Emotion is an important part of any dance track, but some would argue that more repetitive genres like techno have a harder time conveying it. In comes Nicole Moudaber, a London resident that has no trouble expressing her true feelings through pounding basslines and groovy percussion. The level of sophistication and class in her tracks is unparalleled, and the world has taken notice. She has played a huge number of shows recently, ranging from Carl Cox’s weekly at Space Ibiza to Nocturnal Wonderland here in LA. I was lucky enough to chat with Nicole about emotion in techno, collaborations, and the process behind making a timeless record.
I wanted to first ask you about your new EP with Victor Calderone – how did that collaboration come about?
Well, we have been friends and colleagues for awhile, Victor and I, then we came up with the idea ‘let’s do a collaboration!’ So one day he sends me a two minute loop and says to me ‘what do you think about that?’ I instantly fell in love with it, it has the deep bassline and of course the vocals, and I just took it from there. It turned out to be really a banging, emotional techno track.
I noticed you’ve been really into that sound lately. In your essential mix you said your mood made you feel like dark and serious techno, and I noticed that on the EP as well. Is that a sound you’re just really into right now or do you bounce around a lot?
It depends on how I’m feeling on the day. That track, ‘The Journey Begins’, I was going through a very difficult period in my life, my dad was very ill at the time, and I just felt compelled to throw down some chords and express that emotion that I was at at the moment, and it came about to be that way. So it just depends on my mood, how I’m feeling, and I express my music and my feelings like that as I go along.
In the studio, where do you start? I notice that your tracks are very percussive, what comes first?
The chords. I work on the chords, beats, and the bassline. When my groove is solid, then I develop it from there basically. It’s all about the beats and the bassline for me.
You’re playing with Carl Cox’s show at Space in Ibiza and you’re playing more internationally as well – you have Nocturnal coming up this weekend here in LA. Do you notice a difference playing to audiences in Europe vs. in America?
I don’t really differentiate between the audiences between different continents, however I do differentiate between the vibe of the venue. If I’m playing a big festival, I tend to play more big, pounding records than I really like, if I’m playing intimate clubs, I tend to play slightly deeper, and it gives me the opportunity to express the various kinds of music that I like.
I don’t just like one specific kind of music, I like everything basically, and that gives me the opportunity to do what I like to do depending on the size of the venue.
Do you have a preference between big or small venues?
No, I like both. I produce deep stuff and I produce big room techno, so it gives me the opportunity to do both. I like them both equally really.
Going back to production for second, you’ve released on a variety of prolific labels – the most recent one was Drumcode but you’ve released on Carl Cox’s label and you’re starting your own as well, how do all these relationships start and where is your label going?
Well the relationship that developed with Carl Cox was him liking my music, he supported it on his radio show, after that he started inviting me to his night. With Adam Beyer’s label Drumcode, we developed a friendship and he supported my music, now I’m working on an album for Drumcode. I’ve got that EP with Victor that’s already out and another solo one coming out end of November with the album following that. As far as my label, it’s gonna be stuff that I really feel and I really like. I’m going to start with my own stuff initially, and after that I would be releasing other artists as well. It will vary from all kinds of house – from deep to tech to big room techno.
I read a review of your most recent EP that called the title track a ‘timeless sound’. Do you have that in mind when making a record or is it something that just happens?
It just happens. It sounded timeless because you just never get bored of it. You know, you can play it over and over again without getting bored, it gives you different emotions every time you play it. I think that’s what timeless is. It just happened. You can’t prepare, or you can’t say ‘oh, I’m going to do a timeless record now’, it just happens as you go along, which is really amazing. The more you put emotion, the more you feel, the more it shows in the music. I think that’s what happens normally.
It seems like emotion is a big part of the music you make, and you said earlier you were going through a hard time and that’s why the dark techno came about.
What sort of genres do you lean towards when you’re feeling happier?[Laughs] That’s a difficult question, I don’t know. It just depends on the mood that you are during the day. Sometimes I get in and say to myself ‘okay, now I’m going to do something’ and it becomes this banging techno track. It depends on how you do it. You can’t say what you’re going to do when it’s not right, it just shows, and it happens, how you say, spontaneously as you go along.
I also wanted to ask, I’m sure you get this all the time but I feel like I have to ask it, how is it being a female in a very male dominated industry?
Oh man, they ask me this question all the time [laughs] [Phil: I’m sure they do, I was a little hesitant] [laughs] I don’t like to think of it that way to be honest, because music in general has no gender, no color, has no…music is music, whether it’s done by a man or a woman, it’s a sound and it’s got no gender. That’s what I do, I would like to think of it as a universal thing, and not categorize it as such, you know? And being in a male dominated industry, I never really thought of it this way because people respect you of what you do and what you gave up, they don’t look at you as a male or a female. I’d like to bend the conventional view, because it’s rubbish, you know? Throw out the rubbish [laughs]. We need to bend that rule, it’s terrible.
100%, I completely agree. Finally, is there anywhere you haven’t played you’d like to?
Yeah! I’m actually doing a South American tour, I haven’t played in South America and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m doing a little tour in Colombia, I’m doing four shows in four different cities so I think that’s going to be interesting.
Well, I’m out of questions, wanted to thank you for talking with me today!
No problem, thanks for having me!