Foto: Jaume Masdevall (Nur Jaber)
There’s few producers out there who are evolving as rapidly as Nur Jaber. Having relocated from her native Beirut to Berlin in 2010, Jaber first made a name for herself in the city’s house scene before becoming a full-time techno DJ. Having released two solo EPs and a split with Chris Braun on her own OSF label last year, 2018 saw Jaber explore a broader palette on her debut LP If Only – A State Of Peace, eschewing hard-hitting techno in favour of a more refined sound laced with ambient, electronica, and even classical music. But there’s more to come, as she tells us – a lot more. Hot on the heels of the If Only remix bundle, Jaber’s contribution to our Groove podcast for now showcases her signature her idiosyncratic way of working with vocals during DJ sets.
You combine a classical training and a special interest in opera with techno, which becomes obvious in your occasional vocal tracks. How do you even write a good vocal for a techno track that – usually – is structurally more than minimalistic?
When it comes to vocals I think for me it’s more of an instinct, a creative one rather than a technical one. Sometimes I listen to a track for the first time and I’m directly humming something until I realise “oh wait that actually sounds good”, so I record the vocal separately and then add it to the track during gigs. Other times I find prayers or pre-recorded samples of my friends and I add them spontaneously depending on the dancefloor’s vibe that night. It just works every time! I strongly feel that prayers or opera like vocals add a lot of power and emotion on the dancefloor – you can see it clearly when people suddenly shut their eyes, and have a slight peaceful smile on their face, fully encompassed within this certain warm wave length. This is what I aim to do, to create that specific moment on the dancefloor and feel like I’ve succeeded.
Apart from your work and your work as a DJ and producer, you have also mentioned working on a book publication. How does tie in with your musical work and can you already tell us more about the work?
Yes, I previously mentioned that I’m working together on this with a close friend who is a writer and poet. There’s not much I can say just yet as it’s still a work in progress that is growing slowly.
After you came to Berlin in 2010, you initially also played house gigs at places like Watergate or Ritter Butzke before turning to techno full-time in 2015. What triggered this change in direction?
I think leaving Beirut changed that. I was exposed to different kinds of parties in Berlin and once I heard Techno for the first time at Berghain seven years ago I knew this was it – I remember watching Ben Klock that night and saying to myself “I want to be where he is, behind that booth, giving the dancefloor the feelings he is giving me!” My Berghain experience was one of those life-changing moments where you see your purpose so clearly that you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it, and mine is to bring intense emotional energy and deeper messages through the music across every dancefloor I play, in a way representing Beirut’s chaotic persona.
With your debut LP If Only – A State of Peace, you diversified your sound by incorporating more ambient and electronica as well as classical elements, and the album also seemed to follow a narrative. Which themes informed If Only and how did you try to express these musically?
When I started writing If Only – A State of Peace, I was in such a peaceful state that I felt I was ready to allow myself to let go of holding on to the techno border or to what I’m “supposed” to write musically in order to be an “accomplished” techno DJ. I felt inspired to create a fantasy, a non-existent state where the sounds of peace took over rather than hate and anger which you can hear in the Weapons of Mass Destruction EP. The Nord Lead 4 was the perfect companion for this album. I think this kind of wishful thinking comes from my background and my experiences as a child.
For the recently released remix package of If Only Dax J, UVB, Claudio PRC and P.E.A.R.L. have contributed their renditions of your tracks. How and why did you pick these producers for the release?
They’re mostly friends of mine that I’ve got to know over the years & each one of them are an inspiration to me in their own way. It’s really important for me to have a certain connection with the artists involved in OSF, be it through the music they make or through their character.
You finished your contribution to our Groove podcast in record time. How did you record it and what was the idea behind it?
I have recorded the set in my home studio after my yoga session, at 7am the morning after you sent me the podcast request – not sure my neighbours like me very much. (laughs) I was feeling pretty excited to put in all the tracks and vocal samples I’ve been using at my recent gigs – unreleased tracks and tracks that I feel have strong energy on the dancefloor and recent samples I’ve edited or recorded that project the messages I want to convey in this specific time.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
As it’s looking right now, 2019 will be a busy year of gigs, you can see me next at Blitz (Munich), Berghain and plenty of club debuts and festival shows in cities like Madrid, Nice, Sofia, Manchester, Geneva, Marseille, Malta and many more. My next solo EP will be released in February on OSF with a remix by Farrago. I am working on other projects and collaborations in the meantime and also on my second album which will be released at the beginning of 2020 on a new label I’m starting called If Only, which is leaning more towards the electronica, classical and experimental side – it’s a project that will exist for five years only. More news on the label will follow soon! Thanks for having me over!
Stream: Nur Jaber – Groove Podcast 189
03. Charlotte de Witte – This (Lewis Fautzi Remix)
04. Lewis Fautzi – Ancient Way (Original Mix)
05. JX-216 – Yuba (Original Mix)
06. Shkedul – ID37 (Original Mix)
07. Ilario Alicante – Confused (Original Mix)
08. A.Paul – Out Of Control (Original Mix)
10. Alex Dolby – Depressure Control (Progression (UK) Remix)
11. David Temessi – You So Strong (Original Mix)
12. Gabeen – Noise (Original Mix)
13. Lars Huismann – Quantum (Original Mix)
14. Marrel – Why You Here (Electrorite Tool Mix)
15. BT2 – NX1