As part of our Mix of the Month series, we pick one up and coming DJ who shows a passion and technical ability in their music. Our September winner has taken us on a real journey through his musical choices, and we were blown away by his patience and attention to detail.
A lot of DJs use the old cliche they started out young, but for Edgar, schooled by his older brother in the sounds of dance music, this is true. After spending time at a DJ school in Mexico City, Edgar returned to his home town to begin his career as a DJ. Fast forward to now, and we find young Edgar affiliated to one of the premier brands in Central America – Hookah, playing the music he loves to rooms full of like minded music fans. Edgar’s story really illustrates that with the right attitude, a bit of luck and great deck skills, dreams really do come true.
A&R Simon Huxtable caught up with Edgar to dig a little deeper…
Hi Edgar, thanks for taking the time out to chat to us at Decoded Magazine today. How’s your day been?
Greetings! It’s been a busy day, but I’m happy to be able to share this space!
So tell us about yourself. What prompted you to start DJing?
It all started when I was only a kid, about eleven or twelve years old, thanks to my older brother who showed me the very first live mixing session I ever heard. I still remember it, it was mixed by Paul Oakenfold – Live at Space Ibiza. I though at first I did not want to be a DJ, I wanted to become a producer, but still, the urge and the logic succession of events suggested that I should start as a DJ.
So when I turned 13, I found a DJ school in Mexico City and I went there to learn and I liked it a lot. When I got back home, I bought a couple of CD players and a mixer from some guy who is now one of my best friends, and began to search for music. It took me a lot of time to realize exactly what kind of music I wanted to mix. It was until I found tracks from James Holden, Nathan Fake, Trentemoller, Sahar Z, Marcelo Vasami and so many others that I was finally able to put together a worthy session.
Tell us about your DJ name – NDF?
It is short for “Nodeaf”. It was somewhat random, but still alluding to sound, or the lack of it in this case. Not that I put a lot of thought to it. It was very sudden, I just needed a stage name before presenting myself in front of an audience.
Whats the scene like in Mexico, and how difficult was it to get up to date music in the old days?
The scene in Mexico, from my point of view is quite difficult as a DJ outside the labels, certain brands or DJ collectives. In many places they expect you to be DJ and PR also, or at least be able to gather a certain amount of people, not always because of your skills. As a producer or part of a label is different, doors open more easily. Nightlife in Mexico City is awesome, many places to go, and sometimes even more than a couple of international DJs in a single night, so you certainly have options.
I would have loved to own a pair of Technics 1200 and a large collection of vinyls, but since vinyls and DJ gear are rather expensive and I was only a kid, I could not possibly buy any of that. So I only learned on vinyl using all kinds of classic records, from the 70s to the 90s, those High Energy sessions are some of my most cherished memories. Eventually I’ll have my own pair of turntables.
Can you remember your first gig? What happened?
I can’t remember my first “official” gig, but every time I had to step inside a booth I’d be so nervous (and underage at first). I definitely screwed up a couple of times, but I enjoyed myself, and even more when people liked it. Watching people dance having a good time, and perhaps even a thumbs up from a random stranger make it really worth it. Then I understood that wanting to be a producer was great, but I had already fallen for the booth and the dance floor. Not that I couldn’t get to do both, but being a better DJ became my priority.
You now play for a night in Mexico City. Tell us about how you landed that. How often do you play, who are some of the DJs you warm up for.
I got the residence through a contest, uploaded a mix which was selected and then voted, after that, the last 4 of us had to play at one of the Hookah Bars (there were four back then, now there are only three) like semi finals and finals to choose the winner. It was tight.
I don’t get to play as often as I’d like to, there are other resident DJs, besides, Hookah has a busy schedule and they constantly book international DJs. Adding to the fact that one of the bars recently had to close, that gives us less space for locals. I’ve warmed up for Sakro, Bronx, Thomass Jackson, Max Jones, Alberto Santizzo, Rocco Desentis, Neon Rider, among others!
Are there any DJs you’ve warmed up for that you were more nervous for? How did you steady your nerves?
I don’t think that I’ve been particularly nervous, I still get nervous every time before standing on stage, but I try not to think a lot about it. I just ready up really quick the first tracks, and it takes about three tracks to finally relax. And the moment when you realize that the track you just mixed in, didn’t sound quite as presentable as it sounded in your head, are the longest minutes of the entire night! I believe that I get more nervous when someone else is warming up before me, when they keep pushing forward and I have to withhold part of what I had prepared. I’ll be warming up for Asher Perkins next month! I’m expecting this event to be more than satisfying for everyone there.
The job of the resident DJ is not an easy one. What did you learn from you time at Hookah which has made you better?
It is hard, and even though I haven’t had much time in Hookah, I can tell the people are different, people in Mexico City are more receptive, it was harder to connect with the crowd back in my hometown, but I did learn a lot in previous residences. Culling the tracks, widen the variety of tracks to build a richer set and making it more enjoyable. Every booth I’ve been to has given me a lot to learn, and it makes me be more determined; every gig is an opportunity to do it better than the last time and learn from yourself. I do expect people to tell me whenever they didn’t like my performance so I can focus on specific situations.
Tell us about your set up at home. Are there any cool bits of kit, or any you have your eye on?
I just bought a pair of CDJ2000 Nexus two months ago and an A&H Xone 92. Looking forward to get my hands on some other cool stuff to make the most of all it’s functions, maybe a DD7 and a RV5. I had the mixer sitting in it’s box nearly for two years before I could buy the cd players. I’m quite happy with that, and I think It is enough for now. Other DJ hardware or software has never really caught my attention. I’d definitely use vinyls if they were easier to get, cheaper, or if I would make a living out of it.
Talk us through your mix and the choices of track. How do you put a mix together?
I always try to organized my music, that’s mainly what makes it a lot easier. The approximate length of the mix gives me the freedom to either start slowly, hold on to a certain mood for a little longer, build up faster or build down at the end.Then I choose the opening track, which will define the general style of the mix itself, for each following track, not too similar, and not too contrasted, paying extra attention to transitions, not rushing the entrance of the next track nor cutting up the last one. Processing the files on Rekordbox really comes in handy for this task. when you don’t want to use some specific parts of a track, like a really long break or simply skipping parts you don’t like. Besides that, I try to make sure that the succession of tracks will build up, maintain the mood or prepare for a more significant change if it is the case.
Ok, fantasy gig. Where would it be, who’s on the line up and why?
Definitely somewhere cold, like Russia. Can’t stand hot booths! When in summer or spring, I often carry a fan with me just in case. Other than that, I would appreciate a really massive crowd. I enjoy warming up just as much as the peak time, so I don’t have a preferred hour to start. And I like long sets better, way more than lining up a lot of DJs who will have two hours or less each.
The line up is perhaps too hard to decide, you can not know if someone will sound outstanding as a DJ just for being a fine producer. I’d take my time listening to live sessions before I could choose fairly. But If you force me to choose, it would be between Michael Mayer, Oliver Huntemann, Mat.Joe, Ame, Avatism or Henry Saiz because they’re all well experienced, and I’ve liked most of what I’ve had the chance to listen from them.
In the case of Avatism, being a relatively new artist in comparison with the others, his music is very interesting, I haven’t listened to any live performance of him yet, but I find it very hard to believe that it would be distasteful. I’m sure it would go beyond my expectations.
If you could go back in time and give the 13 year old you some advice, what would you say and why?
I would advise him to carry out every idea he had. Do more for the local scene, work harder and get surrounded by the right people.
Can you tell us your current top 5 records of all time?
Criss Source – Hugs N Kisses
Patrick Chardronnet – Eve By Day(Wareika Remix)
Sahar Z – Hazui (Gui Boratto Remix)
Chikinki – Assassinator 13 (Ruede Hagelstein Remix)
Petter – Some Polyphony
These are only five of the most memorable tracks I’ve ever played, they remind me of many places, gigs, and even people who were important to me back in the day. Every one of this tracks recall specific moments and voices that I’ll probably never forget.
Finally, where can we catch you playing this year?
I hope in online radio stations abroad again soon. And in different spots in Mexico City for sure.
01// Citizen – Down for Whatever
02// ANNA – Ambiences
03// Cleave Martinez – Boonkak (Gil Montiel Remix)
04// Solee – Dromen
05// Fur Coat – U Turn
06// Hotspot & Komar – Nawakama
07// Animal Picnic & Aaryon – Kymera (MPathy Remix)
08// Animal Picnic & Aaryon – Vortex
09// Dahu – Ruin
10// E Spectro – Blaster
11// Andrea Oliva – Mazing Lady
12// Matchy & Bott – Ain’t Taking No Prisoners