As the popularity of dance music rises and the market is saturated with generic EDM, it’s important for musical taste-makers to keep pushing out quality tracks and educating the new wave of fans. A few years back, I noticed a woman in the underground house music scene making moves and doing just that. Of course, I had to get to know her. Hailing from Detroit, Nicole Simpkins Bernabela started AudioBite Records, and independent label group, with her husband and fellow DJ / producer Ramiro. Since 2008, she’s been in charge of A&R, choosing over 60 artists from all over the globe, featuring unique beats for dancing feet. She was kind enough to share her reflections on music and the scene.
Describe your first introduction to the underground electronic music scene.
I grew up in the Toledo area, and started going to underground raves in Detroit in the late ’90s. As teenagers, my friends and I really got into the rave scene and went to huge warehouse parties almost every weekend. Mainly, we saw house and techno DJs from Detroit and Chicago. Those were the days when we had to call a special phone number to get the address of the warehouse and use an actual paper map to find them! Sometimes we would just roll down our car windows and listen for the loud boom of the bass to find the parties. We never went to clubs – only raves. The laser lights were piercing, the music was insanely loud, and the vibe was beautiful. We would dance for hours and hours and then go lounge in the chill-out room until we could muster up enough energy to go back into the main room and keep dancing. We never went home before the sun came up. I have a ton of great memories from that time in my life, though they are a bit fuzzy.
When did you know you wanted to be a part of the house music movement?
I had always had a love for house music, stemming from those rave days in the ’90s. I actually went to culinary school and was working as a chef when I moved to The Netherlands in 2004. I was working there in an Irish Pub, and going clubbing every weekend after work. I was delighted to be living in the house music mecca of Europe. It was there that I met my husband and we started AudioBite Records in 2008.
How did you meet your husband/Audiobite partner?
I met my now husband, Ramiro Bernabela, in a club in The Netherlands in 2005. He was working there as a resident DJ, and we connected immediately. I loved his style, and he was delighted to hear all of my Detroit rave stories. We fell in love, moved in together, and started talking about working in music. He was producing tunes, and felt that his work was getting good enough to release. I told him how much I would love to work in the music business. We brainstormed, and decided to start a label. I would run the business side of it, and he would make tracks and remixes for it. He also started to teach me music production at that time. We started out with just a few artists. They would send us a track, and Ramiro would make a remix for the release. We now have 4 labels and over 60 artists.