In between running a label, a residency at the techno club ://about blank, and owning a club in Beirut, enigmatic techno artist Nur Jaber took some time for an interview with Monument.
Since moving to Berlin from Beirut in only 2010, Nur Jaber is racing to the top of her game. After landing regular guest spots at Berghain and residency with STAUB at ://about blank, she’s gradually establishing herself as a heavyweight techno artist and DJ. To cement that even further, she’s releasing Weapons of Mass Destruction on her own label , OSF.
The 12” is cutting. War Pigs is bathed in screams and distorted sounds backed by a crunchy hard kick.
OSF is made to be a multi-platform artistic outlet. Written word and visuals combine with Nur Jaber’s musical creations to present a strong political stance with a message to the world. Whilst working around political landscapes, Nur Jaber works to deliver truths about the climate and events in the Middle East.
This is a tribute to the politicians of the world.
The power hungry.
The pigs of war.
They play us like chess.
Brain washing our minds.
Polluting our lungs.
Controlling us like puppets.
Hiding behind closed doors.
As we fight their battles.
What is next?
Below, we try to examine further what provokes Nur’s work on OSF and find out more about the release itself.
This release has a strong political focus and a sense of meaning and reason behind it. What’s had the the greatest effect on your political perspective?
I don’t interact with politics outside of music – I was never into politics. I think it’s because I didn’t really understand what was going on other than “We are at war with Israel and at war with the people of our own country, our blood”.
It wasn’t until last year that I felt a strong connection to Beirut. My fears would appear every time I picked up the microphone in the studio. I would start saying words over a looped track and it would go on. Words like: ‘They taught us hate, they taught us fear, they taught us anger, they taught us war, how about we teach them love?’. I would say them in Arabic first and then English. I wouldn’t stop. It felt like a mantra to me. As I kept going I would feel this deep sadness in me, and even confusion. It was like: ‘where is this all coming from?’
This is when I realised how much growing up in an environment filled with constant fear of war that could break in at any moment, had a great effect on my subconscious.
Being introduced to Techno music & the dancing culture in Berlin got me more in touch with my roots. Techno has this kind of power that brings you face to face with this strong energy of being united and I saw it in everyone dancing around me.
The whole EP is a message on the reality that we are living in. Our fears, our wounds and how we react to cover them up; through dancing in particular.
Everyday we are filled with garbage knowledge on the news saying things like ‘you watch it all here and you decide’. They are deceiving us into believing that they are giving us the freedom to make our own choices into what ‘side’ we want to take. It’s such bullshit. This is the strongest weapon that they have over us: ‘weapons of mass deception’. This is leading to the destruction of humanity.
Politicians, governments, media, huge corporations, they are all the same. They are all after the same thing: power and money. Even if it means people’s lives are at risk!
We’ve all become a part of this huge system that keeps growing every single minute. We turn to each other on the dance floor as a a form of healing ourselves: as a meditation.
I wanted to direct a video closely with ’The Beholder’ & write this EP to show a side of the raving techno culture. As a sign of release & awareness of what is really going on, not just in Beirut but all over the world. So it’s basically a message to our ‘leaders’ that we love life and we just want to Rave!
What prompted you to start making techno after your previous ventures in music?
My musical journey has been in parallel with my growth internally.
I was brought up with classical music around the house. My dad used to give me Beethoven and Bach cassettes every month or so. I would dance to them secretly, in my parents room when they would go out at night. I took piano lessons for about 10 years.
Then, in my teenage years, we had a lot of trance raves that my friends & I would go to, to set free and dance. My last rave was around 2006 before the 30-day war started. It kind of all went to shit for me after that: in regards to how I viewed Beirut and a part of humanity. I just wanted to get out of there. During that time, I collected a lot of internal fears. These reared their head later in my life as I mentioned before.
Eventually I got to playing the drums & bass guitar and was really influenced by heavy metal and rock. For college, I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, for two summers, to get more into drumming.
My first meeting with Techno was in 2010, After university, I spent 9 months in Berlin. I really knew nothing about it. It was a completely beautiful shock walking into Berghain, alone, for the first time. It was like: ‘what the fuck is this music?!’ I remember seeing Ben Klock playing that night and saying to myself; ‘I want to be up where he is, giving back that same feeling to others the way he is giving it to me.’ I was DJing house at that time. It was not until 2014 that my journey with Techno started. I would open up my techno folder at afterparties and it was like baam this is what I want!
You made the move from Beirut to Berlin – What was that like and what drove it?
The first 6 months were not easy. I moved to Berlin against my parents consent. They wanted me to stay home with them to work with and take over my father’s business in real estate. After doing this for 2 years, 2011 to 2014, I got really depressed. I went to India for 2 months to try & get away and understand things from a clearer spot. Then it hit me that I wasn’t happy and that I wanted to be with music. They were against me having a flat on my own in Beirut. Before I left to Berlin they told me ‘If you leave we won’t be supporting you financially. You’ll do this on your own.’
We weren’t on good terms. I found their lack of support really hard – I’m quite sensitive to those things. They now see how serious & hardworking I am and as things are moving with me as an artist they’re coming round to my side more and more.
Where do you start with a track and how do you know when it’s finished?
That’s a tough question. Most of the time I start with a sample. I am constantly recording samples as I go along. When I have a few that I really like, I open them up and start playing with them. I just go with the feeling that’s with me on that day.
I only know a track is finished after I’ve played it over & over: at the studio, at home and when I’m lucky, on the dance floor. When it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it I know that this is it!
Why do you think techno is the best genre to communicate your own political and artistic vision with?
This particular genre got me to look into myself rather than out of myself. When I am dancing to Techno, I am focused on my thoughts flowing from all directions. It is like a meditation. It heals and it brings out every insecurity, every weakness that I want to make better. I believe that it has the capacity to do that for everyone if we allow it: if we are completely open to it and treat it as our healer. It all depends on what phase we are in.
So, if I keep playing repeated samples with slight political messages, it can trigger something on the dance floor. During my last Berghain set in July, I felt the crowd somehow understood what I was trying to say. Looping strong, influential words for a few times helps the unconscious awaken. It’s beautiful to see the reaction happening in front of me.
What does OSF stand for? Where do you hope to take the label?
“On S’en Fout” (We Don’t Care) – War, anger & hate from back home will not stop us from following our dreams. My sister, who helps with the art direction of the label, came up with this name. We hope to maintain a solid base for the label; sending out music & images that make our listeners feel that we are all together on this beautiful ride and that this is all happening in the here and now.
I am very grateful for all the support from the artists releasing on the label. This year and the next, there is a nice wave coming in that I’m excited to work with.
Also, I’m working closely with Jaume Masdevall who runs ‘The Beholder’ on creating video footages, visuals and art exhibitions. This shapes up the other half of the label’s work which I hope to make more present in 2018.
What do you like best about being a resident at ://about blank?
I’m a resident at Staub, which is a monthly party that happens in about blank. The Staub family has supported me from day 1. I am always able to push myself to the maximum to a crowd that is so up for it! This party brings out the best in me. You definitely feel the magical vibe when you walk in at 10am on a Saturday. It’s all about the love.
What’s the next step for you in the future?
Working on my first album that will hopefully be out on OSF, early 2018. Really excited about that. I’m also hoping to come across more and more dance floors around the world.
I cannot help but smile!