How Nature Inspires Nora En Pure's Deep Evocative House
Over the last decade, Nora En Pure has worked tirelessly to cement herself as a leading voice in deep house. When she emerged in 2013, it seemed as though her deep melodic aesthetic was already well developed. She was refreshing and forward-thinking in a sea of EDM superstars and helped pave the way for the current trend towards deep and more sophisticated sounds taking over the main stages. Her sweeping melodic style and ethereal performances have allowed her to build an incredibly devoted fan base.
Her prolific output was paralleled by an unprecedented brand development putting Purified at the top of the house music game. Her weekly radio show, Purified Radio, is about to hit its 300th episode. Her Purified label is quickly growing to be one of the most influential artist labels within its genre. Her Purified branded shows have sold out massive venues all over the world. She is a headliner all over the world despite a relatively recent career start. Although it feels like she has done it all, Nora is just getting started.
You grew up around music and played the flute and piano in your youth. Do you remember your first introduction to electronic music, and what about the sound that drew you to it?
I got into electronic music when I met some friends in Zurich that had their own studios and saw how everything is possible in electronic music. I first thought of it as really monotonous music but realized you can combine anything and be totally experimental with it, trying out different sounds and styles. I loved being able to combine classical and organic elements with electronic sounds. I've always liked technology and love to create things, so I became fixated with it and had to force myself to leave the studio at night!
You broke out in 2013 with "Come With Me," but of course, that was not the beginning of your career. You started producing in 2009. Could you tell us about those years and what the grind was like just trying to get your foot in the door?
I was studying criminal psychology and didn't look at the music side of things as a career option initially. I was just having fun with it and found it a perfect escape from everyday life. In that sense, "Come With Me" was the stage where suddenly other doors opened as the booking requests started to come in. Of course, those initial bookings were at small clubs, but I thought, let's give it a go, really not knowing if I'd be doing this for a few weeks or months. At a certain point, I made the decision to dedicate myself to it and try and make it a career. It gradually developed to what it is today with a lot of hard work.
You had the opportunity to play Tomorrowland's daybreak sessions in 2018. It's a fantastic festival concept that not many people are aware of. Tomorrowland books underground-leaning acts to play extended sets on the main stage as doors open. Artists such as yourself, Carl Cox, and Eric Prydz have handled the decks for it. How different was it for you from a typical set, and what was your preparation/experience like?
It was, of course, a huge honor for me to play the Daybreak Session, and I am lucky enough to have played it twice. Tomorrowland is very special, and both times were magical. I love to play longer sets, so you can really dive deep and take people on a journey, which is what I love most. I don't rush in these sets. I play a bit deeper and touch different corners musically. I think it is really cool to be able to set the mood for the day. It is perfect for my style of music as well.
You've spoken and shared regularly on social media how essential nature and the beauty of our earth are to you. Your visuals during performance often reflect this, and you had some spectacular live streams during quarantine that showcased your appreciation of nature. So how do you work to incorporate natural beauty into your music, and how important is it for a DJ to have that sort of escape from a mental health perspective?
I think it is super important to have that sort of escape, not only as a DJ but I think as a human in general. I grew up with nature and wildlife playing a big role in my life while being in South Africa or Switzerland, so to me, nature is naturally the ultimate place to give me peace. I feel way more comfortable in nature than in cities.
Nowadays, we are always on the go. Our minds are always occupied with something or other (often with things that really don't deserve our time!) Getting outdoors and connecting with nature can work wonders on the mind, body, and soul.
With my music, I like to connect to that calmness, realness, but also the power that only nature has. It's a huge source of inspiration for me, and it's often what I feel and imagine when making or playing music. I like to make the listener feel like they're out there through nature samples and cinematic effects that make you feel like you are part of a scenery or setting.
During the lockdown, I tried to connect those sounds to the scenes I often see inside my head, so I scouted for fitting locations and made sure we got the right kind of content that transports you and makes you fly with the music.
You're closing in on 300 episodes of Purified radio. It's such an incredible accomplishment. So many DJs attempt to do this sort of thing but rarely maintain the consistency or brand equity to have success around it. You've built up such an incredible fan base through this effort. What prompted you to start Purified Radio, what challenges have you faced maintaining the consistency, and what is your favorite thing about hosting the show?
The radio show started as a way of sharing the music I love and the music I was creating. At first, it wasn't weekly, but as time went on, there was more and more interest, and I was offered a weekly spot on Sirius XM Chill. It took me a bit to decide to commit on this level.
Maintaining consistency takes dedication and a lot of hard work. It is especially tough to keep up with it while touring, or even if you'd want to take a few weeks off to go on holiday. But it is a passion project, and I love sharing the music I love or find interesting with the listeners. It also means a lot knowing that there are many people listening to it and waiting for the new show every week. It's a privilege to be able to support lesser-known artists and producers and help to give them a platform.
On the topic of Purified, the brand has become synonymous with your live sets. Your purified events have sold out all over the world. That being said, you have tremendous versatility when performing live. Do you have any preference when it comes to performing at a Purified event versus a larger festival or branded party (like CityFox)?
I honestly love being able to play at all sorts of venues. For Purified events, I usually play a bit more Nora En Pure sound and since I have the label, also Purified releases. So that definitely feels like home, and at those events, the crowd is purely there for my sound, which makes it always super rewarding and humbling to play, so those are definitely my favorites.
Mixed genre festivals make me often play a more mixed set, throwing in some house, tech house, progressive house. For branded events like CityFox, I adapt my set into that direction, playing the darker side of Nora En Pure releases and mixing it up with heavier and clubbier tracks. So all of this keeps it interesting and exciting.
Do you find that when you play shows that are not purified events, you can explore sounds that you might otherwise not be able to?
Purified events take place once in 1-3 months, so they don't happen that frequently. For all other shows, I always feel like exploring, but then tend to feel like other sounds are so far away from mine that it can be hard to combine them, or I end up not feeling comfortable playing them :-) I also think my sound has become quite unique, so I always want to make sure its characteristics are heard, even if the crowd might be more in the mood for something harder or less deep.
Alongside the events, you naturally started a label aptly titled Purified in 2019. What challenges have you faced on this side of your business?
Running a label is a lot of work, and we are a very small team. I am involved in everything and decide on everything. It takes a lot of dedication! During the lockdown, it was amazing to have more time to focus on the label.
With touring back in full force and juggling my own projects, it is challenging but so worth it! I mainly wanted to close the circle of the Purified radio show, events and have a label for the talent I often play in the show or have them play at the events. It only made sense. I like to give young, talented producers a platform.
What do you love about leading an A&R team?
I often see tracks from a producer's and DJ's perspective, which is very different from a consumer's, so it's awesome to get a different perspective from my A&R team. In general, I feel lucky to have been able to take this path, release music that I really believe in, and give undiscovered artists a home to release their incredible tracks. We launched the label in November 2019, and I feel we have come such a long way since then, so I'm quite proud.
Are there any upcoming artists you'd like to shout out?
Hard to pick favorites here, as I only sign what I really love. But I have a bit of a weak spot for Paradoks, Heard Right, Deviu, and Chris Luno.
It seems having a brand and brand identity is simply a part of being a musician in this day and age. But was this something you always had a sense of? And if not, when did you decide to begin building a brand around your music?
It did happen organically for Nora En Pure and Purified because it was quite a distinct sound as well. Somehow I always had this vision. It just sometimes takes a while to put it into practice. I think it makes sense if you have something quite unique going, as then there is space and a niche for your brand.
Do you have any favorite pieces of hardware that you find yourself going to in the studio regularly?
That would be my NI Komplete Kontrol and Roland Juno 106 that I use constantly. A basic must-have for me is also the Apogee Symphony converter.
What's in store for the next chapter of Nora En Pure? Do you ever plan on implementing a live setup in your performance?
I've been playing with that thought a lot, but I'm not really convinced. Being a solo act, it is quite a lot to take on during a show. At my more recent Coachella performance, I played the piano live for one or two tracks, and that was already nerve-wracking, as the piano is often the main lead in my tracks. I also think live elements can distract a little from that energy you typically get from a DJ setup, especially if those elements would be quite organic, as in my case.
I am not ruling it out, but at the moment, it would be too complex and time-consuming for me to get into and comfortable with, as well as getting all the logistics for the kind of tours I'm currently doing.
Will we see an album anytime soon?
I have had so many singles and EPs you could fill so many albums with that, yet we never published one. It is due to the age of streaming and digital sales, of course, but it would be something nice for long-time fans for sure. Maybe one day ;-)