Techno Queen

Nicole Moudaber reigns at Masque

By Gary Spencer

Every creative force has an origin story. Some musical artists have journeys so remarkable they stand out like dollar bills in a penny-infested wishing well.

One such stand-out is DJ/Producer Nicole Moudaber, who, while creating her own music for only about a decade, has become a magnetic presence on the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) stage worldwide, attracting audiences to her story and the visceral quality of the original music she produces as well as her electrifying, headlining DJ sets.

Unlike most big name DJ/producers who were born or lived somewhere immersed in EDM and techno like Chicago, London, Detroit, or New York City, Moudaber was raised in Lagos, Nigeria, the daughter of Lebanese parents. And while Moudaber’s introduction to music, much like her contemporaries, was not of the electronic ilk, she grew up on the tribal sounds indigenous to her environment as a youth, which may have subconsciously laid the inspiration for the music she plays and makes now.

“Growing up in Nigeria, I was constantly surrounded by music that was full of energy, rhythm, and percussion with deep tribal roots,” Moudaber explains. “I grew up on Afrobeat—it was everywhere. The very first record I ever bought was by Fela Kuti. I also used to listen to all the incredible music you’d hear on the street, which was full of funk and soul. In Nigeria, you are always surrounded by rhythm—anything that is rhythmic is very popular there. This energy has stuck with me my entire life and has had a huge impact on my musical career. This is what attracts me to play or produce—it’s always there.”

After graduating college, Moudaber decided that she wanted to get more directly involved in music, particularly music related to EDM. In the 1990s, she became well known as an event promoter, throwing large-scale EDM parties in the Middle East, such as Beirut, where her Trashy Renaissance event was the first of its kind in that country. Such daring moves left her susceptible to scrutiny from the police and the media, eventually driving her to London where, over the span of nearly a decade, she booked over 500 of the most well known DJs in the world. However, a life event took her career into a new trajectory.

“When I bought a house in Ibiza, it forced me to step away from my career in London as a promoter and to focus on the house, as it was a big renovation project,” Moudaber explains. “It was after I finished refurbishing it that I decided I really wanted to go professional and dive back into the music realm. I didn’t want to be a promoter anymore because of the stress and the financial commitment, so I decided to make music that I love. I locked myself in the studio and I honestly didn’t know what it would lead to—I just followed my passion.”

Sometime later, legendary British techno DJ/producer Carl Cox began playing Moudaber’s music on his radio show and also praised her as “the most underrated DJ” in an interview with DJ Magazine. This soon led to Moudaber’s first DJ set in front of a live audience at a Carl Cox gig in London in 2009. She made such an impression on Cox that she began to gig with him regularly, which eventually led to even bigger gigs like festival performances all over the world. A new EDM star was born.

“I have an extensive vinyl library and I used to DJ at home quite a bit after my club nights at my home in London, so it has really always been in my life,” Moudaber says. “I began to take DJ-ing more seriously when my music started to be heard and requests began coming in from around the world to DJ. I had to learn the ins and outs of the digital musical world and familiarize myself with the technology that’s out there. Now my DJ setup is pretty extensive.”

Before long, Moudaber earned the title “Queen of Techno” and became a recognized name in the EDM world for her DJ sets, original productions, and remixes, meeting praise from major media outlets such as The New York Times, CNN, Billboard, and Rolling Stone, and she has become the recipient of many awards for her work.

Her remix of Cox’s “Chemistry” catalyzed a series of accolades, starting with an International Dance Music Award (IDMA) at the Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2012 for Best Minimal Techno Track of 2011.

“That opened the eyes of a lot of people in the industry,” Moudaber says. “And from that moment, people in dance music really knew who I was.”

She won another IDMA for for best tech-house/techno track for “Giv Me Luv,” a classic house tune by Alcatraz, and two awards for her radio show.

Moudaber’s InTheMOOD Radio is a project that she holds dear to her heart, as do EDM lovers around the globe.

“It’s growing everyday,” she says. “It connects me with people all over the world and it’s a really great community.”

Over the course of the show’s existence, she has cultivated an audience of over 15 million followers, with its reach, in syndication, spreading to nearly 100 FM stations across 50 countries.

InTheMOOD Radio gives me the chance to showcase all the music that I don’t get to play normally,” Moudaber says. “If you listen to these shows, you’ll hear that they vary across lots of different styles including chillout, ambient, tech-house, and deep house. I also play my recorded live shows from around the world.”

On Mixcloud, a British online music streaming program, Moudaber reaches No. 1 across all genre charts. She now broadcasts on Facebook live, as well.

Unlike a lot of DJs who like to stick to one subgenre or style, Moudaber says, “I don’t have a specific music style—I don’t pigeonhole myself in specific style. I play all genres of music because I’m a music lover. My live shows can also be across the board when it comes to the musical genre. It all depends on the hour I’m playing, the size and energy of the crowd and the venue, and the place—it’s different every week.”

Moudaber’s upcoming performance at Club Masque on Aug. 4 will mark not just her first appearance in the Gem City, but her first show in Ohio. After all her success so far, she still says it’s simply about the music.

“I’ve worked really hard and made the most of the opportunities that have presented themselves to me, and now here I am,” Moudaber says. “At the end of the day, music is taste. It seems that I’m attracting the kinds of people that share my taste. I think it’s all about loving what you do and I think people can see that and really relate to that. I really can’t wait to meet everybody for the first time in Ohio!”

3DMentional Entertainment presents Nicole Moudaber Friday, Aug. 4, from 9 p.m.– 3 a.m., at Masque, 34 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. Tony Desaro, Brian Cheng, Drew Whiteted, and DJ Axcess are also on the bill. Tickets begin at $23.80 in advance. For more information, please visit

Why Dayton? Why Masque?

Most Gem City residents know of Club Masque, but let’s get to really know the biggest LGBTQ entertainment spot in downtown Dayton.

Setting up in 2005 at the multi-level venue once occupied by 1470 West 2.0, club brass (aka management) had a specific vision of what this space could be.

“The goal was to give the Dayton LGBTQ community a place to feel safe and free to be themselves and provide the best entertainment in town,” says Masque light tech and social media manager Sean LeSuer. “Dayton is very lucky to have this club because there is nothing else like it in the Midwest.”

So what is it about Club Masque that makes it so special? A lot of that has to do with the state of the art lights and sound systems that the venue prides itself on.

“The kind of technology we have would easily rival that of Miami, NYC, and Vegas nightclubs,” LeSuer says. “The lighting is from a company called Martin Professional by Harmon. These lights are the quality and level-of-amazing you’ll find on TV shows such as The Voice or America’s Got Talent. The sound system is one-of-a-kind, custom-made by Funktion-One, hung or mounted strategically around the club for optimal sound. Level 1 has a stunning HD LED screen that covers the entire back of the stage that performers use for all sorts of things. Sometimes we can’t contain the excitement and add something new ‘just because.’ There is nothing like this anywhere near the region—and arguably nothing close to it in the country.”

Another thing that makes Masque remarkable is the ability to provide multiple options for entertainment all under the same roof.

“By being a multilevel facility, we can offer two different bars and two different experiences in one place,” LeSuer explains. “If you wanna dance non-stop, you go upstairs—the music does not stop. If you like to watch a fabulous drag show and dance in between sets, grab a beautifully crafted cocktail from a shirtless bartender, then Level 1 is the place to be.”

Since the club’s opening, Masque has made a name for itself thanks, in part, to spectacular drag shows that not only showcase the best local talent, but also attract big name national acts to the Gem City.

“We attract performers from all over the globe,” LeSuer says. “This year at Dayton Pride we hosted Kennedy Davenport, Milk, Naysha Lopez, and Trinity K Bonet from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Miss Masque pageant attracts performers from all over the country and we host several other pageants as well. We have our house cast who perform weekly, and we even have a few performers who have been with us since the day we opened. The drag queens travel and network which gives us a lot of exposure.”

While their drag shows are Masque’s bread and butter, the venue also hosts everything from fashion shows, bridal parties, divorce parties, benefits and fundraisers, to free HIV testing. Recently, Masque has expanded into hosting live EDM, attracting many nationally and internationally renowned headlining acts in conjunction with Dayton’s own 3DMentional Entertainment, including this Friday’s show spotlighting Nicole Moudaber.

“We have lights and sound that are second to none, and a wide variety of patrons, [so] EDM seemed like such a natural fit for the venue,” LeSuer says. “Because of the large multilevel space, there can be a pageant happening with softer music on Level 1, while at the very same time a giant EDM party is in full swing on Level 2.”

With cutting-edge club technology and never-ending activity, Masque has earned a number of distinctive honors: the Logo channel named it as one of the top 50 Best Gay Bars in America and Out Magazine declared it one of the 200 Greatest Gay Bars in the World. And the name continues to attract patrons from all over the globe.

“Just this weekend, two gentlemen from the UK flew in for two reasons: Kings Island and Club Masque,” LeSuer says. “Our reputation brought them all the way to Dayton, Ohio, and at the end of the night, they said they wished London had a venue like Masque.”

And even though Masque primarily identifies as an LGBTQ venue, LeSuer insists that their doors are open for anyone seeking a “magnificent” experience in the Gem City.

“First and foremost we are an LGBTQ nightclub, but that doesn’t mean you must be one of those letters to get in. The only prerequisite is you’re looking to have an amazing time. We pride ourselves on being a diverse nightclub. Even the staff is quite diverse—we have straight guys and gals, gays and lesbians, trans folks, a deaf employee, people of color, and we are very proud to have our first female general manager. It is not always for everyone, but we certainly welcome everyone and anyone.”

Masque is located at 34 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Dayton. For more information, please call 937.228.2582.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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