On Cloud 9 with Nimbus

I think in order to grow in the industry, you need to be connected with the right people.

It’s Halloween night, and the clock went from 2:59 back to 2:00 AM as Daylight Savings hit America’s eastern coast. Skrillex just finished off an outrageous set with his biggest hit of 2015, “Where Are U Now,” streamers and balloons coming down on the dance floors as costumed people jumped in chaos when the beat dropped.  Now everyone was dispersing, some rushing to the front to see Sliink, others stumbling to coat check and laughing towards the exit, the rest finding a seat on the sticky concrete of Pier 94 during the closing set of RPM and Pacha’s Pier of Fear event.

Among those too tired to care about what might have graced the discolored floor with its presence was Michael Magdangal, better known Nimbus, an aspiring DJ who appreciates all forms of House music.  Dressed in black pants and a black t-shirt with shoulder-length hair and an undercut, Nimbus came to Pier of Fear as Skrillex, the headliner of the event.  Throughout the night, in the crowd and on the floor, people came up to him, giving him daps and laughing: “Eyyyy, Skrillex! Aren’t you supposed to be on stage?” “Sick set, my man.” “Oh, you fuckin’ pulled it off as Skrillex!”  But right then, he was sitting with his legs crossed, and taking deep breaths.

“It’s annoying,” he told me. “I don’t want to keep bothering him and asking him if he wants to hang so we can start mixing and collaborating, but he’s taking mad long and different things are constantly coming up that prevents him from coming through and whatever.”

Nimbus was talking about a friend and former coworker, who agreed to collaborate with him to start producing their own music.  “He’s got connections. His dad’s a producer. But he’s constantly flaking.”  As he told me this, his friend was still somewhere in the crowd dancing to Sliink.  As we were leaving the Pier, his friend was found networking with strangers, inserting himself into lengthy conversations and preventing us from actually leaving the venue.  “It’s frustrating. How am I supposed to start when I don’t know where to start? He’s good at this networking thing, I’m still learning. I need a mentor. Sorry if I’m ranting, I think it’s the molly.”

I laughed at him, and told him I owed him for listening to my drunk rambling from a previous time.

Nimbus had only finished his DJ certification this year, from Scratch DJ Academy, which he says is one of his greatest accomplishments so far.

It really taught me the essentials of DJ-ing. I had no idea how to DJ beforehand.

I have seen Nimbus’s sets, which so far are comprised of setlists, which is not unordinary for a starting DJ. Most of the sets I’ve seen and heard were at house parties for friends; he had his laptop and DJ set ready on one side of the room or backyard, people gathered around him, dancing and jumping to the bass, drinks sloshing in their cups and spilling to the floor. How does he do it? How does he know what songs to play?

When I have musical freedom with my sets, I play with songs I found creative, fun, and exciting. When you are in a situation of lacking original music, you need to show your ability in mixing. I grab songs I’m in love with as well as songs people are familiar with, and I imagine myself in the crowd. I envision how the crowd would react to certain songs and mixes.

It’s no wonder that he knows how to create an atmosphere that makes you want to keep you on your feet for hours.  He explains that you have to know your audience in order to make a vibin setlist, but genre, BPM, and key play important roles as well. The genre itself is vital to consistency, as well as the beat – you want songs that are the same BPM and genre so the audience isn’t thrown off by the song changes or rhythms – and key is essential to keeping your songs mixing harmonically rather than distractingly. I know he acknowledges this personally through the “WTF” side-glances we gave each other throughout Pier of Fear when a DJ went from progressive house to trap house.

Despite trying to stick to one sound, Nimbus finds that there are so many unique sounds he wants to use to express his creativity. “I have seen how different genres impact the dance floor, and I definitely want to explore the different ways I can bring the audience new experiences. But since artists gain a notoriety for a specific style, I would say Future House is the kind of music I plan on creating.”

“What the fuck is that, house music from the future?” I asked him jokingly.

He references Oliver Heldens, a Future House DJ whom he also cites as having one of the best years as a DJ. Diplo is another one of his influences, as he works with a variety of genres, much like Nimbus would like to do, but also combines hip-hop heavily into his sets, establishing a sound for trap house, something Nimbus says he could see himself dabbling in. But his first major inspiration? Hardwell.

He was the first headliner that I ever saw when I went to EDCNY in 2014. Being enveloped in his set and the crowd around inspired me to want to be where he was at that moment.

Nimbus knows exactly what it’s like being both in the crowd and on the DJ stand, and I’ve had the pleasure to witness both. As an audience member, he knows what makes a crowd tick. As a DJ, he knows how he can recreate that feeling he gets every time he’s the one jumping to the beat.  Because he’s in the crowd, he knows how to put his audience first, and this is only with his setlists.

Just wait until he starts to produce his own music.

-Megan Antone