When the beat drops at a Nadastrom show, you better have your hands up. Dave Nada is known to stage dive while his DJ partner Matt Nordstrom squeezes the duo’s most riotous beats through the speakers. It’s a reminder Nadastrom aren’t just pushing 21st century dance music toward the edge – they’re jumping off it.
The D.C.-born, L.A.-based duo of DJ-producers come from different backgrounds, but share a ravenous appetite for extremes. As the prime architects of Moombahton – a sound Nada invented on the fly at a basement party by slowing Dutch house music down to the tempo of reggaeton – the duo have been praised in the pages of Spin and Rolling Stone, pumped on the airwaves of BBC Radio 1 and NPR, and revered at nightclubs and festivals across the planet.
Nada was born in Maryland, a first generation Ecuadorian-American surrounded by five brothers and the sounds of cumbia, Ecuadorian folk, salsa, merengue and reggaeton. As a teen, he gravitated toward Washington’s legendary hardcore punk scene, playing in bands while learning to DJ on college radio. A move to Baltimore landed Nada in the second surge of Baltimore club music, where he DJed alongside club icons K-Swift, Rod Lee and DJ Technics, while producing acclaimed club tracks of his own.
Nordstrom grew up in Virginia on the other side of the Washington beltway where skateboarding provided a contact point with punk, metal and hip-hop. In the late ‘90s, he swapped the skateboard for turntables and switched his college major from psychology to audio engineering. Soon, Nordstrom was the resident engineer for esteemed D.C. house heroes Deep Dish and piloting recording sessions with the likes of Stevie Nicks and P. Diddy, even scoring a Grammy nod along the way.
When Nada and Nordstrom came together in 2007, the chemistry was instant and the music was colossal. The group signed to Switch’s Dubsided label where their debut debut EP, “Pussy,” immediately topped the charts on Beatport. Since then, Nadastrom have produced tracks for a slew of artists, including Kid Sister, and have done remixes for Kid Cudi, Benny Benassi, Christina Aguilera, Waka Flocka Flame, the Death Set and Alex Clare.
In 2010, the duo relocated from Washington to Los Angeles and hit the road, performing at the biggest festivals in dance music, including Australia’s Creamfields festival with Deadmau5, the Disco Biscuits’ Camp Bisco festival, Bass Island with Bassnectar, the Mad Decent Block Party with Major Lazer and the HARD Festival in Los Angeles with Ducksauce, Chromeo, BoysNoize and Odd Future. Last fall, Nadastrom joined Skrillex and 12th Planet for more than 50 nights on the hotly anticipated Mothership Tour.
Meantime, Moombahton has become a movement of its own, with Nadastrom serving as the genre’s leading ambassadors. Diplo’s Mad Decent label dropped the acclaimed compilation “Dave Nada presents Blow Your Head Vol. 2: Moombahton” in May and Scion released Nadastrom’s Moombahton EP “El Baile Diabluma” this fall.
“There are never any rules,” says Nada of the duo's approach. “And Moombahton helped us realize that even more.
"Nobody has that groove like Sabo does – he’s the funkiest dude on the planet. He just has a natural
funk that DJs and producers strive for their entire careers," Dave Nada, moombahton originator
Mention the name Sabo to anyone familiar with the tropical end of EDM and the response will be
unanimous: deep, unquestioning respect, tinged with a healthy measure of awe. For the past 15 years, the
globetrotting DJ and producer, now based in Los Angeles after moving from his native New York, has set
the benchmark for his peers, thanks to his unmistakable signature style: ‘Funky music to make you feel
good’, as he describes it - an irresistible, resonant, Balearic fusion that draws upon house, tropical bass,
latin, Brazilian, afrobeat, disco, reggae, cumbia, dub, Miami bass, hip hop, funk and soul. In a glowsticks
era when the word ‘uplifting’ has lost much of its meaning, Sabo’s productions, many released via his own
Sol*Selectas label, are every bit uplifting as they are finely crafted and timeless. It’s led him to performing
alongside the likes of Sting, Erykah Badu, Chromeo, Brazilian Girls, and Aloe Blacc, while publications such
as Rolling Stone, Spin, Mixmag and The Fader, through to tastemaker sites like XLR8R, Generation Bass
and Highsnobiety have all queued up to acknowledge his talents.
It has also led him to become a pivotal part of the fast-growing moombahton scene, with the sound’s
creator, Dave Nada, openly crediting Sabo’s experiments with traditional latin cumbia and modern beats
for Bersa Discos as a key influence on his Dutch house-reggaeton derived sound. Not only was he a major
factor in its inception, Sabo remains one of the biggest influences on its ascent. He’s responsible behind
many of the genre’s key tracks, he’s a driving force behind the already legendary Moombahton Massive
parties at Washington DC’s U Street Music Hall and LA’s Vibrate monthly, and as the compiler of the
seminal Moombahton Massive EPs, has set the tone for a legion of producers.
Sabo’s achievements don’t even stop there: in 2006 he was named in URB’s Next 100, while he has since
become a staple on the New York gallery circuit, performing at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim
and the Natural History Museum. High-profile clients such as Puma, Gucci, The Huffington Post and
Bloomingdales have also sought Sabo’s brand of high-end beats, while influential record labels such as
Diplo’s Mad Decent and MAN Recordings out of Berlin have commissioned him to remix their artists. He’s
also had great success as a recording artist for a number of other respected labels, including his own,
Sol*Selectas, Nickodemus’ Wonderwheel Recordings, nu-cumbia label Bersa Discos and on Irma Records
with partner Zeb. In that time he’s remixed and collaborated with such artists as Dennis Ferrer, Gregor
Salto, Nadastrom, Amadou & Miriam, Balkan Beat Box and Nickodemus.
As a DJ his career has included residencies at Turntables on the Hudson, Cielo, Submercer, and Bembe,
a two-year stint hosting a monthly Global Beats radio show on New York’s 91.5 FM, and a long-term spell
managing NYC’s legendary record store, Turntable Lab. Add all this up and you begin to see why Sabo is
held in awe by everyone who’s heard him in action.
Photo cred: Seannie Cameras