A Sit Down With DJ Chus and Ceballos
For over fifteen years now, the Spanish duo known as Chus & Ceballos have been spearheading their self-described Tribal House style known as the Iberican sound. They've established their distinct sound by playing marathon sets all over the world including some residencies they are most famous for such as Stereo in Montreal and Space in Miami. In addition they've been churning out quality music by themselves and others as well through their long running record label, Stereo Productions.
"The most challenging part is to find a person you are compatible with, which isnt easy, and there are some days when were not seeing eye to eye and the chemistry isnt working, but in our case thank God."
How did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?
We both grow up in Madrid sharing our love and passion for music, and as we just mentioned Chus was the resident DJ at one of the very first House Clubs in the capital of Spain and Ceballos was trying to make himself a name for himself in music production. Pablo used to bring me his electronic demo tapes to the club, so after a few years back and forth, we decided to try working together and from the very first track the magic was there! That track was called The Groove Foundation "That Feeling".
What advantages do you think a DJ duo has over a DJ who is on their own?
There is a few for sure, two minds thinking, four hands instead two, and of course never traveling alone :) If you are in sync with one another as you should be as a duo, you are able to reach goals that you couldn't by yourself. We are completely different so we are forced to get out of our comfort zone and discover new ways to amaze each other. It is a constant learning process, and a very dynamic one too. We often layer what the other is doing using tools, loops, accapellas... This definitely for us makes it more fun. Music for us is all about sharing and DJ'ing with someone you are close to is something very special and that much more enjoyable.
Youre well known for your marathon DJ sets, is it hard to keep a constant flow of energy, keep the crowd connected to the music, etc?
We have to be physically and mentally prepared for a long running and do it only in places where we are specially connected to the crowd with proper sound system conditions, lights and a comfortable DJ Booth. A marathon set is something that should happen naturally, not forced. The most difficult part is to dont lose the flow, when the inspiration keeps going and going for hours, you have the chance to play those special tracks that are more difficult to play in a 2 hours set where you have to go straight to the point, those tracks creates special moments, the ones that your audience kept in their minds, that journey is the reason why we love extended sets.
How did you each discover the house music sound while living in Madrid at a time when house was not very popular?
Chus had the chance to travel to Portugal in the early 90s where House music was already huge there. He became the resident DJ at the legendary club Kadoc in Algarve which held massive raves during the 90s. There he had the chance to play along DJs like DJ Vibe, David Morales, Erick Morillo, Roger Sanchez, Deep Dish and Carl Cox among others. He brought that sound to Madrid playing at the first House clubs in Madrid, Teatro Kapital. Pablos background was a bit different, he was more influenced by the European techno and British Pop artists, but Chus helped introduced him to the American underground sound and we both were immediately very influenced by the sounds of Danny Tenaglia, our mentor. Quality and proper underground house music.
Do you guys have a favorite venue to play?
Over the years we have had the chance of playing in so many venues, so Yes, we have a long list, all of them are different with great vibes and amazing audiences. Special mention to legendary Clubs like Stereo in Montreal, Cielo NYC, Space in Miami, Space Ibiza and Ageha in Tokyo and other new ones where we have now residencies like Output in Brooklyn NY, SpaceNY and Sound or Exchange in Los Angeles. And of course some of those intimate venues, like Flash in DC, Audio in San Francisco, Habitat in Calgary..
What has changed in the past 17 years in terms of the house and techno scene, and were do you seen it heading in the future?
The main thing is that when we started, the electronic music scene was underground. Especially in North America and Asia, in Europe it was always a bit more popular. And then there was the explosion of EDM and the mainstream that brought electronic music to everybody and the DJ became a very important figure, even more important than pop-stars. Back in the day it wasnt like that, the DJ was just somebody playing music in the corner lost in the back of the club. He wasnt even an important person, now DJs are pop stars. After that big rise of EDM and the mainstream, and the underground scene was a bit lost, I think that the mainstream has begun to lose a bit of steam. And I think the underground isnt going to be as popular as the mainstream, obviously, but I think its slowly taking the place [that the mainstream] had in the past. The good thing is that I see right now that theres going to be many options and thats a great thing actually. I think that the explosion and popularity of EDM has been a good thing because exposed electronic music to so many people who had never listened to electronic music before. So I think it was something positive, absolutely positive.
What is the best part of life as a DJ? And Worst?
The best is to share the music we love with our fans and the worst is with no doubt the traveling and the endless hours between airports and hotels, too many time away from home.
Your label, Stereo Productions, has had a lot of showcases in the past at BPM and in Miami and has really helped to define the Spanish sound in the tech-house - What has been the journey for Stereo Productions so far?
It has been a long journey. We started the label in 2000 so it's been nearly 17 years so we're close to the 20-year mark of Chus & Ceballos and the label. We've got a lot of percussions that's very good for the dance floor. We always support Spanish artists, but not only Spanish, international artists that are close to our sound. As the label was becoming popular, it kind of became one thing, our artists, and the label, and the showcases all encompass the same vibe, and so it became a family. So we're working very closely with the artists and the showcases and put a lot of effort and love into them.
Finally, you managed to collaborate with several artists including Gigi, The Fog and Cevin Fisher. If there was any one artist, past or present, who you didnt collaborate with on the album but had the opportunity to work with on it if given the chance, who would it be and why?
We will love to collaborate in a near future with such a talented artists like Disclosure, London Grammar, M83, The XX, Gauzz, Bonobo or Rayko. All of them made album master pieces bringing electronic music to a different level, combining vocals, beautiful melodies and complex music landscapes in outstanding productions.
How do you spend your down time when your decompressing from studio work or gigs?
I really love spending time in nature. I like to swim, I like to bike, go for a run, love to get some fresh air. What I like the most whenever I have free time, I go escape to nature. Love getting lost in the moment. Thats what I like the most.
What has been the longest time youve spent in the studio?
When in the studio, the rule number one is that there is not rules, and when you are inspired the best is dont stop and go with the flow, the time doesnt exist, I remember to have sessions of 20 hours and sometimes realise that we didnt eat in the last 10 hours.
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