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DJ Dan



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Photo credits:Samantha Isom Photography



Philosophize with us for a moment: music can express emotion. For Margaret Noble, that emotion would sweep her away at age 18, when she attended a rave on a barge floating in the Gulf of Mexico, and start her on a life long journey towards breaking down the barriers between music, perceptions and psychology. Her home port was Waco, Texas, but she's docked in Seattle, Hawaii, England and California on her way to her current residency in Chicago. Along the way she spent three years in aggressive training in electronic music, building on her classical music background. From world traveler, to dancer, DJ and soon producer, Margaret Nobel is thriving in the birthplace of house, feeding the dancefloor on a diet of soulful grooves and getting ready to stir up some herself. We talked to Margaret via email to find out more.

Raves.com: How did you get your start in music?

Margaret Nobel: I studied the flute for several years and piano for a couple. This ranged from private instruction to dorky school bands, ooops, band was cool right? A more central focus in my musical upbringing was many years of studies in dance. I held scholarships in ballet, jazz and tap and even managed to weasel myself a spot as a dancer in a Super Bowl pre-game show when I was 15. Not exactly the urban grind but all these forms of dance definitely gave me an understanding of flow, rhythm and musical structure.

What made you want to study music?

I am sure that my mom probably encouraged me into these interests at first but later a fire was started inside of me that was only relieved by music and dance.

What was the first rave or club that you went to and what was it like?

When I was 18, I was swept away to the most amazing party of my history to date. It was a right proper rave that was map-point to a parking lot and then a cab to the docks. Water taxis then took us to an amazing barge in Tijuana sea shaped like a castle. We heard later that this barge was regularly a brothel but this night it was three stories of acid house and shear mayhem.

What made you decide to become a DJ?

Until I bought my turntables, I had managed to move to Seattle, Hawaii, England and all over California. At each stop, there would be different parties corresponding to the local scene encompassing all genres of electronica from sounds that were ambient to something called "psycho trance." I would always get my kicks as a dancer at these parties but I realized that it wasn't enough to dance to merely just dance the grooves. It was not fulfilling always to have someone else in control of your night and sometimes DJs just played horrible stuff. I wanted to be in charge and so I took up the cause to drop underground house and never be forced to hear a cheesy track again.

Were you a DJ before you were producing electronic music?

DJing is number one for me. I make this argument with many of my friends that when turntables are played together properly with a clean mixer (that has at least a 3 band eq) that a DJ can have just has must magic and creativity flowing from his/her set as someone playing an instrument. I feel that I still have so much more that I want to accomplish on the decks. But, I can't always find the sounds that I want to mix live and so that's why I am making them now.

Do you have full tracks that you've produced (not just the loops that you play in your sets) that people can hear anywhere?

No, it is all hush, hush right now. Loops interest me most because I am all about enhancing the DJ set with quirks, bleeps and bells. But, things are moving towards fully developed tracks, just not yet.

What prompted you to move from California to Chicago? Where in California were you living?

Most of my California time was spent in San Diego where I bought my decks. But, as I developed my skills and cultivated my sound, I realized that Southern Cali was doing nothing for my progress. I picked Chicago because all the artists that I respected such as Derrick Carter, Mark Farina, Heather and so many more were from Chicago. I figured I needed to be around what was really going on with the sounds I am chasing and it was the best thing I could of done for myself. This moved changed everything in my art and musical perspective, the talent in this city is amazing and very influential.

What's the best thing about living in Chicago?

Artists and collaboration. Not only is everyone either making tracks, starting their label and about to go on tour but people aren't greedy with their ideas. The musicians and artists of this town love to collaborate. I have been able to bend things every which way which includes collaborating with classical trained violinists, theatre projects, art installations and video mixers. Things just keep getting better.

What are a few of your current and all-time favorite records and artists?

Prince is number one forever, any Prince project or sub-Prince project gets me good. Beyond that, when not obsessing over new wax I listen to older jazz and traditional classical music. It is all about the epic ride, long meaty pieces that take you somewhere just like a well done electronic set

To someone who's never been able to see you DJ, how would you describe it?

I always tell them that it is not about the moment, it is about the ride and that they should expect a rhythmic journey that will reach them more subliminally then the usual stop and start song action of bands.

What is one of the wildest, craziest things that's ever happened to you while you've been DJing?

I got no juice for you here, wish I could think of something witty.

Was there ever a gig that was so bad, you were almost ready to quit being a DJ all together?

Never felt like quitting but there have been plenty of times when I locked myself away from gigs for a bit to practice harder.

Do you ever get hit on while your DJing? What do you do when it happens?

Most people are pretty cool, they just compliment your set and leave at that. But, you get the occasional shady artist/stalker who tries to arrange collaborating with you but for the wrong reasons. I try to kill these interactions before they get solidified.

Is there a pick up line that might work on you?

Yeah, I like your style and I would like a chance to chat with you more over a coffee. A line like this is so simple, not crass, tacky or full of b.s..

What do you think of the state of the club scene in the US and abroad right now?

It has been different everywhere I have lived and it is all built on the individual's perceptions. When I lived in San Diego, I thought things were in a real sorry state. I moved to Chicago and was elated but the consensus here is that the scene is weak compared to the past. I went to NY last month and was still further impressed by the clubs. But all the promoters in NY said that their clubs were hurting. London was the best by far and from what I hear it is still going off, even the fast food joints bump rave music.

Have you seen the clubs you play in be affected by the any sort of legal or police crackdown?

The most common story I hear is that the underground has been killed. No-one will risk making noise in a private spot for fear of outrageous fines and possible jail time. Fortunately, here in Chicago, you can roll into any small time pub and here some amazing unknown tearing it up. The underground might be getting beat but the music lives on.

Tell us what you're working on right now.

Learning to play on three turntables; Arranging live musicians and DJ sets which are ambient, underground and traditional to play with a major visual arts project. Production of bumping underground house tracks with Chicago's own Derrick Kyles; Graduate studies on the philosophy of music;

What do you want to accomplish with all that you do?

I want to continue to develop as an electronic musician and arrange performances for myself and other talent that are epic in nature visually and musically. I want to philosophically break down the connections between psychology, perceptions and music. I want to start a major urban music center for Chicago's public high schools.

-- written by Jennifer Warner




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