Interview by Desiree Gamotin
It was 1 am on a Saturday. The smokers were herded up against the red roped area outside Wrongbar and already you could here the 108 bpm pulses from across the street. After weaving through the sweat-drenched crowd bouncing to Thugli (a.k.a. Drastik and Tom Wrecks) for 10 minutes, I finally coerced a random dude heading upstairs to the well-hidden "Green Room" to let me in for my interview with the god of moombahton himself Dave Nada and his bromantic DJ partner in crime Matt Nordstrom.
I was greeted cooly by Matt and a voice from the washroom ("Is that Desiree?!") - out emerged Dave Nada, Cheshire-cat grin and Skrillex-haired, hugs all around like we've known each other for ages. At least, I'd like to think so. Having heard Nadastrom’s first few tracks three years ago, when moombahton was a baby, a monster-in-the-making genre that was tough to pronounce, meeting Dave and Matt now was like kissing the hands of the Godfather, reliving all the times I've "expressed myself" against the walls of house parties to a Nadastrom mix and bonding with my Filipino mother over trying to explain the infectious world-wide dance phenomenon called 'moombahton.' So yes, I felt like we all knew each other pretty damn well.
Dave was like an academic scholar of moombahton, speaking eloquently about the influence of the genre among the best producers and the future of moombahton music with Matt chiming in as if they shared the same brilliant brain. Tossing my reverence aside for a moment, we talked to the EDM catalysts Nadastrom before their SLOWED set about insane tour schedule, their new label Diabluma Sound and Mama Nada’s Empanadas.
You guys are crazy jetsetters – I know you were just in Ottawa and Montreal and last week you were in New York for Electric Zoo. How was that by the way?
Dave: Oh man, it was amazing! That was the first time we got to play Electric Zoo let alone even experience Electric Zoo. It was awesome cuz we got to play with a lot of our peers like we played before Dillon Francis and after Gesaffelstein – it was Fool’s Gold clubhouse stage, we play with them all time in places around the world so it was a family affair.
Matt: There was a bunch of great artists too that we wanted to see that were playing like Alvin Risk. Reboot killed it so hard – him and A-Trak were probably our favourite sets for sure.
So how do you do it? Your schedule is insane – how do you manage to tour like this all the time and what are some of your favourite places to play?
Dave: I feel like you kinda got to take it night by night, day by day. I mean, you prep for the long run if you got a big coming schedule. You want to pace yourselves and rest up and take days off and whatever, you know, live life.
Matt: You learn how to sleep in weird spaces and positions. But at the end of the day we wouldn’t trade this for anything. This is the greatest thing we could ever ask for in life.
So it’s officially been three years – it was Fall 2009, since those kids at the party went mental over your Afrojack remix – if people don’t know the story of how moombahton was created, they should do their homework. Where do you see this genre going from here?
Dave: I think at this point for me just kind of being a fly on the wall – I guess a big fly on the wall in our position. Moombahton music has been growing consistently for a good three years and music changes all the time, it consistently adapts and morphs into other sounds. People are just always inspired by it. Even for us, we’ve been inspired by a lot of the newer producers that have been coming out and making moombahton music and now I feel like it’s starting to resonate and be this kind of vibe which is now starting to influence other sounds and other genres of music. I know it exists cuz I could hear it in newer tunes that wouldn’t necessarily be moombahton records but you could hear the influence. And like kids now are growing up on that music so it’s no longer just a sound that’s like, “Hey this is a new sound,” it’s like, “No this is a sound I’ve been listening to for the past three years” and it… sparks an inspiration. Whether it’s really hard bangin’ electro-dubstep inspired moombahton or like a really deep Latin-rooted moombahton track, you know, there’s a vibe there but there’s a range at the same time. I feel like right now it’s infiltrated so many different sounds and scenes… and that’s something we want to help drive.
Matt: And I think a great example of that is Munchi's “Vamo A Darle Slow.” It was on the first EP and that was what, an 88 bpm record? But that had moombahton written all over it. It wasn’t 108 [bpm], but it had the influence of it.
What do you think makes moombahton stand apart from all the other sonic movements?
Dave: The tempo, man.
Matt: The tempo, yeah. I mean you can do something really energetic with it or you can do something really laid back but at the end of the day it’s slower and it’s a little sexier.
Dave: Honestly I think the tempo is really attractive and it allows you to pace yourself and really draw it out and spend the whole night listening to it. It’s got range.
What is it like for people to call you the god creator of moombahton and the catalysts for this movement?
D: I mean again it’s a very inspiring thing. It’s not so much give give but also take. Me and Matt we’ve been producing together full time for five years so we’ve always been sponges. So for us to have something to offer or contribute to a culture or sound, to see it blow up as much as it has but also give so much in return has been super inspiring. It’s very flattering… I mean, I think we kind of take it with a grain of salt because at the end of the day we’re just producer DJs ourselves looking to be inspired just as much.
At Toronto’s first Mad Decent Block Party, we’re seeing all these new DJs and hybrids of music like this one DJ group A Tribe Called Red. Do you think Toronto stacks up in comparison to D.C. and other cities?
Dave: Oh, yeah.
Matt: Absolutely yeah.
Dave: I think tonight is kind of a good way to show that. I mean Torro Torro and Lucie Tic, they’ve been doing the SLOWED parties for a good while now and I remember when it started. It’s just grown organically and… every time we come to Toronto it’s always been a great vibe and people know the music. It’s definitely one of our favourite spots when it comes to touring and I’m not just saying that because we’re here [laughs].
Matt: You really got to give it up for Torro Torro and Lucie and them for really putting the music on blast and educating the crowd so when we come through it makes our job a lot more fun. But also a lot more nerve-wracking. I remember when, a few months ago, I was like, “Man they’re killing it down there, we gotta come up with some new shit dude!” We were up here making edits…
Dave: That’s good though, they’re making you work and that’s the whole point.
Let’s talk about your new label Diabluma Sound. First of all, what does “diabluma” mean?
Diabluma is, just to kind of put it short, it’s based on this character – every summer in Ecuador they do this thing called Carnivale in this town called Cayambe where my mom is from… I grew up there, I used to go every summer since I was seven years old. They have big street parties, festivals, you name it. There’s a character called Diabluma which is Spanish for the devil head, it’s a whole costume with a mask and getup and they go around town every night for like a week going through people’s homes. They dance and sing and play music and you’re suppose to invite them into your home and bribe them with alcohol and they continue on to the next house.
Matt: Pretty fitting for Nadastrom.
Dave: [laughs] I mean, it was just something I grew up on and I was just like this character’s so crazy and weird and bucked out and at the same time the spirit of it all kind of matches our whole vibe. So I was like man, Matt we should totally do something conceptual with this character so we did El Baile Diabluma EP on Scion, which was like the introduction of the whole character. We filmed our video in Ecuador and then after that, we’ve been wanting to start a label for a long time and we were like alright now’s a good time. So we named the label after the character Diabluma, so it’s Diabluma Sound – it’s a reflection of our perspective in music and what we like, not just moombahton music but music in general.
And you went to Ecuador with your mom too. Do you have to explain to your mom what moombahton is?
Dave: No, she knows!
Matt: She gets it probably more than most people.
Dave: Yeah, exactly. No my mom has been a huge supporter since the beginning. She has a little business now called Mama Nada’s Empanadas where she hand-makes her own empanadas at the Moombahton Massives. It started off as a benefit for Munchi when Munchi got hospitalized, he got sick and he was in Hawaii at the time and he couldn’t afford hospital bills, had to go back to Europe to Rotterdam where he was from. So we threw a big Moombahton Massive benefit party and my mom was like how about we make empanadas so we can sell them and make more money. It was a huge hit, everyone loved it and my mom makes amazing empanadas. It was high in demand so we were like let’s just keep doing it every month. But my mom is super involved, she’s a huge supporter of moombahton music, a huge supporter of us.
So is Diabluma Sound strictly a moombahton label? How did you find Steve Starks and JWLS?
Dave: It isn’t strictly moombahton, I mean that’s definitely the focus but at the end of the day Diabluma Sound is a reflection of the records we love. Of course the first couple cats we have like Steve Starks and JWLS, these are cats that we’ve been huge fans of for years especially Steve Starks – he’s been a D.C. friend of ours.
Matt: He’s an old friend and he’s been kind of feeding us records for a minute so obviously he was a really good first release for us especially since him coming from D.C. he got the music really well. And then you know JWLS clearly, I mean “Bashin” was a record that has so much history and it was a real honour for us to be able to put that out. The next one is from Boyfriend from Lithuania who has a really interesting slant on it, it’s just such an amazing package - he did a record with Big Mac too from Florida, it’s so great. And one of his records, it was crazy, we were at Electric Zoo and saw Luciano play and you know he’s this big techno DJ from Germany and he played a Boyfriend track at like 126, you know all sped up, and I was like “What the hell is going on?!” Boyfriend I don’t know if you know that, I’ve been meaning to email you. And then the next release is from Disgraceland from London who has kind of this deep house techno DC-10 sort of vibe to the whole package, it’s really amazing. Then we got another EP from our boy Sabo coming up that’s shaping up really well, we’re really excited about that one.
When can we expect those?
Dave: Um, late fall into the winter?
Matt: Yeah we’re trying to do something once every month and a half. The Boyfriend one is gonna come out September 25th.
Do you have a favourite track or something that you released or one of your favourite mixes to do?
Matt: I mean “Selekta” was, that was like our anthem.
Dave: DJ Craze put out this record called “Selekta” and it’s kinda like our summer anthem. He’s one of our favourite DJs, probably the greatest DJ alive. So it was cool to collaborate with him. We threw a party with him together to make a release party in Miami and he’s just been a huge supporter and we’ve been such huge fans of his since we fucking learned how to fucking mixed records. So to see him make a huge record, a huge release that’s moombahton music, it’s just super fucking flattering and just awesome to see that he’s pushing it and genuinely into it. So I think that kind of did it for us for this summer.
What’s next for Nadastrom? What’s big? What’s bubbling in your heads?
Matt: We’re really working to try and push this label. We’re also working on our debut album which is coming along slowly but surely. But yeah, we have a bunch of ideas that we can’t wait to play for people. We’ve kind of been keeping it low key at the moment. Some people may have heard them when we were really drunk late at night but yeah we’re really excited about that.
Last question, if you were to play anywhere, it could be in the clouds, on top of a mountain somewhere, any country, it could be on top of things, what would it be – your dream set?
Dave: On top of things [laughs]… I don’t know man, I feel like we’ve done it all.
Matt: I really wanna play Panorama Bar.
Dave: Oh yeah, we wanna play in Berlin, fuck that.
Matt: And that beach club in Brazil that I’m completely spacing out on, you know the one I’m talking about…
Dave: Ohh, Warung!
Matt: Yeahh, Warung in Brazil.
Dave: Warung in Brazil, Panorama Bar in Berlin – that would be tight. Just sayin.
Matt: That would be dream gigs and having hours and hours to be playing both of those would be pretty awesome.
Thanks so much to Desiree, Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom!