LargeUp Mix Series, Vol. 3: Dave Nada – “Sweet II Bad”

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Best known globally as the creator of moombahton — a sound originally developed by slowing down Dutch house music to the tempo of reggaeton — Dave Nada is a DJ of diverse tastes and interests. Raised in D.C. to parents from Ecuador, he now plies his trade in Los Angeles, where he makes up one half of the duo Nadastrom with producer Matt Nordstrom. His Sweet II Bad mix follows a similarly wide geographic path, taking us from calypso to D.C. Go-Go to dancehall to Colombian champeta, and then through a helping of some of the year’s biggest soca anthems. Run tune below, and scroll down for an interview with Dave about his inspirations.

LargeUp: Tell us a little about what you tried to do this mix? I have to say I’ve never heard anyone play calypso into go-go before.

Dave Nada: Haha! Well, actually, there is a connection between go-go music and calypso/Caribbean music if you look deep enough. I wanted to kick the mix off with some classic J’ouvert music. J’ouvert (“start of the day”) is the official start of Carnival and is celebrated throughout the Caribbean. Thematically, I wanted to do the same with the intro to this mix. Lord Kitchener’s “Margie” is a classic calypso J’ouvert hit! That song then leads into “Go To Work,” which is a track I did that combines 3 of my favorite genres: DC go-go, moombahton, and funk. I thought it’d be a fun way to rep my set and get the party started. Overall, I wanted to make a Caribbean inspired mix that would touch and bridge different areas of the region, from dancehall and soca to dembow and Afro-Latin rhythms. And of course add my own personal twist to it all.

LU: There’s a lot of soca here. Do you play a lot of soca when you play out?

DN: I think it’s safe to say I got bit by the afro-soca bug pretty hard. I’m really drawn to that sound because of its mid-tempo groove and all of the upbeat melodies and themes. Plus, I’m a massive fan of classic afrobeat and newer afro beats, so hearing those worlds gel with soca and dancehall sound pretty fresh to me. I’ve been playing afrobeat, dancehall and dembow my entire DJ career, so I look forward to adding more soca vibes into the mix for my solo sets.

LU: As an Ecuadorean, do you see your relationship to Caribbean music like soca, dancehall as an insider or outsider? Not everyone equates Ecuador with the Caribbean but there’s some cultural and musical overlap especially when you start moving towards Columbia, Venezuela and the Eastern coast.

DN: More of an outsider. My family in Ecuador are from the mountains and closer to the Amazon than the coast. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a connection. Like you said, there’s a lot of cultural and musical overlap and as a DJ/producer with said background, it’d be a shame for me not to embrace that and explore. The more you dig into the music, the more apparent those connections become.

Many people throughout the world recognize you as the creator of Moombahton. You have a few original tracks and productions on here, what is the next sound we can expect from you?

DN: Lately, I’ve been inspired a lot by Afro and Caribbean sounds. You can definitely hear that in my Celia Cruz “La Dicha Mia” remix, which is upcoming on Fania Records. With the “I Can’t Take It” remix, I wanted to do something uptempo like a samba meets soca vibe, but with an electronic likembe flare to it. “Gimme Dat” was a collab with soca artist Kes. The vibe for that track couldn’t feel any more appropriate than right now given the current afro-soca buzz. Tracks like “Go To Work” and the Ryo Vibes remix were obviously moombahton inspired and I felt like they’d make a good fit for the mix. Ryo and Nice J are from Japan, and dancehall is massive out there, so I wanted to try and match that energy with moombah. Moombahton is a part of my musical DNA now, so it’ll always have some kind of influence. But, as mentioned before, I want to continue to explore that cultural and musical overlap that connects my background with other parts of the world. Hopefully, I can project that on future “Dave Nada” music and DJ sets.

LU: Did “Mama Nada’s Empanadas” play any role in the creation of this mix?

DN: Haha! Her empanadas are fuel for the soul! They always play a big role in my quest for vibes. Actually, my sister-in-law Bianca and her dad were big help on the creation of this mix. She’s from Trinidad and her entire family go all out for Carnival each year. They always invite me to come visit but I haven’t had the chance to yet. I can honestly say it’s an immense case of FOMO every time come Carnival season. But yeah, they’re always schooling me on all things soca and Trini culture. Big love and shoutout to the fam!

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