DJ Calderone evolves dance music beyond genre

Victor Calderone keeps living up to his party’s namesake. 

The superstar DJ and producer has been attaining new levels of stardom, and gaining legions of new fans both gay and straight, with his massively successful Evolve parties. Now he has delivered a career-defining album of exclusive edits and new productions with his latest release “Evolve”.
Already widely famous in the dance music community for his remix work, having worked with artists such as Madonna, Sting, Destiny’s Child, Cher, Beyonce and GoldFrapp, Calderone  has also had much success with his own music releases, with such tracks as Resonate, Deep Dark Jungle, Give It Up, and Beat Me Harder all spending time at the top of Billboard’s Dance Charts.
Lately, though, Victor’s fans have been falling in love with his live persona. Calderone has taken his signature tribal sound, made famous at popular club residencies at Miami’s Crobar and Montreal’s Stereo to a whole new level with his recent Evolve nights with marathon sets at such venues as Crobar New York each month, he creates an original sonic blend of futuristic, techy beats that keep massive crowds dancing till after the lights come up.

This is Victor Calderone like you have likely never heard him before. Once known for his monster remixes th Superstar DJ seems to have really hit his stride. Distilled from the best of the mixed bag that is Victor Calderone live, Evolve is the essential Calderone for 2007. Gone are the power anthems of old to be replaced by groovy futuristic beats and technological sounds that keep the crowds dancing at the parties that bear the album’s name.
With “Evolve” Calderone has magically distilled the essence of his monster events into 13 tracks: exclusive remixes and edits of the most popular songs in his record bag.  The first single, Transient, has already been released to both critical and popular acclaim. Da Muzik, the infectious anthem already familiar to die-hard Victor fans, is set to be released next.  

Recently, Victor Calderone spoke with O&AN about his Evolve parties and the album they inspired during a phone interview from his home in Brooklyn, New York.

It’s really great to see you release a new album of original work, Victor. Tell me about how the Evolve parties that inspired this album came about.

The success of my last album “Resonate” inspired me to begin producing these parties in order to create a type of freedom for myself here in New York. The inspiration for Evolve actually started at a club named Stereo in Montreal. It’s an after hours room with a max capacity of 1200 people but it has one of the best sound systems in Canada. The real draw to the place is the people and the energy they bring with them there. The vibe and the freedom that I feel when I play there really facilitated my being able to play from my heart. It really encouraged me to experiment more and start taking risks with my work that I hadn’t before so I took that and ran with it. So when I got back to New York City I made a conscious decision to try and recreate that energy here. “Resonate” really marked the beginning of my transition into more progressive sounds with less diva vocals. “Evolve” is just another step above that where I’ve taken it even further. The songs are even more techy and there are actually no vocals at all on the album this time around. It’s a little bit deeper and more underground and riskier in that sense. I knew that by taking this risk by changing my sound I was going to lose some fans because they want to hear the old commercial remixes like I did with Madonna and Sting and so forth. However, I also knew deep down that doing this would gain me some fans as well. I don’t think by any means that “Evolve” represents one of my live sets but I do think that it captures a piece of that vibe like a little slice out of the night. I tried to put songs on there that the people who come to one of the Evolve Parties would hear and say to themselves “Oh yeah, this song takes me there.” It’s just really hard for a 74 minute CD to represent me and what I do live over the course of a whole night.

What have the reactions from fans been since you started pursuing this new avenue of music production?

I couldn’t be any prouder of the feedback that I’ve gotten for Evolve. The e-mails that I get from people are very inspiring telling me that it feels like the old days because they haven’t felt that vibe in a long time. For me the overwhelming responses from the audiences were very reassuring that I was on the right track. It’s a really good feeling knowing that the decisions that I was making and the direction that I was going in seemed right. I really had to break away from everything that I was doing before because it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It wasn’t growing or evolving. The parties had become stagnant and the music was becoming predictable. I wasn’t happy with what I was playing. I wasn’t happy with what I was producing any more. I was not inspired at all so I decided to take that risk in order to make that change and play music that really inspired me that I really enjoyed listening to.

Now that you have reached a new plateau for yourself and your music, where will you go from here?

From here I will just go wherever the music takes me. I don’t really have some big grand plan for the future. I just try to stay focused and inspired. I just built myself a really great new recording studio and I’m very excited to be able to get in there and start producing a lot more new original material. I’ve gotten all of this new inspiration from the Evolve Party and I want to create more music that represents the feel of those events.

You are already well known as a remixer for other people’s work. Will we see any remixes for Evolve emerging any time soon?

There will almost definitely be some remixes of songs from Evolve coming down the pike. There are a lot of young talented producers that I have been collaborating with and having as guests at the Evolve events that I have in mind. I really enjoy and look forward to hearing other people’s remixes of my work so it is always a real treat to hear how others interpret my work. 

Many younger DJs on the scene now cite you as an inspiration to their work. Where do you draw your inspiration for the music you make?

I take inspiration from all of the music that I listen to. I shop for music constantly. I would say three or four days out of the week I am online purchasing new music and that is the biggest single source of my inspiration. Other than that my main source of inspiration is the new kids whose tracks I’m playing at my parties. They give me more inspiration than they know. The thing that really makes a big difference is for these kids to really have somewhere to go in order to feel inspired. There are a lot of really talented young kids out there who are just starting out or who have been producing and writing new songs. The scene was thriving in New York in the 80’s and 90’s with so many great night clubs and places to go and hear new music that inspired. Part of the reason I think there isn’t so much underground dance music coming out of the US is because there are fewer and fewer places for these guys to go. I’ve been hearing that a lot lately as more DJs and producers have started showing up to the Evolve events. Almost to a person they will send me an e-mail the next day telling me how much they were inspired by my work and by being there and how they went into the studio inspired by what they heard the night before and laid down some great tracks. The difference in Europe is that the laws are different and there are so many different clubs to be able to attend and that has affected us here especially in NYC where the Mayor has made it his mission to shut down all of the night clubs. It’s really made a big difference in the entire scene.

If you had to pick, who would you say are the most promising of the newer DJs coming up now?

One of the best DJ’s on the planet right now is DJ Vibe from Portugal. Here in the states his name is really just starting to grow here with him getting more of the recognition that he deserves, but in Portugal and the rest of that region he is almost a god. It’s really hard for me to call him up-and-coming because he really is a veteran. People in the US really need to know his work more because the man is an incredible DJ and I love what he’s doing.

Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

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