A Sit Down With DJ Vato Gonzalez
Energetic chant from the original Dirty House DJ Vato Gonzalez. Before Sidney Samson and Alvaro were banging their beats, Vato was the one who rebelled against the standards and mixed bootlegs, Latin flavor, and aggressive sounds for something different. If you are looking for a sound with fresh riddim, Vato is who you should be following on Beatport. That same kind of exuberant energy is what he brings to his live shows, where you never know what he is going to play next.
"I love the music just as much as the people in my audience, and if I do not stand, then I was completely free to go front myself."
How you were introduced to music?
The first time I heard the sounds of underground raves from the early 90s, I went completely mental and instantly confiscated this mixtape and hurried home to dub it over on tape. This raw and relentless energy, with sounds that were in no way compromised for commercial purposes, has always inspired me to create what I create. Now, roughly 2 decades later, that initial pulse of electronic music has led me to do over 2000 gigs, as well as releases on Dim Mak, Ultra, Mad Decent, Ministry of Sound, Mixmash and my own Dirty House imprint. I just turned 30, finally got my US work visa and after touring Europe relentlessly for half a decade, the journey towards international success is making me feel like a kid in a candy store! So, if you see someone bouncing like a Muppet on steroids behind the decks, with a smile as if he just got into heaven; thats most likely me.
When you start working on a track, how long does it take you to go from idea to completion?
It is kind of a strange curve, it goes from an idea to something workable that can happen in minutes, and then from a workable and playable version in the club to a final version, and to release that will take weeks. That is because when I produce I enjoy the creative part of it so much more and I am a maniac in the studio, being happy and throwing around basslines like I am the Swedish chef. Then comes the part where it sounds decent enough to play in the club, and then I have to test it and have to do the sound engineering part- like tweaking the kick and the bass and all of the little details that make it sound twice as loud and up to the industry standards. That process takes a long time, because you need to listen to your production and write down everything thats wrong with it and change it and leave it for a couple of hours or play it at the club and back and forth until you reach that point where Quincy Jones once said an artist never finishes the project at one point he just abandons it.
Describe to us your sound.
Ive never been the kind of producer that sticks to one genre. Instead, my productions are based on that ultimate club feeling youve got at 2am in a packed club with the vibe right and the sound on full blast. Although my main course is EDM, dont be surprised to hear moombahton, trap or future house coming from my laboratory as well. Why a chef can create a variety of dishes, but producers are supposed to be sticking to one kitchen has never made any sense to me. I love music too much to restrict myself in order to do what is expected. As long as I get that sour lemon face as soon as the drop stresses out the limiters, Im happy. I love the sound of ridiculous! Sometimes this is relatively clean and with deeper sounds, sometimes its more on the rhythmic percussion trip and sometimes just straight forward no nonsense EDM. My socks need to be rocked. On stage, I stick to a similar constitution, using my eyes rather than my ears to analyze the crowd and hit them were it hurts within the myriad of styles I produce and like. My following knows that a typical Vato set can be basically anything sound wise, but is always all about explosive energy and never short of a little humor in between.
Who or what would you say is your biggest musical influence?
The Prodigy. Never have I seen an act or heard a band that put more energy and aggression into music, disregarding all the rules and just creating what they feel like. Although my sound is completely different, I see music as emotion put into sound. Their philosophy behind the music and the way they translate their passion into something tangible serves still as much as an inspiration as the first day I heard them all those years ago. They are the kind of artists that just keep on going, keep on touring, keep on giving every single bit of energy they possess, until the day they drop dead on stage.
What is it like going from doing illegal mixed tapes to being legal and being signed to labels? How is that changing your DNA?
It is changing my DNA. I was talking to a friend the other day about how I used to do bootlegs of songs and now they just send me the parts. It is wonderful and pretty cool because now I can take this to the next level professionally. I dont have to keep everything on the down low. On the other hand, it does bring territory restrictions, politics, office laws, etc. There is a whole bunch of politics that no musician should be busy with, we should be busy with making music. It is part of the business though.
Whats your favorite quote or saying, and why?
"Rock hard or die trying". Ive got a goal in life and am willing to work as hard I as possibly can to reach it. If that means dropping dead from a heart attack while Im on stage, you can rest assured I died doing what I love most.
You are one of the people in the dirty house movement correct?
I was actually the one that started the dirty house movement; I founded the Dirty House brand about five years ago. Dirty house music is not to be confused with strictly Dutch house music. Dirty house is more about a statement towards the industry. There was so much good music online and so many good songs that the people really loved. For some reason the industry ignored these kinds of songs because they were too down low or too dirty. That is where the term dirty house comes from. Since there were no publishers, it used to be that we would only get to people through the internet. I guess it worked because five years later there are twenty million YouTube views on the mixed tapes and everything else.
What is the difference between Dirty House and Dirty Dutch?
Dirty Dutch was founded by Chuckie roughly around the time that I started dirty house, and we have no clue how that happened, we were both doing things with the name dirty. There is no beef between Chuckie and I, it is two different concepts. Dirty Dutch always threw big events back in the days and had some compilations, and with dirty house I took the sounds from the streets back to the streets. That is where the dirt part comes in, with the grittiness of the music that comes from all walks of life. I was the first guy with dirty house to really play bootlegs that were deemed not credible and I had music with a whole lot of Latin influences which was at the time was absolutely not done. We were the first with Dirty House to really get into the beep beep sounds that Alvaro and Sidney Sampson really got big with. When we started to do it, people said we couldnt do it and that it was too dirty so that is where the name dirty house comes from.
How do you keep a balance from your personal life and your professional life?
I found my balance it is just a matter of realizing that Vato Gonzalez does not exist- I exist and I do Vato Gonzalez, it is just a nickname and an alter ego but alter egos dont exist without the original ego. It is so easy to get lost and it is a good thing that I have friends and a girlfriend that support me. I have the crazy kinds of friends that tell me to shut the fuck up when I start talking about music.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
In a private jet, flying across the planet, performing on my own Dirty House stages all over the world and helping those who helped me reach their goals in the process. Having a worldwide #1 hit record under my belt that will be described as :The loudest and most insane track to have ever entered the charts". But, thats just the business side of life; most of all Id see my self just being happy. Whether thats with my cat on the couch with Charlize Theron doing the dishes or rampaging TomorrowWorld main stage, happiness isnt for sale.
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