Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Victor Calderone

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Victor CalderoneAs we begin to prepare for Electric Zoo, I am taking a ton of time to focus on the artists. From sharing press releases on new tours to previewing a new album, I am pretty much dedicating my blog to this event. Of course, it is one of the biggest electronic music festivals on the planet. I was there last year, and will be there again this year bringing you tons of coverage including artist interviews. Speaking of artist interviews, I am also doing that before I head to NYC. I recently had the chance to sit down with Victor Calderone, a New York City native, to discuss everything from his shift in sound to his impending boat party. Imagine that… partying on a boat. We talk about all that and more. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Victor Calderone.

I bet you are getting excited for Electric Zoo. You are a part of the Carl Cox & Friends Take Over Sunday School… so does that mean you are friends with Carl Cox?

Yeah, Carl and I have known each other for five or six years now. I have been a fan of his for quite some time, for as far back as I remember. I saw him for the first time in Miami at a winter music conference. I was just blown away. Carl is the “DJ’s DJ”. He’s just a machine.

Speaking Electric Zoo, it’s in New York City… you are originally from New York City. Have you always lived in New York?

Yeah, I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York… it’s my hometown.

Are you a Yankees fan?

I am not a big sports buff. Not baseball… not one of my favorites. Not a sport I follow. Of course, when they are in the playoffs I root for my home team. I wasn’t big into sports; I was too busy in my bedroom DJing.

A lot of DJs have a podcast… and you just released a new one. Tell me a little bit more about Manipulating Waveforms.

It was a podcast series concept that we came up with. Unfortunately, I don’t do as many as I would like to. Time is just a bit against me… having a family and traveling. The series was something I wanted to give to the fans. I was never a fan of putting out compilation albums. I thought this series could be something to give back, to download, and to enjoy. The whole aspect of it being free… I am about to work on another now to have out before Electric Zoo.

I don’t like to overdo it. Fans are always reaching out for me to put out another one. Soon enough…

I see that you have joined the ARTIST ALIFE. Tell me a little bit more about that… did you go looking for them or did they find you?

It’s funny, it happened through AM Only. We wanted to lock down some good European representation, and the guys at AM Only recommended ARTIST ALIFE. They had an ongoing relationship with them. It felt like the right direction.

I played with Loco Dice a couple of times, and he is really amazing. He has opened himself up to me. He has pulled me in as part of the family that they have there. It’s great, and it’s what I needed in Europe. We are really going to focus heavy next year with them, and really try to knock down some territories and break into some territories that I haven’t been exposed to.

I went through a few reincarnations with my career and with my sound… that was years ago when I had a really big gay following… I changed my sound and it’s opened up a lot of really great opportunities to play some great places, festivals and events around the world. There are a lot of people out there that still have the perception of me when I was playing these gay events. Bringing ARTIST ALIFE on board, and focusing on just being heard in some of these places that I haven’t played is the plan, and the focus. It has been working already. This is the best summer I have ever had.

Your first name is Victor… do you prefer Victor or Vic?

Oh, Vic. (Laughs) My friends call me Vic.

I am in New York City all the time… and have yet to see Pacha NYC. You have seen it; you were a resident DJ there! You were actually named “Best Resident DJ” by DJ & Club World Magazine. What’s that place like? Do you prefer playing the same room like that, being a resident DJ, or do you like to travel and play all over the world?

In certain cities, I prefer a residency. Only because it allows me to build and develop something that people look forward to. Of course, in your hometown it’s great to have a residency. If it develops into something special, then the word spreads worldwide. There is a lot to say about a residency that is consistent… one that people look forward to.

I do enjoy the other aspect of traveling around and playing in different territories too. Pacha… what can I say? They are great operators. They really know what they are doing, really get behind the DJs, and I have a lot of respect for how they do it. It’s very difficult to operate a club in New York City these days, and they have managed to make the right choices.

You must like Madonna… you have remixed several of her singles. You actually have a personal relationship with her. She originally asked for you to remix her single Frozen. But it didn’t stop there. You have remixed more of her stuff. Do you two still stay in touch? What’s the process like when remixing an artist like that?

We haven’t been in touch for some time now. We have just run into each other at certain events, and just said hello. That was pretty special time in my career. It was a lot of fun. It was a very different thing than what I am doing now. It launched my career. It really got me out there. She was great to work with. It was really incredible.

Through working with her, so many other doors opened. So many people watch what she does and follow from that… so many big artists reached out to me… a lot of doors opened from that. She introduced me to Sting, and that’s how that whole collaboration came out. It was a great time, and she was great to work with. She really understood it. There are some other big pop artists that didn’t understand it, or care to understand it… with those I would just get the vocal parts and do the mix. Madonna was great, as she gave me feedback and was really helpful. It was a great time.

Right after Electric Zoo, you have a boat party to prepare for. Labor Day weekend will be busy for you… you ready for a weekend of beats? I just realized that you are playing at the Guvernment on Saturday. That’s in Canada. The boat party is in Canada!

I did the boat party last year, for the first time. There is just this energy and excitement the moment the boat leaves the dock. It’s indescribable. The music isn’t even on at that point. People are so amped up and ready. Last year was my first one, in Toronto, and I just had the best time. I could not ask for a better audience or setting. You are on a boat… in the ocean… playing records with a crowd in front of you. What more could you ask for. I am really looking forward to doing it again.

I am really enjoying Toronto a lot. The Guvernment is an incredible club, how long they have been there and the talent that they bring through there. It’s pretty special. I am looking forward to that weekend.

Tell me a little bit more about Evolve.

That was something that, at the moment, when we made that decision to change my sound, and go in a different direction, it just made sense. It makes sense and really represents what I’m doing right now… making this change and taking this risk. We just ran with it. It’s been great, as a lot of the clubs and the promoters are excited about bringing the brand into the clubs and pushing it.

This is my new sound. It totally makes sense for where my career is at right now. As an artist, like I said before, you need to take those risks and you need to evolve.  We all need to evolve.

There are a ton of talented guys out there… who is your favorite DJ? What’s on your iPod?

At the moment, I really been digging what Loco Dice has been doing… those guys. Richie Hawtin. For me, right now, what they’re doing is outstanding. In the studio and their live sets have been really inspiring.

On my iPod… I don’t listen to my iPod much. When I am home I try to take a break from music. I let my wife take over the music in the house. It’s find of refreshing. People think that when I’m home, I am banging house music 24 hours a day. It’s pretty chill, and my wife has a lot of electronica and stuff that she’s been buying and turning me on to. That’s what goes on in my home. (Laughs)

I always give the artist the last word. Go.

Thank you for this incredible journey that we have been on and for all of the support. It’s been amazing, and I am immensely grateful.

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Victor Calderone, Pleasure Grip by Victor Calderone