In this ongoing series, dance music industry veterans talk about the night they became slaves to the beat.
Let’s just be forthright and say that Nicole Moudaber (hint: it’s pronounced moo-DAH-ber) is straight-up fabulous. All hair, lips and joie de vivre, the UK-based producer has become the widely proclaimed queen of techno on the power of her sophisticated sounds and her legendary, long-running and globe-spanning MOOD parties.
But even legends have to start somewhere. Here, Moudaber recounts how seeing Danny Tenaglia one night in New York blew her mind and set the course for her career.
Tell me about the night you fell in love with dance music.
Mine happened in New York. It was at a club called the Tunnel. It was the early 2000s. Danny [Tenaglia] was playing. He wasn’t such a big known DJ at the time, but he was just about to blow up. There I was in this club, and I heard this music for the first time ever, and it just turned my life upside-down, really, because I felt artistic feelings that I didn’t know existed in me. I guess I discovered the artist in me that night. That changed my life completely. The drums, the music he was playing—tribal house and techno. It just blew my mind. I’ve been hooked on that kind of music ever since.
Had you been listening to this music before?
No! Because trance was so dominant at the time; dance music was blowing up and evolving in different styles, obviously. Me being from the UK, that was the dominating sound: the harder, German kind of trance, and that kind of fast techno. But going to the States and listening to a slower, deeper, funkier version of a different kind of style, which was obviously US tribal house—it was different.
What were you doing in New York?
I was just traveling. [laughs] I used to study in London, and any opportunity I had, I would travel just to go clubbing.
You were traveling the world specifically to go to clubs?
Specifically to go to clubs.
Where had you been prior to this?
In Madrid, in Amsterdamn, just everywhere. Paris… I love Paris. London, of course. I used to club out.
How old were you at the time?
I was younger [laughs], but I don’t regret any minute of it, because it was kind of my musical education. I heard every single DJ, and I kind of studied everything they did, how they did it, what they played, what time. I was that person on the floor, scrutinizing and flying on the music.
So you get to New York after being in Europe, and what’s different, culturally?
The lifestyle is obviously different in New York. It was totally different than Europe. New York back then, the gay clubs were it at the time—all the drag queens and all the freaks. People who used to dress and make the effort. We didn’t have that in the UK; over there was a full-on, banging kind of rave going on. So in that sense, New York was sexier, and I remember at the time, all the British DJs went over to America. Sasha and Digweed started going over and slowing down their music, basically. That’s how you had the emergence of progressive house during that time.
What else do you remember about that night?
After that, I went to London, and I started promoting for five years. I had a monthly night here in London at a club called Turnmills, and I worked there for five and a half consecutive years. I booked so many DJs. I stopped doing that when I bought a house in Ibiza, and that required me to go over there and refurbish the place. I stepped away from the music world for two and a half years. I wanted to come back to it, but not as a promoter, because it was kind of an intense job. One day you win, and another one you lose. It was quite risky, but my love and passion for the music stayed the same. So I decided to go and make the music, and that’s how I started producing. My ears started me, basically.
Is there one song that sums up that night for you?
Danny’s “Music Is the Answer.”
Have you seen Danny play since?
Of course. He’s one of my heroes, and he’s the reason why I’m doing all this, really. It’s such an honor for me to have worked with him in different capacities. I threw a party three or four years ago in Ibiza, and he was the head of that party. It was at Ushuaia. I played with him then as well, and also to be a promoter for such an iconic figure in my life was really incredible for me.
After that, our friendship developed, and I went into the studio with him in New York, and we did a few attempts on music together. And obviously last year, when I threw my Mood party in Miami during the conference, he was one of my guests—along with Carl Cox, who is another hero of mine. The friendship, both artistically and personally, is just amazing; and for us to do, for the first time, a three-hour back-to-back in Montreal at the Bal en Blanc is pretty amazing for me—and I think for him, too. It’s April 5 in Montreal.
That’s such a great full-circle for you.
Unbelievable, really, to play with the guy that initiated all of these feelings in me.