We caught up with Toronto-based producer Calavera. With recent releases and upcoming work on House Mag Records (Brazil), House Of Bangerz (UK), Dear Deer Records (Ukraine) & La Famiglia Recordings she is one to watch for sure. Make sure to keep an eye on her Soundcloud profile as she is frequently dropping fresh mixes and tracks.
But first our talk in which Calavera downright speaks about her passion for music and upcoming work. Enjoy!
Hey Melissa, thank you for your time. How are things going these days?
Hello! Things are going great. Thank you for asking.
Describe yourself in three to five words
Adventurous, nerdy, inspired, ambitious, free spirit.
We tuned into your music on Soundcloud and we do like your style and approach. Want to tell us about it about?
I like to view myself as a forward-thinking artist. I (Calavera) am is inspired by minimal sounds, the drive of techno and the ‘bounciness’ of house. I pretty much like to infuse all of these sounds and styles together to create something that is different every time. I spend a lot of my time doing sound design, so you will never hear any loop pack samples in my music. Not that there is anything wrong with that, especially for people who are just learning, but I admire and respect the true art of sound design. It keeps things interesting for me because there are endless possibilities when it comes to creating music when I am connected to Ableton. This approach has also helped me learn to try to find my style tremendously. With that being said, you can expect a variety of styles from me, anywhere from minimal, to house, tech house and techno. It all just depends on how I am feeling at that current moment when I open up that Ableton screen!
For the releases in the beginning of last year you found shelter at the Tech oriented Dear Deer Records. How did you get to this collaboration?
I was approached by Ivan of the Stage Rockers based out of Ukraine, as I had followed him on social media after coming across his work. Ivan had reached out to me after hearing my style of production and we both realized we could make a great team! Dear Deer was the first ever label I had been signed to, and it will always hold a special place for me, both the label and collaboration!
After that you move half way across the world to drop a release on the Brazil based House Mag records. What was the reason for that?
For a while now I have always enjoyed the releases on House Mag! Again, another Stage Rockers collaboration that had been a success, in a different part of the world! It’s pretty cool to me to be signed to international labels. it gives me a feeling of happiness that many people around the world can hear the music we create.
Tell us the story of how you were introduced to house music. Was there a specific moment you realized that you wanted to be on the other side of the dance party –- as the DJ?
Growing up as a child, my parents listened to House! Ever since I was a baby, electronic music was embedded in my brain. I also have a cousin who started DJ’ing when he was young for many years. Seeing him be so passionately about his craft was pretty inspiring. Not really knowing how the industry worked at the time when I was a child, I would always ask him if we could make a track together one day where I could do the vocals and he could produce the track. Who would have thought that I would end up being a producer in my mid-20’s, using my own vocals?! I guess it kind of planted the seed in my head and as I became older it manifested, and here we are.
What do you find most challenging about the music business nowadays?
In my personal experience, the most challenging thing is coming across people in the industry who can sometimes be jealous and don’t want to see you succeed. Negativity can get to people sometimes, because we are all human, and it is natural. The best thing to do, from what I have learned from personal experiences, is to just ignore those who aren’t relevant and to focus on doing what you love and the rest that is meant to be will follow!
What exciting news do you have in the works for the coming months? What does Calavera 2020 look like?
I have a few more releases forthcoming on various labels, such as La Famiglia Recordings, and House Of Hustle’s House Of Bangerz series to name a few. I have also started a brand called FRWRD Music, which is a podcast that showcases other artists besides myself. I have a plan to grow this brand and expand it to a record label and event in the near future! Calavera 2020 is definitely going to be something I look forward to, and I’m excited to see what the next few years bring! I plan to keep pushing for more releases and just continue doing what I love. Hopefully an international tour will soon take place as well.
Name one track in your crate that gets the dance floor moving every time.
One track in my crate that always gets the crowd going is Sable Sheep – Fallen Lead Showers. Everyone always loves this! The classic Notorious B.I.G vocals are a familiar crowd pleaser and the groove is amazing. Can’t go wrong with that combo!
TGMS: well, that is one hell of a track. One of our all time favorites as well.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
It honestly all depends on what the crowd is feeling. I love to go with the flow and play on the fly, so testing out tracks is a commonality for me! It keeps things interesting and when you do so you have total control of your set, while still catering to what the crowd wants or likes while still keeping a theme.
Thanks to developments in the realm of software, DJing, playing live and producing have moved closer together than ever before, allowing DJs to change a track down the tiniest detail. How do you make use of these possibilities in your sets and is there a benefit?
I play both on USB and Traktor, depending on how I feel that day. When it comes down to software, I like to experiment when I play on Traktor. I usually play on 4 decks, and sometimes take different parts of tracks and add on to others. This is the beauty of DJ’ing. Being able to have creative freedom to express yourself while you play. This is what makes every DJ unique in their own way! In the near future, I would like to implement playing live on Ableton as well for my techno sets. For the amount of time I spend on Ableton while I’m not playing at the club, I might as well start playing live in the club and create on the spot! This is definitely a project I am going to work on very soon. You can never have enough creativity, especially in music!
Please recommend two DJs to our readers which you feel deserve their attention. Who should be on our radar music-wise — who is getting you really excited?
To only recommend two DJ’s is a hard thing because there is so much amazing talent out there right now! When it comes down to it, I would recommend Jonathan Rosa for some Deep/Tech House with a mixture of lovely vocals that always get the crowd going! He has recently released on Snatch! & Suara.
The second DJ I would recommend would be Jeremy Stott. His style consists of hard hitting techno grooves guaranteed to get the dancefloor fired up! He has releases with Funk n’ Deep, IAMT, and Selected to name a few. They are both from my city home city Toronto on top of it! Keep an eye out for these guys if you haven’t already. They’re definitely ones to be on the radar!
Finish the sentence.
– My guilty pleasure is Ableton — surprise surprise! I spend 90% of my time on that DAW. Literally. It has become an essential part of my life and I feel off without it for even a day. I always say I’m married to Ableton, hahaha.
– A bad habit of mine would be being too impatient! Especially when sending out demos. Hehe.
– I really hate it when there is nothing to hate 🙂 All love!
– The thing that puts an instant smile on my face is pizza or chocolate!
Thank you very much for your time.
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