“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.