Filed under: Interview
Shooting to stardom and carving his name into the league of global DJ’s Hernan Cattaneo was discovered rocking at his residency by Paul Oakenfold and immediately signed to his Perfecto label. Loved and respected by fans and fellow DJ’s for his music as well as being an all round nice guy, Hernan is a frequent visitor to Tokyo where he packs out the club every time he plays.
Hernan recently released his new album, ‘The Masters Series’ on Renaissance Recordings, his first collaboration with the UK label and to celebrate kicked off a world tour on the 20th March @ Womb in Shibuya. Needless to say it was one of his usual top performances with the faithful staying until the late early hours.
Interview by Daniel Horiguchi
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : It’s been 3 months since your last visit, has Japan become one of your favorite places to play?
Hernan Cattaneo : Definitely, Japan is definitely one of the places I like to play most. In terms of cities, Tokyo is one of the most interesting cities worldwide and also the clubs and the crowds are really, really nice and enthusiastic. It’s great that they enjoy different styles of music, which is the way I like to play. Starting housey, then getting harder and then taking it down again and then breaks. The variety is very important and I really like that part. And so for me, Japan is definitely one of the best places in the world to play, probably the best. I started coming here around late 2001, so in 3 years I have been here 7 or 8 times, so I was here around every 4 or 5 months.
HRFQ : I think you did an Asian tour at the end of 2003. Did you find any differences between the Japanese scene and the scene in other Asian countries?
Hernan : I really like coming to Asia, but of course Japan is ahead, same as all the things. Same as in fashion, same as in all the things. Japan is really ahead of the game. And the club culture is much better. Singapore is still really good. Zouk is a fantastic club, they just opened in KL. I played there the first night last night. I think it is going to be a really good club for every DJ coming. China is getting good. I’ve played Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Han Zhou and it’s very good, but still Tokyo is ahead.
HRFQ : I think this is your 3rd time to play at Womb. They would love to have you play at other parties as well, are there any other parties you would like to play at Womb?
Hernan : Yeah well the thing is I work for renaissance not exclusively but I work for them a lot, I tour for them worldwide. And so I can’t come to play at Womb every month, I would love it but that’s the way it is. It fits very well for them and for me and for renaissance to do it once or twice a year for the renaissance thing here.
HRFQ : towards the end of last year you took some time off to relax?
Hernan : I try but it never works. I always try to take one or two weeks off but there is always something that turns up and I go. So I haven’t had any proper time off. I only had two weeks in South America at my home but with two weeks in the middle of those weeks, so I wouldn’t really say that was time off.
HRFQ : what do you like to do when you relax?
Hernan : Just chill, watch movies, being with my girlfriend, cooking and just relaxing normally and not really doing anything. DJ life is a really on the move all the time. I fly like 150 flights a year so usually you don’t have a week without at least two or three flights. So when you have time off you just do nothing. You just keep quiet, being with your friends, your family, that’s the kind of stuff I do.
HRFQ : Do you do anything to prepare your self for a gig?
Hernan : Well no. You do work outs all the time because you’re on the pay and you hear new records constantly and trying to see what works better and trying to think about the crowds you are going to play to. So I would say it is more of a mental job. In one side you got all the new stuff coming to your mind all the time and at the same time you have your mind thinking about all those records and how they are going to work.
HRFQ : How did you come up with the track listing for the renaissance compilation?
Hernan : Every time I do a compilation I try to reflect who I am as a DJ at the moment I am doing that CD. And that means as I said before, a variety of music. I like to play different things. And you can see on any of the compilations I have done in the past, they are all like that. You have one CD that is more housey and the other one is more energy and especially this one, there is a big difference between CD1 and CD2 which I am really pleased with. CD1 is very laid back and chill, it’s still housey but a little slower than people may expect from me. And there is a big variety of producers from all around the world because for the last 5 years I have been traveling everywhere and it has been great to be in touch and being influenced by all these people like producers from Greece, from Japan, from South America, from England, from America, from everywhere, which is really great and I am really proud.
HRFQ : Jeff Mills just released a DVD mix, do you think this will be the new direction of mix releases?
Hernan : Well what I think he has done is a really interesting thing but Jeff Mills has always been like a pioneer on different things like when he did that thing at Liquid Room when they put some DVD of him playing and then he came on. Those things are great and I think it is a good thing for the future. DJ’s and clubs are always reinventing themselves all the time so I think that could be one good thing to follow.
HRFQ : if you were to put out a mix DVD do you have a particular image?
Hernan : Well as I said before I travel constantly almost everyday so I have so many beautiful images in my mind, like small pieces of video in my mind of what I have seen. You know people in Japan, people in Greece, backgrounds of somewhere else so I don’t know how it would be but I would try to reflect what’s in my mind when I think about any place I go to play.
HRFQ : People who have read your bio would be interested in your connection with Paul Oakenfold, being where you are now, are you looking out for any potential new DJ’s or producers?
Hernan : Well I always try to get to know people, say like every time I get to Japan, there are a lot of producers that come to the party and they give me their stuff and if I like them I play them on the radio show and I put them in the charts, like Osamu M, OMB and DJ19 they always gives me really good stuff and many other Japanese DJ’s and producers and the same all over the world. And that’s why as I said before if you see my compilation you’ve got people from Greece, from Germany, from everywhere. So I always try and hopefully some day, of course there of course there is a big difference of how powerful Paul Oakenfold is and how I am, so it is not that easy for me to make the same push Paul gave to me but every time I can do something to help someone else I will do it.
HRFQ : You get a lot of demos, in your busy schedule do you get a chance to listen to the all?
Hernan : Yes, sometimes it takes time because sometimes the pile builds up but there is always a time where I say OK I need to take this down so you sit down and hear them. And also I love to do it sometimes it’s just hard to find the right time because you can’t listen while you are eating, you know what I mean, you need to listen properly. First because you want to get the best from it and also as a matter of respect to the people who gave the music to you. So sometimes it takes time but I always try to hear and reply to them.
HRFQ : have you had many from Japan?
Hernan : Yes. The only hard thing for me is to pronounce their names (laughter) but there are very good DJ’s and producers that I got stuff from.
HRFQ : do you have any special projects or releases that you are planning?
Hernan : well I have been working on an album. I did a track with Dean Coleman called ‘Behind the music’ and then I worked with Martin Garcia, my partner in South America, we did a remix of Morgan Page for Bedrock. Now I am working on a track with Randall Jones from Tigerhook. And that’s it at the moment because I am constantly touring but hopefully I will have time later in the year to get back in the studio.
HRFQ : You managed to build your profile and break into the major scene despite the geographical distance from the main markets, do you have any advice for the DJ’s and producers in Japan?
Hernan : I will say that I have been very lucky to be in the position like I was warming up for Paul Oakenfold in Argentina, he came to play many times and talked with me , so that was big luck you know, it doesn’t happen that way usually. But at the same time I got good relations with other DJ’s that were coming at that time. At the time before I started going to Europe, all the European DJ’s came to play in Argentina, like they come to play here in Japan. So, I got myself to know them, get in touch with them and learn from them and have a relationship, the same like I have with some Japanese DJ’s now. So that’s some good advice. Honestly, you have to go for it. They are not going to come and knock on your door and say you are great, come with me. If you are really lucky like I was, it may happen but usually you shouldn’t expect that. You should go for it. So you should do anything to visit every DJ that comes here and send stuff to the labels in Europe or America or if you can, just get on a plane and go there and show who you are or what you do. These days there are millions of DJ’s worldwide and loads of them are really good so it is a huge competition and so you got to go for it, not just wait to be discovered, because it isn’t going to work like that.
End of the interview
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