes. In the past.
What car do you own? What car would you like to own?
I own an Aston Martin. I would like to own an Audi V10 now, but that won't happen before a year and a half when I move to Miami.
That's the plan? Move to Miami?
When I'm touring the States I'd like to be based in Miami. I got an apartment two years ago. It's not finished yet, probably middle of next year. When I'm touring there, instead of being based in New York, I want to be based in a sunny place like Miami. And, yeah, I will have a car when I'm there.
So, the weather is the biggest appeal in Miami?
It is. I'm a sucker for the sun. I follow the sun everywhere. I was born in Africa, I'm from the Mediterranean, sun is very important. I want to be in the sun all the time. We can't have that here in England. But, hey, you're not in London for the weather, are you?