Nicole Moudaber is a one-woman force of nature. The DJ/producer, born and raised in Nigeria which introduced her to artists like Fela Kuti, started out promoting parties in her later city of residence Lebanon, to being tipped as “the most underrated DJ” by Carl Cox back in ‘09. Now, Nicole has her hands full releasing on labels like Drumcode, teaming up with Skunk Anansie’s Skin while running her own MOOD label, flitting between Mexico and Ibiza all in the blink of an eye. We caught up with the Renaissance woman to find out just how she does it...
So you rung in 2016 at Heart in Miami, how was that?
“OH MY GOD it was out of this world. I played this new club called Heart and it reminded me a little bit of DC-10. I played about nine hours that night. I finished about 11am, but as soon as 7am hit, the sun was filtering through and suddenly the whole room lit up, people put their sunglasses on and you could see the smiling faces. It reminded me of the Ibiza vibe and it was amazing. It was an incredible start to 2016.”
We saw on Twitter that your New Year's resolution was "less talking, more music, more racing”. Can you talk a bit about your love of fast cars?
“I recently went to Autódromo do Estoril in Lisbon, which is a very famous circuit in the racing world. They arranged an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Ultra for me, it's a car that's won many championships already. They shipped it from Madrid to Lisbon for me that day, and I had a full day in that car with my coach, who is a two-time Formula 1 world champion. I've got footage actually! At the end of the day, we had the whole circuit booked for me and a friend of mine - just the two of us on that circuit with a full team of mechanics, the full shabang. It was mega! It's a new hobby of mine and I just passed the license, but at the end of the day all the guys were just jumping up and down. I asked them what was going on, and they said "You know, you were only 20 seconds away from the lap record that had been done on this circuit in a Ferrari 458 GT3. So I feel like I do have a second talent there for sure!”
What would your dream car be to own or race?
”I already own an Aston Martin G8 Vantage, and its fitting my mood right now. But my dream is to own a Lamborghini, but they cost a lot of money! Bitch needs to work really hard now!”
In an interview you described techno and house as having a "transcendental, meditative quality". When you play, do you feel the need to inspire that feeling in your audience?
”Yes! The music that we play is very repetitive and very meditative — it can take you to a sort of trance when you repeat something over and over again. Whether you are enhanced by some external factors or not, you can still elevate on that kind of music. Once I hit the second hour of a set I'm in that zone, and I get transported and I think that people do feed from my energy and go with me on that journey. So yes, I don't necessarily do it intentionally but it emanates and affects the vibe of everybody there.”
What does 2016 have in store for MOOD records?
”I've got some incredible releases lined up. I've got my 'Silent Sigh' EP coming out at the end of the month and there's an album from Marino Canal, an incredible Spanish artist. And also I've got a remix package for the Breed EP — I have people like Jamie Jones, Chris Liebing, Pan-Pot, Scuba, Carl Craig, Hector and Paco Osuna involved and it's sounding incredible. I've been playing them and it's just mega. There's lots of exciting stuff coming out on MOOD, but also lots of parties related to MOOD.
So it's sad news to hear about Carl Cox ending his Space residency this year. Are you still close with him and how do you feel about the residency ending?
”Well it's funny that you ask me this question, because last month before he went to Australia I was chatting with him on the phone, and I told him I was really really sad, because I don't want anything to end! He told me, "No! I'm actually very happy it's ending, I've been doing it for 15 years and everything has to come to an end." It's better to end it on a high and leave like that, and we don't know what will happen after that when Pepe leaves and it goes back to the original owners. 16 years is a long time running, very few people will achieve that. So he's really very happy that he's rocked the island for 15 years and it's been one of the most successful parties out there. He really put a new perspective on it for me - you need to be happy, because everything ends and then you get onto the next big thing.”
Can you name any female individuals past and present in the industry who have particularly inspired you?
”From the past, there's DJs like Smokin Jo. I really look up to someone like Anja Schneider, she's an incredible person as a DJ, a career woman and a professional. I could say the same about Monika Kruse... there are many in this industry who I look up to.”
Can you speak about your experience as a woman in your own career journey? Do you feel it would be any different as a man? (Aside from getting asked questions like these from journalists!)
”Absolutely not. I don't feel threatened, I don't feel like I live in a man's world, I live in my own world! And I shape it the way I want. it's as simple as that.”
As somebody who did a minor in Women's Studies, does that have any impact on your own thoughts about the industry you're a part of?
”Absolutely, but on a personal level. But professionally, I feel like I'm owning my own industry. I've got my company, I built it from scratch, and this is my thing. What I've learnt in my university years has little impact on my professional life, but on a personal level, it's had a lot of impact, of course. It made me see the inequalities in certain continents, it made me understand how cultures work. What we need to tackle is the perception and the cultural side of things rather than this industry... at the end of the day, if you're a man or a woman, if you want to work, and be successful, you just need to work hard and be tough. There are weak men out there and there are weak women out there. And there are strong men and strong women out there. It depends where you fall and where you want to be, it's as simple as that.”
What can you tell us about Lower East Side?
“I got involved in this non-profit organisation called the Lower East Side Girl's Club, based in the Lower East Side of New York. Basically it's run by two incredible women who have raised money and built a state of the art building that cost about 20 million, to help girls from lower income families and orphans. Some of these girls have been raped or had bad experiences with family members. They bring them all in and they teach them about media, music, radio, cooking, astrology, all these interesting things to help develop them. I decided to donate and be part of this amazing group of people. I wanted to create a music section, and I've already pressed the button on getting all the equipment from Pioneer — CDJs, mixers, controllers and all that. It gives them everything they need to perfect their art.”