Interview - Hernán Cattáneo
If ever there was an artist who doesn’t need an introduction, it has to be the man known to music lovers the world over simply as El Maestro. Throughout his rise to become both a foundation and a founding father of the underground house scene, the name Hernán Cattáneo has become synonymous with dedication, passion and an unfaltering commitment to advocating a unique quality of music that is hard to define, but instantly recognisable as his signature sound.
With more than 30 years of DJing, 11 albums, 30 singles and 50 remixes, Hernan is a name which has always stood out from the crowd. The quality of his selection and production skills have been called on by the biggest house labels and have won him many residencies in Ibiza. But beyond his achievements and accolades, there are much deeper motivations moving the man who has become one of Argentina’s most treasured musical exports. As one of the rarified few artists to reach the very top, he works tirelessly to give his all back to the scene that supported him on his way up. Rightly renowned for his consistent championing of up and coming artists and labels, he has become as applauded for spotlighting the talent of the next generation as for his own skills. Through his DJ sets, his own Sudbeat label and his world-famous weekly Resident radio show, he is constantly connecting a global community, and providing an essential platform which enables new stars to shine. And while his own star continues to soar, perhaps Hernan’s greatest passion lies in empowering others to enjoy the best house music in the world, and shaping the future of that music for generations to come.
In the following, read the conversation with Hernan Cattaneo and note in the calendar, his performance on Orevce beach is on the 5th of August:
Roomania: Hello Hernán and welcome to Roomania. You have been active on the electronic music scene for over three decades now, so we would like to ask you what is the secret behind your success? How do you manage to stay on top for so long?
Hello Roomania, thanks for inviting me. I don't think there is a real secret. I mean, everybody knows that I'm crazy about music and I have a big passion to share it with others, so that's what I’ve been doing around the world every weekend for so long. That is the main reason I started DJ-ing a long time ago in Argentina and the same one that keeps me going globally so many years later. This passion is like having a superpower - It helps you go through difficult times and takes you to places you never even dream about.
Everybody knows that I'm crazy about music and I have a big passion to share it with others, so that's what I’ve been doing around the world every weekend for so long.
Roomania: As someone who has witnessed up front the evolution of electronic dance music throughout the years, do you think we are on the right path music wise?
Music always goes forward, but not necessarily better. That really depends on who is being asked. Many from the older generations sometimes feel their time was better, but they forget that at their prime, the previous people also had the same idea. I always try to find good music and there is a lot around if you go and dig deep. Maybe the music itself is a bit less elaborated now than 20 or 30 years ago, but technology gave us many new options for a much better musical experience.
Roomania: You are known for playing your extended sets worldwide. Which way do you feel more comfortable, playing at a small club or a big festival? How long is your “perfect” playing time?
I like both really. They are totally different experiences. Small clubs are perfect for long sets, deeper music - great journeys. I guess 6 hours is a really good length, but I have done 10 hours or more many times in the past. Festivals are generally shorter - 2 hour sets, because there are many other DJs, and track selections tend to go more towards bigger records - more “in your face music” . They are perfect to feel how tens of thousands of music lovers can go off on the right track. It's fun.
Roomania: In order to play extended sets, you need a lot of music and you have to know that music pretty well. In which way do you organize your music? What helps you to easily navigate through your music collection?
The best way to play music is to know your records as much as possible to make the most of them. I listen to a lot of new music everyday and put it in different folders like deep stuff, dark, melodic, big tracks, etc. Then, since I live in South America, I have long flights every weekend where I use all those hours to listen to them all again and get them through my head. Planes are perfect for that - no phones, no interruptions - just me and the music. Long sets are all about programming them right, so the better you organise and know your music, the better the chances you will play the right tracks at the right moment.
Long sets are all about programming them right, so the better you organise and know your music, the better the chances you will play the right tracks at the right moment.
Roomania: We have witnessed you doing b2b sets with friends, one of them being at the “DJ Awards 2019”, with producer and fellow DJ Nick Warren. Which do you enjoy more, playing alone or doing b2b sets? Can you name any memorable b2b sessions?
I enjoy solo DJ-ing and playing b2b, both in a great way, and I'm lucky to have a nice balance in my schedule. When playing solo you obviously go the way you feel and take all the decisions and turns. And if you play b2b with the right partner, it's really an enhancing experience. Nick & I have been doing it for a long time and both us and the crowd enjoy it a lot. We did many memorable ones - Argentina, Amsterdam, Glastonbury, Ibiza, Liverpool, Australia, Burning man and many more. We never talk about music before a show. We go with the flow and rely on the trust we have in each other. He is one of my dearest friends, so apart from the music he plays I really enjoy spending time together.
Roomania: Sudbeat has released quality music from quality artists such as Guy J, Henry Saiz, Danny Howells etc. How did you come up with the name? What is next for your label? Can you reveal any upcoming releases? New artists?
SUD means south in Spanish, so it means something like “the beat of the south”. We reached the 200th release this week, so we are super pleased with our new single from “Soundexile and Paula OS - Coming next”. Our friends Cid Inc & Dmitry Molosh have a new one with a hot Navar remix, and then my partner Graziano Raffa´s new EP. There are many great artists coming on the “Showcrates” ADE edition as well.
Roomania: Just by listening to your tracks, one can hear that there is a lot of emotion put into them. Do you have a ritual when making tracks? Do you need to be motivated in a certain way in order to get what you want out of a production? How long does it take you to create a track?
I'm mainly a DJ, not a musician - but I know exactly how I want our productions to sound which is why I always work with the right production partners and friends to achieve that. I have a clear idea of the tracks and it's about finding the sounds and making them work correctly. It's a fun thing that includes a lot of tries and testing to see what works better.
Roomania: Progressive house is your trademark style. Have you ever played any other styles of music? When you are not preparing for a gig, what kind of music do you listen to?
I started back in the disco music days, so it was all about that back then. 80´s pop, and then early house music, acid house, techno, trance and finally late 90's progressive house. I still play a lot of genres in my sets - that's why I always insist that progressive, in my opinion, more than a style of music is a way of playing music where you can mix all kinds of styles but in a very subtle way. Apart from club music I listen to a big variety of sounds - from progressive rock, reggae, funk, soul, jazz - and of course also a lot of music played by my 3 daughters at home. :)
Roomania: This is not your first time performing in Macedonia. What do you think about club culture here? What are your thoughts on how we can elevate the scene in our country?
I’ve been in Skopje a few times and the last time I was at the beach doing a charity event with Nick and Jansky a few years back. I really love the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. That fresh spirit is not usual everywhere and makes a party extra special. Any scene takes time to develop. So I think once we go back to normal life and you guys keep on the right path, things will get better and better. :)
Roomania: Your performance on Orevche Beach is scheduled for the 5th of August. What can the audience expect from you?
Really looking forward to being back! I'm coming with my folders full of deep melodic grooves, summer stuff and positive energy. I'm sure we will all have a great time just like all the other times. :))
Thank you Hernan for your honest answers. We wish you a lot of sold out events and we will see you at Orevche.