Nick Curly at Space February 5

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 it to the forefront of a transatlantic scene.

In just a handful of years, Curly helped put his hometown of Mannheim, Germany, on the EDM map. He's now considered chief ambassador of that city's sound, a deep tech-house style honed by producers such as Johnny D and Ray Okpara, both signed to Curly's 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 get his music fix in busier neighboring towns. "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 tried his hand at production work in the 2000s. 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."

This past summer, Curly cemented his position as a world-class DJ-producer with a residency at iconic Space Ibiza and a compilation series, Cocoon Ibiza Summer, which he mixed with Marco Carola. Add an invitation aboard Pete Tong's Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 back in July, and there's no doubt this Mannheim man has hit the big leagues.

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Sean Levisman

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