We went, we saw, we determined. The verdict: moombahton. It's all over the place and the people love it. So much so that we no longer need to talk about how it started, what it is, etcetera... that’s what Wikipedia is for (yep, there’s an entry if you’d like to get to class).
This year, between a strong showing at SXSW and a commanding presence at WMC, plus an April trip to Europe, the phenomenon of the past few years that is moombahton has solidified its place at the (turn)table. During WMC, we even started calling it Moombah-'todo', ‘todo’ translated from Spanish to English meaning ‘everything’.
On the flipside, ‘Nada’ might mean ‘nothing’ but Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom, AKA production duo Nadastrom, and Will ‘Sabo’ Sabatini are bringing exactly opposite of that. Strong on the production side of the Dutch house meets reggaeton meets cumbia meets hip-hop sound, we caught up with these dudes to hear what’s what on the scene- straight from the source...
If you need to get up to speed, Scion A/V are releasing a free EP, 'Moombahton Massive', which features JWLS, Steve Starks, Sabo and Nadastrom available below:
Dave, as 'creator' of this genre circa 2009, what is your state of the union at the moment?
D: “I would say moombahton is growing pretty well in North America right now. Our DC Moombahton Massive monthly consistently sells out and the HARD Miami Moombahton Massive selling out was a good reflection of that for sure. For us, it's gotten to the point where we're taking our Moombahton Massive party on the road because there's been a strong demand for it in other cities. Moombahton had a very strong presence at both SXSW and Miami Music Week this year. There were multiple events and label showcases focused around moombahton pretty much around every corner, which was awesome. The sound has infiltrated all types of music scenes and parties over here in the states. I feel like it's because DJs and producers find moombahton music irresistible to play with and dancefloors feel the same way. It's just too much fun, ha ha.
“There's definitely a strong international community of moombahton lovers, producers and DJs. We've made so many friends and peers from all around the world because of moombahton. Nadastrom headed to Europe in April and goes back in June after our US tour, so we'll have a better idea of how it’s growing out there. Still trying to tap into Latin America as well. We've been to Australia a bit and it's massive out there. Overall, I feel like moombahton is still budding globally, but its now championed as a legitimate genre and dominated by original production. I couldn't be happier.”
Nadastrom is a BEAST. No offense, but even bills I didn’t expect you to be on you were on! Like, seriously. Highlight of US side festivities? How was playing Ultra? Biggest festival you guys have played?
M: “I know this sounds cliché but it's super hard to pin down one highlight so I’ll give a few. Moombahton Massive Miami presented by HARD… man not sure where to begin with this. It couldn't have gone any smoother and we have Danny and Gary at HARD to thank for that. On top of that we got to tag with one our heroes, DJ Craze. It was incredible.
“The Roial rooftop party in SXSW. What was supposed to be a last minute, unannounced gig with a bunch of friends turned into a 12 hour DJ session. After two sets from ourselves and numerous others from homies like Tittsworth, Evol Intent, Jen Lasher and surprise visit by Munch, we were told by the promoter that they had cancelled the other bands for the evening and Dave, Sabo and I DJed for another 6 hours!
“And, of course… playing the Annie Mac presents stage at Ultra. We are such huge fans of her and were so honored to be asked to play the stage. I've been going to Miami for about 12 years now and this was the first time I had ever attended an Ultra and it was incredible. Plus, while not playing, we got to see a bunch of other DJs we love like Sinden, Jackmaster, Brodinski, Magda, and of course Annie Mac. We did spend a good amount of time watching Sven Vath as well and wow… that was pretty wild!”
I gotta tell you guys, so many events I attended this year seemed to have some element of the music, whether it was Nadastrom directly performing, Dillon Francis dropping some love or the moombahton 'room' at the ginormous multiplex party you played Sabo. The personal highlight was Nadastrom x Sabo x Craze at HARD Miami at Grand Central. I know you’ve attended WMC for some time dropping all kinds of flavor. What was the difference this year and what's the evolution from your perspective?
S: “Well I didn’t got to WMC last year and it was the first year I missed in almost seven years. I know that Nadastrom did a moombahton party with Toddla T, Craze, Heartbreak and many of the same folks who played this year. From what I heard, the party last year was really good and really fun, but nothing like the one we did this year with HARD. I mean we sold out the venue before even opening the doors, which is pretty unheard of for a 1,200 person venue on a Wed night at WMC. I was blown away, there was still about 1,000 kids trying to get in outside too…so amazing.
“The other thing that was incredible is how many well known 'dance' music producers were in attendance. These are guys who live above 125 BPM and to be honest, were kinda hating on us two years ago when we were editing their tunes and slowing them down to make moombahton. It seemed to me like they were now recognizing the fact that moombahton is a legitimate genre with original productions and its popularity cannot be denied. It was like they were there thinking, 'hmm, I need to check this out and understand why the kids are feeling it.' The answer is simple – moombahton is fun, unpretentious, booty-shaking music, that makes people dance uncontrollably.
“I think you’re gonna start seeing a lot more producers dabbling at the 110 BPM range this year. They may never call it 'moombahton' but the influence is there and it’s undeniable how well it moves a dancefloor when played the right way. We had almost 20 DJs on the lineup this year, almost everyone shared a tag team set and everyone was stoked and happy to do that. You won’t find that kind of humility or camaraderie in many other genres. I’ve been in the house scene for years and while it consistently preaches spirituality, blessings and togetherness, when you meet a lot of the people involved, they are far from all of those things. There are just too many egos to fit in one room with a lot of dance music and I think that’s why moombahton on a whole has been so successful, because it truly is a family of producers and DJs who all support each other sans ego.”
As a production team, you're making some serious records but the cats loving the music are hungry and right on your heels in the lab! Production wise, what's on the decks for all of you? What are you listening to and using at the moment? Collabs you can’t wait for? Toys?
M: “Dave and I are actually in the process of the developing a moombahton label that we are planning to launch in the coming months called Diabluma Sound. It will feature releases from Steve Starks, JWLS, Boyfriend and of course us and Sabo. We have a handful of productions we are sitting on at the moment that we will release soon… just trying to work out the right timing and avenue for them. They are a bit leftfield and not exactly what some people would expect from us but we really believe in these songs.
“As far as production set ups, Dave uses Ableton and I use Logic with Ableton rewired in. Neither one of us really have any hardware aside from monitors and midi-controllers. I constantly toy with idea of getting something just to improve dynamics or to add a bit of 'life' to our music but in the end I like the idea that I don't have to be home to complete a production by running it through my mixer, compressor, whatever. But it would be nice to have some new toys!”
S: “Nadastrom and I are working on a collective EP together for Scion A/V to support our upcoming tour. I’m working on my own remixes and productions for Sol*Selectas, my label, and started a series of compilations called 'Moombah Fiesta' which will be a vinyl only series. The first volume dropped the week of WMC to great response. I’m doing collaborations with Paul Devro, DJ Melo, Alix Alvarez (house music), and hopefully soon Bro Safari as well.
“As far as studio goes, I’m using Ableton and Logic for producing with a simple midi-keyboard. Definitely gonna be incorporating more original vocals into my music, as well as trying to get more live instrumentation in the mix as well.”
I’ve been hearing some more hip-hop heavy moombahton lately. When do we know if it's still drawing 'within the lines'? How does one maintain the integrity of something when its growing exponentially like this? Talk to me about the formula….
D: “I can see why hip-hop and moombahton work well together. I like to think that both share a similarity in a sense that they can pull influences from different kinds of music and cultures, and yet still maintain a vibe that keeps the sound in check. For example, sometimes I'll hear a record theses days and be like, 'yeah, that's some moombahton shit right there', whether it's labeled that way or not. It has become an influential sound and because of that moombahton music is now a vibe. With that said, there aren't any rules really, I try not to over think it.”
Any fears of becoming too commercial? Lots of hype can sometimes backfire as we know. How does one stay 'underground'? Is that even a concern?
S: “I think as long as you are making music you truly love you cannot be called a sellout. Perhaps people will say you’re corny, but then again to each his own. Staying underground and making a living is a very delicate fine line. I’m just gonna keep doing me and hope it works out.”
M: “Just do records you believe in and ones you love, not because you think it's gonna get you paid or status. That's it.”
D: “Yup. Matt and Sabo hit the nail on the head with that one!”
We did a recent interview with an internationally renowned DJ who loves moombahsoul. The debate on the table was about moombahton being 'sexy' or 'brofesty'. I personally think moombahton is sexy as hell. Do you? Does one make music with an intention like this? What is moombahsoul anyway?
S: “Moombahsoul is basically Moombahton that samples or draws influence from R&B, motown and soul. Heartbreak coined the term and made the first tune with Munchi. It’s the sexier deeper side of the genre, minus the car alarms, build-ups and heavy bass drops. I make lots of music like this and I do make it with the intention of 'keeping it sexy'. The Massive in DC was co-sponsored by HARD fest which lends towards a more hands in the air peak time sound – so that’s how we booked the line-up.
“But honestly, if you have never been to a DC Massive, where the ratio is often more girls than guys, Nadastrom and I begin the night with lots of sexier deep moombahton and moombahsoul, and will usually close out the night as well. There is a time and place for the sexy side of moombahton which, until the genre expands and gets bigger, doesn’t really work at peak time. Hopefully some day it will.”
M: “Dave and I actually just got done playing a big massive in Canada with a bunch of homies… halfway through our set we noticed the crowd was just tired. The DJs before had been playing pretty hard and the crowd was eating it up but when we went on they just seemed a bit spent. So instead of trying to pick it up even more, we decided to play some tracks with big moments but that grooved out a bit more in-between and had less crazy noises; tracks like Sabo's 'La Candela' edit, our joint 'Dub-A-Bluma' and some new stuff we have been working on in that vein. And you know what? Both the crowds and the DJs we were playing with ate that up even more than the bangers we started with. Like Sabo said, there is a time and a place for everything.
“Also, I have never seen more girls on the dancefloor than when sabo plays… ever! Dude is like a snake charmer.”
D: “Ha ha ha, yeah I was just about to say, you obviously haven't seen moombahton go off in DC. Shit gets crazy inappropriate, ha ha. You see, that's the beauty of moombahton, it has a wide range; it can be deep and sexy, heavy and aggressive, or heady and weird. I love it all. I'm a DJ first so for me I like to try to make all kinds of vibes for every occasion of the night.”
So you clearly need to give the people what they want. Any plans for a tour? Next big projects? What's the happs on the Mad Decent relationship?
D: “Mad Decent is family. We love to work with them whenever we get the chance, be it a record release, music event, or studio jam session. They've been huge supporters of moombahton and continue to kill it!”
S: “Moombahton Massive Tour with Nadastrom and Sabo begins April 25 all across America until June 1. A five song EP sponsored by Scion A/V will accompany us on the tour and be handed out everywhere for free.
“For my label Sol*Selectas there will soon be moombahton EPs by Smalltown DJs, DJ Melo, Euro ill Bass and more 'Moombah Fiesta' compilations on exclusive vinyl.
“Also, I do a monthly Moombahton radio show for Electric Sound Stage called 'Moombah Fiesta' which airs via iHeartRadio.com”
M: “Sabo pretty much covered it… also keep your eye out for Diabluma Sound which will be dropping it's first release very soon by DC-based producer Steve Starks (dude is a beast!).”
Exceptional fellas. Looking very forward to it! Shake something.
Check the dates below for the Moombathon Massive Tour coming to a city near you this May.
Nadastrom & Sabo present Moombahton Massive Tour
Fri May 4th - Houston
Wed May 9th - Vancouver
Fri May 11th - St Louis
Web May 16th - San Francisco
Thur May 17th - Portland
Sat May 19th - House of Blues, San Diego
Monday May 21st - Symbiosis Nevada
Tuesday May 22nd - U Hall, DC
Thur May 24th - Las Vegas
Friday May 25th - Lawrence Kansas
Saturday May 26th - Tampa FL
Sunday May 27th - Metro, Chicago
Tuesday May 29th - Phoenix AZ
Sponsored by SCION A/V
Words: Adriana Cruz
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.