Nicole Moudaber Believes In The Power of the Dance Floor

By Lucinda Catchlove

Nicole Moudaber cut her teeth throwing parties in Beirut in the late ‘90s. After being arrested for her activities promoting in Beirut, Moudaber decided to move to London where she continued to run events and make a name for herself. Then, after a three-year hiatus from the industry to literally play house (or rather work on one), she decided she needed to get involved in music again. Looking for a more direct connection with what she loved, she jumped right into DJing and producing her own music.

Believe, which has just been released on Swedish techno label Drumcode, is the Nigerian-born DJ/producer’s first album. Not surprisingly, considering Moudaber’s history, Believe has a very “London” feel to it—think Carl Cox and the funkier techno side of Sasha & Digweed. Moudaber’s album of full-bodied, trance-tinged techno built purely for the dancefloor is a good illustration of why she’s been creating such a stir in clubs from Miami to London. Though Moudaber isn’t totally out of the promotion game, she’s also putting her experience and business skills to work on her own Mood Records imprint. Société Perrier managed to track down the very busy Moudaber, who is currently on a DJ tour to promote Believe.

Nicole-Moudaber1-400x266When you made the transition from party promoter to music producer/DJ, did you have a mentor or did you just lock yourself up in the studio and practice until you got it right?
When I was a promoter for many years in London, and had my monthly night at Turnmills, I learned a lot about the music. Then I stepped out of the music business for a few years and I built a house in Ibiza. I refurbished it and focused on that project. I didn’t want to come back to promoting, but my love for the music was still very strong so I decided to lock myself in the studio, and it spiraled from there. Obviously I didn’t have much experience with DJing, I was more like a bedroom DJ and a collector of music, so to cut corners I was coached for a few weeks by an instructor. He trained me how to perfect Traktor and all the Native Instruments controllers. After that I just practiced a lot and created my own sound.

Who and what are the major influences on your sound?
Danny Tenaglia and Carl Cox, those are the main two artists. Since I was born in Africa there are many influences from there—drums, percussion, Afro beat music—that shows in my tracks today. It’s quite hypnotic and percussive.

You’ve DJed all around the world, what are you favorite cities, clubs and festivals to play at?
I’m loving the US and Canada a lot these days. My favourite club is Stereo in Montreal, I have the freedom to play long sets and express all my love for music and different styles there. For festivals it would have to be, without a doubt, Awakenings in Amsterdam and, for clubs, Space Ibiza. I’m scheduled to play Monegros Festival in Spain, on the Main Stage with Underworld, so that’s going to be interesting.

Taking into consideration your experiences in Beirut, do you see DJing and parties as being purely fun or do you think there’s a deeper social (and even political) significance to what happens on the dancefloor?
In the Middle East, there is a political meaning and even a cultural meaning to throwing parties. Music brings together all walks of life, whether you’re a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian, we’re all gathered together expressing ourselves to one sound all night. I don’t think it has much political meaning in Europe or the US, but it does still have a deep social meaning, because people are expressing love. They’re more in tune with each other— there are no barriers, no social stigmas. You can be working class, middle class, upper class, nobody cares – we’re all doing the same thing.

Nicole Moudaber headlines Footwork‘s 8-year anniversary on Friday, May 10.