INTERVIEW | Victor Calderone
From remixing ten of Madonna’s records per her personal request to running his own techno-based imprint Waveform, Victor Calderone has proven himself to be the definition of a multidimensional artist. Easily adapting to whatever corner of the dance music world he wishes, he’s spent the majority of his life honing his craft and is only looking forward from here.
We had the pleasure of getting on the phone with the Brooklyn native in between his London studio sessions to talk collaborations with Reset Robot, high pressure remix deadlines, and his latest venture – MATTER.
With the volume of music being released every week now, you’ve said it yourself – music shopping has become a full time job. Do you have a strategy when you dive into new releases? Do you use digital marketplaces like Beatport, or do you strictly sift through promos?
Yeah, there’s no real strategy. I get tons of promos sent to me every week. I try to go through all of them but sometimes it gets a little bit frustrating, because it’s not the genre that I play. It’s frustrating because you’re listening to so much of this stuff and you’re not finding anything. Last night for example I was here in my hotel room and I was literally sorting through music for 5-6 hours just going through promos. There’s no real strategy- I’ll try to listen to everything sent to me and go through it all and if I recognize names I’ll listen to them sooner than later. I do also break away from that and spend time on all of the music portals like Beatport and Juno. I do spend a good amount of time shopping and buying music as well I don’t solely rely on promos. There’s no real strategy it’s just kind of random because there’s so much music coming out right now.
During the peak of your collaboration with pop artists, you were doing up to one remix per week. Most artists take months – sometimes longer – to complete one. Was there any pressure on you to meet demand? How did you find balance between the studio and gigs?
There was a lot of pressure. Back then I was doing a lot of that work. They would give me 1 week time lines- even doing work for Madonna it was less than that; sometimes three, four days to turn the mix around. But back then there was also less pressure on me regarding traveling because I relied more on my residencies in New York City and I traveled less. I did that a little bit but not quite as much as I’m traveling now, you know, not quite as much as I’m traveling now. I was able to spend more time focused in the studio. You know its funny because it’s hard to find that balance when your gigging and traveling something is going to get compromised or vice versa- if you’re spending more time in the studio you’re not going to be gigging at much. There was a lot of pressure to turn those mixes around in even a week sometimes less. I think back now “God how did I do it and it actually was a great thing because it didn’t allow me the time to overthink mixes. And I wound up getting a lot of really good stuff that way. Sometimes when you spend too much time on it you become fatigued and you lose your point of focus of where you really wanted to go with the project. Then you start changing it and constantly changing it and you kind of get stuck in that loop of searching for of what it is you’re searching for. When you have less time and you’re on a deadline- I was on a deadline and I work better with deadlines and I was just kind of like putting them out.
Between remixing some of the world’s largest pop acts and touring/DJing as a techno artist, you’ve managed to be a successful, functioning piece in both the pop world and the underground. What has allowed you to switch gears so gracefully?
Well thank you- I have always looked forward and maybe at a point at what I can do better whether it be in the studio or in my career DJing; I’ve always felt like ok you know its time to change it up, to make it fresh again. We need to evolve in order to remain relevant, and now there are so many more DJ faces and so much more music coming out. It’s important for an artist to take risks and change it up. It’s one thing to have levels of success in this industry, but its completely another to be relevant. I’ve always tried to focus on looking on myself and what it is I’m doing at that time, and how I can make it better.
What are you listening to in your downtime? Any up and coming producers to look out for?
I don’t have much downtime these days. When I do have that downtime I’m usually hanging out with my son and my wife, I’m with my family and I’m not listening to music- that’s my down time. I actually leave it up to my wife to have some music playing in our home. When I’m not with my family I’m on my computer just sorting through music trying to find those gems for the week ahead, like I said its taking up all of my time to find the music that I’m going to play for gigs that are coming up. I like a lot of the music right now that’s coming out of Berlin. There’s a lot of young, talented, up and coming artists. One in particular that’s been doing a lot of great stuff is Roman Lindau. What’s funny I’ve actually been getting inspired by the guys that have been around for years- Len Faki, Ben Klock, Adam Beyer- these guys that have been around for decades, have really been putting out some quality stuff lately. All those guys like Roman- and Mike Denhert as well; who’s also from Berlin is also putting out some great quality techno right now.
As electronic music stateside has grown in popularity over the last several years, the audiences for house and techno have grown as well. Have you noticed a shift in the demographic of your fans?
Yes I have. You know it’s funny; I’ve been at this for so long that I’ve seen a few generations of clubbers on my dance floor before me. It has shifted. I feel like the audience that was listening to Rihanna and all this hip hop and R&B is now being introduced to electronic dance music, and finding their way on to my dance floor as well. I have noticed there’s been a big shift across the board- techno, deep house, everything has been growing so fast. I notice a younger audience in front of me as well where before it was a much older crowd that was following me. Kids reach out to me through e-mail, or Twitter, saying wow this is the first time I’ve heard you what is this music? It’s pretty obvious that a lot of music fans have been discovering my sound.
You’ve alluded to a new project called MATTER – can you tell us a little bit about it?
Well I just announced a couple of days ago that MATTER is my new brand that will represent me and my music moving forward. In the past I’ve done the Evolve brand. I’ve decided to phase out Evolve. I wanted to launch something new, fresh. It will represent me and my music and my new monthly residency at Space here in New York, which just opened last weekend. I’m going to be doing a monthly residency there. October 4th will be the launch of my new night that will be called MATTER. I’m using the scientific word matter because I just fell in love with the meaning of it all. The symbol for the word is the plus sign, and the plus sign stands for the union of mind and body- to me that just speaks volume for being on the dance floor. There are also plans further down the road to launch a new label with this brand as well.
You just wrapped up the month of August at Electric Zoo in New York and will be spending the next few weeks playing gigs on the West coast. What else do you have in store for the rest of the year? 2015?
Well, that brings me to why I’m here in London. I’ve spent some time here in London collaborating with a friend his name is Dave Robinson. He also goes the name- he’s a producer- Reset Robot. The plan was just for me to come up with new material, some new original productions. I have my own recording studio in New York, and you’d probably ask me “Well why not just do it at home?” It’s because there’s too many distractions and I haven’t been really committing myself at in the studio. I felt like coming out here, literally waking up every day and spending the entire day in the studio I would really be able to get a lot of work done. It’s actually been really successful. We’ve really been going at it and been coming up with some really exciting stuff. So what’s coming ahead- I’m not sure of what I’m going to do with this material, whether to release it as an album or break it up and release it as a series of EPs. But, you can expect a lot of new music coming from me within the next 8 months.