DJ Nobu, the techno senseï steps up for a masterful, raw and psychedelic 3H set

Écrit par Lucien Rieul
Le 29.11.2017, à 12h30
04 MIN LI-
Écrit par Lucien Rieul
Hailing from Chiba, founder of the Bitta label, DJ Nobu has steadily made his reputation as one of Japan’s finest techno curator. Close to local punk, pop and dub scenes in his youth, he takes interest in scratching and mixing and moves closer to house music. Only after witnessing a set by the guru Jeff Mills does he find he set on a musical identity : techno that’s rough, powerful, psychedelic, and above all dancefloor efficient. A guest to Rush Hour’s 20th birthday tour halting at Paris’ Concrete club, he shares on the occasion a 3H set recorded at Technoon, in Brussels. His best performance of the year, he says.

You recorded this set during daytime. What is the major difference between this and your late night sets? Is it an opportunity to bring records you rarely play out? To explore other musical genres or BPM?

My set was from 4pm. You definitely can not play the same set music you would play in late night on Sunday afternoon. So I selected a bunch of tracks that I thought would be suitable for that time of the day. I had played with Peter van Hoesen many times but had never been to Technoon before, so I spent maybe one hour listening to the resident DJ A. Brehme at the party, observing the dancers, how they responded to certain sounds, and started imagining the direction of my own set in my mind. The biggest difference between late nights and Sunday afternoons is the state of audience, I think.

So I select the music accordingly, and that’s why for example, I’ve blended in some deep house tracks in there too. I do consider it an opportunity to play out the music I normally don’t play, but I don’t want to turn the audience on the dance floor off. So I probably have a few tracks that might be a bit challenging or adventurous that I want to drop at some point, but I wait and see until I feel I’m in the same wavelength as the crowd.

With this particular set, I felt like I could show wider spectrum of music I like than most of the standard club/ festival/ party in Europe. I found the Technoon crowd somehow similar to the Japanese audience I’m used to play to. I felt very familiar and comfortable there. I think that’s why I felt freer to try other things and be more expressive.

You said in an interview that to you, 3 hours is the ideal duration for a set. What are your techniques to keep the audience interested, especially when we are mostly used to 1 hour sets?

I don’t think 1 hour set is that common for techno DJs these days, I don’t think I’ve played an hour long set in 10 years or something… However to answer the first part of your question, I can’t really explain my exact technique on how to keep the attention of the audience, but again, I think the key is to observe them. To know what state they’re in, what they are looking for in that moment. I think you can hear in the beginning of this set, that I’m trying quite varied sound to see the reaction of the crowd. And once I feel like I got the hang of it, I’ll do my best to lock them in and not to let their attention drift off. I can’t really explain how I do that… But I think people stay with you when they’re curious about what you would do next. It seems that a lot of people are drawn into the way I mix tracks, so that might be the reason I keep them curious about my next move.

How much did you prepare it in advance? During the set, what do you most concentrate on?

It depends. Since I switched from vinyl to USB, I can bring so much music. So it doesn’t require as much preparation like I used to, and in a way, I’m always preparing by organising and sorting the tracks in different folders, so that I know where to find them when I need. I think while I play, I want to achieve creating the most beautiful layers of sound with the tracks I have, so I concentrate on mixing most.

What was your main state of mind before and during the set?

I actually get very nervous before I start to play, but at Technoon, I was able to relax very quickly. So in this particular set, I was relaxed and enjoyed myself throughout.

Did the crowd react in unexpected ways at certain times? Overall, how was the mood? Any particular memories?

The crowd was excellent. What I found unexpected was that the crowd was super locked in, focused and responsive. I felt very confident that this crowd will stay with me even when I go extremely deep, for example. The same thing may not work in other party situations, and might make people leave the dance floor, but Technoon crowd really stayed with me and allowed me to navigate them into unusual destinations.

You chose to record and share this particular set, why? What made it special?

I think it’s a good documentation of what I do. You can hear some mistakes in there but even including that, it gives the raw party feeling and I was very happy with it. The overall experience of Technoon left me a strong impression, and I think it was one of the best parties I’ve been this year.

Do you feel that your approach to DJing has changed during the recent years?

I don’t think the basic approach has changed that much, but I believe I’m still improving little by little. I’m sure having the opportunities to play in so many different places to different people contributed to that too.

DJ Nobu plays alongside Antal, Sassy J, Awanto 3, et Digital Zandoli on December 1st.


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