New York DJ babes Cousin Cole and Phi Unit dropped the third installment in their So Emotional mix series back on Valentine’s Day this year but I think I’m heartsick so allow me to embrace this, will ya? Plus the boys recently spoke with Thump about their unique take on moombahsoul. Moombahton and its derivatives are hard to come by these days, but there’s a certain pleasure to take in slowing it down a bit and maybe talking about your feelings to your best friend. Exploring all tropical flavors from dancehall to moombahton, Cole and Phi describe So Emotional as “music that turns your ear drums into tear drums.” It’s tissue time – stream the whole mix below (and play my favorite track above!)
HAPPY COOL BREEZY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for sticking around. I made this for you. I hope you like it.
01. Karizma – Jumpin
02. Diamond K – Put Ya Leg Up
03. Rod Lee – Boyfriend
04. Disclosure – Voices (Wookie RMX)
05. Cajmere – Brighter Days (Frankie Grimes Remix)
06. Alfa Paare – Love Will Save
07. Duke Dumont – Need U (100%)
08. Duck Sauce – aNYway
09. Dave Nada – Where Brooklyn At
10. Scottie B – Niggaz Fightin (Uncle Jesse Thugstep Rmx)
11. DJ Class – Bombin’ Cock (Whipped Mix)
12. James Nasty – Don’t Stop
13. Kanye West – Paranoid
14. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
15. Phil Collins – Sussudio
16. Diplo & Dillon Francis – Que Que (Alvaro Rmx)
17. Talking Heads – This Must Be the Place
18. The Death Set – Yo David Chase! Your POV Shot Me In the Head (ft. Diplo)
19. Peter Bjorn & John – Nothing to Worry About
20. Heart – Magic Man
21. Lily Allen – Smile (Version Revisted)
22. Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song
23. Kaytranada – At All
24. Friend Within – The Renegade
25. Diamond K – Mr. Postman
26. Rod Lee – Rump
27. Dukeyman & Theo – Theo’s Theme (Shorty You Phat)
28. Rod Lee – Boy Don’t Waste My Time
29. Normaling – Low Drop (ft. Rye Rye & TT the Artist)
30. Future – Move That Dope (Biltmore’s My Boo Edit)
One day you’re slowing down the tempo of Afrojack’s “Moombah Remix” so you don’t get the fur torn off of ya for playing music that’s too fast at your cousin’s skipping party and the next day you’re playing that very same style of music at some of the greatest venues in the world, spawning a whole new genre of music tailored for the dance floor. So the story goes for Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom of the DC-bred, LA-based DJ and production duo, Nadastrom, who have godfathered a brand new style of dance music – moombahton.
Groovin’ at a 108 bpm pace and inspired by reggaeton, Dutch House, and pure kismet, moombahton is rockin’ every dance floor from DC to London and everything in between. What was once a “happy accident” now has countless producers demonstrating their take on the original sound of moombahton and exploring new sub genres, like smooth, sexy moombahsoul and the moombahton-dubstep hybrid, moombahcore. Nadastrom even started their own moombahton record label, Diabluma Sound, which kicked off this year with fresh releases from Steve Starks, JWLS, and Boyfriend. Because of all its success across the board, moombahton has become a destination event at major festivals and has sold out parties around the world, including its monthly Moombahton Massive celebration at the infamous U Street Music Hall in its homebase of DC.
Much like the curious hybrid that it is, moombahton is a family affair – it has a particular way of bringing people together and welcoming new party people and DJs alike to dance music with open arms. From Dave Nada’s early days of edits, like “Riverside”, to Nadastrom’s official remixes, like Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, Dave and Matt have been guiding the moombahton missle straight to the top, with their original productions serving as the ultimate creative guidance.
But Nadastrom has been slaying the scene long before moombahton – since before I knew anything about anything. I remember my first introduction to dance music in action was seeing them play Baltimore club, tech house, and everything else they could get their hands on at TaxLo parties here in Baltimore. They have been the real deal since the first night I danced to their soundtrack and with a deep knowledge of how Baltimore really gets down (spoiler alert: down and fucking dirty), they rose to the top like the cream of the crop. Enamored with their intuitive selections and the ease with which they control the floor, I’ve been following Nadastrom ever since. So of course, years later and with a rack of parties stored neatly in my memory bank, I’m so pleased and honored to have interviewed Dave and Matt. It’s their unwavering passion for music, their free-spirits which make every performance a great time for everybody involved, and their constant demonstration of forward-thinking creativity and innovation that sets the standard of excellence in this game.
Cool Breezy: We all know the story of how you accidentally created moombahton over three years ago and started releasing those classic edits like “Riverside” and “Moombahton”. Did you ever expect the genre to blow up the way that it has? What do you think of its evolution so far?
Dave Nada: Nah, I really did not expect it at all. I did, however, think the concept was cool and fun. I saw it work first hand since the start, so I already knew it was something that would translate well in the club. The evolution of it all is pretty crazy too! It’s come a long way in just three years and now there’s a moombahton vibe that exists in music and club culture. The production of the sound has gotten better as well. I feel like it continues to refine itself and new influences are popping up from all over the world.
CB: Since moombahton’s genesis, you have hosted successful Moombahton Massives in its mecca of DC and all around the world. Most recently, hosted a stage entirely dedicated to moombahton at Hard’s Day of the Dead festival in LA. Did you have any say in choosing the talent for the moombahton stage? Also, how does it make you feel to be the godfather of such a wildly successful movement?
DN: Yup! Me and my Moombahton Massive partners, Matt Nordstrom and Sabo, help curate the lineups for all of the Massives. When we work with Hard, we combine our forces with them. I feel like HARD are at the top of the game and they ALWAYS kill it with the lineups and tours for their events. I feel humbled and grateful when it comes to moombahton and how far it’s come, from the artists to the music lovers around the world. [I’m] very proud of what we’ve built with the Massives and the music.
CB: I know first-hand how uniquely wild moombahton parties can get. I’m sure there are many memorable and unmemorable nights for you, but describe one of your favorites.
DN: I’m biased here, but my favorite moment was at Moombahton Massive Thanksgiving 2011 when I proposed to my fiancé, Jen Lasher, in front of hundreds people at the end of her set! Not only was the moombah fam there, but a lot of our relatives as well. What a special night!
Matt Nordstrom: Man…they are all pretty special. It’s really hard to pick one, so I’m gonna say three. The night we had Toddla T for the Two Year Anniversary of [U Street Music Hall]; the night we had Thee Mike B who said, with quite an epic resume of parties played, that that was one of the best gigs and parties he has ever done; and of course last thanksgiving when Dave purposed to Jen, which, for the record, NO ONE knew he was going to do.
CB: Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
MN: It was either “Thriller” by Michael Jackson or “Future Shock” by Herbie Hancock.
DN: [The] first record I ever bought was Doug E. Fresh “Keep Risin’ To The Top” 12″ single. B-side was “Guess Who”, which got me fired up every time I listened to it. I also remember being mad confused as to why there was an acapella track and instrumental version. I didn’t understand the DJ side of things at the time, haha.
CB: While you have embarked on an entirely new maginificent journey through moombahton, Nadastrom’s nights of spinning club music in Baltimore have still remained the stuff of legends. How have those past experiences influenced the way you feel about music in the present? Any chance we’ll hear some new Baltimore club sounds from you in the future?
DN: They still influence us to this day. As a matter of fact, we’ve been playing tons of Bmore and Bmore inspired club music in our sets lately. We’re also getting a rep for playing longer sets these days, so this has given us more opportunities to play different styles in one night!
MN: It definitely still influences us – the stripped back approach, the loops, and probably most important is the impact of a kick drum. Pretty much sums up Nadastrom, haha! We recently did a remix for our new label, Diabluma Sound, reworking Boyfriend’s “Vodka House” into a 130 club joint. We have some more in the works as well but can’t really speak on them just yet.
CB: This year you’ve greatly advanced moombahton through major events, impeccable productions, and even the launch of Nadastrom’s very own moombahton label, Diabluma Sound. So, what’s next?
MN: We are currently working on our debut artist album, which is something we have toyed with in the past but got really serious about the past few months.
DN: Yup, we think it’s about time now!
2 Bears & Toddla T – “Work” (Phi Unit ReWork) *Cool Breezy Exclusive*
As fresh as he is fancy (see above), New York’s Phi Unit is creating some of the most underrated yet entirely fantastic moombahton tracks in the game right now. And not only is he producing totally rad moombahton tracks, but he’s also cranking out Baltimore club bangers, which obviously has a very special place on the dance floor of my heart. Like the super-creeper that I am, I’ve been following Phi’s evolution in the dance music scene for over a year now and I’ve watched him take moombahton from an intense, hardcore rager to a tried-and-true make-out session soundtrack almost overnight. If you like the sound of that, you’ll most definitely like what Phi’s cookin’ over here.
Phi Unit’s tracks are clean, relevant, and well-composed, making it all sound easy in a genre where everybody is still trying to get in where they fit in. His breakout tune was a moombahton remix of a RAC remix of indie superband Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home”. Remix on remix on remix. It sounds complicated, but Phi executed this perfectly. “Home” was released in a time where we weren’t seeing too many remixes and edits of songs that were outside of the electronic dance music universe, so it really caught a lot of attention. And I guess the fact that Dave Nada openly expressed his love for it didn’t hurt either. It’s a gentle, but danceable, rendition of Edward Sharpe’s nostalgic indie tune, bursting with old school country vibes (dare I say of Johnny Cash/June Carter style) meets today’s new dance music trend. Additionally, “Home” was a perfect foreshadowing to the niche Phi would create for himself within the moombahton genre.
Since “Home”, Phi has pioneered this particular pop and indie moombahton style – sensitive and romantic at times (but never cheesy) – that happily exists right on the cusp of moombahton’s peak-hour bangers. There’s a little something for everyone here and Phi is totally owning the need for depth within the genre. In fact, one of the most important releases of 2011 came when Phi Unit collaborated with fellow New Yorker, Cousin Cole, on the So Emotional EP. Full of remixes and edits of fringe artists (well, at least in the moombahton world) such as James Blake, Foster the People, and Fleet Foxes, So Emotional solidified the niche that Phi has been nurturing this entire time. So Emotional dropped during a time when moombahton producers were gettin’ real wild with lazers, bass, and other-worldly robot sounds, so to hear something like this that was melodic, sweet-tempered and well, emotional, it felt almost like a shock to the system. But very much welcomed. Not only was it extremely quality work, but it broadened the horizons of moombahton, reeling in fans of different genres to let them know, “Hey, we’ve got something here for you, too”. Even though So Emotional was a bit out of the box at the time, it immediately garnered an insane amount of trust in the foresight, creative endeavor, and production value of Phi Unit and Cousin Cole. And lucky for you, So Emotional II should be out before you know it. Keep watch!
Phi Unit is certified-dope. You heard it here first! Check out the interview below so you can luv him as much as I do. <3
Nadus – “Love Don’t Live Here”
Straight out of Newark, New Jersey comes some of the freshest sounds surfin’ the airwaves right now. With the combined power of the entire Brick Bandits family behind him, Nadus is steadily rising as one of the East Coast’s top producers. He’s pulling from and endless array of inspiration, mainly hip-hop, Chicago juke, and Jersey club, to hone his unique perspective on today’s dance music. The most intriguing aspect of Nadus’ innovations are the naturally fast-paced tempos he builds as the basis of many of his tracks, but the slow and steady after-hours vibes oozing from the surface. Nadus truly excels at channeling the intense, late night vibes and syrupy slow vocals of The Weeknd and the Isley Brothers, for example and layering them over glitchy, fast-paced juke and club rhythms to create a truly perplexing soundtrack to seduction, or a dance party, whichever fits your mood.
I tell this story all the time, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw Nadus. He played at Philly’s Mad Decent Block Party Afterparty, hosted by Hollertronix, on the third floor of the Barbary. It was the middle of July and it literally felt like we were in close proximity to the core of the Earth as it was unbearably hot in there. But Nadus was straight rockin’ to dubstep, juke, and Jersey club like it was no matter. In fact, he put on a fucking clinic. It was the first time I had extended exposure to juke and Jersey club and to me, he had already nurtured and mastered a vast knowledge of the genres. He owned them like they were his very own. That’s when I knew that dude was onto something.
Nadus totally rides for his city of Newark, but truly knows no bounds. He pulls influence from anywhere and everywhere all while taking particular care of each track he creates. Living in Nadus’ world is like driving in the fast lane while listening to Al Green. It’s intense, but romantic. Hasty, but tantalizing.
In preparation of tomorrow’s Cool Breezy & Denman Empire party where he’s playing with Dirty South Joe and Uncle Jesse, I hit up Nadus with some Q&A love. I want everybody to get to know him before you rock out with him tomorrow night in Baltimore. Keep reading!
Trouble Funk – “Pump Me Up” (Doc Adam Remix)
(Exclusively created for Cool Breezy! FREE DOWNLOAD!)
Humbly assured and intriguingly intelligent, Adam Arola, aka Doc Adam, has been making unforgettable sound waves from the West Coast to the East coast and beyond. Pulling influences from rocksteady, hip-hop, UK funky, and everything in between, Doc Adam utilizes an insanely expansive knowledge of music and unrelenting inspiration to produce some of the most prodigious, yet underrated, moombahton tracks in the game.
Currently settin’ up shop in Portland, Oregon, Doc Adam thrust himself into the moombahton world almost as soon as Dave Nada created it, taking note from the original Moombahton EP and innovating his own sounds from there on out. He’s a certified OG in every sense of the word and one of the first DJs on the West Coast to fully embrace moombahton. He sensed the potential revolutionary dynamic of a brand new genre and churned out track after track to make sure his fellow West Coasters had a feel of what the East Coast was up to. Tracks like “Sex Sax”, “Calypso”, and “Westside, Bitches!” were staple tracks of early moombahton sets from Portland to DC.
Since then, Doc Adam has evolved appropriately, still maintaining his OG cred but working hard to keep up with the second generation of moombahton producers. Within a demanding lifestyle of being a philosophy professor by day and a party rocker by night, he’s still found the time to release a slew of remixes, edits, and original productions to disseminate throughout the airwaves, not to mention a remarkable EP released last summer titled, La Reconquista. Much like many of his single releases, La Reconquista drew from a grab bag of different genres influences, for example funk from Ohio Players in “Funky Worm”; hip-hop from Slum Village in “Raise It Up”; and rock and roll from Grateful Dead in “Fire On the Moombahton”. It totally seems like he’s having a great time pulling old favorites and updating them to fit into today’s musical climate.
For Doc Adam, moombahton is more than just today’s new rave soundtrack. It’s smart, eclectic, and will put the listener in touch with artists and genres who may have become lost in shuffle as America makes the transition from praising instrument-toting rock stars to turntable-spinning DJs. His discography is a must-have for any moombahton DJ or connoisseur, if not for genuinely excellent quality, but simply to add depth and variety to the evening, all while appealing to a mass audience.
I recently linked up with Doc Adam and was able to pick his brain about the current state of moombahton, being a philosophy professor, and what it’s like to be a DJ in Portland. Keep reading!
What the fuck is a SAZON BOOYA?! Hint: It’s not a chicken seasoning. Nor is it a Spanish war cry. It’s more like the NYC-based DJ and production duo consisting of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV. But the musical output of Sazon Booya is just as tasty as the finest adobo and just as powerful as the toughest Spanish army.
The Sazon Booya project doesn’t have as extensive of a history as the individual DJ careers of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV, but you would never be able to tell if you just looked at their list of accomplishments this year. In fact, they’re on pace to become one of the most successful artists in the game.
Sazon Booya released their first EP, La Bomba, on Beatport this summer via their label, Rot10 Musik. La Bomba is classic Sazon Booya – hardcore, energetic, and danceable tunes infused with global flair. But to hype up the release, they created the first moombahton video ever to the title track, “La Bomba”. This was a huge landmark for the moombahton as it legitimized genre by bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream. Since the debut of “La Bomba”, some of the genre’s greats have proceeded to create innovative music videos for their own tracks, including Tittsworth and Alvin Risk for their summer hit, “Pendejas”, and Nadastrom for their latest single, “i!!”
But don’t get it twisted. Sazon Booya knows how to create a big room banger, but they’re definitely not scared to show their softer side. They’ve produced some super suave tracks for David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul compilations and kept it really sexy during their Midnight Moombah Sessions, but they really nailed it on the head with their Moonlight EP. They released Moonlight in November of 2011 and by that time, it’s obvious they perfected a unique sound combination of hardcore energy harnessed by smooth vocals. And come this release, Sazon Booya stepped it up a notch. There was no moombahton video to accompany the Moonlight EP (yet) but instead a US tour that spanned twelve cities from the East Coast to the West Coast with guests like Nadastrom, Billy the Gent, Cam Jus, and Benzona, to name a few. With the Moonlight release and promo tour, it’s become clear that Sazon Booya is wiser beyond its years. They seriously handle business with prompt releases, music videos, country-wide tours. Sazon Booya is headed straight to the top and they’re taking moombahton with them.
Hard-working moombahton artists will always find success by honing and maintaining a unique, flavorful sound. With mentors like Skrillex and Dave Nada, there’s no way that Sazon Booya will fall to the middle of the pack. They’re a standout duo, through and through. It’s even better to know that these dudes are some rad individuals who made time to answer some questions for Cool Breezy. Read up!
This Special Edition of Meet Your Moombahtonistas combines some of my favorite things from across the pond: Smutlee, Neil Queen-Jones, and moombahton. Smutlee produced one of my first and all-time favorite moombahton tracks – an edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Kid’s “Majik”. This carnival-esque jam led me on the craziest Internet goose chase for it’s download but I finally found it, along with a connection to the man himself via Neil Queen-Jones. Neil has written for his own blog, Pop Culture Care Package, but has since moved on to bigger and better things, like writing consistently based articles for Mixmag, joining me at Moombahton.com, and constructing devious plans for moombahton’s world takeover. All that being said, it was only right that I gave him the very first guest post on Cool Breezy. – -Casey
God help the person who has to write the story of moombahton. It’s a sprawling, viral bastard, one that has zero regard for potential journo man hours. Even trickier to write will be the chapter on the UK. Nobody can fuck with our contribution to dance music history – if we’re not giving birth to genres like grime, we’re making them happen, as we did with house, or finding a way to put our own stamp on it, as we did with hip hop. We feel that we have our own special cosign tucked away in our back pockets, that genres aren’t complete unless the UK is involved. Even moombahdon Dave Nada admitted this: “I’m beyond excited about the UK response, that’s the biggest compliment. You’ve got cats like Toddla and Smutlee on it – and I can’t wait to hear new stuff from other UK producers. I think my brain just melted!” See? So the fact that moombahton is doing perfectly fine without us is pretty fucking galling. I blame the island mentality – it’s the geographic equivalent of only-child syndrome, the isolation makes us here in the UK a bit chippy. It’s not like we haven’t played a part; Toddla T, Sinden, Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Mixmag, The Guardian, Mistajam and Kayper have all given it a huge push, it’s just that any kind of scene has struggled to take shape, and no discerning sound has shown its buds. Yet.
That’s not quite the whole story, though. One man has been a virtual cottage industry within the genre: Smutlee. Emerging from a background of bashment, UK funky and tropical, The London DJ may not have been the first person in the country to pick up on the sound – DJs like Martelo and Sinden clocked it early doors, while journalist Joe Muggs wrote an outstanding intro piece that helped win over Smutters (and myself into the bargain), but Smutlee did make the biggest moves to boost the profile in this tiny island of ours. All it took was one tune: his edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Thing’s “Majic”. Knowing Smutlee as I do, it’s hard to not see how the man and the track are inextricably linked: he’s perpetually happy, positive and buoyant – everything you could say about “Majic”, a ready-made anthem converted to a compact 108bpm bundle of elation. It also hit a sweet spot in terms of the UK’s involvement in moombahton: though a highly multicultural land, the influence of latin culture is marginal – far greater is the Caribbean vibe, so Smutlee’s Majic edit customised moombahton’s DNA, reducing the latin, pumping up the Dembow connection by giving it a dancehall collagen shot. With Dave Nada offering full support and DJ Melo reaching out to include the track on his Winter Of Moombahton comp, alongside fellow Brits Jimi Needles and Jera , Smutlee’s spot had been secured, and moombahton finally had a foothold in the UK – and his bashment vibe set a template for a nation; check out Jake Twell & Jamrock’s Elephant Man-led Neck Tie on Pickster’s Rise Of Moombahton comp and the presence of Feral, nee MC Kinky, the glorious potty-mouthed toasty ragga factory that she is.
And so it continued, with drops like his blend of Booka Shade’s Body Language and Natalie Storm’s Look Pon Me, the fella confirmed a distinct flair for highly melodic and resonant tracks, a trait that also runs through his DJ sets and mixtapes – always led by an ear for character and melody, full of expansive emotional drive. For me, his Mixpak mixtape remains one of the genre’s finest, followed closely by his one for Mixmag, which is a virtual Cliff’s Notes for newbies.
While he sits on a pile of astonishing but ungrabbable edits, many of them featured on his Mixpak set, another of his tracks, his official remix of Schlachtofbronx’s Chambacu (munch on that shit, Scrabble heads), proved that he neither follows anyone else’s sound, nor does he recycle his own. One part Dembow, one part cumbia, 2,000 parts airhorn, it sticks out in any set like a ginger albino at an Odd Future gig. Then there’s the Toddla T connection. Before T went
stateside to hang with Nada, Munchi and Dillon, Smutlee was on hand to keep the Sheffield DJ on his 108s, popping up on Toddla’s Radio 1 show. Not saying that Smutlee gets the assist for Toddla’s patronage of the scene, but I am in a roundabout way saying that he should get a knowing nod and a large glass of whatever he fancies for being there.
What remains so striking about Smutlee is that he observes a strict quality over quantity approach – he’s not one to flood SoundCloud, nor does he seem the go-to man for compilations, but this doesn’t seem to dampen the regard he’s held in. In the past few months he’s been more in demand than ever – with bookings at the bookends of the states, first at Que Bajo in New York, then more recently alongside Sabo at Vibrate in LA. Oh, and he’s just off for some dates in Australia as you read this (warning: this sentence elapses NOW), plus he’s actually prepping to release an EP, due on Greenmoney in the new year.
Before he disappeared Antipodes-wards to get stock up on wifebeater shirts and to step up his finishing-every-sentence-tonally-as-if-it’s-a-question game, I took the chance to speak to him on behalf of your girl Casey for Cool Breezy. Here’s what emerged from the part of his brain which selects words and constructs sentences…
He knows how to command a club full of party people and will undoubtedly melt off each of their unsuspecting faces. I’m talkin’ about David Heartbreak, one of the most diversely creative moombahtonistas in the game right now. His goal is simple – to make people dance. He simply knows no boundaries and will not stop until you’re movin’.
It’s nearly impossible to peg Heartbreak’s signature sound because he jumps around from genre to genre so frequently. From moombahsoul to moombahcore to Burial-esque ambience – he consistently produces different sounds so he never gets bored, and in turn, we don’t either. It’s always a win-win situation with Heartbreak. You’ll never hear him create the same tune. Thank god for that. He has an intense focus on becoming a well-rounded producer and aims to have a full understanding of the vibes and technicalities of many different genres so he stays in the lab trying to perfect their production processes.
His unrelenting hustle and unwavering curiosity about other genres have resulted in an impressive arsenal of tunes. I could sit here and rattle off all of Heartbreak’s releases but by the time you looked away, we would be well into next week and I can’t have you skippin’ out on any of this week’s moombahton releases! But seriously. “Blaze Up (That Jeffrey)”, the collaboration between Heartbreak and Toddla T – instant moombahton anthem. You’d be hard-pressed to find a moombahton party that doesn’t have this banger pumpin’ through the speakers. Additionally, Heartbreak’s mini releases – M1 through M7 – display the constant evolution of his unique style. Touting only a handful of tracks combine, the M releases created an outlet for Heartbreak to experiment with big room bangers and push the boundaries of his creativity within moombahton.
On the other hand, Heartbreak revealed his softer side this summer as he released three volumes of Moombahsoul tracks that tossed an underhanded pitch to any guy who needed to step up their love game. Heartbreak’s moombahsoul innovation directly catered to the ladies of moombahton with its sensual, soulful sex tunes. With a Mad Decent cosign to the moombahsoul movement, almost every moombahtonista in the game contributed their unique sound to the three-volume compilation, including Nadastrom, Sazon Booya, Jon Kwest, and Torro Torro. Moombahsoul added another face to the growing genre – one that oozed of an R&B revival with sexy vocals instead of hyperactive lazers, sirens, and heavy bass. There’s a time and place for everything and luckily, Heartbreak is a man of many talents.
Heartbreak serves as the tirelessly creative catalyst for moombahton. I’m pretty convinced he lives in the studio so his production never ceases nor does the quality ever waiver. He constantly encourages his fellow moombahtonistas to push the boundaries of their abilities and in turn, ignite the movement towards world domination.
Heartbreak stepped away from Pro Tools just long enough for me to yoke him up for a little Q&A session with the kid, so check it out after the jump!
So, exciting news! My friends The Clown Prince, DJ XO, and Grom of Dirty Sweaty Nasty are celebrating their 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY this Friday night and I wanted yall to get to know them a bit before you head out this weekend and wipe your brain clean of everything you’ve ever known. DSN is more than a fun DJ collective – it’s a lifestyle. These guys live it every day and ya know, one day that lifestyle might give you alcohol poisoning once or thrice but it’s all in the name of the game. DSN is all about lightening up, having a good time, and possibly doing something you’ll regret later in life.
Join them THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at Sweet Spot in DC starting at 9PM. The whole crew will be there in all of their intoxicating glory along with our friends Billy the Gent and Denman. You probably know Billy the Gent from this summer’s hottest moombahton hit “Vibrate” from his Vibrate EP. Or maybe he’s tattooed you over at Tattoo Paradise. Basically, if you’re in DC, you know Billy. And if you don’t, you need to. He’ll be hooking you up with the very best of moombahton all night. Denman, on the other hand, is our beloved Prince of Darkness. He hates the sun and unapologetically worships Satan but he’s one of the nicest dudes on the planet. He’ll be gettin’ ya down low with all that bass-ripping dubstep and some of the grimiest, dirty souf hip hop you’ve ever heard.
In addition to all these sweet tunes you’re gonna hear, DSN has hooked ya up with drink specials all night as well as automatic guestlist if you RSVP on the Facebook invite by 6PM on Friday. Save yourself $5 and put it towards some booze.
Yesterday I raved about the talents of DJ Melo from Arizona. I’m gonna continue the rave today with his counterpart, Pickster One. Dude’s the dopeness!! No, he really is. Like I said, I didn’t really expect moombahton to thrive in Arizona. After all, it is the desert, right? But Pickster and Melo are really bringing sexy back with their productions. But more importantly, they’re putting Arizona on the map as a thriving environment in which moombahton can originate and grow.
Pickster and Melo’s first collaboration came in the form of the Arizonaton EP. I’ve fangirled about this release so much recently that you probably already know ALL about it but I’ll recap it really quick. Arizonaton is a seven-track release that captures the essence of Pickster and Melo’s brand of sexy: not this booty-shakin Beyonce sexy, but it feels more like this slow, seductive, gypsy sexy. Just listen and you’ll get it. Pickster has two solo productions on Arizonaton, “Waistline” and “Keep the Dice Rolling”, which show he dabbles more in the harder side of moombahton by blasting more wobbles and lazers than sensual vocals and baby-makin’ riddims. But versatility is the name of the game and he’s got it like that.
As a fan of moombahton, I’m super thankful for the Pickster and Melo collaboration. It goes right along with Chad Hugo and Pharrell (Neptunes) or more relevantly, Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada (Nadastrom). It just feels right and not even in some regular kind of way. I’m not too sure how it’s possible to rejuvenate a genre that’s still in the infancy stage, but with collaborative tracks like “Fat Booty” and “Sweaty Sax”, it feels like they did just that.
But thankfully, that’s not where it ends for Pickster. He’s just getting started in the game, yall!! He has a track, “Don’t Go”, in Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which forms the unlikely hybrid of UK hardcore and moombahton (but what is “unlikely” anymore?). With “Don’t Go”, Pickster’s moombahton slow-down of The Awesome 3’s UK hardcore track, he excelled at exactly what I love about his productions. He layered these slow, desperate, yearning vocals that plead, “I cannot bear to see you leave me. I’m begging you, don’t go…” over aggressive dubstep wobbles. He successfully tapped into that moombahcore side of his creative genius but still kept it sexy as hell.
Speaking of sexy, he’s also got some tunes on the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection. He collaborated with Riot Earp on “Around”, which is a moombahsoul remix of The Spinner’s soul track “I’ll Be Around”. He also made a moombahsoul remix of Al Green’s R&B track, “Let’s Stay Together”. These productions are simple but effective and instant classics of the moombahsoul genre.
Recently Pickster’s been gettin’ extreme though! He’s got two pretty hardcore tracks floating around the interwebs lately, the first being on Munchi’s Verano del Moombahton release. “Mami Mueve” combines aggressive vocals with rave-y sirens and synths. It’s pretty serious. And on today’s M6 release from David Heartbreak, Pickster collaborated with Mendez on a remix of “Blaze Up”, which doesn’t skimp on the state-of-emergency sirens. These tracks are gonna send some people through the roof.
But one of the most unique additions to the moombahton game from Pickster came via his AZ Gunslingaz EP. It’s a five-track release that features productions from Sluggo, Riot Earp, Mendez, Noha, Melo, and Pickster himself. AZ Gunslingaz is all about reppin’ Arizona and the South Western vibes. Pickster’s “Put Down De Gun” is a vicious moombahcore production that goes well soundtracking a Wild Wild West shootout. And Pickster and Melo’s track, “El Bumper” makes me wanna get my fiesta on. You know how you can hear the difference between east coast and west coast rap? AZ Gunslingaz is one of the first moombahton releases we’ve heard that is truly specific to geographic location, giving us a taste of the west but still fitting into the genre as a whole. I love that and I’d really like to hear more producers reppin’ where they’re from.
So, I have good news for you. Pickster and Melo are flying into DC today, so stay in town to catch these fools live and in action. Tonight they’ll be playing at the Looking Glass Lounge as part of a Moombahton Massive Pregame event. Then, tomorrow they’ll be playing the main event – Moombahton Massive VI. Sunday, they’ll be back in their side of the country in Vegas for the Moombahton Massive Pool Party. So you’ve got plenty of chances to see them do their thing.
Til then, read this in-depth interview I had with Pickster where we talk about his early days as a bboy (yup!), how he got into moombahton, and what it’s like working with Melo:
Cool Breezy: How’d you get into DJing and what were you playing before moombahton?
Pickster: I have been DJing since the late 90’s. [I’ve] been into hip-hop since I was a little kid. I was in a break dancing crew when I was eight years old called Rock Steady crew, too. Haha. Ahh, man. Little fat kid trying to spin on his back and shit. I used to be a MC for years. Then one of my homies got a set of turntables in high school and I fell in love. [I] started buying vinyl for the next three years till I could afford my own set-up. [Then I] moved to Arizona to go to culinary school and got my degree in Culinary Arts. I was running a kitchen at a big resort here in Arizona, [but I] slowly started to realize I could make the same amount of money hustling DJ gigs in clubs as I could busting my ass all week in a HOT Arizona kitchen. It was a no brainer.
[Before moombahton,] I was a hip-hop club DJ. I’ve been in a couple hip-hop bands. That was what really taught me how to write a song, structure a song, and how to bring an idea all the way to a physical CD in your hand. That whole process is not easy at all!
CB: What about moombahton and its community inspired you to get involved?
P: When I first started working with Melo on some edits and remixes last summer. It was a real small community. It still is really. And I thought it was cool that the dudes making the music and creating it would actually email me back, give me feedback on SoundCloud, and respond to me on Twitter. Haha, I know that sounds cheesy, but being able to have that interaction and even if my track sucked, they would be like, “Yo. You need to work on that before you put it out. Maybe change this up..,blah blah…” – that’s priceless. But it wasn’t until I had my First Moombahton Moment when I actually got bit by the Moombahton Bug. I was playing edits, trying to mix a few tunes into my sets, and I thought that’s all moombahton would ever be. But one day I was playing a set and I got into some Moombahton. I saw my dance floor go from “yeah, this is cool. I’m having fun…” to straight fr33ky! Guys and girls dry humping, getting sweaty, and yelling when the next tune dropped. I was floored and amazed at what just happened. Then I tried to do it again at my next gig and I cleared the dance floor and almost lost my job! I didn’t know what I was doing with that style of music at the time. But after some good trial-and-error, finding out what works and more importantly, what doesn’t work, I have been lucky enough to incorporate that learning process into my tunes and get me going in the right direction.
CB: What’s the moombahton scene like in Arizona? Do people respond to it well?
P: It’s actually budding pretty damn nice now. We did an interview about two months ago with a local paper when Melo and I were about to drop Arizonaton. At that time we still were not sure how Moombahton was gonna do in our home town. But since then people have been catching on and a lot of local producers, DJs, and promoters are slowly starting to see what’s happening. We have been getting more and more support and people coming out to our nights. I have a Wednesday night here called Scenario. It’s a rooftop party in Downtown Phoenix. It’s a global Bass night, real heavy on the moombahton, and we have been playing moombahton real heavy the last nine or ten months. Now people are showing up just to hear that style of music. We had Dave Nada there for our release party. We have David Heartbreak there this past Wednesday for our AZ Gunslingaz EP release party. And we have Doc Adam, the Moombahtista from Portland, on the books for September. I’m really happy where Moombahton is right now in Arizona.
CB: You and Melo seem to have really great chemistry as a production team. What was your creative process like for Arizonaton?
P: We have a real raw approach to making music, haha. We probably do a lot of things wrong if somebody was to watch us make a song. But whatever, ya know. I’ll tell any producers starting out, “whatever works best for you and whatever software, program or environment works best for you to be creative, run with it.” I made some of my best tunes on shitty out-dated software, but it sounded good! But one of us would have an idea, concept, or just start a song, then we would send files over the internet and work on them at our own houses on our own time. We actually never sat in the studio together at all for Arizonaton. We do now and we are using similar gear to make the tunes now which makes it easier for us to work in the studio together. But Melo and I grew up with the same musical backgrounds – hip-hop-based but willing to play anything that is good.
CB: Who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?
P: You know, that’s a hard one. I have a few favorites right now but they really span over different styles of moombahton. I think different producers are finding their niche and are really shining in their respective areas. I’m really feeling all the Texas kids stuff – Sonora, Orion, and all the Peligrosa kids. Bro Safari doin’ it. He’s from Texas, too, but a different camp. I’m feelin Billy the Gent, & Long Jawns stuff. I’m feeling JWLS from Miami. The Tactic bro’s. There is so much good stuff out there it’s really hard to say one person.
Alright, look guys. I’m gonna try not to fangirl too much in this piece but I can’t help myself. DJ Melo from Arizona is undoubtedly one of my favorite moombahton producers right now. To be completely honest, I never really thought of Arizona to be that kind of a happenin’ spot. But then Pickster and Melo’s Arizonaton EP came out and I was like, “WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!” So I had to find out. I present to you…the first installment of Who Are These Guys From Arizona and What Makes Their Music So Sexy, featuring DJ Melo. Read on!
I keep tellin’ yall, Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date. It changed the game for the better and put Arizona on the map as a legitimate moombahton hotspot. Melo’s productions fit right into the thriving genre, offering the standard, but well-executed sounds like heavy synths and tropical vibes as seen in “Don’t Make Me Wait” and that unmistakable Hispanic influence seen in “Es Dificil”. But the fated collaboration between Melo and Pickster has provided an undeniably incredible chemistry, a certain feeling of “EUREKA!” I haven’t felt since Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada combined to form Nadastrom. Their collaborated sounds add something new to the moombahton conversation – this old world, sexy gypsy style (see: “Sweaty Sax”, a remix of a track from a local Arizona band, Dry River Yacht Club). I’ve felt the tropical vibes and the reggaeton influence in the original moombahton tracks, the dubstep wobbles in moombahcore, and the smooth R&B vocals in moombahsoul, but I hadn’t heard anything like this before Arizonaton. They create this unique style of yearning and seduction in their tunes. It just totally brings a brand new type of sexy to the table. I need more of it.
But Melo is definitely not a one-trick-moombahtonista. He’s got his hands in all sorts of creations. One of his productions made the cut for Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which created yet another moombah-hybrid, this time between moombahton and UK hardcore – an unlikely pair on to see paper but its execution is spot-on. Melo’s track, “Rocking Down the House” is one of the standout tracks for me on Dust Mask, with its energetic synths and hypnotic glitching vocals.
Melo also teamed up with Kwest on an unforgettable track for the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection. Kwest and Melo combined efforts to create a sweet, sensual moombahsoul track, “Ecstasy”, which sampled vocals from a track of the same name by a 70s funk band called the Ohio Players.
Switching it up a bit, Melo collaborated with Pickster again on Pickster’s latest release, the AZ Gunslingaz EP. This release was all about reppin’ Arizona and the southwestern culture and Melo did exactly that with his two tracks, layering Spanish vocals over haunting ghost town whistles (see: “Pijama” with Noha and Mendez) and sexy fiesta handclaps (see: “El Bumper” with Pickster).
Word on the streets is that Melo’s got his own EP called Star Time coming out soon via Think 2wice Records. There’s no specific release date but I do know that it’s another sweet collaboration with Pickster (thank the moombahgodz!) featuring remixes by Boyfriend and Fellow. It’ll be available on Beatport and iTunes but keep your eyes here because you know I gotchu! I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got up their sleeves. Until then, we wait…
If you need more Melo in your life, which you do, here’s how I can help you. First, read the Q&A I had with him below, where we talk about his early days as a DJ, how he found Pickster, and what kind of advice he can give for future producers. After you’re done reading that, make sure you get that ass to DC this week to check him out in real life. He and Melo are flying across the country to be with us! Tomorrow night, Wednesday August 17th, he’ll be playing with a rack of dope moombahtonistas for a Moombahton Massive Pregame event at The Looking Glass Lounge in DC. Then, on Thursday night, August 18th, is the main event – Moombahton Massive VI at U Hall!!!! Everybody you know will be there. Then, on Sunday they’ll be back in their neck of the woods for the Moombahton Massive pool party in VEGAS!! So there are lots of opportunities to catch him playing. Don’t sleep!
Cool Breezy: How long have you been DJing and producing? Who are some of your influences?
Melo: I started DJing house parties back in the early 90’s here in Phoenix, [around] ‘92, ‘93 or so. I’ve been doing clubs since 2000. I’ve been producing a little over a year now. Early influences range from Grandmaster Flash, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Masters at Work, the KDAY Mixmasters from LA, and the Hotmix 5 from Chicago among others. Production wise I would say I’ve been influenced by Dave Nada for setting it off, Munchi for making it legit, David Heartbreak for the constant encouragement, Sabo for the clean polished sound and Dillon Francis for just taking the sound a lot further.
CB: How’d you hear about moombahton out in Arizona and what inspired you to get involved?
M: My boy DJ Adikshun sent me Dave Nada’s Moombahton back in March of 2010 and asked if had any other tunes like that. I had heard some of the raverton stuff Toy Selectah had made before that and some of the Bersa Discos stuff. I have been spinning reggaeton, house & hip-hop for years now, so I thought Moombahton was tailor made for me, haha. I used to DJ and produce for local Phoenix hip-hop group Ill Phonix in the late 90’s, but it wasn’t till I heard moombahton that I got inspired to make a couple edits and put them on SoundCloud.
CB: Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date. What was it like working with Pickster on the EP?
M: I’ve tried working with other producers before but something about working with Pickster just clicked. He has a great ear and his beats are just dope! We made Arizonaton over the Internet. I would send him stuff or he’d send me ideas and the other would pretty much finish it. He did all the mastering and would test out the songs at Bar Smith on the soundsystem. I like how that EP came out.
CB: Who is your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?
M: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. All the guys I mentioned before I like for different reasons. I like JWLS’ stuff, J-Trick, the El Cuco homies, Jon Kwest…I could go on and on. [There are] too many others to narrow it down to a favorite.
CB: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers?
M: Hmmmm advice? Do work, I guess. DJs – learn the craft. Pay dues. Producers – make some edits? Just make music you like is probably the best advice I can give…