A conversation with a mind from behind the booth
Nomonde Maxeen Sixolo
NaN is a multidimensional being, rooted in Bangladesh, growing up in London; a child of the world through travel and currently based in Berlin. They play with love to create community and take people on a physical and spiritual journey through music. NaN integrates music into different creative community outlets, like their recent event featuring plant cutting swaps with exhibitions. They also teach DJing to the youth, focusing on BIPOC and Flinta communities to give them tools to musically finesse their ways through the streets. Yes, they are the person l love to see on the decks because it means l am gonna get into some drip(swag) and spicy sauce. The name NaN in programming means not a number; basically, it's something that can not be characterized nor defined, something that expands into their musical expressions.
Find their art: mixcloud.com/faniqa1
**DJ NaN is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, we carry out this interview at the baby plage, surrounded by swans, ducks, and fresh waters**
Photos by Nomonde Sixolo
What do you think was the first instrument?
Nomonde Sixolo for Half Moon
I think it was percussion, because like, the beat, that is the heartbeat (beats chest). That is the heartbeat of the music. And l think that came from our hearts; it was the extension of our heartbeat. It was us communicating. And l think this was the starting point. This was the core.
This is our primal code. So let's relate this to mixing. l know this is stupid to ask (bursts into laughter unexpectedly) but like, are you focusing first on the drum then melody?
It just depends where l am at; I think like l play to how l am feeling. When l try to mix, like, l am tryna do something that is not authentic to where I am at the moment, or like, l want to start from here.It could be that l am in chill mode and l am a bit high, also if l have time to mellow into it. But if l am feeling like l ain’t got time or space, then let’s go.
You got two vibes though, either it’s like the soul and the drizzzz.
I think when l am really playing it's about mixing; it's about mish-mashing those vibes together. So for me, the synchronicity is when you can move from THE DRIZ, to meeting that dark room corner, to just some wholesome, good loving.
Yeah the transitions. I also feel like l have been telling my friends so many times that l wish we had more parties with soulful music. I am also the partygoer on a major and l have weekends when l don't feel like going hardcore and I wanna ooze into slow vibes. Imagine going to places that play the type of shit l would rather be listening to. So l am very happy to see this come to life and see that this is actually around.
It’s possible, I think, for me, growing up in London. Music is not put into these boxes like it is generally. I mean, it still is, but more spaces exist for the diversity of flow. So you can have the diversity of hardcore beats(ummmnz ummmnz ummmmnz) and you can kinda bring it down. It's about the ebbs and flows. You can't bring people up here in the hyper (Nomonde oozes into yes please bring us down), you need to bring people back.
It's about longevity, when you have a 3 to 4-hour slot, it's amazing the number of places you could go to. So, like, the people that go to the rave feeling like, “l don't wanna do this, l wanna be on my couch.” It's about giving them what they need, giving them the hooks but taking them to a place where they are like, “Damn, l am actually here!” That's what's beautiful, when a DJ can take you to some other place. I think that is what is missing in Berlin. But the kind of rave culture now has gone from a journey to this bpm, “ummmnz ummmmnz uuuuuumnz”, but there are so many places to go. And if you keep people in the same uuuumnz for three hours you’re just keeping them in a container; they are not going anywhere mentally or in their bodies or spiritually. Like, what impact have you left?
Do you also feel like you have to pay attention to your own energy when you play, because you’re also responsible for other people, as you say. Do you also take your time to channel your energy in a certain way? Would you actually not play when you’re not feeling it?
There's been a lot of situations where l am not feeling it, privately and publicly, and in both situations. Cause, l know what l can do to get myself feeling it, cause again, l know how to take myself on a journey. So if l am not feeling l go to the safe zone which can be the (ummm ummm ummmm) whatever. I would go to the safe zone but then l can feel myself pulling myself out of it. And getting excited, and l think to me it's about what vibe the room is giving me, what energy the crowd is giving me.
Are you also influenced by us, the people on the dance floor?
Yeah, this is something l am learning by experience. I am learning how to navigate myself in public spaces. A lot of the time l get into a room l might be like, “Aaaah this is not what l expected.” Then l move slowly from the safe zone, into whatever the vibe we're gonna go.
You keep talking about the safe zone, what is it?
Safe zone is still a whole spectrum and then there's just some vibes that work no matter what. A lot of disco can be a safe zone in a lot of spaces. I remember this one example of this gig l did at this youth center, with kids, teenagers, and adults. l was like, “Okay okay how am l gonna please everyone?” I'm getting nervous, then at one point l am just like fuck it, l am gonna enjoy myself being in this space and this is what l keep finding. At this gig, l put on some afro-beats with elements of drum n bass, and these breakdancers come and just start sliding all over the floor with multiple flips in the air. Then l was like, “Okay now we are free.”
What does pre-care look like for you?
In terms of like before l play, l am not the type of person to be chit-chatting with everyone, cause when l am in a conversation l want to be fully engaged; l don't wanna passively take in words, and stories and imprints and things that ultimately block my passage.
Do you feel like your friends understand this?
Musician friends definitely; l guess l spend a lot of time around musicians and other DJs and l guess they understand this, and then some people don't. It's on me to stay behind the decks, my safe corner.
I am trying to figure out if this is an anxiety situation, because most of the time after my friends set, you can tell they are just in another world, and l wonder if l should them give them time to cool down, or be the friend you would have to take care of them
If you know your friend you know how to be there without being too much. If l have given myself fully, l feel quite open and delicate after, like vulnerable, you are opened up.
What do you feel is the best aftercare after sharing your energy with a bunch of people, entering different levels of meditation?
I think the way l see it is like taking a plane, there is a come up and come down. Honestly when l find my friend and they are like, “l have a joint,” that is when l know we good. But then you go outside and someone starts to have a conversation with me on my way to the bathroom. Listen, you need to know how to respect the creative space, it is holy.
And how do you feel about people like me? l am super intense on the dancefloor because when l am feeling it, l am all over, like right in front, smearing myself all over lol, and l am scared that l am freaking out the DJs.
Nooooooooooooooo you deserve to be on the frontline because you are actually, you are doing the Lord's work. Cause when l am comfortable dancing that's the only way to be. If you do not have that on the dancefloor you do not have the juice to match my sauce. We are tryna make a smoothie here, we need flavor.
**We ease into the space and carry conversations on the party space and how it is a place we need to take care of, to create a nourishing ritual to honor the depth and meaning of the club culture through paying attention to the key aspects of care on different levels**