“I was already hosting a stage at Paradise City Festival in 2017, and I must have done something that the people of Tomorrowland liked.” The rest is history. We’re talking about Nico Morano. The Belgian DJ and producer is famous in his country for the Ontourage party series, famous for happening in locations far from the usual canons. Ontourage is about to be born as a label too, although the music Nico Morano produces in his studio has been already released on many other labels for a long time. Among them, the Valencian label Sincopat, owned by his good friend AFFKT, stands out. That’s where Nico is releasing his latest artwork, the Merci Paris EP.
Nico Morano is a Belgian producer & DJ who is now releasing music on Sincopat, a label from Valencia. How’s that?
To be honest, when I finished the original tracks (“Merci Paris”, “Haide” and “Akum”), I immediately thought about sending them to Sincopat. I have been following this label already for years and I play a lot of their catalogue. I’m a big fan of what they have been releasing so far. Plus, their crazy artwork is also a plus. Yes, it is not only about the ears! On top of this, AFFKT, the label head of Sincopat, is a very nice guy.
About Valencia, I have to say it has a special place in my heart. Last year, I played on Edu Imbernon’s concept Fayer, also a Valencia-based melodic label and party concept. Amazing memories about that party in the Marina Beach open-air club. But it is not only limited to Valencia. Last year, I also had superb vibes in Murcia and Malaga. I am already looking forward to my upcoming Spanish gigs.
What else can you tell us about the Merci Paris EP, your new release on Sincopat?
The tracks on this EP were written during my last visit to Paris. Nothing more, nothing less. So, I’m really thankful to the city of lights for inspiring me. The tracks all contain three main ingredients: Dave Smith Prophet 06 for the lead elements, some Roland SH-101 arp melodies, and some crazy sounds from the Roland MC202. Most sounds are therefore recorded on analogue gear. Just like to turn knobs, I guess.
Indeed, the EP is based on three original mixes and the remix work from Joris Biesmans, a resident artist in Berlin’s Watergate.
Yeah, the originals are clubby, dancefloor-minded and peak-time stuff. Biesmans, on the other hand, just made a completely italo-disco remix of “Merci Paris”. He directly knew what to do with it, and in two weeks the remix was finished. Joris Biesmans was a true charm to work with and a nice friendship is a result because of this connection. The funny part is we are both Belgians, but we never shared a line-up together. Sometimes, the world isn’t small enough, it seems. (laughs) But I’m quite sure this will change very quickly; we are planning a studio session soon, so expect more to come.
You before talked about your previous gigs in Spain, like Fayer, Weekend Beach Festival or Animal Sound. Were they very different from what you usually face in Belgium?
Do you know the cliché “music is a universal language”? Well, it certainly counts also when you compare Spanish dancefloor people to the Belgian. I honestly think that a DJ just needs to play what he really loves. The body language will translate and reflect on the people. The message you send as an artist has to be convincing. That way people believe you and feel your music. To answer your question: I play the same way in Spain as in Belgium. With a lot of love. And the crowd really gave me the same feeling like a present in return.
You have been also organizing your own Ontourage series in your homeland. Any pick?
Last Ontourage season, we organized 7 editions on a monthly base, in all corners of Belgium, for a limited number of people, always featuring a 4-hour party. Not on random locations, but on a-typical party locations. We planned parties high in the sky, lost into nature, nearby the beach, in impressive old train stations… the craziest locations were on our radar. In order to make it accessible for more than only those happy few, we decided to broadcast this all live on the socials. To pick one out of these is very difficult. They all were so different, and they all had epic moments.
And now Ontourage will become also a label.
Yes! The first Ontourage Music release will be launched in March. It’s going to be “Blackout”, a track from myself featuring Nathan Nicholson and remixed also by Moonwalk. If you know me as a DJ, you also know what to expect as a producer. This goes hand in hand. On the Ontourage label, I will release 100% what I love to hear and to play. The original mixes will be mostly vocal-driven tracks, always accompanied by solid remixes. In this case, the first will come from the Italian duo Moonwalk.
As a Belgian DJ, I must ask you about Tomorrowland, especially after having played in the Mainstage and having hosted your own stage at the festival. How did your relationship with the festival start?
Before Tomorrowland, I was already hosting a stage in 2017 at Paradise City Festival, one of the best and most forward-thinking festivals Belgium has to offer. I invited Andhim, Konstantin Sibold, Giorgia Angiuli… It was an amazing day. This was a success story, which I guess Tomorrowland liked, so I started to curate also stages for them. Nico Morano & Friends was born.
Tomorrowland 𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐀𝐏 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟗.🌳 This year was … all about the FOREST! 🌳During the 2 weekends I had the pleasure to play on this magical spot.Claude VonStroke invited me to his Dirtybird stage during the first weekend. Thanks man!The second weekend, I had the pleasure to host my own stage and to invite my buddies to come and play in the amazing forest!Animal Trainer, Edu Imbernon, Eelke Kleijn, Jan Blomqvist, Timmerman & Tom Zeta, you all f*cking nailed it.𝐀 𝐌𝐀𝐒𝐒𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔!This one was for the books!Tomorrowland 2019, 𝐏𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝐌𝐀𝐃𝐍𝐄𝐒𝐒!Video credits: Noiz
This year, you will play at Tomorrowland’s Freedom Stage. Can we expect something new?
Over the last 5 years, I have played on so many different stages. From the smallest right through to the Mainstage. The Freedom stage is, again, a new experience, so I can’t predict yet. But as the stage is hosted by Eric Prydz this year, on that day, you can be sure it can only be EPIC.