7 Years of Subliminal: In Depth With N-tchbl

Priya Sen

Dive deep into N-tchbl’s world as she talks about her musical inspirations, doing what she loves, and finding her home at FRISKY.

It’d be easy to start this piece off with good old Marija, except that she just might not fit the cliché considering that she doesn’t really go by this name to most people, and that there’s more to her than she lets on.

In 2008 she became a part of “iFACE Agency”, playing in major clubs of Serbia, also internationally in highly respected venues such as Escape and Cacao Beach (Bulgaria) with names like DJ Tarkan, Patrik Skoog, John Deere, DJ Alexandar, Danny Way. She won the EMC – EXIT Music Conference 2010 competition as one of the chosen DJs to attend the EMC on EXIT Festival in Serbia together with fellow DJs and leading lights of the dance industry like Josh Wink, Tim Exile, Moderat and more.

A Psychologist by day who turns in to a cutting edge performer at night, you might know her better as one of the most Progressive artists to be featured as part of the Frisky onslaught, and she is popularly known and accepted as N-tchbl, the hostess with the mostest talent who brings her monthly show Subliminal on Frisky, celebrating its 7th year and deservedly so.

Hi there, thanks for chatting with us at Frisky. Firstly how does it feel to be part of the Frisky Radio family, your show Subliminal is celebrating its 7th year no less. Are you happy with the way everything has shaped up over the years?

Hi there as well. There’s still no greater honor than doing something for Frisky, so thanks to Frisky indeed, for reaching out to me.

Back in 2011 when the pilot episode of Subliminal aired, it was literally a “dream come true” scenario for me. Being a part of the greatest and biggest radio in the world can be nothing else but pure pleasure. Every month for every new episode that feeling grabs me over and over again, that I’m playing my favorite music and there’s no other place I’d rather be. After 7 years of growing together, Frisky has become even bigger and my show – Subliminal has gotten even more sublime. I hope we continue for many years to come.

Can you share a bit of your process in terms of selecting tracks, and or wanting a particular vibe for your sets, does it differ from month to month?

Sure, every episode is different and depends on the events that surround me during that particular month. I collect new music continuously and listen to new tracks in my car during the whole month. On a weekend before the airing I select the tracks I like the most and try to make a story out of them. Sometimes I make my sets backwards, I pick up the closing track often, and I build up from there. But it differs, really. What stays the same is that it always has to be a story, from the intro through the break-in to the outro. And so often it’s hard to put it all in just one short hour. Long sets are much easier to make.

Can you tell our readers a bit about what got you interested in electronic dance music?

It was my older brother. We shared a room during our childhood years, the sound system, tapes and later CDs were a treasured collection, and his musical selection got me into it all. From Depeche Mode, New Order, Radiohead, Kraftwerk on to Global Underground compilations. In fact, GU021 Deep Dish – Moscow 2001 was the musical “Book of Genesis” for me as a beginning, and from that point nothing much in my musical taste has changed, except that the collection has become large.

How were your formative years and could you give us a low down on the club scene and music when you were growing up?

I grew up in a southern city of Nis, much smaller than the capital Belgrade where the clubs and the majority of clubbing scene were on. People in my hometown loved to “rave” and techno was popular back then, even today not much is different.

I traveled often to Belgrade to see my heroes playing, artists such as Deep Dish, Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha to name some. Progressive House parties were only in Belgrade from 2002-2010. I must say many big names used to play in Serbia’s capital and with every party I was sure it’s the music I wanted to play too. It was also during that time that Techno and Minimal started to flourish, music I’ve never had feelings for. There was not much place for us progressive DJs but finally it is much better now. New organizations appeared that finally brought back progressive parties to the capital of Serbia. It really feels good having at least two great parties with big names monthly. And now, to attend, I don’t have to travel to Belgrade anymore, I’m here to stay.

I hear that your mix was selected at the EMC – Exit Music Conference 2010, what was the feeling like to get advices from several leading lights of the dance music business?

It was something special to be one of the most voted artists to attend the first EXIT Music conference in 2010. People voted for mixes on the official Exit festival page, and somehow my set, was one of the chosen ones to win this unusual prize amongst thousands of sets from DJs worldwide. During the festival days inside the caves of Petrovaradin fortress we got the opportunity to meet big names of electronic music, and to share knowledge and experiences. Lecturers at the conference included Tim Exile, Laidback Luke, Josh Wink, Daniel Coles and some others. It was a great daytime experience and a unique chance to learn from such big names.

What is your preferred format of playing gigs?

Personally, I prefer smaller underground, industrial clubs and open air venues are the best places for playing and to listen to Progressive music. It’s where the magic is most likely to happen. Melodies and stories float better. Big bright and shiny clubs are not that intimate and music sounds different, that atmosphere makes you play music for the crowds, those big tunes. I’m fond and feel better when I play music that I like to play to myself in my room and hope for the crowd to like it too. I think that’s what makes you a unique artist. Everyone can download Top 100 tracks and play a set out of it, it’s not the point. You should play what you love and choose the music for yourself, and let people decide if it’s good or not.

Honesty and uniqueness in our musical taste has the greatest price.

Do you believe in the oft repeated adage nowadays that a DJ has to produce, unlike back in the day where it was ok to just play, to be taken seriously?

You can be a DJ without having your own productions, but you can’t expect it to be your only job then. There are few artists in the world that can live from music, most of us have some other job that we do for a living. If all you want to do is music, you have to make your own tracks to get more recognized and proportionally paid more. I think it is a must, especially today when music is so easy to get and everyone can “play” on a laptop.

If you are a DJ just out of pure passion and love for the music, and a desire to share the beauty and sublimity of music with other people but in the morning you wake up and go to work to earn a salary, it’s okay to be just a DJ. If you want a salary from being an electronic music artist, you just have to make your own music.

What plans do you have in this regard?

I’m the one that has another job. But I am lucky enough, so lucky indeed, to love my job as much as I love playing music. Being a daytime psychologist and an all day and night music lover and presenter is all I could ever want. I don’t feel like I’m working at all, I do what I love the most. Playing music I love is more than enough for me, and a possibility for the whole world to hear the music I compile every 3rd Monday on Frisky is more than I’ve ever thought I’d achieve. I leave production to much bigger fellas and I’m always happy to play their beautiful tunes, there are already so many of them.

Can you give us your top 5 favourite tracks of all time?

These are always the hardest questions, and just impossible to pick and choose. I’ll name 5 albums instead that were the most influential –

Global Underground 021: Deep Dish – Moscow 2001.
Hernan Cattaneo – Renaissance: The Masters Series 2004.
Trentemøller – The Trentemøller Chronicles 2007.
Moshic – Hiloola 2008. and Masa 2012.
Guy J – The Trees, The Sea & The Sun 2015.

Which labels do you like at the moment, the ones that are releasing music you showcase perhaps?

Absolute must haves usually come from Sudbeat, Lost&Found and Contrast. Besides, there are those artists who are my idols and icons of the dance music industry, performers such as Hernan Cattaneo, Moshic, Marcelo Vasami and Guy J, I always have their music in my collection. Music gets better and better and many new labels and artists are worth paying attention to. Progressive music has become much more complex, rich, layered and intense. That’s one more reason I’d never change the taste and the genre, no matter the price and money offered. Progressive House is the one style that gives shivers like no other genre in the world.

Do you find any difficulties as a female navigating the DJing scene in your country?

I think it has been positive for me after all, especially when I was starting out. Even though by reading a name “N-tchbl” one could actually not know the gender, but being a female was always a plus for me. There were not many ladies in the DJ industry back then, so a couple of us felt really special, and I think it’s still great to see a lady in the booth.

Any club you had the best time playing at?

It has to be my set at Cacao Beach in Bulgaria. A stunning venue, the crowd, the sea, the sunrise and more than 6hrs of playing even though it was planned to be much shorter. It’s something I’ll remember all my life for sure. I’d go back there at any time and I’m glad to see Cacao Beach grow into a serious, serious venue.

Ever had any weird requests from a clubber?

There was a guy who came to ask for a photo with me on a pre-party event in that same Cacao Beach club. His hair had a buzz, and when he turned around the haircut turned out he had N-TCHBL inscribed at the back of his head. Still the weirdest thing I ever saw and that night he was the one who enjoyed music the most.

Would you ever see yourself in an alternate profession?

I do have an alternate profession, I’m a Psychologist and that’s what I do for a living. Music is my passion and love, music paints my days but psychology is my primary profession, and I successfully combine these two. Music can be a serious psychological treatment too.

What are your plans for the rest of the year musically?

Only thing that’s certain is that I’ll run to my 8th anniversary on Frisky. Everything else can go with the flow. No plans, I’ve never had plans. It wasn’t a plan to be a DJ either but it happened. What will be, will be!

Lastly, Frisky wishes you all the best for many years to come and celebrates your 7 years with equal love and respect for the music you bring, any words you’d like to share about this experience with us?

Frisky is my true musical home, and everything I have done regarding Frisky is with my whole heart.

Thanks to the whole crew, Faisal and Giuliano especially, for believing in me and making me a part of the roster. And also to all of the Frisky robots promoting my show cause there’s still no better promotion for a progressive house artist than having a show on Frisky Radio.

I hope we’ll grow together for many years.

We do too N-tchbl! Listen to her 7th Anniversary now On-Demand & Offline with FRISKY Premium & FRISKY Mobile Apps:

N’tchbl – Subliminal