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Long Live The Queen of Techno

Nicole Moudaber continues her North American tour...

Rarity makes something special, and scarcity makes something high in demand. In an industry so heavily dominated by male players, Nicole Moudaber plies her trade as the black sheep. The black sheep that has been taking over the underground techno scene, one city at a time, building up her international repertoire and only tightening her grip on her throne as "The Queen of Techno."

Canada's premier electronic music festival, Digital Dreams, is coming up this weekend. Not only does DD have one of the nicest skyline views around, but it also boasts an incredible lineup, especially in the world of techno and deep house. Nicole will be playing on the Saturday, and will be passing the decks off to Danny Tenaglia before the legends that are Deep Dish grace the stage.


We gave Nicole a call to ask her a few questions in anticipation of what is sure to be a memorable weekend in Toronto. We caught her for a few minutes in NYC, just after she had arrived from a gig in Madrid. Before we got into Canada or even Digital Dreams itself, we talked a bit about what brought Nicole to where she is today.

I asked her about her legendary 1996 Trashy Renaissance party. As someone who is interested in history as well as dance music itself, to me, throwing a techno party in a post-civil war state is, well, insane. "I'll never forget that party," she started, sounding like she was taking a trip down memory lane. "We had about a thousand people in there, which is quite an achievement because they had never heard of dance music [in Beirut] at that time. When the war ended, I spoke to the city council and they were in the process of refurbishing the whole city. My kind of project was very interesting for them because it would attract happiness, tourism, and a different image, so I had massive support from them. I chose the location because it meant something. We had Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze there. I remember I lit the Mosque (which had been completely bombarded in the war), and the Church, and we had amazing lights and projections, and we just danced. I had DJs from London and Paris, and it was magical."

Courtesy of

These were Nicole's days as a promoter: Bringing a postwar society together, and throwing Beirut's first techno parties, for one reason—the music. I asked what made her change from one side of the spectrum—a promoter—to the other, an internationally acclaimed producer and DJ. "Being in the music business is first and foremost because I love the music and I'm passionate about it" she explained. "I booked every single DJ on this planet. I remember when I gave Paco Osuna his first ever London show at the time, and many more, but never thought of DJing once at my parties. I was a vinyl collector, a music collector, and we'd come back to my place to continue the party. I've had Steve Lawler, you name it, everybody coming back and partying until the next day. But when I bought my house in Ibiza I had to stop being a promoter, because I had to refurbish the house—that took two and a half years. I wanted to come back to the music because I'm so passionate about it. I wanted to come back, but not as a promoter. So I decided to make the music. I wanted to recreate the feeling that I had while listening to this music. That's how it began."


That word came up four or five times in our short conversation. Passion. While so many are in it for the wrong reasons these days, it's clear that Nicole is in it for all of the right ones. She's passionate about music, and she's passionate about connecting with her fans. This, I believe, is one of the reasons that she's an honorary Canuck in the eyes of the Canadian techno scene. "I feel a really strong connection with Canadians, and they understood my music straight away. I felt the love and I can't wait to go back again. Every time I'm there I feel so at home and welcomed. The whole experience when I play there is magic for me" she commented.

And there is no stronger connection than when she plays at Stereo Montreal. "When I play at Stereo I play beginning to end, and I do at least 10 hours in there. That allows me to play all of the ranges and all of the music that I love passionately."

Since we were on the topic of Montreal's most legendary club, I had to dig a bit deeper. Everyone has something special to say about Stereo—Nicole especially. "The sound system to me is the best in the world. I play on so many systems worldwide, and nothing tops the Stereo sound. Nothing. I can push it so loud in there without earplugs, and I can talk to someone next to me without having to scream. It's handmade, and these guys know exactly what they're doing." She explained that "I like to warm myself up, lock myself in a groove, then build, and construct, and push my sets from there." And what better place to do so than the club that so many DJs like to call home.


Courtesy of Digital Dreams

We talked about Stereo for a bit longer before moving into a more direct conversation about what we can expect Saturday at Digital Dreams. "You'll be hearing a lot of my unreleased stuff. I've been in the studio a lot, and I can't wait to play the new releases that I have. Obviously I will be playing deeper stuff before Danny comes on, so I'm really looking forward to that, it's going to be amazing."

In fact, she's so 'in the mood' for Canadians that she's dropping some Torontonian techno heroes on her label. "Next up on MOOD I have The Junkies, and I also have Nathan Barato. There's some interesting stuff coming in the next few months."

Calm, collected, and incredibly well spoken, Nicole's enthusiasm about the scene and her role in its progression is obvious. As she kept repeating, it's all about the passion. "I'm British, and there's only one Queen. If fans want to call me Queen I will accept it royally, it's nice and I love it, but I'm definitely not the Queen." As humble as she may be, to many techno fans around the world, Nicole Moudaber is the only Queen that matters. Queen or not, we can't wait for her jubilee at Echo Beach this weekend.

You can follow Zack on Twitter: @zackrota

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