DJ-producers Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom have a lot of explaining to do. For one, what is moombahton? Is it a dance or a new sport? Okay, we’re just kidding. But since we don’t get to meet the creator (and creative-partner) of a dance music genre every day, JUICE decided to speak to them at the Red Bull 3style World Finals 2012 in Chicago and dig deep into their hazy party rocking memories to find out how to start a new thing…
Could you break down Moombahton for us?
Dave Well moombahton is basically a fusion of reggaeton and tradition Latin music fused with new electronic house and now even elements of dubstep and techno; and what initially started out as a fusion of slowing down tropical house records, to kind of give it this weird reggaeton vibe.
How did you create it?
Dave It was when I played at a Skipping party. My cousin threw a party and he wanted me to DJ. So I go there and the guy before me was playing reggaeton and Latin sh!t. I had these Dutch house records, so what I wanted to do was to keep the flow going, I didn’t wanna mess up the floor and like change the music abruptly ‘cause everybody was into it. I just slowed down those Dutch house records, and they just sounded amazing at a slower tempo, and that just lit a fire.
And where did you go from there?
D I was trying to make edits, you know, DJ tools to see… trying to make these weird sounding Latin reggaeton music records, and give them out to Latin DJs and people that I knew and DJ friends. Then we started testing it out in our sets, just like a sprinkle here and there. They gave us a chance to float around and try different kinds of music again. It started out from there then I put out two moombahton EPs as promos on T&A Records, then it just kinda spread like wild fire from there, and then you have the producers from all over the world who’re making amazing original moombahton. Specifically, Munchi from Rotterdam, he raised the bar really high for moombahton music, and he really grasped the sound and the vibe of moombahton, you can hear it in his production.
For the benefit of the people back home in Malaysia, could you explain what’s a school skipping party?
D It’s basically just a couple of kids skipping school and having a party at a friend’s house.
So Taxlo was the name of the party that…
D Yeah that was one of the first parties that I was a resident at in Baltimore.
And then it was voted by Spin Magazine as the “Best Party in America.” How did that start and what do you think pulled the media’s attention?
D Well at the time when Taxlo was a party, like it was a Monday night free party, where they would play everything, like the group of DJs that were playing at the time would play everything from Afrobeat to Joy Division, to Baltimore Club, to rock, you know pretty much anything goes. At that time it was a really good time for like a lot of clashing of music to kinda play together. You have the electronics like Diplo and Low Budget playing stuff from Philly, and you had 2 Many DJs just mixing everything but in a tasteful way. Not forced. And then at the time I think rave culture and indie culture weren’t really there together quite yet.
Matt It was starting, but very slightly, there was the indie stuff like Bloc Party, and things like that, and JUSTICE was just starting to kind of blossom, and that whole thing, but it still wasn’t nearly as married as it is now.
D But it was cool when it turned into kind of like a Friday night party, like what I brought to the table was, I was big into Baltimore Club, big bass music, but also mixing hip hop, indie rock, underground, stuff off the DFA label, and things like that sort of help bridge some of those sounds.
Matt And who was the guy that did that Bloc Party stuff? Paul Edwards, yeah. There was also Death From Above 1979…
D And then you have Switch who started producing and then collaborating with people like Amanda Blank and Spank Rock, who again everyone kinda grew up on that stuff. Everyone was kind of like mixing vibes and mixing sounds, and Taxlo Baltimore was that party that embraced that as well, so you have a good group of DJs playing everything. And then the party sort of grew ‘cause you have guests that would bring in your MSTRKRFTs, your Diplos, your Drop The Limes, and it was dope. It was a good time. So I think during that period of time, in 2006 or 2007 or whatever, the media was just fascinated with this whole new exploding underground dance scene, so that’s where Taxlo came from and it was like a big thing.
With every new-ish genre, or new-ish sound of dance music, once it sort of goes mainstream, that signals the end of something. What are your thoughts on that?
D I disagree. I don’t particularly believe that a crossover is a bad thing, if anything whatever the sound is or the culture is, it gets exposed in a wider, bigger way. But in my head there’s always good sh!t and bad sh!t. Like look at dubstep, it’s huge, it’s enormous. But in no way shape or form is it a dead sound.
M Even people that were doing dubstep in the beginning of dubstep are still doing things in the pop culture sense. There are also underground heads that are taking it and turning it into something else as well, but it’s still dubstep, it’s still in that sort of realm and embraces that vibe of what it always was. You have guys like Skream who does some really big stuff but he also still does some crazy underground stuff, you have to really respect tackling that.
D I feel like certain sounds hit a peak and what not, that after whatever hype or whatever crossover and this and that. The smoke clears, at the end of the day, there’s still a vibe that can exist in any kind of form of music, like you can hear moombahton music in certain trap records, or you can hear influences of dubstep in moombahton records, or you can hear Baltimore Club hits in any kind of dance music. Whether it reaches a peak or a certain crossover thing, I don’t necessarily see it as the end or demise of anything. If anything I just see it as a different phase, like a vibe is then created because not only did the sound go from one place to another but you have people who have been following that music or grew up on that music. In a sense that, people who are musicians or producers or artists or whoever, they take that with them and then apply it to their art.
Just out of curiosity, what was the reaction of the people of Jamaica to moombahton?
D That’s a good question. We really have no idea, we’d love to find out.
So you guys haven’t performed in Jamaica before?
D No, we’d love to. One day we hope. Jamaica, hollar!
Do you guys recall the chemistry when you first spun together?
D Oh man, yeah. We were both pretty nerdy dudes working on the same records, and we grew up around a lot of the same stuff too – pop culture and what not. The first thing we ever did together was like DJ weekly in this little bar in DC. And I was just like, “Hey Matt, do you wanna do this party, play some weird records?” and he was like, “Yeah of course, that sounds sick.” So that’s kind of how we vibed off of each other and I’d be excited to play something that maybe he may not have heard, and he’d do the same thing, and we’d get wasted in the process. But we became friends when we first started DJing together and making music so it’s been a growing and learning process since, and it’s been very, very organic. I don’t really force anything.
M I was talking to someone that has a collaboration project the other day and he was saying that they work well together in the studio but when they DJ together they butt heads and I was like, “Man, that sucks!” And I was trying to think about it, like man, we haven’t had that problem before.
What’s next for you guys?
D We have started our record label called Diabluma Sound, which is one of our main focuses right now. We’re up to our third release, our first release was Steve Stark called the Burma EP. Then we did an EP with JWLS called Bashin. And just today, we released Boyfriend’s Vodka House EP. Boyfriend is a DJ from Lithuania, so we basically just wanna put out records that we love and support, whether it’s reggaeton or club or whatever.
M Yeah, we’re working on a release with Disgraceland from London, and another release by Sabo, and we’re also working on our debut album at the same time.
D We’re also working on an event called Moombahton Massive in Washington DC. We’ve done one in Miami, a Moombahton Massive at SXSW in Austin, Texas; we’re doing a Moombahton Massive in Berlin in December hopefully with Sabo, Boyfriend, Disgraceland… so like the Moombahton Massive brand itself it’s just me, Matt and Sabo, and it’s like a big moombahton party where we bring in our guests and we play throughout the whole night to create a vibe just to show the range and diversity of moombahton music. Just to get everyone to experience something like that.
We dig your tattoo. Is there a story behind it?
D Oh yeah, I was really drunk. This was probably in 2006? It’s actually really inaccurate. It was supposed to be a really low-end frequency, 63Hz so you can’t hear it. It was supposed to be a reflection of the music I make and the music that I’m into – bass, low-end sound – but it’s located in the wrong spot. This is a mid range thing.
M Maybe you should finish it off.
D Yeah I thought about that, but then I thought it should serve as a reminder that I should drink before doing these things. I don’t know, I still love it.