Q&A: Nadastrom!

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!

Q&A: Fall In Love with Volta Bureau!

Volta Bureau is that unseasonably warm day.  Mom’s home-cooked meal.  The first time you lock eyes with your super cute crush.  That satisfying feeling when your car has a full tank of gas.  Putting on warm pants right out of the dryer.  Finding money you didn’t know you had.  When the DJ plays your favorite song in the club.

There hasn’t been a better feeling to come out of DC since Will Eastman, Miguel Lacsamana (Micah Vellian), and Bernard Farley (Outputmessage) joined forces in 2011 to create Volta Bureau.  A constant source of optimism in a scene that can potentially be very cutthroat and negative, Volta Bureau produces, DJs, and performs some truly positive, top-notch disco, house, and techno music in the most seemingly natural way.  It’s quite the experience in any form it takes.  Their productions sound so smooth and effortless – almost like second-nature to these guys – as if they have it down to a science (but I think it’s ultimately more emotional than that).  And it makes sense, as each member comes from a traditional educational background – Will being a former historian, Miguel being a former English teacher, and Bernard holding a Masters degree in Abstract Algebra.  In fact, Volta Bureau was named after Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory in Georgetown, which might also explain the muse behind the trio’s musical genius.

Even their meeting was a true act of kismet.  Miguel and Bernard used to live together and also produced music together as Dmerit.  They remixed Will Eastman’s “Feelin'”.  Then came Will Eastman with a remix of their track, “Stuck On You”.  And upon realizing the amazing talents each other had to offer as producers and the fact that their musical paths were beginning to converge, the rest was history!  So now we’re lucky enough to have this wonderfully beautiful source of sonic sunshine blasting from our speakers on the daily.

The wildly successful release of “Alley Cat” in 2011 rapidly propelled Volta Bureau into the spotlight with support from Pete Tong, Toddla T, A-Trak, and so many more influentials.  Playing with Thievery Corporation, kicking off the dance party at 2012’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and with a brand new EP, Hot/The Greatest, in tow, Volta Bureau is officially impossible to ignore.  And why would you even want to?  They’re all about good vibes, smiling faces, and a never-ending dance party.  Love is always in the air when Volta Bureau is around and the appreciation for that is immeasurable.

So I’m gonna let these guys speak for themselves as the incredibly interesting people they really are!  Be sure to visit their SoundCloud and make it a point to cut a rug at their next dance party.  You owe it to yourself!

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Cool Breezy:  What kind of emotions and responses are you trying to evoke with the sounds of Volta Bureau?

Micah Vellian:  Love mostly. But we try to represent the entire gamut of the human experience, and sex.
Bernard Farley:  Yeah, love, interconnectedness, cosmic adventure.
Will Eastman:  Love and happiness, and a certain kind of melancholy that also can feel good.

CB:  What kind of special talents to each of you have to contribute to producing a single Volta Bureau track?

MV:  Puns. Cooking (Vegan or otherwise).  I’m a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, keys) with a background in madrigal/classical choir and a penchant for strings and musicals. Oh and moxy.
BF:  I’m the synth and fx guy in the group. I also do main vocals and production.
WE:  I have a hand in writing lyrics and lay down the guitar parts. I also like to do arranging. It’s similar to working as an editor or curator. We all pretty much take turns on having a hand in production.

CB:  Volta Bureau has seen so much success since its genesis in 2011, from “Alley Cat” topping the Beatport charts in 2011 to playing the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in 2012. So if you had to choose just one, what has been your proudest moment to date?

MV:  Pete Tong saying Volta Bureau and calling Alley Cat clever was pretty aces.
WE:  Playing some sold out shows in San Francisco and DC and getting added to Virgin Fest for sure.

CB:  What are some of your favorite dance tracks to play during a live set?

MV:  All of em! I’ve been in many bands, but this is the only band I’ve ever been in that dances during our practices, every, damn, time.
BF:  I love playing our track “Hope” live. It has such a positive vibe and always gets the crowd really excited.
WE: It’s hard to pick one but “Solid Gold Bones” is my favorite track to play live. It’s upbeat and I have a falsetto back up vocal that’s fun.

CB:  Do you have any dream collaborations in mind?

MV: It’d be nice, but I’m fine with these guys and a few other friends/family.
BF:  I think it’d be cool to work with some female vocalists like Robyn.
WE:  Hall and Oates.

CB:  Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

MV:  In 1986 (10 at the time), before I moved to the United States from the Philippines, I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller and listened to it incessantly. The first time I experienced an earthquake (in the northern mountains of Baguio of the Philippines), I was listening to it. It truly was a groundbreaking record. I was/still obsessed with this album. So much in fact that I fashioned my signature in the style of Michael Jackson’s autograph and still sign it this way.
BF:  For me, it was Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James album.
WE:  Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” I was a Disco kid.

CB:  Are there any exciting plans for the remainder of 2012?

MV:  Yes! More tunes! More shows!
BF:  Yeah, we have a lot of tracks simmering in the studio right now. We’re looking to get a lot of these out next year.
WE:  Yes, focusing on finishing up a ton of new tracks that are close and getting ready for more live shows in 2013.

Gettin’ Fr33ky with Steve Starks

starks

As a certified party rocker and one-third of DC’s party crew, Nouveau Riche, Steve Starks is quite the force to be reckoned with here in the DC EDM scene.  He maintains a heavy presence in the city by frequently collaborating on productions and live-appearances with Nacey, releasing original tunes on T&A Records, and playing for all different kinds of party people.  Last Friday, he played for a rooftop of glowing ravers and moombahtonistas at Ibiza for Steez Promo’s MEGA event with Boys Noize.  Next Saturday, he’ll be playing with Craze at U Street Music Hall.  But if you need more evidence that he’s got the dopeness factor on lock, see below:

Exhibit A:  “Fr33ky in the Club” – Starks’ utilized DC’s hometown advantage in the moombahton scene by releasing an original production, “Fr33ky in the Club”.  This track turned out to be a moombahton anthem from the jump, as it encouraged party people to enthusiastically lose their shit in the club.  Girls, you know what I’m talkin’ about.  “Fr33ky in the Club” received some major love from Mad Decent and was also featured on many early moombahton mixes, including Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton.  Because of this song, all of us moombahton-lovers are now known as “fr33ks” and for damn good reason too.

Exhibit B:  “Problem” – Most recently, Starks dropped a banger, “Problem”, for free download!  “Problem” is most definitely one of my favorite Starks productions so far.  It’s a classic dance track, full of bass and a touch of Baltimore club, all the while sampling an unlikely throwback, The Cardigans “Love Fool”.  (RIGHT?!)  With “Problem”, Starks not only rescued and revived “Love Fool” but also transformed it into a massive dance tune that totally bangs.

Exhibit C:  KIDS – Starks was one of the originators of DC’s old-school hip-hop dance party, KIDS.  For a few years on the first Saturday of every month, Starks joined his friends Nacey, DJ Jackie O, and DJ Lil Elle at DC9 to take you back to the old school by playing all the throwback hip-hop jams you could handle.  KIDS was inspired by the 90s cult classic film of the same name and embraced city culture the best way they knew how.  KIDS ran for a few years until they collectively agreed to end that chapter a few months ago.  But in its time, it was a rager for sure, usually packed wall-to-wall with sweaty party people gettin’ busy to Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”.

Exhibit D:  Nouveau Riche – On the second Saturday of every month, find Starks at his second home at U Street Music Hall for Nouveau Riche, a monthly dance party/shit show run by him and his friends Nacey and Gavin Holland.  As one of my favorite monthlies in DC, you never know what to expect at this one.  These self-proclaimed “party hunks” (I’m not arguing) play everything from dubstep to Baltimore club to electro to their very own productions.  Anything goes at this party and the unpredictability of it all is extremely exhilarating.  The only element you can truly rely on is everybody having an amazing time.  Hands down.  Starks and the rest of the Nouveau Riche boys rock that party like it’s their J-O-Bs (I guess it kind of is…) and they do a damn good job of it.  If everyone is crawlin’ out the club lookin’ like a hot mess, I’d say it was a successful night.

Keep watch for new tracks from Steve Starks comin’ atcha at random times via the innerwebz.  Unpredictable, but it’s happening.  Trust me.  It’s easier if you just stay ready.  In the meantime, if you wanna see him live in action, catch him and the rest of the Nouveau Riche crew at U Street Music Hall this Saturday starting at 10PM.  It’s bound to get totally w3ird so bring your favorite fr33k flag and let it fly high.

I recently caught up with Steve Starks to talk about his new tune, “Problem”, his favorite memory from Nouveau Riche, and what kind of goodies we can expect in the near future.

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and producing?

Steve Starks:  I first started messing with production on an old demo program that I installed on my parents computer.  I would just make weirdo beats all day until that computer crashed.  I got one of my own in college and my homie, Nacey, showed me how to use Fruity Loops.  I learned all the basics on that program and have been making music since.  Along the way, I figured I should learn how to DJ so I could do the performance part.  I saved up and got some turntables and started playing parties here and there.  After school I moved to DC and linked up with Gavin Holland and started doing Nouveau Riche with him and Nacey and have been doing it ever since.

CB:  You just released “Problem”, which is a total monster of a track.  What’s next?  What are you working on now?

SS:  I got a new EP in the works for T&A Records and my Fr33ky in tha Club (moombahton) EP will be out shortly.  In the meantime, I wanna keep putting tracks out on my soundcloud.

CB:  Who are some of your influences as a DJ and producer?  Is there anybody you’re trying to work with in the future?

SS:  I grew up on hip-hop.  When I young I was really inspired by old Missy (Elliot) and Timberland tracks.  Being from Maryland, I also listened to a lot of Baltimore Club music on the radio [and at] house parties and school dances.  Once I got turned on to dance music, I found a place to tie together all my influences.  Blaqstarr and Green Velvet are still two of my favorite DJ/producers.

Right now I’m working on some collaborations with my hometown heroes Nadastrom and Tittsworth.  I’m also hoping to get up with Baltimore’s DJ Pierre in the near future.

CB:  What tunes are in your iPod rotation right now?

 

SS:  I’ve been real into Lex Lugar and Juicy J’s mixtape. Brodinski, Brenmar, Movado, Munchi, The Dream, Eric Rincon, Tittsworth and Alvin Risk are in heavy rotation. Lots of hip-hop old and new and the most random tunes from Dolly Parton to Pantera to Jodeci.

 CB:  Got a favorite memory from one of those crazy ass Nouveau Riche parties?

 

SS:  One that stands out is when the music cut one time.  Some one had kicked the plug out, but the vibe was so strong that people were clapping to the beat for like a minute straight.  Once the music cut back on it was pandemonium.  People lost their minds!  Also, our first time playing at U Street Music hall was really special.  I still can get over what a good job they’ve done with that club. I’m so happy to call it home.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#3): Cam Jus

camjus

Remember that one time in April at Tropixxx when they were shooting the music video for “Pendejas” and the room was packed wall-to-wall with all sorts of sweaty girls (who later served as an undulating wave on which Tittsworth and Alvin Risk would crowd surf) all while getting showered with cold tequila and Boh?  Yeah.  I’ll never forget how ridiculously wild that night was and just hanging back, watching everybody go apeshit to moombahton, just validated the fact that our moombahtonistas are doing it right.  Absolutely killin’ it.  I know I tell this story a lot, but it’s so moombahton to me.  It’s also what really showed me that Cam Jus is really contributing to the moombahton scene in a great way.

When Dave Nada discontinued Moombahton Mondays, packed up his Pantene Steez and moved to LA (don’t worry, Dave, we understand), it left DC with some kind of void itching to be filled, specifically with mid-tempo global bass.  Enter Cam Jus.  He knew we needed more moombahton in our lives and quickly rallied his people to help put together Tropixxx and thus, save the day.  Once he recruited Billy the Gent, Tropixxx has been straight rockin’ ever since.  Partying at Tropixxx is what it would look and feel like if moombahton won the Super Bowl of EDM.  Once a month at Velvet Lounge in DC, everybody comes together to celebrate life, moombahton, and being a champion.  Right now, it’s the only monthly moombahton rager in DC and a quintessential reminder that moombahton is very much alive.  Here you can dance to four hours of straight moombahton and with new bangers comin’ out on the daily, Cam and Billy aren’t gonna let you leave without hearing all the brand new moombahtunes hittin’ their inboxes.

Not only is Cam Jus keepin’ you movin’ and groovin’ on the regular at Tropixxx, but he’s also released some pretty great moombahtunes lately.  Last month, he released his four-song NightVision EP, which includes some original tracks and moombahton edits.  The standout track is “Metro Center (Step Back)”, which samples that familiar ‘Step back.  Doors closing.’ command you hear on the Metro.  “Metro Center” is bursting with great energy and it really represents DC as the epicenter of moombahton.  On the other end of the spectrum, “Ease the Pain” samples the Lisa Fischer track, “How Can I Ease the Pain”, and is so smooth and sexy that it landed itself on David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Vol. 1 compilation.  In only four tracks, Cam Jus has you feelin’ all sorts of ways on his NightVision EP.

Last week, in light of the epic heat and humidity we were all experiencing in the area, he released two tracks for us under the title “Humid”.  Pretty appropriate – shit was sweltering over here for a minute.  Cam hooked us up with an Aaliyah “R U That Somebody” edit and “Motivation”, his bootleg of the Diplo remix.  It’s obvious that he wasn’t tryin’ to cool us down any with these tracks but that’s not what moombahton is about, is it?  Let’s keep the heat on at all times.

All of Cam Jus’s tracks are free for download on Cool Breezy, his site, and his SoundCloud page. If you like what you hear, shout him a holla on Twitter and come see him tomorrow night spinnin’ tunes with Billy the Gent at Moombahton Massive IV at U Hall.  If you haven’t been to Moombahton Massive yet, now’s the time.  Think Tropixxx, but in a bigger room.  It’s always major!  And if you can’t make it to Moombahton Massive tomorrow night, I feel for ya, but check out Let’s Blow This Joint! at vitaminwater uncapped LIVE, presented by Vitamin Water and those boys in Nouveau Riche.  Cam Jus will be spinning in the Coconut Lounge, so go say what up and don’t miss his set!

Cam Jus is a pretty cool dude and you should probably know him.  I’ll give you a jump start here, where we talk about the origin of Tropixxx, the feel of authentic moombahton, and my dude Jon Kwest.

 

Cool Breezy:  When did you start DJing and how did you get into producing?  What were you playing before moombahton was created?

 

Cam Jus:  I knew how to DJ since about 2002.  But [I] didn’t actually call myself a DJ until sometime in 2007.  Before moombahton, I was dj’ing a range of different kinds of hip hop and club music.  Depending on where I was living and who I was dj’ing in front of, it could be indie and classic hip hop, dirty south hip hop, reggae, etc.  And sometime around 2005 when the indie scenes started to get into dance parties I started getting interested in electronic music.  Everything with an urban club edge I liked:  bmore club, uk funky, baile funk, etc.  And that’s pretty much still the type of DJ I am – I just happen to play a lot moombahton now.  I started an on-and-off process of teaching myself to make tracks sometime in 2009/10.  And I only actually figured things out last winter since I started going to school for audio last fall.  So far I really just know more about sound in general than actually composing music.

CB:  What attracted you to the moombahton genre?

CJ:  I think it flipped the script and turned a lot of elements of dance and electronic music on its head by being played at 108 bpm.  Bass stands out a lot more at slower tempos often.  Even white noise stands out more.  I also like to give people a range of different vibes in my set.  And before, the dance stuff I was playing was 130-140 bpm.  Now I can go to 100 bpm and its not hip hop or any kind of normal popular music.  Also, if you’re like me, and you kinda ‘groove’ more than you ‘dance’, its cool cause the music’s not so fast.  I even drive to it.  It’s the flyest stuff to drive to right now with the humid weather in DC.  Bass and reggaeton rhythms and synths.  I also like that at the beginning of it, there was sort of a renegade dynamic to it.  Somebody spent all that time making a track and someone else came along, slowed it down, added a vocal, and it was automatically hotter than the original.  It was just a lot of bootleg stuff and there were a ton of haters.  A lot of people still don’t get it.  To them it’s just slower house music.

CB:  Describe the beginnings of Tropixxx and what’s it like working with Billy the Gent?  Also, you just had Jon Kwest from Philly come through for the last party at Velvet.  Do you have any more special guests scheduled to play this summer?

CJ:  Even before Dave Nada started moombahton I was into futuristic sounding dancehall and tropical and Latin-sounding house.  It had also been about 4 months since Dave stopped Moombahton Mondays, and I didn’t know of anybody else in the city who was playing a lot of moombahton regularly except for Thomas Blondet.  So I got a few friends and decided to do a party.  I figured Billy would be down since he had a bunch of moombahton on the web.  And Billy’s a cool dude.  He got a lot of tattoos and ish.  As for guests, we don’t have anything planned.  We really don’t do much planning.  We’re just trying to have a good time.

CB:  One of my favorite tracks of yours is “Metro Center (Step Back)”.  How’d you get the idea for that tune as well as the rest of the NightVision EP?

CJ:  I always thought the “Step back. Doors closing” announcement on the DC metro would be a good idea to sample.  I don’t know why exactly, I just did.  And a staple of a lot of dance songs is a build up and then a vocal before the beat drops.  So I thought that would be a good way to use it.  As for the rest of NightVision, I made that as a promo for myself. I try to do a small project every month, whether it’s a mix or an EP or a one-off party.  And everybody had been telling me to do an EP since it’s kind of the thing to do.  And I ended up telling people I would but never did.  So I had Metro Center and Keep Your Head…  sitting around, and one night I made NightVision and Ease the Pain and figured people would like those.

CB:  Who’s your favorite moombahton producer right now and why?

CJ:  I’m partial to everybody’s stuff that has an authentic feel to it.  Their music sounds like it’s what the hell they do.  Moombahton is only a year old, but Melo and Munchi and the Peligorosa crew sound like they had already been doing it.  They already had roots in dance AND Latin music.  Toy Selectah and those folks had already been doing raverton.  It’s like with anything, the stuff that hits the hardest or has the sexiest rhythms has an authentic feel to it. Even people that were already making Dutch house do it really well.  I can’t even pin down a favorite though. I play a lot of Jon Kwest stuff too. He has a ton of tracks!  And his stuff has its own signature sound to it.  He’s a 90’s era hip hop and dance music head.  Sometimes he’ll use samples that mostly only real hip hop heads would recognize, and his drums are kinda crunchy sounding sometimes.  He even sampled a go-go track!  He used ‘The Water Dance’ in a moombahton track.  I tweeted the hell out of that.  More people should’ve cared.

CB:  What do you think about the current state of moombahton and where it’s headed?

CJ:  Where moombahton is headed I don’t know.  It can go anywhere. It’s only a year old, and there’s such a range of styles.  The Blow Your Head comp had a lot of different styles on it.

As for the state of moombahton, the vibe is nice right now.  It has haters – people that just don’t get it.  They think there’s a fuss over nothing.  And then there are people that are wild about it.  The most random people have come up to me at Tropixxx and say they saw my website.  And I really don’t have much of a web presence.  They were just looking for some moombahton.  The culture of the whole thing is based on tracks flowing through the Internet.  I wish there was more of a real life culture and a few more people in DC with the strength to co-sign moombahton and make a difference.  I’ll tell people about moombahton all day, but they don’t get it until they see Tittsworth play it in front of 200 people.  Then they get it.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#2): Obeyah

obeyah

You know that one moombahton track with the tribal drum patterns and that hypnotizing flute you hear everywhere from the moombahton compilations that takeover your stereo to the super sweaty moombahton parties?  Ahhh yes, “African Flute”.  You know the one.  And if you didn’t know, that’s an edit from one of DC’s own DJs and producers, OBEYAH.  Touting over 1800 downloads on SoundCloud as well as slots in DJ Sabo’s Moombahton Massive Mix and Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton, “African Flute” has taken the moombahton game by storm.  Full disclosure:  it’s one of my favorite moombahton edits to date and it’s what propelled me into Obeyah’s world.

Known as Reed Griffith when he’s not behind the decks, Obeyah hails from Arlington, Virginia and he’s way more than “African Flute”.  Did you know he’s also a visual artist?  As a member of Urban Artistry, Obeyah works to promote the thriving culture of urban art and dance.  Most recently, he was showing off his graffiti talents at the International Soul Society Festival held a month ago in Arlington, Virginia.   This month he’ll have some technicolor graffiti pieces in the G40 art summit.  Promoting twenty artists and “sensory overload” (their words, not mine), the exhibit opens on May 19th and runs until June 17th, so you have a whole month to check out Obeyah’s work.

As seen everywhere from the walls to the dance floor, it’s clear that Obeyah is accessing so many areas of his creative abilities.  His talents as a DJ have landed him Regular Club nights in Atlanta and a residency in Panama.  Obviously, he is no stranger to the rest of this world.   But he’s still a big presence in the local scene and epicenter of moombahton, DC.  He’s running all sorts of dance floors from the little attic-like space at Little Miss Whiskeys to the two-floors of District to massive basement of U Street Music Hall.  His productions have gained popularity amongst the major players in the moombahton game, including its godfather, Dave Nada. Most notably, the mix he did for Dirty Sweaty Nasty’s Throbcast has also gained a lot of love, especially from MTV Iggy.  Pretty major!!  I’d grab that mix while ya still can and while you’re at it, check out the rest of his sounds over on his SoundCloud.

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F15440787&show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=f5136a
Rishi Romero (Obeyah Edit) Rain Forest by cool breezy

Check out a new edit from Obeyah called “Rain Forest”.  A currently unreleased track, “Rain Forest”, easily exemplifies the classic moombahton style with its tropical rhythms and mid-tempo, sexed up vibes.  A different kind of track as juxtaposed with Munchi’s moombahcore stylings, for example, “Rain Forest” is totally understated but keeps you on pace to move your hips and sweat your ass off in the name of moombahton.

If you like what you hear, there’s a good chance he’ll be invading your hood very soon!  He’s playing Philly’s very first moombahton party on Thursday, May 19th at the Walnut Room with Baltimore’s Uncle Jesse, and Philly’s own Philadelphyinz.  Friday night, he’s back home in DC and going head-to-head with The Baconator Himself, Reed Rothchild, at Little Miss Whiskeys (beware of the house drinks).  Then, on June 4th, he’s back in Atlanta for Buzz at Sutra.  Don’t miss him.  Go say what up to the dude!

Obeyah is way more than meets the eye and I want y’all to know him!  Check out the Q&A session we had where we talk about his fine art, playing moombahton for motorcyclists, and life without boundaries.

 

Cool Breezy:  Catch us up first.  How long have you been DJing and producing and what initially got you into the game?

Obeyah:  I have been DJing for about five years.  I just stepped into production so it’s really new to me.  I was inspired by the turntablist and hip-hop DJ’s from the late 90’s, like Q-bert and Roc Raida, so I went to a DMC competition at the Black Cat in DC.  Hearing turntablism live really made me want to learn how to DJ.

CB:  As a member of Urban Artistry, you play a heavy hand in art shows.  Just lately you’ve done work at the International Soul Society Festival in April and you’ll be doing more work at the G40 art show coming later this month.  What are you doing at these exhibitions?  I saw you doing some graffiti work.  How long have you been into that?

O:  Shout out to Urban Artistry, one of the most eclectic and original crews in the world!! I’m just starting to get back into visual art.  I have been creating art and putting graffiti on things since I was a kid.  DJing came second but I’m learning equally from both art forms.  I recently created costumes for an Urban Artistry show, “Digital Funk 2052”, which were recognized at the DC Dance Awards as the “Best Dance Performance Costumes of 2010”.  That got me motivated to start combining my music and visual art together.  Right now I’m working on producing the score for a dance-based production – it’s turning out to be a really interesting fusion of mediums and art forms.  Soul Society has been a huge part in that too.  As a DJ and an artist, this year I collaborated with Scotty 76 from Germany.  He is a huge part in the history of graffiti so it was a real honor to work with him.

CB:  What first attracted you to the moombahton genre and what about its community keeps you in the scene?

O:  I have always been into dancehall and electronic music – a lot of what I’m listening to right now is being influenced by a wider spectrum of global rhythms.  There aren’t too many new things in art or music, just new interpretations.  When moombahton dropped it was the perfect time for this genre to be accepted.  Before I heard moombahton, I felt that people were getting bored with club dance floors being taken over by 128 bpm music.  So when I first heard moombahton, I had no idea what I was listening to, all I heard was the energy it created.  [As] with most people involved with moombahton right now it’s about supporting new ideas.  I like being able to create without boundaries; right now this genre is like that.

CB:  Your schedule of events is very eclectic.  You just played a one-year-anniversary party for the motorcycle club, Ghost Ryderz.  Did you play moombahton for them?!

O:  Yeah, actually they wound up booking me off of a mix I did for DSN that had a lot of moombahton on it. There were people in there as far away as Canada and California. It was a really diverse crowd…yeah they get pretty live!

CB:  You’ve also got some shows coming up outside of the DMV area, namely in Philly and Atlanta. Have you played moombahton for crowds outside of the genre’s comfort zone of DC and if so, how do they take to it?

O:  I just recently got back from a DJ residency in Panama; I think that was the most surprising reaction I have had from any crowd.  I was on the island of Bocas Del Torro during the 2011 Carnivale parties; people were there from all around the world.  For most people it was their first time hearing moombahton, I could watch how people from different countries went in on tracks that were based on different rhythms like cumbia or dembow.  Also I think I’m just starting to realize how new this genre is for most people.  Just like doing anything with DJing, it’s all about timing.  I’ll be in Philly for Tropicalismo with Uncle Jesse on the 19th. It’s the first moombahton party in Philadelphia, so I’m looking forward to be breaking some ground up there.

CB:  Who’s one of your favorite moombahtonistas right now and why?

 O:  Dave Nada.  [Editor’s Note:  Dave Nada needs no explanation.]

CB:  Finally, any words of advice for present and future DJs and producers?

O:  TV will rot your brain.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#1): Billy the Gent

billy

Real talk:  I rarely see this dude without a smile on his face.   BillyBennett, aka Billy the Gent, has a lot to be happy about though.  He just married the love of his life, has a little baby girl on the way, and is totally killin’ it in the moombahton game right now.   You’ve probably seen him around DC, inkin’ up you and your homies at Tattoo Paradise or hanging out at U Hall or DC9.  But hopefully you’ve even seen him playing maestro at the Velvet Lounge.

Billy and Cam Jus join forces once a month at Velvet for their monthly moombahton rager called Tropixxx, and trust me – it’s triple x’d for a reason.  I came through last month for the video shoot for “Pendejas” (the Tittsworth and Alvin Risk collaboration to be released on May 31st via Mad Decent’s Blow Your Head) and it was one of the wildest parties I’ve been to in a minute.  It was a late Sunday night, the forever-dreaded Monday morning was looming on the horizon, and nobody gave a shit.  Seriously, not a single shit.  Tittsworth, Alvin Risk, and some random, victimized barstool were crowd surfing in a room that’s no bigger than your attic.  Big booties were rockin’ everywhere to moombahton classics from Nadastrom, Munchi, Dillon Francis, and more.  Everybody was shakin’ dat ass so right that not a single person in there had a dry forehead.  Even the walls were sweating.  It was only appropriate that they cooled us down with showers of Natty Boh and tequila.  Looking up at times and seeing Billy and Cam orchestrating the madness, I had to ask myself, “Is this real life?”  And indeed it was.  This was all happening in the name of moombahton and it felt so right.

Tropixxx feels like Moombahton Mini, the golden child of Moombahton Massive.  Let’s face it – we can’t have a regular Moombahton Massive because DC might implode from too much bass and we kinda need the Nation’s Capital around to run shit.  But, have no fear – Tropixxx is here!  One Sunday a month, Billy and Cam bring us all together at Velvet so we can get our moombahton fix in the same venue where Dave Nada, the godfather of moombahton, held “Moombahton Mondays”.  Together they have succeeded in keeping the regular celebration of moombahton alive and well in the DMV area.

On an individual level, Billy is constantly evolving as a moombahton producer.  His earlier tracks have this sexy, Latin vibe to them – a classic moombahton feel (see “Sillyana” and “La Mania”).  Some even have a really smooth house groove to them  (see “Home Grown” and “Latin Love Theme”).  But lately, his tracks have taken on more of an aggressive style of moombahton, incorporating elements of dubstep and often treading the line between classic moombahton and its subgenre, moombahcore (see “Munchicore VIP” and “Turn Up the Volume”).  Run through Billy’s SoundCloud and you’ll see he’s got something for every kind of moombahton fan out there.  The man knows how to take care of his people, ya know what I mean?!

Now he’s got something for the hip-hoppers with today’s release of the Vibrate Chick EP, a joint escapade with Virginia’s Long Jawns and Miami’s JWLS.  Imagine some serious crunk vibes and hip-hop vocals layered over moombahton beats.  If you’re imagining something like a Ludacris video with a ton of scantily clad Latinas in 1970 Chevelles with ridiculous hydraulics cruisin’ down U Street…you’re almost there.  But don’t just take my word for it – go check it out for yourself and download the free EP at moombahton.com.  You’ll be handsomely rewarded with Dirty South-meets-moombahton swag.  You’ll need it to complete your summer.  It’s lookin’ to be a hot one.  ;)  And if you like what you hear, check him out at the next Dirty Sweaty Nasty Party on May 13th in Fairfax, VA.

But before you leave me, I want you to get to know Billy on a more personal level.  Seriously, moombahton has recruited a really great dude.  He was awesome enough to answer a few questions for me about the making of the Vibrate Chick EP, the Brotherhood of Moombahton, and one of his best dudes, Dave Nada.

 

Cool Breezy:  First, just for the people who don’t know yet, when did you start DJing and producing and what inspired you to get into the scene?  What were you playing before moombahton?

Billy the Gent:  I started DJing in 2009.  My good friend DJ Tom Lim gave me a few quick turntable lessons about an hour before our first party.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I wanted to play music.  I threw a couple local parties over the next couple years and I basically learned how to mix tracks by playing live, which if you were at any of those parties, you would know that it was pretty horrible…HA!   Anyways, I made a lot of friends in the DJ community [who] helped me out along the way to try and lock down good mixing techniques and such but I think I will always feel like I could be a better DJ.  I mostly learned how to spin hip-hop and Top 40 tracks, and then moved onto the dubstep scene and now its MOOMBAHTON!

As far as producing goes, I’ve been making music in some way or another since as long as I can remember.  When I lived in Richmond, I played in countless indie bands and punk bands.  I learned to play the drums from my older brother, Champ Bennett (yes, his real name!), when we were kids and since then, I’ve been playing music.   What got me into producing music is more or less the fact that I don’t have time for a band anymore!  Hah.  I work as a full-time tattoo artist at Tattoo Paradise here in DC and it’s a major part of my life.  So because I’m so involved with tattooing, producing music off of my computer gives me the opportunity to make music whenever I feel like – there is no organizing band practices or dealing with the hassle of gear, or anything like that…just me and my studio.

CB:  What was it about moombahton that attracted you to the scene?

BTG:  I got into moombahton via one of my best pals (and creator of moombahton!) DAVID ORLANDO VILLEGAS [aka] Dave Nada.  We all know Dave’s story of how he stumbled onto this whole thing.  But I think I got into it mostly because it was more or less a fresh genre of music.  I really like the tempo and the appeal of moombahton and I think I was drawn to it by the sheer fact that there was hardly any of it around.  I mean, my first moombahton crate had about fifteen tracks in it, so I got inspired to make all these edits and stuff.  But now that the edit game is sorta flooded, I’m working more on making original stuff.

CB:  How did the Tropixxx collaboration with Cam Jus begin and what was it like being a part of Moombahton Massive Tres?

BTG:  It’s kinda funny.  Cam asked me to play this party he was doing, and I didn’t really know much about it.  I just knew I was allowed to play moombahton there, so I said “sure”…and the first one we did popped off really big, so we decided to keep it going.  Since then, every single Tropixxx has been better than the one before it and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  We had the Toronto-based duo TORRO TORRO play one of them and the party before last TITTSWORTH and ALVIN RISK filmed the video for their latest moombahton hit “PENDEJAS”.  It’s been great.

Being a part of the Moombahton Massive was amazing.  One of the cool things about this genre is the camaraderie involved in it.  For the most part, everyone is trying to help everyone, whether its sharing tracks, asking for opinions, throwing each other’s tracks on mixes or whatever it is – people are looking out for each other.  A great example of that was the whole reason behind the Moombahton Massive Tres – to help one of my favorite producers, MUNCHI.  As many of you know, Munchi had some health issues while he was traveling and needed money for bills, flights, etc. and when Dave came to me, Cam, Obeyah, Jon Kwest, DJ Ayers, and Uncle Jesse about doing a benefit for him, EVERYONE was down and that’s kinda what I’m saying.  When I was playing in bands and stuff, there was a lot of jealousy and backstabbing, but the dance music scene and in particular, the moombahton scene seems to be very supportive.  It’s really cool.

CB:  Describe the creative process for the Vibrate Chick EP and what was it like working with Long Jawns and JWLS?

BTG:  Ok, Long [Jawns] and I have been linking up and working of tracks for a while now.  We were mostly working on house tracks and stuff like that, but [during] one session we sat down for, Long had played me a moombahton track he had started.  I knew right away we had to finish it – it was really good.   I told him it reminded me of some of the tracks that I’ve heard by this dude named “JWLS” from Miami.  He gave me this look and said, “That’s funny you say that cause it was a big inspiration for this track!”  So we finished that track up and sent it over to JWLS for input and he instantly hit us back and asked if he could do a remix of it…and obviously we said “yes.”   So that explains the first two tracks of this EP.  The third one was a track that I had started working on and sort of hit a brick wall with.  I let it sit for a while and came back to it and realized that I should finish it.  I tested it out at the Massive Tres and it sounded great.  So meanwhile, me, Long and JWLS are sitting on these two tracks (“vibrate/vibrate remix”) and I thought,  “I should just hit JWLS up to help me finish this ‘Chick like me’ track and then we should put all 3 of the songs out as an EP!”   So in some way or another, we all had something to do with all the tracks – it’s pretty cool.   I don’t think many people do stuff like this, especially with moombahton.

CB:  It might be really hard to choose, but who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

BTG:  Probably Jon Kwest.  That dude puts in a lot of work, always has fresh mixes, tracks, and seems to constantly be trying to push the sound.  I think he probably holds the record for most moombahton songs finished too…hahaha.

CB:  Finally, congratulations on your marriage!  Just curious…did moombahton have a presence during your wedding?

THANKS!   Being married is awesome and believe it or not, my wife’s dad wore his MOOMBAHTON shirt to the wedding under his suit. NO lie. Dave took a picture of it and put it on his twitter, I believe.  It was pretty awesome.

This Thursday We Celebrate ST. U HALL DAY.

uhall(photo by Kyle Gustafson)

It’s time to pay homage to my favorite club in DC.  U Street Music Hall is celebrating its One Year Anniversary this THURSDAY, March 17th!  My friends and I made it out last year for their grand opening party and we’ll be there on Thursday to celebrate its First Birthday.  If you haven’t rolled with us to U Hall yet, here’s the scoop on the venue, followed by a quick Q&A sesh with co-owner, DJ, and producer, WILL EASTMAN.

Technically, U Hall has six owners, but Will Eastman and Tittsworth are the two main dudes and they each have their own monthly dance parties here.  Will Eastman’s Bliss dance party is usually every third or fourth Saturday of the month and Tittsworth’s party is usually around the first Saturday of the month.  On all other nights, they strive to bring you the newest, freshest sounds out of DC and beyond.

U Street Music Hall (or U Hall for short) is not exactly a dive bar but not exactly one of the standard, uppity clubs you find all over DC either.  You almost wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it.  There are no flashy lights outside – just a black canopy with the signature white “U” on it.  That’s all it really needs.  It almost seems to regulate the attendees, weeding out the kids who are just looking for a place to rage from the kids who are coming for a specific purpose.

Some of these higher-scale (read: pretentious) DC clubs will charge a ridiculous cover ($25-$30), make you wait in line outside just so it looks like the club is God’s gift to club-goers and everybody is dying to get in (then you finally make it inside and it’s sparse with dancers), just so you can hear some Top 40 shit they play on the radio.  Oh, and don’t forget the dress code – I dunno, you gotta wear your Sunday Best or something.   Seriously, the most I’ve ever paid to get into U Hall was $10 (admittedly, I would even pay more because I love it that much) and there is no dress code.  Wear whatever the hell you want!  I’ve gone wearing dresses and skirts and I’ve also gone wearing Jordans and a tee.  And they will never make you wait outside if it isn’t necessary.  They’re all about getting you in there to experience all the latest in innovative dance music that they want you to hear.

And boy, they want you to hear it loud.  The only question on U Hall’s FAQ page asks, “Is the sound system at U Street Music Hall really THAT good?  Yes.”  I remember one specific Thursday night at U Hall with the Trouble & Bass crew, Flinch, and Canblaster.  I was coolin’ out with a friend and sitting on the back stage.  All of a sudden, this booming, loud-ass bass rips through my entire body, literally coursing from my toes all the way up to my head.  It was electrifying.  I turned to my friend and all I could say (or more like scream) was “HOLY SHIT.”  It’s crisp, clean, and it really is that loud.  It melts faces.  It moves your insides around, I swear.  It is hands down, the best sound system I’ve ever heard.  You have to come hear it for yourself.  It’s an epic experience to be had.  Check this video, which displays what the sound is truly capable of.  SPOILER:  It literally rips paper and moves water.  Serious.

U Hall is so hospitable to its patrons, always taking care of us the best way they know how.  The drinks are moderately priced, around $4 for a beer and up to $8 for a mixed drink.  And with Tittsworth being the adventurous eater he is, it doesn’t come as a surprise that U Hall opened a kitchen for its hungry dancers and inebriates, serving exotic twists on traditional street food.  It’s a small menu, ranging from the classic grilled cheese on Texas toast to Blisspop Bratwurst (Bratwurst stuffed with raspberry preserves, Swiss cheese, and hot sauce) to the infamous Pho Dog (an all-beef hot dog simmered in tasty pho broth, topped with bahn mi slaw, fresh cilantro, thai basil, hoisin sauce, and sriracha).  Yummy, right?

Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Located at 1115 U Street NW between 11th and 12th Sts; 300-person capacity, 1200 ft. hardwood dance floor over a cork cushion (they’re lookin’ out for your jointz), and 20,000-watt sound system.  Two fully stocked bars (one near the entrance and one perpendicular to the DJ booth).  There’s also a cheap coat check for the cold winter months.
  • Some live bands have performed here (Ninja Sonik, OFWGKTA, Holy Ghost!) but U Hall primarily caters to the hip-hop and dance music crowd.  Live shows happen early from 7-11pm and DJ party nights happen from 10-2 on weeknights and 10-3 on weekends.
  • They recently changed their 18-and-over policy due to some douche-baggery, but it’s something that needed to happen.  Basically, if you’re between 18-20 years old, you need to pre-purchase your tickets before the night of the event.

So anyway, I chatted with WILL EASTMAN and here’s what he had to say about keepin’ it real at U Hall, bringing you the newest sounds, and moshing to Nadastrom:

Cool Breezy:  Opening a club is such an ambitious endeavor.  What were the beginnings of U Hall like?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Will Eastman:  We wanted to create a space that would be our ideal spot to DJ and hang out. We spent a lot of time talking about the details, and still do. It’s a work in progress. Our inspiration came from playing at a lot of different clubs and keeping a mental check list of things we liked and disliked.

CB:  What has been one of your greatest challenges with running the club in the past year?

WE:  Definitely finding time to respond to all the inquiries I receive from people whowant to play at the club. As a DJ, I’ve long liked to listen to every bit of music I receive. I’ve discovered some real gems that way. I still take time to listen to musicpeople send me, but it’s getting harder and harder to find time for all of it.

CB:  What do you think contributes to the success that U Hall has experienced so far?

WE:  I think the number one thing is the tremendous support we’ve received from DC music fans and the electronic music community. We’re extremely grateful. Wecouldn’t have imagined any of this when we were planning U Hall.

From a booking and operations stand point, I think the thing that contributesmost to our success is that our core team of owners and staff spends a lot of timetalking about and considering ideas for the club. And when we’re done we start allover again the next day. It’s like becoming a good DJ. One spends 1,000 hourspreparing for every minute in front of a crowd. It takes time and preparation.

CB:  Just this year you’ve had some pretty big events so far.  Moombahton Massive 2 was in January, Odd Future came through in February, Nadastrom is spinning at your one-year party, and you just booked A-Trak for April.  Yall are doin’ big thangz!  What’s next?  What do you see U Hall doing a year from now?

WE:  Nadastrom are good friends and we’re fortunate to have them as residents at theclub. They’re welcomed to play whenever they want. There was no way to predictsome of the shows we’ve been fortunate to host over the past year. I’m still amazed to think Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Arthur Baker, Michael Mayer,Jellybean Benitez, Francois K, Simian Mobile Disco, and Afrika Bambaataa haveplayed the club. I hope we can host even more in the coming year and be thespot where next year’s heroes played their first DC show. That’s what it’s allabout. Supporting new, forward-thinking music.

CB:  I know I’ve had a ton of CRAZY nights at U Hall this year.  Wanna share any memorable moments of your own?

WE:  Oh damn, there have been a LOT. The look on the Aeroplane guy’s faces whenthey turned up the bass our opening night. Breaking my toe at the soft openingmoshing to Nadastrom. Michael Mayer giving me a hug after his performance.He’s German. They don’t hug a lot. Classixx dropping DC Go-Go. The MartinBrothers completely blowing my mind with their set. Getting schooled on amazingold house stories by Sam Burns and Jellybean Benitez. Tittsworth dumping a hugebirthday cake on me on my birthday and me DJing with frosting all over my handsand face. Pantha Du Prince performing in a monk’s hood. Trouble Funk’s specialsecret show. Dancing like crazy about 100 nights.

Thanks, DC!

If you wanna make it out celebrate to their One-Year-Anniversary Party this Thursday, March 17th, you missed the deadline for the RSVP for free admission, but come anyway!!  It’s only $10 and they’ll be serving free Natty Bohs from 9-10PM.  Nadastrom, Jesse Rose, and Justin Martin will be running the party.  I’ll be there all night so hopefully I’ll see yall there! :)