From humble beginnings at WNYU, to teaching music production at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Nicole Otero has dedicated her life to music. As a world traveling DJ for nearly 2 decades, she has become a staple of NYC nightlife, performed at clubs and private parties around the globe, and has had her releases remixed by the likes of Arno Cost and Thomas Gold. I DJ NOW had a chance to speak with DJ Nicole Otero about her must have gear, producing music on her own label Lovebreak Music, and how teaching influences her DJing.
I DJ NOW: How did you break into the DJing?
Nicole Otero: I started DJing when I was studying my undergraduate degree at NYU for Music Technology. I was already a musician since the age of 6 who went to LaGuardia H.S. for singing. DJing was a natural progression since the majority of my teenage years were spent at an underground nightclub.
IDJ: What were some of your inspiring moments in music history?
NO: I saw my favorite band Kraftwerk at Sonar in Barcelona and also in NYC. Amy Winehouse took me on a jazz music journey which inspired me to study jazz piano when completing my Masters in Music Education. All of the clubs I hit in the 90’s during the Peter Gatien era helped mold my ear with dance music once I became a DJ in 2000.
IDJ: You performed overseas, tell us about the similarities and differences between International audiences and those local to the United States.
NO: I found DJing in Europe was super exciting just because the venues were super cool. I remember DJing at a castle in Asturias Spain where the party started at 6am and everyone looked fresh faced and well rested. The castle was Medieval and these spanish folks were obviously professional partiers.
IDJ: What’s it like producing on your own Label?
NO: Producing music is very time consuming and the music I released was very close to my heart. Creating music is very personal and my perfectionism was at an all time high. It was amazing to get a reaction though from my first release which was played on Radio 1’s Pete Tong show and picked up by CR2 Records.
IDJ: You’re rooted in the Latino music scene. How do you see the traditional sounds and rhythms evolving into the modern sounds for today’s audiences?
NO: People love latin rhythms. That is why Reggaeton has exploded. I’m spending a lot of time in Puerto Rico these days since my boyfriend lives here and the music is just so good. I recently heard DJ Cloonee at a party at La Concha promoted by Musik1 who is a British DJ playing house remixes of reggaeton music. Latin music has no bounds and is just considered top 40 these days.
IDJ: What sort of projects are you doing currently?
NO: I am working full time on my DJ Agency TCM DJ Events developing new talent and also expanding our market to Puerto Rico and Miami. I am also working on distributing my How to DJ Course in Puerto Rico.
IDJ: Your top five MUST HAVE pieces of Gear…. And GO!
NO: Pioneer DDJ SR2 Controller, DJ Headphones, Technics 1200 Turntables, Pioneer CDJ 3000 and QSC speakers.
IDJ: What do you see emerging from the music scene now, in terms of fashion, sound, lighting, producing, etc
NO: I see lighting and visuals being just as important these days to the actual music being played. A DJ having innate style will help catapult a DJ to finding their unique brand quicker. A venue who provides great sound will always attract better talent and make their clients happier. Music production trends are always going through different phases borrowing ideas from the 90’s 80’s and 70’s primarily.
IDJ: What’s more exciting… Private elite gigs, or public night club performances?
NO: For me it’s all about the vibe of the people and the venue. I’ve done underground parties where I’ve played 8 hour sets where I was in complete control of the crowd and got to take them on a journey all night. I have also DJ’d weddings where the crowd was anticipating every song I was going to play and felt the same way.
IDJ: Tell us about your home studio session with streaming and broadcasting?
NO: Streaming is always fun. I’ve done live IG streams and Twitter. It’s great to get interaction in the chat and I remember receiving my first tip for playing a remix of an old school house track called Plastic Dreams and that tip felt better than some of my biggest paying gigs. I find the people online are real music lovers who know their music so it keeps me on my toes.
IDJ: What’s on the agenda for you short term (upcoming month) and long term (over the next year or so)?
NO: My summer goals are to book amazing events for myself and my team, launch my How to DJ Course so it is selling evergreen and to book destination weddings in Puerto Rico.
IDJ: How has teaching influenced your DJ career, and vice versa?
NO: Teaching has kept me inspired in ways that just DJing wouldn’t have done. I’m lucky that I have had the opportunity to teach teenagers at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at Tisch/NYU since these students are so ambitious and talented and just remind me of myself at that age. Teaching keeps me in touch with my younger self who was bursting with enthusiasm to break into the music industry. I also learn from my students since teenagers always have a pulse on what is happening with modern music.
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