If you took a walk in Manhattan's streets during the past two years, you most likely passed by some signs inviting you to one of Offer Nissim's parties in New York City. But although Nissim is a well-known DJ in the U.S. nowadays, his heart and home are still placed 5,683 miles from the Big Apple, in Tel Aviv, Israel — his home city where he's played for more than 20 years.
Nissim could be considered the first-ever Israeli gay icon. From a conservative '80s society grew some first signs of the Tel Aviv gay scene, led by the Theatre Club and conducted by young Nissim. Fifteen years later, in 1998, he produced the winning song for the famous Eurovision Song Contest, “Diva” (sang by Israeli transsexual star Dana International). Later that same year, Nissim made his worldwide break with a historic performance at the Gay Games in Amsterdam.
Nissim's international vibe influenced the Israeli clubbing scene and — due in part to his frequent tour stops abroad — opened the door for other Israeli DJs in Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world.
A longtime veteran on the scene yet seemingly ageless, Nissim still works nonstop. While visiting his home playing field and audience, which he does consistently, Nissim continues to DJ, refill his DJ bag with new tracks and work on his personal productions in his home studio.
Among his latest works are the singles “Perfect Love” and “Second Time,” both featuring the soulful vocalist Maya. Then there is his double CD, Forever Tel Aviv (Star 69, 2007), which includes his remixes of Beyoncé, Donna Summer, Christina Aguilera and Kristine W, as well as original productions such as “Boyfriend” and “For Your Love” (which also features Maya).
Right now, Nissim is working on some new material, including a remix for a new track by Suzanne Palmer called “I Can See You” and a new remix for the '80s hit, “Joe le Taxi,” by Vanessa Paradis. “You must browse and flow with older music in order to create new tracks,” Nissim says. “I have thousands of records I'm listening to while I'm working, from the '80s and even from the mid-'70s. That's where my inspiration comes from.”
Despite his favoritism for vintage tracks, Nissim says he's still thrilled when he plays a new song for the first time. “You can never know how the audience will react to the track,” he says. “It is really different from country to country. The important things are to dare, to be unexpected and to surprise the crowd each and every time.”
That's not a problem for Nissim because the audiences who come to see his sets are, without a doubt, excited to see him step up to his DJ rig. Lately, he's expanded his borders and conquered some new destinations. He left New York to play at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival in Brazil, the “White Party” in Palm Springs, a hands-in-the-air party in Montreal (alongside Deep Dish) and more. “The amazing thing is that the people do not refer to me as a DJ only,” Nissim says. “I can feel they love me, they respect me and yes, I do have many fans around the globe.”
So what's next for Nissim? He never likes to stay in one place and always thinks of the next big project. Right now, Whitney Houston and Madonna are on his mind. He's waiting for final confirmations that will allow him to produce a remix for Houston's next track, the first from her forthcoming “comeback” album. And Madonna? “You must always dare to dream,” he says. Until Nissim gets a meeting with the long-standing pop queen, here are some of his favorite picks for the moment, as well as some classic tracks he still plays.
AFTERTOUCH/KOBBE FEAT. GINA MARTIN
“Slave” (Tribal Traxx/Terranova)
This one is pure fun — a great tribal track with some very sexy vocals. The reactions when the DJ plays it are always amazing. Everywhere the crowd is going wild from the first note.
ALIBI VS. ROCKEFELLER
“Sexual Healing” (Tiger)
This one brings me back to the beautiful vocals of the '80s. It is a cover version for the massive '80s hit by Marvin Gaye — excellent performance. I really like cover versions, and from time to time I'm doing a cover myself, but I am very sensitive [about] them. I don't like every remake or cover, but this one is really great.
“Off da Hook” (Electric)
This track has got one of the most special vocals I've heard for a long time. The interesting story about it is that I have made an edit for this track, as I don't really like the whole build-up made in it. I do these kinds of edits a lot for my sets when there are parts which I don't like. That's better than not playing the track at all.
I played [this] after Michael at “Le Queen” in Paris. I really liked his set, especially his own stuff, so now I got this track of his — pretty good one.
“Unexpected Lover” (TSR/Polydor)
In this 1985 classic, Lime brought the “Hi-NRG” wave long before anybody played or even was exposed to this genre. I really like them because they have dared to try something nobody had done before, and I can tell they inspired me to try and dare [to do] new things in my career.
Although my personal style is pretty different from this one, I always like to play some tracks with a touch of trance music, and this Marco V track got the right mixture of house and trance sounds.
For me, this one symbolizes the beginning of the trance and the beginning of the '90s. Although it was produced back then, I feel like it is a timeless track. I was inspired by this one when I created the “Hurt” remix for Christina Aguilera.
SUNFREAKZ FEAT. ANDREA BRITTON
“Counting Down the Days” (Positiva)
This contains a sample of Nomad's “(I Wanna Give You) Devotion.” I really like its sound and what Sunfreakz made of it, besides the production, which is really great.
“Such a Shame” (EMI)
This is one of the best tracks ever made. It contains such convincing and rare sounds that I keep playing today, especially before the sunshine at the end of my sets.
Another tribal-progressive house track that causes madness on the dancefloor. It contains diverse percussion sounds that always combine successfully in the set. You can't stay apathetic when listening to this one.