Nakadia. Asia’s Techno Queen

Nakadia is on the way back to Bali and Red Ruby next month. We thought it must be time for a quick chat with Thailand’s greatest export in electronic music. She’s now gigging her way around South East Asia and South America for the next month or so, but has been living in Berlin, Germany since over ten years ago. She moved there when she decided DJing and in partucular, techno was her future and has been spinning records in some of the hottest venues there and around the planet ever since. So, we are very fortunate to be able to speak to Nakadia now before she gets to Bali. She’s no wall-flower and shoots from the hip so get ready for a large and engrossing chat.

So where are you now? How was last weekend?

Nakadia: I am in Bangkok at the moment for meetings. Last weekend was amazing, playing in front of 4000 people on Phuket and then a small intimate party in Bangkok.

Are you still living in Berlin? How’s life there?

Yes, I live in Berlin, I have been living there 14 years now, but lately I am never home. After Asia I go straight to South America and after that back to Asia again. Berlin has changed a lot after Covid. The young generation is not very cool anymore and the clubs are only after the money now. It is not the city for music and freedom it was before.

You must have had some crazy times in Berlin and DJing there over the years. Any highlights?

I sure had some crazy nights in Berlin in my first years there. It’s different than any other city. Very long sets and very open minded dance floors. The highlights for me were always the Love Parades. I played my first Love Parade in 2006 when it had over 1 million people. Then there was a very long break of 16 years without the parade and Dr Motte brought it back as “rave the planet” in 2022. I will never forget that one. Playing in front of over 300.000 people who were all very emotional and celebrating like back in the old days. It was just amazing.

And from your travels, where would say the best place for good clubbing is nowadays?

Latin America is the best place for events and clubbing, but South East Asia is growing fast and I believe the next few years it will be the best place to be for clubbers.

Yeah, there has been a lot of bad press lately about the end of clubbing etc. Maybe people are getting more health conscious, etc, which I suppose is good, but most people I know still love a big night out! Here in Bali it seems to be continuing strong.

I think clubbing is dying around the world because club music is now mainstream and it’s now a playground for investors. They want to make big money with dance music. When it was underground and it was for music lovers and people who wanted to enjoy a good party. It was how it was supposed to be. But now it’s all about making millions of dollars as quickly as possible. That kills the clubs because this kind of money can only be made with big events.

So there are new festivals everywhere that pay crazy fees to the most marketed DJs on the planet.

The biggest festivals, the most powerful managers and the best marketed artists are getting super rich, but the losers are the artists who make music for the love of music and the customers who just want to enjoy a great night out surrounded by nice people and listening to good music. That is dying right now.

I do agree with you on the money takeover of clubbing. Here in Bali you can see plenty of that, too.

Yes. At least in Asia there is still money at the clubs as well. But in Europe the kids don’t even spend 20 euros at a club anymore. They save money to go to 1 or 2 festivals each summer and that’s it. The older people stopped going to clubs at all.

In Asia you still have older and more educated people still going to clubs and spend money.

Yes, times are tougher than ever nowadays, too. So how about the music? Anything new exciting you?

Ah, yes. I forgot about that. Electronic music after Covid has three major directions that are super commercial now: extremely hard Techno (for the kids) melodic (afterlife) techno – the new EDM… and still the leftovers of tech house, which is declining very much these days. I am with none of these trends and I stick to the music that I love, but I have to say that the harder the kids go, the more I love to play melodic beautiful music…

Ohh yes, I saw you were playing melodic house at the Boris Brejcha show last week in Phuket. Is that the new Nakadia? Is it even possible to change musical direction?

I play melodic as well. It depends where you are, like sunset on the beach or even on an island. Uplifting techno is more for the city. Even Joris Voorn plays like me, sometimes a techno set, sometimes a melodic house set. We are old school DJs, you know, we play what fits.

Sure thing. How about producing, do you produce a variety of genres too?

I only produce techno.

There seems to be a lot of famous female DJs playing banging techno. Like, the female techno DJs seem to be more famous than the male techno DJs. Why do you think women are so into techno?
Like Charlotte, Amelie, Nina, you and many more lately, like Stella Bossy.

It’s a long story about the “techno girls”. The first 10 years of my career nobody wanted to book a girl for a techno party. It was very difficult to make a career. Girls were only accepted if they looked like men.

Yes, it seemed like a very male dominated world, techno.

Yes, it was. This only changed after the success of Nina Kraviz. Then Amelie and Charlotte broke through at the same time and that was the start of a hype about female techno DJs. Lots of investors suddenly saw the opportunity to make a lot of money with female techno DJ – projects. It’s nothing that has grown naturally. Many people still think that superstar DJs are on the top because their music is so good. It has nothing to do with it. This is a multi-million dollar per year business model and the more that gets invested the more profit there is made. Right now, techno is the trend and female techno DJs create the most money for investors. That’s all.

Unfortunately this is the techno world since Covid.

But isn’t there any good techno coming from it?

Yes, there is. But the best techno is coming from lesser known artists (men and women).

What makes Dj-ing good for you? Like, what’s the best thing about being a DJ?

It’s my life and I live it 24/7. I think the challenge to make people happy is what I love the most. I want to see happy faces on the dancefloor and I try to find the right tracks until I see the people in front of me loving it. But a great side effect of this life is that I found friends all over the world and most places I go to on this planet I am welcomed by friends.

You’ve been doing this for over 20 years, you have become an icon for young women around the world, or at least in South East Asia, and not just in music. You’ve broken down so many barriers, starting from a more humble background in northern Thailand to reaching the peak of this glamorous nightlife world, while helping less fortunates as you went. So, now what’s next for Nakadia?

I am still on the same journey and growing every year. I am very happy and grateful that I still keep getting amazing booking requests all the time. I am very happy that I finally have such a great success in my own home country now and can spend more time there. My goal is to return to Thailand at some point and support the next generation. And the biggest project right now is to get the story of my life on the screen. It has been a few years since I was first approached by film producers, but now it looks like it is really going to happen.

Wow, that sounds more than cool. You must think sometimes you have been born under a lucky star or something.

Smile. It was very hard work to get here. The first 10 years seemed like they opposed me. Everyone could do what they want, except for me. It was a real disaster. But now that turns out to be my luck. Without those bad 10 years I would not have a story to tell.

Well, there’s something to be said for perseverance. Tell me, how much time do you put into the music? How many hours a day and what does that time entail?

Unfortunately being a DJ in 2024 is not much about music anymore. Much more time goes into social media. The first 10 years of my career I spent around 4-5 hours per day on music. Now it’s maybe 4-5 hours per week that I spend on searching for new music and updating my playlists. If I am lucky and I am home during the week between the gigs, I have maybe 8-10 hours of studio time on the weekdays. Before Covid, I played mostly in Europe so the travel time was less. Now, it is much less Europe and much more Asia and the America’s, which often means not being home between the weekends.

And how about your productions, how is that going for you?

At the moment, not good because I am never home. I am now 3 weeks in Asia and then straight to South America. I need to finish so many tracks and collaborations, but I just don’t have the time. But I promised myself to finish a minimum of eight tracks this year to release next year.

At home in the Berlin studio.

What DJs and producers are rocking your boat nowadays? Are there any standouts, or new or old influences for you?

Generally, I am very disappointed with most productions today. Many producers try to adapt to the young generation and just produce an easy, fast and hard techno. It’s very difficult for me to find great tracks these days.

So, you have been playing at Red Ruby regularly lately. Is there a reason for that?

Techno has finally arrived in South East Asia and I am getting so many requests to play in this area. I keep flying back to Asia all the time and sometimes I have a gap in the schedule so I check with my friends at Red Ruby if they are up for another night… and this way I return 2-3 times a year now. It’s already like coming home and the parties keep getting better and better as I keep making more fans each time. I can’t wait to be back again.

You can catch Nakadia spinning her techno selection at Red Ruby Saturday 22 June, 2024. See you on the dance floor. 

@nakadia_music

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