Its 4:00 a.m. and youve been
on the dance floor for several hours under the relentless
assault of an orgy of expertly layered percussive sounds and
explosive vocals. You have to go to the bathroom, but you
just cant bring yourself to leave the floor. Maybe if
the DJ brought things down a bit youd be able to justify
a break, but it doesnt look like thats going to
happen anytime soon. This is a familiar scenario for those
of us fortunate enough to have spent a night dancing to the
high energy sounds of Victor Calderone. His turntable wizardry
and intense live performances have set new standards in clubbing,
and hes only just getting started.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York,
Victor still calls the borough home. He just bought a house
there with his fiancée, Athena, whom he will marry
in September. Victors introduction to the world of nightclubs
happened back when he was barely old enough to drive. His
older brother took him to the Fun House in New York City where
Jellybean Benitez was spinning. He discovered a passion for
music that would pave the way for his remarkable career. Victor
recalls, "That was it. I was there religiously every
Saturday when the doors opened, from beginning to end. Thats
when Madonna and Jellybean were really close and Id
seen her a number of times at the Fun House hanging out in
the DJ booth." Little did he know that some 15 years
later Jellybean would be offering to play for him at his wedding
and Madonna would be hiring him to remix songs from her Grammy
award winning album.
Realizing his calling at an early age, Victor followed in
his brothers footsteps and set out to learn as much
as he could about the music industry. After a failed venture
with a partner, he took a three-year break. Slowly, he motivated
himself to get back in the studio and finish his first project,
"Give It Up," a song that would eventually become
one of the top dance records of 1997. Being shy and insecure
at the time, he was hesitant to let others hear the song.
Eventually, a friend convinced him to play it for the A&R
staff at Eight Ball Records in New York. "I played it
in the store and the response was just overwhelming,"
Victor says. "Everybody just flipped over it." Eight
Ball later signed the record, Junior Vasquez worked it in
the clubs, and Victor Calderone was on his way to an amazingly
successful career beyond his wildest dreams.
Riding the success of "Give It Up,"
Victor started taking gigs around town. After playing a few
straight venues and a couple of rave parties, Mark Berkeley
got hold of one of his tapes and offered Victor a guest spot
at Sunday nights Boys Life in New York. This immediately
turned into a regular gig and marked the beginning of this
straight mans metamorphosis into a gay circuit icon.
"It flowed over into a couple of private parties on Fire
Island that I had done that were just explosive, and then
thats when it just really started to take off and I
really started to build a gay following," Victor explains.
Since he prefers playing for gay audiences, Victor couldnt
be happier. He professes, "For me, its a much more
educated crowd. They know the music much more and they go
out for the DJ."
It wasnt long before Victors
talents caught the attention of nightclub impresarios Ingrid
Casares and Chris Paciello. On the advice of a friend who
worked with Victor in New York, Ingrid and Chris wasted no
time in introducing South Beach to Victor Calderone. The 1997
post-White Party event at their club, Liquid, was without
a doubt the defining moment in Victors career. A residency
at both Liquid in Miami and Roxy in New York City followed,
and once circuit party promoters caught on, all hell broke
lose. Miami holds a special place in Victors heart though.
"With Miami, I go there and it just seems like these
people are here for the music. They walk in, they walk on
the dance floor, and they are on the dance floor all night,"
Victor explains. "Its very special to me. There
are times when I come out there and the appreciation and love
and response is just so overwhelming for me."
Not only has Ingrid provided Victor with
a gateway to superstardom, but she continues to play a vital
role in many of his business ventures. In early 1998, Ingrid
convinced her pal Madonna to enlist Victors talents
to remix her new single, "Frozen." His mix quickly
rose to the top of the dance charts, and in less than a year,
Victor had replaced the man who helped him break his first
record as Liquids golden boy, Madonnas remix artist,
and the circuits most sought-after DJ. Not surprisingly,
Victor loves working with Madonna. "She, as an artist,
understands better than anybody [the need] to just let people
do their thing, and thats the way shes worked
with me. She just sends me the vocal and she doesnt
give me any guidelines. She just tells me to do my thing,"
he says. Careful not to compromise the integrity of the original
songs vocals, Victor adds his unique arrangement of
tribal sounds to masterfully create high powered dance anthems.
If you like his latest creation, a remix of "Beautiful
Stranger," as much as Madonna does, youre in luck
because it will surely dominate dance floors throughout the
summer. "She loved it," he proudly declares. "She
thinks its the best one Ive done for her yet."
Madonnas duet with Ricky Martin
will be next. Victor is also teaming up with Peter Rauhofer
of Club 69 fame for "The Collaboration," a remix
project including an old Clivilles & Cole song, "Do
It Properly," which will be released on Rauhofers
new Star 69 label. "Its going to be released as
a single, produced by both of us," he divulges. That
was really fun because I admire his work and he admires mine,
and it was a great collaboration." Rauhofer has also
been pulled in to help Victor with a new mix of Madonnas
"Skin." "It was something that I requested.
I love that song and I really wanted to do it, so were
gonna do that one together also," he adds.
As if all that were not enough, as part
of a multi-album deal with Tommy Boy Records, Victor will
be releasing his own compilation CD of carefully chosen remixes
later this summer. Included on the CD will be one new original
song that will also appear on a follow-up album of all new
original material. Victor hopes that his success with Madonna
will sway her to allow him to include one of her songs as
Victor is very careful these days to make
sure that the proper releases are obtained before remixing
other artists work. He learned a hard lesson last year
when his remixes of Olivia Newton-Johns "Hopelessly
Devoted to You" were shelved. Although he was paid for
them, the remixes were never released because the person who
commissioned them never obtained permission to remix the song.
According to Victor, "Once the remixes were done, they
just got caught up in this whole political mess. They never
released them because they never wanted them done in the first
place." Things with Olivia may not have worked out so
well, but Victor is hoping to add the names of two other accomplished
artists to his already impressive resume. "Id definitely
like to work with Bjork. Id like to do a remix or a
production. I dont know how much of a reality that would
be, but Id like to do something for her; I really admire
her vocal style and her work," he professes. "Id
also like to do something with Lisa Stansfield."
Victors studio work may have jump-started
his career, but its his live performances that truly
showcase his boundless energy and mastery of the turntables.
The next several months will provide many opportunities to
experience his magic. After the pixie dust has settled in
Orlando from his performance at the MGM party during Gay Day
at Disney, Victor will help the community celebrate Gay Pride
in three cities: Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. His passport
may also get quite a workout after the success of past performances
at parties like the Sleaze Ball in Sydney and the Dolce &
Gabana fashion show in Milan. But hell have to be back
in North America in time for the Black & Blue Festival
where he will join Marc Anthony and Abel at the Olympic Stadium
in Montreal for the biggest gay party in the Western World.
Hes not sure where hell be spinning on New Years
Eve but one thing is definite -- it will be in Miami.
Things are going to slow down for Victor
after Montreal. Hell be spending more time in the studio,
a little less time in the DJ booth, and hopefully, some quality
time with his new wife. "Id like to start producing
and working more closely with artists that I want to work
with, and developing a well-rounded and solid sound. I am
still learning something new in the studio every day,"
he admits. "Id like to definitely venture into
doing soundtracks with movies. Also, having people hear a
different side of me production-wise. I am very into doing
ambient music, and down tempo stuff also. In the future I
want to produce an album of that kind of stuff, sort of like
Peter Gabriels The Last Temptation of Christ."
But dont worry, this wont compromise his signature,
hard-hitting style, and he promises that he will not abandon
his loyal followers. "DJing is a major release for me,"
Victor insists. "Its something I need, I need it
in my life. It goes hand-in-hand with the production work
and the studio work. If youre going to be producing
dance music, youve got to be out there playing it and
be in the clubs, so its very important to me."
While there is no questioning his expertise
or how well he can work a room, it is Victors personality
that is the real surprise. In an industry that is often shallow
and harsh, it is refreshing to find someone who is as friendly,
sincere, and down to earth as Victor Calderone. He truly appreciates
his fans and he claims to have as much fun working as we have
partying. "If it wasnt for the audience and the
fans, I wouldnt exist, so I wouldnt have any right
coming off to anybody like Im anything special,"
Victor modestly says. "Im very grateful for all
the support and everything thats been going on in my
life. Its been amazing and Im very happy."
So are we, Victor, happy to share in your immense energy and