Nicolas Matar is not only the owner of Cielo one of the top clubs in the U.S, but a renowned DJ with a long-standing residency in Ibiza to his credit. Heading into its 9th year, as part of the Cielo legacy, Matar brings out "Cielo Sunrise" on Nervous Records, a compilation album which epitomizes the Cielo sound and his own take on uplifting house and tech house.
CGNY: First off congratulations on “Cielo Sunrise”. I had the chance for a preview listen a few weeks ago and this morning I was on the train and in a crappy mood and as soon as began to listen to it my spirits lifted! It’s seriously a little taste of summer in the winter.
NM: Glad you enjoyed it!
CGNY: So tell us how you came to release this on Nervous Records and how you went about compiling it?
NM: Well this is the second Cielo compilation that I’ve released on Nervous Records. It is, I want to say the 9th Cielo compilation released. I have been a fan of Nervous Records since the early 90s when the label was formed. It’s one of the classic New York house music labels so it made sense for us to start releasing the Cielo compilation series with Nervous.
CGNY: And Cielo hosts a lot of Nervous Records parties also?
CGNY: You’ve put some great artists on this record; Vincenzo, Guy Gerber and Nina Kraviz to mention a few. How did you decide on what tunes to put on the album?
NM: So for the past 10 years since I opened Cielo, I’ve been putting out one compilation a year. The way that I do it is throughout the year whenever I come across anything that I feel is timeless. I put it aside. And it could be something that’s a disco track or deep house or tech house. I have quite eclectic taste. I know when I like something. So I just put them aside and when it comes time to work on the compilation, all year round I’ve been creating a special timeless tunes folder. I spend a few days going through all the tracks and so the compilation comes together.
CGNY: That sounds like a great way to work! Not like cramming for an exam then at the end of the year! You’ve done the prep ahead of time!
NM: When I’m doing my music ‘homework’ and I hear something special, I immediately think that they’re ‘comp’ worthy! And they go in the folder!
CGNY: Cielo just celebrated the 9th anniversary – I was there for that party with Cassy, wonderful. What do you think makes a great club and why do you think Cielo has been so successful?
NM: I think Cielo has been successful because I’ve never deviated from the original vision which was to create New York’s best electronic music-driven night club. In the case of Cielo, it’s not like I have numerous partners or investors etc. who are putting pressure on me to change the formula. By not having too many cooks in the kitchen it’s allowed me to, in good times and bad, always to champion the music culture and never have to book some hip hop event just because we need to make money. A lot of people try to emulate this model but they don’t see it through. They have too many competing egos involved.
CGNY: Nicolas, you grew up in NYC but do I detect an accent?
NM: Yes I’m originally Lebanese. But I grew up in New York yes.
CGNY: You also dj all over the world (starting a tour soon to promote Cielo Sunrise). How do you juggle running the club with your dj career? You must have a good team behind you!
NM: It’s a bit of a balancing act. You have to surround yourself with the right people. You have to train them properly and you have to have the ability to delegate and let go a little bit. If not, then I would be unable to do all the things that I do. A lot of people are control freaks and they feel that they can’t trust anyone; that they have to be at the venue from opening until closing seven nights a week. If that was the case, then I wouldn’t be able to have a dj career and do these compilations etc.
CGNY: You’ve been in the scene for a good while as you started off with a residency in Pacha, Ibiza and then here with your own place. Have you seen a change or revival in the club scene in New York recently?
NM: Yes it’s undeniable; it’s (edm) everywhere in North America now. I’ve especially witnessed this exponential growth in the last year. As someone who has been following this culture very closely for 20 years, I’m pleasantly surprised to see what has happened in such a short period of time with electronic music. You know granted some of this EDM is glorified pop music. But because people don’t make money anymore selling records, these pop acts now dj, so it’s being branded as electronic dance music even though in my opinion it’s a completely different culture that my culture of house, techno etc. But it’s good for the scene over all because in time if only a fraction of these kids evolve their taste and start listening to more sophisticated stuff, then it’s only going to help the scene as a whole.
CGNY: Are you going to be touring with this album?
NM: Yes, we will be doing a series of shows in North America and Europe.
CGNY: Album release party at Cielo?
NM: Yes, it will be on Saturday March 31st!
CGNY: Mark your calendars! Nicolas, thanks for talking to me and continued success with Cielo and with Cielo Sunrise!
And check out our CGNY review by Keith Mitchell on this site! -