Victor Calderone at Bassment
This past Friday, Victor Calderone brought his underground techno style and vibes to Bassment, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The techno DJ from New York is famous for satisfying crowds at any venue he plays. With the help of Kev and Greg P, attendees of Bassment on January 19 witnessed a top-quality show as the three DJs played their souls out.
The day before the show, OneEDM had the privilege of talking with Calderone. The DJ spoke of his experience in the industry and the path to his unique sound:
The whole Charlotte dance scene is really excited for you to play at Bassment. I know they are going to have great energy tomorrow night. Any early thoughts on your set tomorrow?
Victor Calderone: I feel like there is some good energy already out here. I am feeling good vibes coming from Charlotte. There has been some good feedback already. You know, posts that we put out there so, yeah, I am excited. I have never been to Charlotte, so I am really excited to book a night with you guys.
How did growing up in Brooklyn and New York City influence your music while you were developing your sound?
Victor Calderone: There were so many options between what was happening in Brooklyn and what was happening in the city. Early on in the 90’s, we had a small techno scene already happening in Brooklyn from guys like Frankie Bones, Adam X, and Lenny Kane. They were doing their small, I would not say so small, storm rigs. It was happening and that was inspiring me. At that time I had a partner and we created a group called “Program Q.” We were playing some pretty hard techno, like 140bpm stuff. Then a whole other scene happening in the city. Coming off of like Paradise Garage, The Original Sound Factory, and guys like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Junior Vasquez, and Danny Taneglia that were leading that scene.
So I was inspired by both you know. And here I came from techno roots but there was a more soulful thing happening in the city, so I really latched onto that. That really was a big part of shaping my sound forward, experiencing the Sound Factory. I just caught the very tail end of Paradise Garage, but Sound Factory for me was a place I go to get really inspired.
You talk about names like Frankie Knuckles and other legends, people who shaped the industry. It is so cool to have grown up around them and have them be the main influence on you.
Calderone: Yeah it really was a special time, so many special artists, very talented guys. Like you said, there was so much happening, there were so many venues. A night out in the city was sometimes, we would spend the entire night well into the morning in one venue. But then there were times where there were so many good parties happening at the same time that we would sort of make our rounds. It was a really special time in New York.
Was your first venture into music electronic or did you start off with something else?
Calderone: No, I would have to say. the electronic genre. My bother was a DJ, and I grew up listening to him. He was part of that whole disco-era. But he turned me on to artists like Gino Socio, Gorgio Moroda, Kraftwerk, and later in the late 80’s I got into Depeche Mode. So yeah, early on I was right into electronic music which I latched onto.
That is when I grew up. Where my brother and I were staying we shared a bedroom, and we would just stay in all day and mix. His collection which I later heard was all disco, with artists like Gorgio Moroda and Kraftwerk. It was a fun time, that is what shaped my sound at a very early age.
What kind of venues do you like to play the most?
I mean they all have their special qualities. You know, I like a small room for the intimacy. Look to your friend, let the fans get close to you and really feel that energy, it is sort of like very connected at that point. But then there are the big rooms that also lend this drama when it is a good big room and all of the components are in place. A really good venue, the big room, there is nothing like that energy that gets thrown off of that audience. A big room adds even more drama to the night, especially with good lighting.
So, they all have their special qualities, and then you know, festivals. My only gripe with festivals is I like to play long sets. When you are playing a festival, you are a part of a lineup and only playing an hour or sometimes less. In my opinion, it is hard to tell a story in that amount of time. There is a journey there, and artist tells stories. There is nothing like it. Yeah, there is also something to be said for these big lineups with a lot of really great talent, all together in one bill. Music constantly changing and there are different personalities coming through. So obviously, everyone has their own idea of where they want to go. I prefer the journey.
Moving into more of a genre related question. How do you think techno and tech-house fit into the modern day EDM scene?
That is a tough one. I am not very familiar with what is going on in that EDM mainstream scene. For me, pure techno is very different than mainstream sound, from what I have heard, and I do not feel there is a connection to it. You know lines are blurred sometimes, genres are inspired by each other, but I feel like as far as the sound goes, I do not feel it has taken influence from techno. For mainstream stuff, the keys are very bright. Techno stuff it is just deeper and darker. It is just my opinion, I do not feel there is a real connection there.
How do you think that the growing popularity of tech house is influencing techno? Or do you think techno is kind of bringing those artists into its own scene?
I mean, out of the names you have mentioned, the Black Madonna is the only one that I could say that has hit my radar. I mean I am familiar with Deadmau5, but I am not familiar with his Test Pilot show. From what I understand he is playing techno, a spin-off of what he has been doing, which is more techno-driven. But Black Madonna, I have heard that sound, and I like what I have heard. I am not sure it is having any sort of effect in my opinion on the techno scene.
What is your favorite thing to listen to outside of electronic music? Do you have one genre that really grabs you?
Well, funny thing is, when I am driving in my car or when I am home, I actually end up listening to a lot of hip-hop only because of my son. He is in control of the music. I enjoy it because he is age 14, well actually he is turning 15. He is at the age now where he is trying to turn me onto what he is listening to. Then I start pulling out old-school hip-hop and showing him where that is coming from. But to answer your question, I really enjoy artists like Radio Head or Apex Twin. I always enjoy going back to listening to early Bjork, stuff like that.
What is the process of naming songs? How do you go about putting names on tracks?
That is a very good question. There are times where it sort of happens during the production process, it literally just comes to you. Then there are other times I am finishing a track, still have not come up with a name, and I will sit there, play the track, and just sort of visualize what scene is being created from the story that is being told.
Music, you know, there is a story there. I always felt if I were to stop DJing, the thing I would get into would be scoring music for soundtracks or that sort of thing because they are so connected. So I try to think of a scene or something as I am listening to my tracks over and over and come up with a name that way. There are other times when straight up I like a certain word like Requiem and its meaning, and just slap it on there.
For the most part, it usually comes to you. It somehow comes to you. Somehow something in a track that triggers it. It is a lot a lot easier when you are using a little vocal snip, then the name is already there. But for the most part, it comes to you, just from playing the song over and over.
Are there any artists in the industry right now that you would love to collaborate with?
Right now, I would like to collaborate more with vocalists. I have no interests with an artist. I did so much in the past doing all that stuff for Sting, Madonna, Beyonce. It was way more mainstream, but I was working with vocalists a lot more. So, I would like to definitely revisit that. I am not saying commercial artists, but just bringing vocals into what I am doing and where I am now musically. I would just like to bring that sort of element back in my productions.
You can check out the review of Calderone’s set at Bassment here.
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