One of the most creatively different DJs in the circuit, we at FRISKY are so happy to introduce the sounds of Nairo on our airwaves this month. Based out of the UK, London, Nabil doesn’t stop short of being a powerhouse artist. Also, the whole tech whiz thing is ultimately a tool that allows him to devote most of his time determining what to play and when, enchanting a crowd, making people dance—in short, delivering the kind of ecstatic communal experience that elevates playing songs to the art of DJing in a most delightful way for someone so young, and shows a maturity far beyond his years. Experimenting and releasing music under different monikers through labels like Pacha, HouseSession, Hotfingers and Hed Kandi to name a few, has kept this sonic star busy in recent years and has moreover helped him mature and glide into the spotlight with imprints such as Somatic, Awen & Steyoyoke.
One of the most salient lessons is one he demonstrates more often than he perhaps articulates: a technological and rational approach doesn’t eliminate an artist’s creative juju and his enthusiasm for the craft seeps into the conversation in spades.
Hi Nabil, thanks for taking time out for our special FRISKY feature. Excited to get on our airwaves with your own show Time Lapse?
Hey, thanks for having me. It’s definitely been on the bucket list for a while so I’m really excited to kick things off.
How is it that you started with electronic dance music, any early memories which made you veer toward this and did you always know you wanted to become a DJ?
I started collecting music pretty early on, I was into old school 90’s Hip Hop when I was 12 and then at around 14 I started getting into electronic music of the early 2000s records from artists like Popof, Metro Area, Trentemoller and Sebastian Leger. It was never my main goal but I was usually the one who brought the sound system and music to house parties so the natural progression was to save up for some turntables and see where it took things.
Prior to that what were your growing up years like, were you being a typical teenager going to clubs etc?
Maybe a little more excessive than the regular teen. I snuck into the first club at 13. My friends were a little older so I dressed in a suit and hid in the back of the line and somehow made it in. It was a pretty funny story, but from then on its safe to say I was hooked.
What is your take on the London club scene, best in the world?
It’s definitely a healthy scene with lots of action to choose from. But because of how the city is connected and the price of a regular night out it can prompt you to always play it safe and go to things you know you will enjoy rather than take a gamble to discover something new. This works well for established event groups, but for new and upcoming ones it makes things a lot tougher. That being said the North London scene is really taking off with some great secret warehouse events, the crowds are full of a lovely communal vibe (the space feels communal) and the music never disappoints.
Your favorite club?
Currently, I would say Printworks.
Would you say you are a DJ first or producer, by that I mean which gives you more satisfaction?
If I had to pick I would say DJ, purely based on the fact that I always have to try a little harder to get the results I want as a producer whereas DJing comes more naturally to me. Nothing beats the lights coming on at a club in the end of the night with a full dance floor of people clapping and chanting for one more song. But then again I can only imagine the buzz you get from a Beatport number one, so maybe my opinion could change haha.
How did you start to produce your own music, and what’s your studio setup like?
When I was about 15 I had a pretty tough year at school. I was grounded for a really long time meaning no phone or internet. I still had my computer for “studies”, so I went to a cafe and downloaded a free DAW and started sampling drums and synth sounds from my favourite tracks. I built some songs and sent them to some friends and the response I got made me feel something pretty special. So I did more research on how songs were made and I guess things just developed from there.
Nowadays my setup consists of a modular synth, Juno 106, Digitakt, Digitone, Model D, Tanzbar and a mic for drum sounds and percussion all running into a Midas 320 mixing console with some lovely preamps and analog EQs which are then multitracked into Ableton Live where I usually edit, arrange and finish things.
How do you start the process of making a track, is there a method involved?
Until a year ago I would always start things off the generic way with a beat and bassline but now I make it my aim to always start a project in a way that I have never done before. Something like playing a sparse rhythmic sequence and dropping an effect from Ableton and using it in a way I haven’t thought about, the other way is to just patch my modular synth in ways that are considered wrong or counter-intuitive. The thought process behind this revolves around the fact that habits don’t stimulate creativity. When our brain gets too used to doing something in a daily routine it switches itself off and goes into autopilot mode. When in this mode it tends to not be in the moment anymore. If you’re not in the moment, you’re not making music!
Is it safe to call you a Melodic Techno specialist?
Yes and no. While I love the diversity of this genre I also want to continue exploring all aspects of music. This doesn’t mean doing random things but more to take it and develop it into the next level. What I do will always be connected to my past work, but at the same time I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into a specific sound and build a fanbase that only wants that. I want to establish early on that my music and taste is versatile and adaptable.
Two of my favourite Djs that encompass this pretty well are Dixon and Ame. You never know what they are going to play next, but you go to their shows because you know it will always be good. This is something I am actively working towards, in the studio and up on stage.
Which labels according to you are pushing the sounds that you like?
I’m really into the stuff coming from Atlant, Somatic, Bosom, Fryhide, Radikon and of course Innervisions.
It’s quite clear that we are living in unprecedented times, how has your life changed during this very difficult time when night life and the entire entertainment industry in general has taken the worst beating?
As soon as Covid hit I had to close down my commercial recording studio. Unfortunately the finances weren’t working out and the uncertainty pushed me to make the tough decision of bringing everything back to my home. It is what it is and I’m sure there are people that have had it worse so all we can do is hope that things return to normal as soon as possible.
Can we get a sneak peek at any projects you are working on? Also, any releases this year we should keep our eye out for?
I just finished working on a remix for Awen Records and currently I’m working on some really cool originals with my good friend Ubbah from Argentina.
There will be a couple of remixes coming on Awen and Somatic that I’m very excited to share. I will be testing them on Time Lapse so keep an ear out.
You had a great debut with our FRISKY Artist of The Week mix, aside from that is there a certain sound or vibe you’d like to bring in with your own monthly show titled – Time Lapse?
I’m glad you enjoyed it. There is another series I am doing at the moment on my SoundCloud called Journey Of Untold Tales. It’s a lot more deep and groovy so I think it’s a great opportunity for me to showcase a slightly more serious side, especially since I always imagined radio sets as energetic and engaging. So that’s the mindset I will bring to Time Lapse, that being said I will always come in with some new surprises to keep things interesting.
Give us your top 5 fav tunes currently.
Noissier – Aurora
Invoker – Tokyo
Radeckt – Ways of Evolution
Hollt – Radiate
Beismans, Vandesande – Satellite Beach
What’s going to be the first thing you do when this grave situation eases out world-wide? And good luck with all your endeavors…
Definitely a good old rave with my best pals.