Nicuri interview + podcast

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“I want to tap into a higher realm; heaven or god or the universe” – That is Nicuri’s goal when making music. Anyone who has heard the Jersey DJ can assure you that Nicuri will take you to other places when he’s DJing. 

Obsessed with music from when he was a kid, DJing and producing was a natural progression for Nicuri. His journey ramped up when he met fellow Jersey DJs DJ Qu and Joey Anderson and became a member of the Exchange Place crew. In the years following he get coveted spots at clubs like Berghain in Berlin  and Concrete in Paris.

Today he continues to share his solid output on his own label Sound Theories, with more releases scheduled for 2016. Good Room caught up with Nicuri ahead of his set on December 12 with Heurco S. to learn more about his musical journey and philosophies on music.

Good Room: When did you buy your first set of turntables?
There were from someone else, they were used. That was in 04/05. That was my first 1200s from David Salazar, that was one of the guys from Exchange Place. I bought a DJ in a box with two turntables and a mixer. Then I get the used ones which I still have, I kept them in good shape.

When did your musical journey start?
Music and I go way back, in the early 80s. Whenever music was shown to me, I remember my brother showing me salsa records at a very young age, around four or five. That was my first musical journey into sound. I progressed, listening to Prince, Stevie Wonder. I even listened to metal bands, new wave and punk back in the 80s. I was an MTV kid, I was into all genres.

I didn’t get into house and techno until later. I knew about house in the mid-80s but it wasn’t something I was thrilled about. Back in the late 80s I was really into hip hop and rap music. I listened to house and I was like ‘huh?’. The thing I was exposed to was acid house in 87/88. I think back to 1990 and a friend told me it wasn’t just acid house. I was into Larry Heard, Masters at Work, Logic. It was just a whole different style of music for and and I was about 13 years old.

I’ve been listing to music for a long time. We listened to underground radio stations. We would go skateboarding and listen to them and it would get stuck in my head.

How did you meet DJ Qu and Joey and the whole Exchange Place crew.
I met Qu, back then he was going out with Marjorie Smarth, she was a house dancer, she’s very well known in the house community. I met her through a friend. She worked a couple of blocks away from where I live. From there I met Qu. He was the first one I met back in 99/2000. I didn’t meet Joey until three or four years afterwards.

Had he started the Exchange Place Crew at that point?
That came around in 2005. That’s something Joey Anderson came up with the terminology and it just stuck. It’s an exchange place, right here in Jersey City. I saw it as an exchange place yes, we hang out and exchange records and exchange ideas. Then we would make records together, house or techno. It could be soulful house, techno, whatever, just see where the energy would take it. That’s the way I interpreted Exchange Place. I’m sure Joey and Qu have their own interpretations of Exchange Place.

Were you producing music then?
I was out of the fold then. I was doing my own thing, going to school. I worked my way back because I was still into music. 2005/06, that’s when I started producing. The first release was on Strength Music in 2008. I was producing a couple years before that though.

Why did you want to start producing?
It was really about that music. I wanted to explore my creativity. I saw these guys doing it and I thought if they can do it I can give it a shot, let me see where I can take it. I thought, where can I start, I want to be part of this.

Your music has always been about a journey and connecting with a crowd. Why does that side of the music inspire you.
There’s a certain sound that connects people through vibrations. Basically the bass will connect through the lower chakras. A lot of bass is really more primal. Other kinds of instruments will, for some reason, connects to other parts of the body, it could be the heart. It just depends but I prefer pads and strings because they operate on a different chakra level.

Everyone can drop a beat but to make it something else, for me that’s a challenge. I want to tap into a higher realm; heaven or god or the universe. That’s were my music goes, I’m trying to reach up there. People have their different interpretations but I want to connect with the creator and the universe. I could easily do a party record with a kick but I really want to connect up there. Everyone has a connection to the universe and this is my way of trying to get up there. If people who listen to my music and can sense that, cool. That’s just my way of doing my own music, trying to tune into that realm.

You’ve released a lot of tracks this year, you must be getting pretty high up.
I did one for CTRL in Italy. I’m happy to be part of that project and that I was able to contribute to that, the United Republic of Artists. And ‘Replay’ in December, hopefully before the end of the year.

You released your own label Sound Theories at Good Room last year, could you tell me about that.
It was easy to put out music in that sense. I didn’t want to rely on another person or label for what I can do with my music. Record labels will only accept one track or ask you to change it. You are no longer the artist. You stop being an artist, you become someone else’s machine. Not that I have any issues with other labels but it’s just easier to put out your own music.

Will the Replay EP come out on Sound Theories?
At this moment, yes. Right now I’m still trying to get past this other thing going on. My brother passed away a few weeks ago and I got stuck because it’s family first. It was tragic and suddenly DJing just went out the window. I’ve been on hiatus but I’m looking to put three or four things out next year.

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John Barera Good Talk + Podcast

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Name: John Barera
Occupation: DJ, Producer, part time Record Salesman
Hometown: Boston

Tell us about your music…
I aim to make soulful dance music, I am influenced heavily by Detroit techno and I also love house music & disco. This makes up the foundation of my sound, but there are elements of electro, funk, reggae, rock, jazz & r&b as well.

What is your holy grail of records and why? Do you own it on wax?
I have a few huge cornerstones, but they are not obscure records. It’s always changing between Al Green, Sly Stone, Stevie, Marvin & Curtis but probably my most prized record is “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane. It’s likely the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard. I have the wax and listen often.

Dead or alive, if you could pick anyone to dance to one of your sets who would it be and why?
Ralf Hütter, one of the most important electronic musicians to ever live, and seemingly one of the stiffest and most elusive guys out there. I just want to see this cat cut a rug, coming up to me asking for track IDs, almost spilling drinks on me and shit.

Who are some producers or DJs you’ve heard lately that have blown your mind?
My favorite house DJs are Derrick Carter and Tama Sumo, my favorite Techno DJs are DVS1 and Rolando. These people have all blown my mind with their sets recently. I love the Black Madonna too, Pittsburgh Track Authority & Carlos Souffront. A producer who blows my mind is Floating Points, his new ” Silhouettes (I, II & III) ” is an incredible piece.

Has dance music changed for better or worse since you decided to enter the business?
I think it has changed for the better actually, I have been DJing for 12 years now and since I started it feels like there is more of a scene, more of a community, more interesting parties and spaces for the music that I enjoy.

What would be your last meal on earth and to what soundtrack?
Italian food, wine, “A Love Supreme”.

John Barera is playing at Good Room on December 12 at the REMEDY party in the Bad Room with Maroje T, Amourette and Jen Orlando.

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