September 21, 2014

Dave Nada: Moombahton Man

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By Justin Hampton

In an increasingly networked and globalized planet, what happens in a quinceañera event in Monterey or a beachside club in Bali can now directly influence the party thousands of miles away.

So make way for moombahton, which couldn’t come soon enough for mainfloor techno/house DJs seeking to adjust their sets to the influx of cumbia, reggaeton and bachata rhythms. Like dubstep, the elements of space, pace and bass make all the difference. “For me, moombahton is all about big kicks, heavy bass and keeping it around 108 BPM,” says longtime house DJ Dave Nada, who famously invented the genre by slowing down his house set at a reggaeton-saturated Washington, D.C., skip party—the genre name comes from the Afrojack remix of “Moombah,” a tune from Silvio Ecomo and DJ Chuckie.

“It’s gotta have the EDM elements, as well as the Latin influence,” he continues. “And I think the main kind of rhythm that gels everything is the dembow rhythm, which is the popular rhythm in reggaeton and early dancehall and ragamuffin.”

Not unlike moombahton itself, the studio set-up of Nada and his creative partner Matt Nordstrom is deceptively simple. Nada works off of Ableton Live, while his partner works with Logic. Nada, in particular, prizes his monitors and a key suite of plug-ins as crucial for his tracks’ impact. One is the iZotope Ozone 4 mastering system, which he says he uses to “open things up and make things sound really big—you can really get something out of nothing [using it].”

He also singles out the space-modulated reverb plug-in Toraverb (by d16 Group) for the same purpose with synths. “There’s so many different modes or presets that makes it sound like you’re in a huge, giant warehouse rave,” he says, “But you’re really in a little club.”

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