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As the surreal and unprecedented global phenomenon of self-quarantine sweeps across the globe, Highsnobiety Soundsystem looks to the game-changers and party-makers of our world, the DJs, to bring us some cheer in this bizarre Covid-19 world. Tune in for original mixes and good conversations straight out of self-isolation.
A global pandemic can be a very gloomy time for some people, but Noodles is not one of those people. When I call the DJ, it’s the first time I’ve spoken to someone who non-ironically encapsulates the term “infectious charisma.” There are very few people with such an honest confidence; it’s endearing, something which comes across in her music and her honest DJ sets which people have been vibing to worldwide.
Before she became known as Noodles, Micah Mahinay was climbing the ranks in the fashion world – because, well, 'DJing wouldn’t cut it,' she thought. That is, until she crossed paths with a certain budding pop star and took a leap of faith to DJ her first tour in 2015. Five years later, Noodles has become known to the world not only as Kehlani’s DJ, but as an artist in her own right. From her dad teaching her how to spin decks as a teenager to having her own headlining tour, it’s been a wild ride for Noodles.
Read on for our interview and listen to her special quarantine mix for Highsnobiety Soundsystem below.
How are you staying sane during quarantine?
I mean, just streaming and playing music every day. I honestly have a whole set routine. I realized that I'm a tedious routine type of person these days, and I like it.
What's your routine?
I wake up, I run three to five miles every morning, and then I come home, make breakfast, and then I start streaming every day at 2:00 PM, for like two to three hours. Once that's done, it's time for dinner, and then I'm usually just on the couch watching Ozark — well I just started it, actually. Then go to sleep, wake up and do it all again.
It seems like many artists are coping really well with quarantine.
Yeah, it's cool because as artists we're always touring and stuff, so we're finally getting to love being home. When I started DJing for Kehlani we were gone for nine months. I was like, ‘Why am I paying rent for something I'm not even home for?’ So now I really love my space again.
How did you know that you wanted to pursue music? And how did you discover DJing?
So I didn't go into DJing thinking it was going to be full time. I started when I was 15 in high school, just learning the basics of mixing from my dad. I was going out a lot — I had a fake ID — and I just loved how DJs controlled the entire vibe of the room. I really wanted to get into it, so when my dad taught me, he introduced me to all these different genres. I learned off funk and disco records, and then it slowly started transitioning into the electronic phase of my life. Then I started getting into EDM and in my college years I started tapping into hip-hop.
The alias, Noodles, is there a meaning behind it?
No, there's not. I got the name in high school. I had a perm in high school. I was at this college party and some guy came up to me and just kept calling me Top Ramen the whole night, because my hair was so curly. I was freestyling with a bunch of boys, and he kept hyping me every time I would spit a bar. Then one of his homies was like, "Oh yeah, let's give it up for Noodles." I liked the name, so I started blogging and DJing under the name Noodles.
When did Kehlani come into the picture?
I was going to college for fashion, but then David [Ali], my manager, connected me with Kehlani. At the time she was just putting out her first mixtape, she wanted a DJ and she specifically said she wanted me, because we’re both from the Bay. But I didn’t know if I really wanted to DJ full time. David was just like, “why don't you listen to her story and then you can play it out if you feel for each other.” So she told me her story and said “give me one year and our lives will change.” I fell in love with her, I loved how vulnerable she was and how she had to grow up at such a young age. I just knew I could learn a lot from her.
She opened for G-Eazy for her first tour, it was like 36 shows. David said, "It's not going to be a lot of money, but I think if you stick with us it'll grow into something." So yeah, we toured, I got paid like 50 bucks a show, but I mean at the same time, I'm so glad I went through it because it made me appreciate every step I have taken in this musical realm. I come from a super traditional Filipino, Asian family and this was never meant to happen.
You've been there from the beginning, not many people can say that.
Yeah, me and David, we've been with Kehlani since day one. So it's cool that it's always been the three of us because she's very, very loyal. I did my first headlining tour two years ago, and I was so nervous because I've never done ticket sales before, but Keh is the type where she'll promote for you. You don’t even need to ask, that's just the type of person she is.
What's been your favorite gig so far?
I think the coolest gig I've done so far would be the festival gigs. They mean so much to me because they’re filled with a bunch of headlining artists that I listen to on the daily. It's a huge honor because I don't make music, I'm just a selector, I just play music. I never thought that there'd be a route for a DJ like me to perform at Bumbershoot Festival or Outside Lands.
And I really loved my headlining tour. Like wow, these kids are paying physical hard tickets just to see me. This is not a free RSVP party, this is a $18 ticket sale. On top of that, we did a meet and greet, and I was like, "Wow, kids are paying to fucking meet me."
Tell us about the mix you made for us. How did you bring it all together?
I'm a huge fan of digging for music. My friend Joe, he is the co- founder of this collective called Soulection. Usually we swap music, and that mix was pretty much like a bunch of my homies' remixes and edits. Back in the day I used to do a mixed series that I would drop once a month, and it would just feature all of my homies' remixes and originals. And that's pretty much what the vibe was for this.
I like to shed light on the producers that don't really get played. I'm always rooting for the underdogs. I’m very loyal to the people who saw me come up.
What's your creative process like? Did you make this in one take?
That was a one take, I DJed it in front of my followers. The only thing I edited on that mix was the Noodles tag at the beginning. But other than that, my mix process, it's one take. It's super simple when I do these mixes. I wish I knew these production softwares, so I could perfect it, but I like how DJs mess up. I know when I DJ, my sets aren't always a 100%, but if my energy is there, it makes up for the off beat mixing or something.
What vibe were you going for with this one?
For the most part, I put out super depressing mixtapes when I'm going through a breakup. But nowadays, because I'm so receptive with people's energy, I like to put out feel-good shit. Some easy listening. For the most part I aim to make something for the young kids, to the old heads.
What's your favorite moment or your favorite track on the mix?
My favorite track on the mix would have to be ESTA's edit of [Afro B’s] “Joanna,” just because that Afrobeats song is so fucking good. I remember when it first came out — I know it was already popping in Europe, but when it came to the States later, people went crazy. And just that era, that time period last year, when I remixed it, it just brought back so many fun memories.
1. Frank Ocean (Penthouse Penthouse Remix) - “Slide” 2. FKJ & Bas - “Risk (Clean)” 3. Childish Gambino (Zikomo Remix) - “Terrified” 4. BADBADNOTGOOD (Kaytranada Remix) - “Kaleidoscope” 5. ESTA - “Jo Jo” 6. Jill Scott (Cosmo’s Midnight Remix) - “Cross My Mind” 7. Disclosure - “Expressing What Matters” 8. Drake - “Get It Together” 9. J. Robb - “A Team Thingy” 10. GG WATERBOII - “Quarantine” 11. Bruno Mars/Sango (Paul Mond Baile Flip) - “Finesse/ Me De Amor” 12. Kendrick Lamar - “Poetic Justice” 13. Krayzie Bone - “Too Many Freaks" 14. Lil Uzi Vert - “Bigger Than Life” 15. Lil Baby - “Whoa” 16. Jeftuz - “Girl” 17. Travis Scott - “Way Back” 18. Lil Uzi Vert - “Prices” 19. J. Robb - “No GPS” 20. Deb Never & Kenny Beats - “Stone Cold”