By Brooke Clayton
When Idan Nadler decided to make a name for himself as a DJ, he rediscovered a memory from kindergarten, a story about medieval times.
“There were these dudes called the barons,” he said. “They owned all the land, they had control of everything. Huge house, 300 wives, something like that. Baron, that word, stuck in my head.”
Nadler, better known as DJ Baron, joined the staff at Eden Lounge when he was only 15. He attended West High during the day and pioneered Iowa City’s Electric Dance Music scene at night, alternating nights with a concert pianist.
Now, going in to his junior year at the University of Iowa, he headlines most Fridays or Saturdays at the EDM destination in Iowa City and pays his college tuition making music.
“When I began, it was a lot of doctors and higher-up people coming in,” he said. “Now, it’s not my friend’s parents, it’s my friends.”
One of Nadler’s best friends since their time at Lincoln Elementary, Nick Raley, said, “The energy he brings to the table is insane. He can turn people who are standing around into people who are dancing around.”
Nadler’s humility is overshadowed by his track record.
He’s played with major industry figures such as Waka Flocka Flame and DJ Konflikt. Only weeks ago, a tour in Asia brought him to Malaysia, Singapore, and India. He spent his spring break in southern Florida, but instead of a stereotypical college vacation, his was sober and serious.
“I treat it just like any other job,” he said. “It’s like an athlete going in to a soccer game. If you’re hammered, you’re not going to win.”
Nadler remixes and edits songs to digitally produce an original version each night he plays. And while he studies finance at the UI, he treats DJ-ing like a science.
“When you create a song, you have to look at the psychology of the listener,” he said. “The key is to really utilize the element of surprise in a way that the listener is still expecting it to sound something like that. When I’m creating music, I think of different movements. So, for example, I’ll think of a person jumping on a trampoline, and the trampoline going down, and the imprint from their feet makes a specific noise to me. So that’s the noise that I create in the software.”
The energy and anticipation when Nadler plays at Eden is tangible. The crowd ricochets a dozen different directions at once, a crowd full of dancing people who don’t mind the intimacy and chaos one bit.
In an alley off Iowa Avenue at the end of the week, people pour out of the bar at 2 a.m. with grins spread from ear to ringing ear.
“I honestly have a blast,” Nadler said. “Nothing’s cooler than when you still see people dancing outside the door of Eden, or the crowd is screaming ‘One more song,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh man, management is going to get mad.’ ”
“He’s got a lot of hype surrounding him,” said Eden coworker John Koach. “He was gone for like a month, and people kept asking when he’d be back.”
Nadler doesn’t know where his career might lead him once he graduates, but until then, he’s not going anywhere.
“I’m always finding my own sound,” he said. “I feel like if I find my sound, I lose my crowd. You don’t want to find it, because if you do, it means you’re close-minded.”