HEY MR. DJ
Nicolas Matar’s father instilled his son with an early love of music.
“My father was a music collector from a very young age,” says Matar. “He had a massive collection of disco, funk, soul, jazz and early electro. He set up a mini discotheque in the basement of our house and had a proper sound system set up. He would occasionally organize small gatherings and play music for his friends.” After moving to Washington, DC from Lebanon during the civil war, Matar discovered the booming East Coast dance scene, partied at the legendary gay club Trax and went on to play records himself.
Soon Eric Hilton from Thievery Corporation booked him his first gig. The self-taught DJ acquired equipment, studied mixtapes and learned from his older DJ friends, listening to new wave, Italo disco, early acid house and Belgian new beats. At 15 he became a resident DJ at DC’s Fifth Column, one of the first house techno clubs. He traveled to London regularly and started clubbing in Ibiza and Amsterdam. In New York he discovered legendary venues such as Save the Robots, Shelter, Paradise Garage and the original Sound Factory, which he considered the best underground club in the city. In London he was exposed to the late 1980s acid house movement at the Ministry of Sound; he also danced at the Roxy in Amsterdam and Pasha in Ibiza, then an underground club, where he became a resident DJ for six years.
Moving to New York, Matar launched Cielo, an intimate Meatpacking District club with a state-of-the-art Funktion-One sound system and a lineup of top international house DJs in 2002. He had never envisioned this path. “At that time you would DJ as a hobby,” says Matar. “No one knew it could be a career. I just loved music, mixing tracks and creating a seamless playlist. Music is the great equalizer – it brings people together from all walks of life.”
Matar carefully selects gigs at venues he favors and with DJs with whom he connects. His dream performance is at Burning Man. “The ultimate for me thus far has been my performances there over the years. It’s a very unusual environment to be in and not comparable to a city or villa party. You’re high up in elevation in the desert, playing for the sunrise, surrounded by mountains.”