What comes to mind when you think of the Indian dance music scene? Surely, there are the bunch of really good promoters who are doing their bit to keep the audiences with taste for electronic music on their toes by bringing various international acts to Indian shores and propagating House music like never before?
But think again, and there’s one that pushes the tempo harder and has a varied balance that encompasses one style and the other on to having powerful parties that leave an indelible impression in your mind, then unarguably AFE is path breaking and simply host extra-ordinary musical stories much as the Hernan Cattaneo Balance Album Tour of India, supported by Decoded Magazine which concluded recently. It brought the dance community to life and injected the Indian landscape with a bunch of electrifying nights with the legend, across four cities of the country.
Starting in Hyderabad at one of India’s most stunning venue BPM on to Mumbai at Ark, where El Maestro left an intimate gathering breathless and screaming for more with over 6 hours of Progressive House to Bangalore which saw him take a strangle hold of Loft 38, and then the finisher at Hill Top Goa that brought out an eclectic mix of old school ravers to fans and followers present in the tourist town, smiling and stomping the yard in unison as the sun came up. Audiences that attended in each city are left irrevocably in love with not just a great exponent of world class dance music, but for the stupendous human being and charisma the renowned performer, brings in his wake effortlessly. Also a round of applause to each of the Indian acts that opened up the floors for the maestro.
After this exalting Balance Album Tour of India, presented by AFE and right when ADE is in town to associate with the event, as part of their ADE Global Sessions special, that included a master class/ panel discussion led by AFE founder and Electronic music producer/DJ Ankytrixx with Hernan at the ADE conference and day event, I got the opportunity to chat with one of the most exciting figures of dance music before he took off to Argentina, here are excerpts from my conversation with the tour de force Hernan Cattaneo.
I begin by asking the obvious question as to why it took him so long to come back to India, and Sudbeat label boss Hernan Cattaneo is candid with his words;
“Well, the one time I visited India, things didn’t go the way I would have expected. Only of the one show’s turned out to be a success, and all others very badly promoted and organized. Sound problems, not too many people etc and I thought, fine, no problem, this is just not one of those places for me to come back to. Then after a while later Guy Mantzur and Guy J recommended me to work with Ankytrixx, Vinay and the crew of AFE and the rest is history”.
I try to scratch the surface to understand the secret of his unending energy and what drives him to keep doing the music he brings on year after year with increased vigor and Hernan explains;
“I think it’s both. I love music big time, and DJing is my biggest passion. Sharing the music I like with people gives me immense happiness. The love and reception I get, has been my biggest motivation since I was a young kid and still is, only now I do all of this on a bigger level and around the world.
It’s a big privilege to be able to make people happy when doing what you most like so there is no secret on why I do it or why I will keep doing it. Of course the passion from the fans really inspires me and feeling their love is precious and makes me want to be better for them at every show. When you hear things like “I came driving from a small city 800 km away just to hear you play” you go like WOW, I really need to deliver the highest for these passionate people. So it would right to say that music and DJing is my passion and the love from the fans is my energy, my fuel”.
I’m also curious to know which part of the tour stood out for him and looks like Mumbai scored big time on this one matter;
“It was Mumbai again, but this time around all others turned out to be very good too. I really enjoy playing intimate venues, those where you can make closer contact with the crowd. Plus in India, people are really very passionate and sensitive and one can really take the atmosphere and enthusiasm to another memorable level. The show at ARK went super special in many ways and one of those you will talk about for years with full emotion involved.
For the record, ARK is located at the Marriott in Mumbai. We only stopped the music because hotel guests needed to have breakfast; otherwise I think we could still be there now. Yes, it was THAT good. Respect to the AFE crew, the other DJs who played before me and the crowd for such an incredible night”.
I goad him to give many of the upcoming talent who aspire to be like him some advice and he has this to say;
“As I always say, your musical identity and personality is extremely important and then some patience to understand that this is not something that happens overnight. All great DJs and producers went unknown for long years before reaching some worldwide visibility, and I see many young guys making big mistakes with their careers trying to speed up that process. Experience is also very important. If you reach the higher levels too fast, then you will not know how to handle them. Better to master first how to DJ for 50 people, then 500, then 2000, then 5000 along the years, rather than crashing yourself by not doing it properly”.
With an incredibly illustrious career and work body and music ethics it would be fair to know if he ever feels there might be any challenges left, he quips;
“When I sit to think about my career, I can only be grateful and of course I have been through the lows but there are no complaints at all. It’s been (and it is) a very long and pleasant journey and one that rewarded me so much more than I ever expected. All of it is all that I dream t about when I was 12 years old and I used to play records for my two sisters at home as my only audience. I don’t know, frankly I´m not a very ambitious person, and career wise, life has been extremely generous with me so it shouldn’t be fair to ask for more”. And goes on to say – “I´m happy to keep doing this as long as I feel I do it with quality as the operative and luckily I haven’t received complaints on that matter so far hahahahaha”.
He also adds
“Electronic music changes all the time, you don’t even play the same music week after week so there is no way of feeling you did it all because it’s always a new city to discover, a new club to play or that new song to remix. If I ever feel I´m not on the level anymore, I will most likely go back home and start a music and radio talk show to keep sharing this passion for music with everybody, but don’t expect than any time soon”.
Time to ask what’s exciting him for the rest of the year in terms of release news and gigs and he gives us “I have some long and exciting tours coming this year. Next is the North America in Flash, Washington DC, Output Brooklyn, Stereo Montreal , three shows in Miami for WMC and Sound Bar – Chicago, then in April I go to Brazil for Warung´s day Festival, and from there to Jordan, Beirut, Belgium, England and the Netherlands. Then in May I have the Mexico tour and some US shows again. June/July and August are for the European summer shows, September I’m scheduled to be in America again, October back to Europe, November is in Asia & Japan and by December hopefully I will be able to play back in Argentina”.
“In terms of Sudbeat the label is growing and we have a lot of upcoming shows at WMC, Off, Sonar and ADE all with Nick Warren, and then the Sudbeat showcases with Graziano Raffa also going to London, Athens, Belgrade and more tbc”.
“Studio wise, a new remix for Fade Recordings with Graziano is coming soon and then some more stuff with Soundexile on Sudbeat as well. Then the weekly podcast, new website, all things are going great”.