Interview: Nakadia

Nakadia’s tale of DJ stardom is one to behold in today’s industry. From humble origins she has become a true icon in the female DJ cohort.

Her high-octane and energetic performances have garnered a reputation for the Thai native, now well renowned for putting on a memorable show with her positive personality.

After experiencing techno for the first time when she was invited to Germany, she developed a genuinely organic passion for electronic music and latched onto a small dance music community in Thailand before tackling Europe.

Now a global phenomenon and female icon, she’s got a plethora of gigs on the horizon in all corners of the continents. We caught up with her to chat about her astonishing tale of country girl to DJ superstar.

“I am a crazy girl and my style is giving happiness to people around me.”

Hello, how are you?
I am very good thank you, everything is good at the moment. I’ve just finished two of my own events with Sven Väth in Thailand, both went very well and everybody seemed to enjoy it! Next weekend I’ve got one more festival with Sven and lots of other great gigs are on the schedule, I can’t complain.

Tell us about how you first got into dance music and where – what labels and parties excited you?
For me it was one night that changed my life. At the time I was living in Thailand and I got invited to Europe by a friend (who is now still my manager). On my first night he took me to a club to see DJ Marusha play; she was a very famous German techno DJ at the time. That night really changed my life, I knew immediately that this was what I was looking for. I wanted to be a DJ! The next day I went to a record shop totally clueless about genres or artists, I just went by ear. I bought two records (Mauro Picotto and Svenson & Gielen), bought turntables and took it all back with me to Thailand. For the following months I had no exposure to electronic music. I only had a few records that I took from Europe which I practiced beat matching with. It took a long time to find my way to the music that I really loved as I had no influence around me.

How long until you started DJing and making music? What gear did you use? How long did it take to find your own sound?
The DJing started right after my first contact with the music. I even started touring within one year. I think in my first year as a DJ (2003) I toured 9 countries. In that year I moved to Koh Samui and started playing some parties for the tourists there. Every night I played I got offers from other DJs or bookers who were at the party and loved my sound, but it took until 2008 to really find my own sound and style. All this time I only played vinyl. Producing also started around 2008 and I spent half of the year in Berlin to being learning how to use Ableton Live with my friends there.

What were you into at first, what sort of stuff, and how have your tastes changed since then?
I loved the harder sounds at first. I was into techno and I also had a phase of breakbeat. Before that I also bought trance records, but I decided very soon after that it was not for me. Later I discovered more and more the beauty in music, realising that there was more than just power for party. I began looking for more detail and melody. Today I try to play long sets and take people on more of a roller-coaster ride. Anything can happen between deep house, tech house and techno. I love techno with trippy elements and melodies, but most importantly is the journey. I can’t play flat sets that don’t go anywhere.

Have you got any formal musical training? Or are you more trial and error when it comes to studio work?
Unfortunately I don’t have any musical training. I wish I had, but I grew up in a very poor area where everybody had to work around the clock to survive. The people there have no time for education or hobbies. It’s all learning by doing for me but I am still far away from being a good producer. I usually try what I can and just experiment with sounds.

What gear did you use, where was it written and when? Does all that matter, does it effect the sounds that come out the other end?
For 2 years I have had an amazing home studio in Berlin but I just don’t have time to work with it. I am home for maybe 60 days per year and most of these days I’m too tired from all the travelling and don’t have enough sleep on the weekends. Most my work I do on the laptop in planes or at airport lounges. I use Ableton Live and mostly Native Instruments plugins for my ideas on the road. At home I have a Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Pro 2, Elektron Analog Rytm, Elektron Analog Heat, Maschine Studio and a Push 2 as hardware. Unfortunately though as I said, I hardly have any time to work with them. I am in love with analogue sounds and I think there is a difference in character when you listen to the track. Sure, the software sounds great today, but it just feels different.

What is next for you, what else you got coming up in 2017?
At the moment I am on a tour in Asia, playing 28 gigs across the continent. Mid-March I return to Europe and play some great clubs, including Rex Paris. Then I am on tour in Argentina in April. The summer looks really busy with usually 3-4 performances per week, lots of festivals and some of my favourite clubs. We have just started working on the Ibiza schedule as well, so I’m really excited about everything that is coming my way.

What have been the hardest things to overcome in getting to the stage you are at now in your career?
It’s always hard for a girl to get accepted. Since Nina it has got a bit better, but there are always these people that still think girls can’t play. Some people just don’t understand that DJing has nothing to do with gender. Some people see me dancing and enjoying the party while I am mixing and they immediately think that I am just playing a pre-recorded set. Sorry, I have enough talent to dance and mix at the same time! I think it’s sad if the DJ can’t enjoy his own music. Sometimes this kind of things drive me crazy, but at this point of my career I can also laugh about it. My schedule is completely filled with amazing gigs, so I don’t have to worry about these people anymore.

What are you most proud of to date? What stands out, what is your best achievement?
I am generally proud that I did it all by myself, to reach a point that I have more booking requests than I could ever play is amazing. I have my manager (Sebastian) that has supported me since the beginning and we’ve really worked very hard. We’ve had so many fights and difficult times – it has been a long and exhausting journey! The things that have happened, especially in the first years of my career, have been so crazy that even film companies are actually interested to buy my story for the big screen. I am proud that I made it all alone, without being pushed by someone. Most artists that make it in the industry either have a hit or a big management or agency behind that push them to the top and force promoters to book them. For me it’s the opposite as I have to prove myself every night again and again, and I get my bookings because the clubs know what I will bring to their dancefloor. It’s a real career that went step by step with all kinds of problems involved and I think this makes the big difference in today’s industry.

What should people expect at Mystic Garden – what sort of DJ are you, what’s your style?
I played Mystic Garden three years ago and it’s a wonderful festival that really does believe in fun and having a good time. I can’t wait to be back again and have lots of fun! I am a crazy girl and my style is giving happiness to people around me. It is my goal to see everyone happy on the dance floor and behind me. That’s what you can expect.

Soundcloud Artist Page

17 June | Mystic Garden Festival 2017 | Tickets | Sloterpark, Amsterdam