Does the name Victor Calderone ring any bells? It just might. This legendary DJ has created remixes for a number of artists over the years, including Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and most famously, Madonna. These days, he’s focused more on his residencies in cities around the world, but he’ll be making his first Atlanta appearance in a few years this Saturday, July 12 at Opera. Before his return, we caught up with Calderone to talk about how he keeps his music fresh, his impressions of Atlanta, and more.
David Atlanta: How did you get your start as a DJ?
VC: My older brother was a DJ, and growing up in my home, there was this huge record collection and DJ setup, and there was always music playing in my home. So I just grew up around it, and I would just sit in the room while my brother was DJing, and listen to him play records. That’s how I got into it. He taught me how to DJ, and we would share – literally, in our bedroom at the time – we would stay in our bedroom all day and just go mix for mix, playing back and forth, seeing who could pull out the oldest track, or something we hadn’t heard in a long time. He eventually stopped DJing, and I inherited his whole record collection, and I haven’t looked back since. (Laughs)
DA: Do you have any pre-event rituals?
VC: You know, it’s funny. I used to have a ritual. Back in the day, I used to go shopping for vinyl. Friday was my shopping day, where I’d go into the city and hit all the record shops and just spend literally the entire day buying music and getting together with other DJs in the city and finding those records. Now, there’s so much music coming out. My ritual is all week, and it’s become a full-time job shopping for music now. I’m literally listening to promos all week, and once it gets closer to the weekend, I’ll make sure that I’m sorting my playlist and figuring out what tracks I’m going to play for the weekend, that kind of thing. Filtering through it, you know. But like I said, it’s become a full-time job because there’s so much music coming out now. There’s no particular ritual anymore. (Laughs)
DA: On a similar note, what do you do to make sure your music stays fresh?
VC: It’s kinda like what we were talking about. Staying on top of all the music that’s coming at us now. Before, I knew the artists and the music I was playing. Now, I’m collecting 60-70 new tracks per weekend that I’m adding into a playlist. Before, it was 10-12 vinyls I was purchasing, that I knew I was going to play that weekend. 70 new tracks – like I said, it’s a full-time job staying on top of that. It’s not being lazy, and really filtering through all this stuff. I go through so much music just to find that gem that really inspires me to play it that weekend – excited to play it. It’s just putting in the time now, to keep yourself relevant and fresh.
DA: If you could collaborate with any particular artist on any sort of project, who would it be and why?
VC: You know, it’s funny. In the past, of course, I’ve done a lot of remix work for big artists – Madonna, Beyoncé – and back then, I had all these ideas of people I wanted to collaborate with. The one person I always wanted to work with was Björk, and I never got the opportunity to do that, when I was doing all that stuff with those artists. I was doing one remix per week, at least, at the time. And I always had my sights on her, as someone I wanted to work with. And even to this day, I just think – I don’t know, about her sound and her voice that I would still love to work with her. I think even now, musically, I just feel like her sound would lend itself to what I’m doing, even though I’ve evolved and playing more techno. Her sound lends itself to what I’m doing musically, and it would still be a good collaboration.
DA: You mentioned, of course, that you listen to a lot of music these days. Is there anything that stands out?
VC: Stuff that’s been turning me on and inspiring me, that’s connected to what I’m doing, would be the stuff that’s coming out of Berlin. Guys like Len Faki, Mike Dehnart and Ben Klock – right now, those guys are really doing something special. It’s that Berlin sound.
DA: Is there anything about Atlanta that stands out to you?
VC: I used to come down to Atlanta a lot more. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. The last show I was supposed to do there was unfortunately cancelled due to a family emergency, so it’s been a while since I’ve been there. But my memory of what’s happening there is that it’s always been a really inspiring crowd to play for, a lot of really great energy.
DA: What else is going on with you, professionally?
VC: I’m about to block out some studio time and get out some new music, some original productions. It’s been a while since I’ve put out original material – over a year now. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve blocked out some time to get into the studio and collaborate, and I’m going to try to put out as much as I can. I’m really excited about that.