Ten years in clubland is 15 in dog years and around 105 in human years. It is a magnificent achievement, and the folks at Nublu – which include one of my favorite people on this planet, Daisy Payero – are celebrating in spades, in hearts, in diamonds, and their club, which is back where it belongs. That was a run-on sentence because Nublu was forced to run on over to Hayne Southern’s Lucky Cheng’s basement space for six months while licensing issues were resolved. After nine years, somebody discovered that there was a nearby church, and that’s a no-no because we all know that churches and alcohol don’t mix. Anyway, they are back in their original abode but, alas, with only a beer, wine, and sake license. But according to everyone I speak to, they haven’t lost a beat. That beat is grounded in the unique and eclectic music they offer and, as Daisy has told me, "it’s all about the music.”
Owner Ilhan Ersahin has decided the celebration should be a month-long shebang:
"Nublu has become a cultural haven for musicians from around the world known to blend different styles from electronic, jazz, dub, to indie, Brazilian, and global beats. From small clubhouse to music powerhouse, Nublu has undoubtedly stayed humble to its roots, and there is no better way to put it than in Ilhan’s own words: "We are just playing music."
Nublu’s 10th anniversary features an incredible lineup from June 1-30, including Sun Ra Arkestra, Brazilian Girls, Wax Poetic, Jojo Mayer’s Nerve, Taylor McFerrin, and Jetlag feat. Andy Rourke from The Smiths. World0renowned DJs will also join the festivities, featuring Moby, In Flagranti, DJ Logic, Tim Sweeney, and many more."
I asked Ilhan all about it.
Nublu is back to its roots and celebrating 10 years, albeit with some slight changes including a wine/beer/sake-only bar and some menu offerings. Is it truly all about the music and can you remain profitable without a full bar?
Yes, I hope we keep the same vibe going. Great music is still always here and it’s getting better and better everyday! Many of the resident bands who have played here for years continue to rise and draw more fans, so yes, I guess you CAN say it is all about the music or rather all about art. Alcohol-wise, our bartenders have concocted a nice drink menu with sake so there is still a “cocktail” vibe at the bar, and we do have good wine and food to offer now as well.
How do you feel Nublu has impacted the New York music scene over the past 10 years?
I think Nublu has grown into something unique. It has developed into a space where the criteria is about good musicianship and personal expression, meaning that we never have cover bands or jazz acts that play standards etc. It’s all about making your own music on a high level. Over the past 10 years lots of great bands have been born here and many bands and DJs have played here and developed. Nublu has never been about being yet another place where you just do a "gig.” It’s more about developing a sound and developing a band or an idea or compositions.
I do think Nublu has had a very important role in NYC, but the interesting side of Nublu is that it has become global. You will find people from Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, etc. that know and follow Nublu now. That following has developed a bit because of Nublu records, a bit because of the club, from our jazz festivals that we now host in some of those cities yearly, and from traveling the world playing with various Nublu bands.
You have started taking Nublu global with a club in Istanbul and jazz festivals in Sao Paulo and Paris. Tell us what the response to Nublu and its sound has been overseas. Is this the next phase for Nublu?
It has been very good and always a growing movement which is the most inspiring thing. This past February we sold 5,200 tickets for a 5-day Nublu Jazzfest in Sao Paulo where we booked some US acts and some Brazilian acts. Pretty amazing for a second-year festival in Brazil, so the interest is there for sure. More and more radio stations around the globe are also adding our tracks.
Can you share your favorite Nublu moments from the past 10 years?
There are too many! I never know where to start, and my philosophy is always that the latest is the best…. so this past Friday night was an amazing night. The vibe was so great, people looked really happy, and the bands and DJ sounded fantastic. Of course we have had our star moments, like when Gilberto Gil came in and jammed, or when Kevin Spacey or Keanu Reeves most recently came in. Flea have stopped by and hung out at the bar, and soccer star Ronaldino shows up to our Wednesday night Brazil parties. But in general we have many, many amazing nights at Nublu and I think the main reason is that Nublu is a "destination" type of place. We don’t get too many passersby who happen to stop by; we get an audience who plan on coming to Nublu for the night to have a good time and enjoy good music.
You had to relocate Nublu to a temporary space back in fall 2011… Did the six months in a strange place result in losing an audience or have you gained new faces?
Nublu has always been upside down and turned around. I think being on Avenue C and basically being in Manhattan and having live music and DJs every single night, and basically not advertising anywhere, has always made nights very random. There are always new faces mixed with old faces around here so that hasn’t changed a bit.
On the things to list for all you party people, I can’t recommend a soiree more strongly than New York Night Train’s bash at Home Sweet Home tonight called “Shakin’ All Over Under Sideways Down.” Jonathan Toubin spins 45s and bringing you tracks you can’t hear anyplace else. It is the rarest of rare music. We’re not talking B-sides; we’re talking e,d,g- sides. A cool, cool crowd gets down and dirty and totally sexy in this basement that I absolutely love.
Also on the check-it-out front is Bantam, 17 Stanton, which has opened its backyard in time to catch the outdoor craze, which has revelers on roofs, by pools, and on curbs. I DJd there last night with Kelle Calco and these great guys Sonic Relief. It was splendid.