In 2010, deep house was the sound of the electronic dance music zeitgeist, and German DJ-producer Nick Curly played no small role in bringing that sound back to the forefront of the transatlantic scene.
In just a handful of years, Curly has helped put his hometown of Mannheim, Germany, on the EDM map and he's now considered chief ambassador of the "Mannheim sound." This is the regional deep tech-house style honed by producers like Johnny D and Ray Okpara, who Curly has signed to his 8bit and Cecille labels.
"The main thing about the Mannheim sound is that all the other guys -- like Johnny D, Ray Okpara, Gorge, or Federico Molinari -- are friends of mine," says Curly. "We all grew up together and were influenced by the same music."
Mannheim wasn't always an EDM hub, though. Growing up, Curly had to check out busier neighboring towns to get his music fix. "I think the main influence was the scene that we had in Frankfurt and Stuttgart in the '90s," he reminisces. "We had in Frankfurt the big techno scene with legendary clubs like Omen and Dorian Gray. And in Karlsruhe, [there was] my first resident club, the Vibration, where they played the best house and breakbeat music at that time."
After soaking up the early sounds of EDM and earning some experience on the decks as a teen, Curly would try his hand at production work in the 2000s. And by 2007, he had launched both 8bit and Cecille. But why two labels? "The main thing for me is that I do it with two different partners," he explains. "If you had asked me this question two years ago, I would have said that 8bit is definitely more of a deep house label. But now we also release that kind of music on Cecille."
And over the last couple of years, a more vocal, melodic deep house sound has permeated the techno and tech-house genres in general. "I hope we are going back to quality dance music, period," he says. "The last [few] years there was too much shit on the market. I think deep house and house are definitely the music that will be big in the next [couple of] years."
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This past summer, Curly's position as a world-class DJ-producer was cemented when he was handed a DJ residency at the iconic Space Ibiza as well as a chance to mix the 2010 Cocoon Ibiza Summer compilation series with Marco Carola. Add an invitation aboard Pete Tong's Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 back in July, and there's no doubt that the Mannheim man is now in the big leagues.
Nick Curly with Alex Kenji and Luis Puig. Saturday, February 5. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $20 to $30 via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.