Around this time last week was a very special day for the attendees of Ultra Japan. On day one of the festival, the headliners of the off-beat Ultra Resistance stage were treated to the first ever B2B set from industry greats Nicole Moudaber and John Digweed. Not only was this their first time playing together, but this was in fact the first B2B set that John Digweed has ever done without Sasha. Digweed's expertly curated hard-hitting techno blended expertly with Moudaber's hypnotic, melodic style. The end result was skin crawlingly good; as Nicole strung the crowd out on blissed out chord progressions, John would drop a hammer and pull everyone back to earth.
Just after this electric, one of a kind set, we sat down with the two of them to fire off a smattering of questions. Between Nicole's no-bullshit, ultra sweet personality and John's dry humor, it was enormously good time. The chemistry continued to impress as we dove into the human side of these two titans of industry.
Magnetic Magazine: What puts the biggest smile on your face?
Nicole Moudaber: What puts a smile on my face? Honestly, endearment. Endearment and also cheekiness. I'm a bit of both. I'm twisted and dirty or super, super soft. Nothing in between, that's it.
John Digweed: What puts a smile on my face would be that I’m still doing what I do after 30 years. There's people on the dance floor from 18 to whatever age having a great time. That's why I started and that's why I still love doing it now.
MM: What's your favorite part about your job?
John Digweed: Every weekend is different. A lot of people have jobs that they love but they don’t get to experience different things every day. They do the same job, go to the same office, the same commute. Whereas, Tuesday I was in Ibiza, Thursday I was flying out to Japan, tomorrow I’m flying to Beijing. I go back to Europe then to Belgrade, then I go to San Francisco. Every few days there’s a different place, a different country, and a different culture. That’s an incredible life to live. In another world if I took a month slice of my current life and decided “Alright, I’m gonna tour these places” it would be incredible. But I’ve been traveling this way since probably 1994. Traveling opens my mind to how people live outside of my world.
Nicole Moudaber: I do agree with everything that John says. For me on a personal level, what I love the most is the love that I get from the people. Maybe because I didn't get enough of it when I was growing up, or something like that. But when I get the energy from the crowd, that, for me, is what I live for. Music is my salvation and DJing is my prayer.
MM: What do you do to stay grounded as you travel all across the world?
John Digweed: When I get home on Sunday, I’ve got to put the bins out. That's pretty great. I'm not an international DJ in those moments.
Nicole Moudaber: For me what keeps me grounded is motivation and drive, really. Also, I generally don't drink too much. Actually I need to be honest, for the last six months I've been cheating. I've been letting my hair down.
John Digweed: Well you've got lots of it.
Nicole Moudaber: Ha! I am quite proud of this because the last six months I can do this and still travel the next day without feeling too whacked. Do you know what the secret is? Don Julio tequila. It doesn't have any sugar and you don't wake up with a hangover. Try it.
John Digweed: She’s got an endorsement deal.
MM: What's your least favorite part?
Nicole Moudaber: The intense traveling without any sleep. Sleeping is a luxury honestly. I think the last time I slept properly was back in January when I was in Thailand. But you know what, it all disappears once I get on stage. Once you get that whole flow of energy from the crowd, the pain goes away immediately. The tiredness in between gigs is fine, I can live with that.
John Digweed: I think everyone has to travel to go to work. Someone at Virgin Trains has got far more to complain about with traveling than I do. For me, the hardest part is being away from my family. Traveling is part and parcel of everyone’s job, but this job takes me away from my family at special times.
MM: Nicole, you closed a recent “In The Mood” podcast with a very interesting statement. “Hold your head high, and your middle finger higher! Most importantly, keep smiling baby!” Where do thoughts like that come from? It was very sweet.
Nicole Moudaber: I know. Recently I've been showing my softer side. Sometimes people think I'm this animalian, insensitive person because of the way I look or because of the way I say things. Which I get, because I'm quite blunt. But recently I'm learning to be a bit softer.
John Digweed: That's the Don Julio for you.
Nicole Moudaber: He’s a good influence in my life. John you're so funny. The things that you were throwing on stage and before we got on, you’re actually funny and I didn't know this.
John Digweed: I know. It's a hobby of mine. I'm doing stand up on the side.
MM: Both of you are very high profile figures in the music industry and as high profile figures you have a lot of expectations placed on you. How do you handle these expectations?
John Digweed: I think the expectations are deserved because if you're on top of the bill at a club or a festival, people are paying money to come see you. You have to give 110% every gig. You should carry those expectations because it's important to deliver on them. I've always been very focused on what I do in the music world. If I’m giving my best and criticism comes, I can analyze it and go “well, I did my best and there’s nothing I can say about that.” I think, like with every public figure, we’re here for a reason. We’re only going to stay here as long as we continue to deliver and play our best all the time. If we slip below our standards we’re not going stay in our position.
Nicole Moudaber: I can learn from him obviously because with my ups and downs, I'm very critical about myself. I'm not always at my best, because I have my own personal issues. It’s very difficult because I psych myself out. Sometimes I don’t want to get up there because I have emotional problems, or some other personal issue, but I’ve got to put on the face and the show must go on. So it’s a difficult job but sometimes getting up there is incredibly healing when you’re at your lowest. You see yourself in the way the crowd sees you.
MM: What advice do you both have for people who are having a difficult time keeping their heads up?
Nicole Moudaber: My first piece of advice is to have good friends around you. Good friends who don't judge you and who tell you like it is. My second piece of advice is to learn how to be by yourself once in a while. That way you can look at yourself and see why you’re obsessed with this, or bugging out about that, and figure out whatever is bothering you. Lastly, I recommend reading other people’s writing and listening to other people speak about their problems; so that you can learn that you’re not alone.
Keep your eyes peeled for an awesome new collaboration between Nicole Moudaber and Moby!