Nakadia has travelled an unfamiliar and inspiring route to reach acclaim within electronic music. Her journey from her humble upbringing in a small village in Thailand to international regard has been an impressive one. After being invited to Germany, where she now lives in Berlin, Nakadia was introduced to electronic music and was immediately infected with the bug. Subsequent trips back between Thailand and Germany got her set up with DJ’ing equipment and the beginnings of her record collection. Fast forward just a few years and she is a regular DJ at standout clubs and festivals all over the world.
Now with new productions, an Asian tour and gigs with Sven Vath on the horizon, I Voice caught up with Nakadia to find out more about her remarkable and journey and where she plans to go next.
Since we had only the one music player in the neighborhood, my neighbors always screamed to me: “Can you play this ... song for me?” And I played it as loud as possible so they all could hear...Where abouts in Thailand did you grow up? What were your earliest introductions to music?
I grew up in a small village in the east of Thailand - Isaan. It was very poor. Every morning I had to go to the lake and get the water for the day. The family lived off 2 Dollars per day with 7 people. But I had a great childhood. I cannot complain. My big brother got a “ghetto blaster” and I started to play music from tapes. It was Thai pop music and since we had only the one music player in the neighborhood, my neighbors always screamed to me: “Can you play this ...song for me?” And I played it as loud as possible so they all could hear. I think that was the start of my DJ career when I was 12!!
What music were you into as a teenager?
We did not have much choice where I came from. Everywhere there was only Thai pop music. One day I got a tape with some western music - like “Samba de Janeiro” or “Feeling Blue” and some Britney Spears. We felt really underground with this tape and danced to this music every day. We felt really cool at that time.
In 2003 I heard Timo Maas and he became a good friend. Between 2007 and 2008 he gave me lots of his vinyl that he got as promo. That shaped my musical style and made me the DJ that I am today... What was the local electronic music scene like there? How did you first become involved with it?
14 years ago (2001) I was working in an internet cafe and I met the guy online that is now still my manager - Sebastian. I was streaming the music for the shop and was always dancing to this music. So I was chatting with Seb and he saw me moving to the music every day on webcam. He asked me “You love music, right?" I answered “music is my life” so he asked "Why don’t you become a DJ?” That was the first time this came up. There was absolutely no electronic music where I came from.
After chatting for a year with Sebastian, he invited me to Germany, so in 2002 I left Thailand for the first time. After arriving in Germany I had my first contact with electronic music at a club in Karlsruhe and from the first moment I fell in love with it. I had no idea about the different styles. The feeling in the club was so overwhelming... I wanted to have this in my life. After my first club night Sebastian took me shopping. I got my first technics, a mixer, some vinyl and all the rest to get started. I took all this back to Thailand with me and started practicing.
But it was very hard! There was no inspiration around, nobody who could help me. It took a long time until I was able to do even one mix. And I was also not so happy with the music that I bought. But there was no chance to get new music in Thailand. So the start was very hard. I had to wait for my second trip to Europe in 2003 to get more inspiration and new music. In 2003 I heard Timo Maas and he became a good friend. Between 2007 and 2008 he gave me lots of his vinyl that he got as promo. That shaped my musical style and made me the DJ that I am today. Without Timo I would not be who I am today.
What do you enjoy most about getting to travel the world?
It’s one of the best things that comes with this job. I can see the world and meet great people everywhere. I love to taste different kinds of food and every destination teaches me something new. There are so many great things that come with traveling, but the best part is mostly the time on stage... if I can make people happy with my music and I get feedback from the dance floor - that is the best part every time and it makes me forget how tired I am often.
I am very energetic and love to party. Many times I don’t want to leave the party - I just cannot stop...What challenges does that bring?
I am very energetic and love to party. Many times I don’t want to leave the party - I just cannot stop. And then I don’t think about my flight the next day and that I should get some sleep. Often I go to the airport so tired that it feels like I am going to die. It is very challenging for me to know when to stop partying and to get some rest. Sleeping is boring, I always think I will miss something.
Please could you name a few of your favourite gigs to play and explain why?
So far I have played over 1,000 gigs across 60 countries. There are so many stories and so many really amazing experiences - it is very hard to just name a few favorites. But if I have to pick, I would say that my performances for ANTS (Ushuaia Ibiza) have all been really amazing. Of course, the best one was the closing set of the Beach stage last August – what an experience. Another of my favorite places to play is Watergate in Berlin. The energy of the room is just perfect. And D’Edge Sao Paulo would be my favorite club if I have to pick one.
For me the most important thing about educating is: it must be fun! Same as in school. With a boring teacher you are not interested to learn... How do you see your role as a DJ in terms of finding the right balance between entertainer and educator?
First let me tell you about Thailand: I am very proud of what I was able to do in Thailand so far in terms of “education.” I worked very hard for many years to create a scene in my country. Many people laughed at me in the beginning and thought I am just a joke. Same with the club that I started to work with 9 years ago: Glow in Bangkok. People laughed about it. But... most other clubs from 9 years ago are closed now and Glow is rocking like never before and became one of the coolest clubs in Asia over the years. Glow was the only place in Thailand that gave me the freedom to play what I wanted.
And I kept going... I never gave up on it. Most DJ’s told me - “You can’t play this music in Thailand, you have to be more easy” - but I stayed with my sound. Now it’s 2015 and we have a great little scene in Thailand and my nights at Glow are rocking! Thai people have started to find out about our music and many love it. They are actually very open-minded. Now most major artists of the Deep House or Techno scene have great gigs in Thailand. Something that was unthinkable just a few years ago.
Some people say they hate techno... but at the end of my set they are going crazy on the dance floor - to Techno! And they don’t even know it...For me the most important thing about educating is: it must be fun! Same as in school. With a boring teacher you are not interested to learn. But when the teacher makes it fun, you learn so easy. That is what I do with my music. I bring fun to the club. People that never heard this music before start to love it because they have fun. I get a lot of emails like this all the time. Music is all about emotions and people that go out on a Saturday night want to feel positive emotions. I will give it to them... they will leave the club happy. I have to be entertainer and educator at the same time. My personality is 100% entertainer and then I have to find the right music to bring people from one point to another. Some people say they hate techno... but at the end of my set they are going crazy on the dance floor - to Techno! And they don’t even know it. Same with other styles or new sounds. It’s about HOW you bring it to the floor.
What are the most important pieces of equipment for your DJ sets?
I travel with my USB sticks and for my special touch I use the Pioneer Remix1000 and the Boss DD-7 Delay. I play with CDJ 2000s and my favorite mixer is A&H Xone92. I still love the sound of vinyl but it’s just too heavy for a small girl to carry around all the time.
Many times great DJs don’t really know how to produce good quality music and great producers don’t know how to move a dance floor. These are two different things - but bookers and club managers only measure DJs by their releases. This is where our business goes wrong...Production seems to becoming more and more important for you. Is that a conscious idea? If so, why?
Production is very important for any DJ out there. It is the only way to make a statement in this business, even though it should not be. Many times great DJs don’t really know how to produce good quality music and great producers don’t know how to move a dance floor. These are two different things - but bookers and club managers only measure DJs by their releases. This is where our business goes wrong. Many nights could be much better if the DJ would be booked for their quality as a DJ - and not for the production that probably somebody else made for him.
But regarding my producing story: Most months I am only 5-6 days at home in Berlin. I love to work in the studio but I have so little time for it. On tour I have my laptop with Ableton, so I can get busy on it. But it’s not the same as working in a real studio. Since the beginning of June I have become part of the “Riverside Studios” in Berlin. The most exciting workplace one can have. It’s in the same building with Beatport and Get Physical and it home to artists like Pan Pot, Martin Eyerer, M.A.N.D.Y., Booka Shade, Tobi Neumann and many more. The atmosphere is amazing and we all support each other. I think there is no better place in this world to work on music.
Do you have plans to work on a debut album? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
I had the plan to finish my first album this year. But like I mentioned before... no time! So I decided to finish 6 or 7 EPs this year and let the Album go for the moment. An album is something really personal and it would need a lot of time. I am just not ready to take so much time for it yet.
Please can you tell us some more about your film that premiered in Amsterdam and was also shown at a film festival in Jakarta recently?
It started as a school project of students at the Prague Film University. They asked to follow me around and make a movie about my life. This movie “Light the way" was finished in May 2013 and got the best scores from the university. The movie was so good that Parn Nophaket - the producer - decided to work more on it. We kept on filming more parts and got invited to screen the movie at some film festivals. The premiere in Amsterdam was a huge success. The theater was sold out and at the Q&A afterwards I noticed that the room was full of DJs, producers and other industry people. We are currently talking to an international TV station to air the movie later this year.
For me it will be impossible. I cannot act. I can only be myself. In this movie “Light the way” the camera just followed me around and I only did what I normally do...Would you like to work with films more?
For me it will be impossible. I cannot act. I can only be myself. In this movie “Light the way” the camera just followed me around and I only did what I normally do. I could never be an actor. I also had a lot of TV shows in Thailand and it is easy for me to just be myself, but as soon as I have to remember lines... it is over!
What are your plans for 2015?
Like every year I start the first two months at home in Thailand. This year it is really special for me because finally I will be hosting one of my all-time heroes in my home country: Sven Väth! He will come play with me at my resident club Cha Cha Moon on the beach of Koh Samui. I have my weekly Tuesday night party there, but Sven will come play on Saturday February 7. Hundreds of people from all around the world bought tickets online already - it will be an amazing event and we are looking at ways to make the dance floor bigger.
Besides my own events and my touring around the world I have some great Festival requests for the summer and I will come back to Ibiza to play for ANTS. This summer I got myself an apartment in Ibiza because it looks like I will be quite busy on the island.
2015 I will also have a lot more releases compared to the previous years. I spent lots of time in the studio during the second half of 2014 and now the tracks are ready to be released month by month. A highlight will be my EP together with legendary George Morel “The Journey” to be released in March 2015 on Get Physical. But a lot more Nakadia music will be coming your way!