June 2003
By Steven M. Housman

Victor Calderone Resonates With Fans

When you’re in the music business and you get praises from such icons as Sting and Madonna, you know you must be doing something right. Victor Calderone started DJ’ing and mixing in 1991, but when things didn’t work out to Calderone’s expectations, he soon became frustrated and decided to seek other business ventures that were non-musical.

After a period of five years, Victor couldn’t escape his passion for music. He became involved with a woman named Athena who would eventually change his life, artistically and personally. Personally, she eventually became his wife, artistically, she encouraged him to return to the studio and create his first solo record, “Give It Up.” This song and its follow-up, “Beat Me Harder,” both hit the pole position on the Billboard’s dance chart, which led to many high-profile gigs in New York. Calderone’s career had taken off, and just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, he was summoned by Madonna who asked, “So are you going to remix my first single for my new album?” This was 1998, the single was “Frozen” from Lady M’s Grammy-winning opus Ray of Light, and as we say in the biz, the rest is history.

Okay, I know that you’ve been at the mixing board for some time now. Is it fair to say that mixing Madonna’s single “Frozen” opened the door to a plethora of mainstream artists?

Of course, I think it’s fair to say that. That really put me on the map. I was producing before that, I had some success, but that [“Frozen”] really got my music out there and got my sound out there and solidified it for me. As far as the other record labels, everybody kind of watches what she does, and that’s when all the phone calls started pouring in.

After being in the business a few years, what kind of feeling did you have when you received Madonna’s call?

I didn’t know it at the time, the way it was arranged. I was friends with Ingrid Casarez and I had been working for her at the time she owned Liquid nightclub in Miami. I was DJ’ing there on a weekly basis and she had called me one weekend when I was out there and had asked me to meet her at The China Grill. I showed up and Ingrid and Madonna are sitting there, and I was shocked. So, I sat down, and that’s where Madonna hit me with it, “So are you going to remix my first single for my new album?” which was “Frozen” and I was speechless. I left there flying. She gave me a copy of the album during that meeting and I went back to my hotel and just sat there listening to the whole album. I felt it was just amazing that I was given this opportunity. All these thoughts of where I was gonna go and what I was gonna do with it was really a great experience. I’ll never forget it.

If you had to pick your favorite remix projects, what would they be?

Wow, good question, good question…. what would they be? I’d say “Frozen” would be one of them. Sting’s “Desert Rose,” “Beautiful Stranger,” and I just did a recent Sting which you haven’t heard yet called “Send Your Love,” and I’m really feeling it and I’m very excited about it.

You realize that you have massive appeal to the gay community through your music. Do you feel that gay men have more of a clue to your incredible intuition to a dance song than, say, heterosexual club-goers?

Absolutely! And I’m kind of cued in to their intuition. I feel most comfortable playing for a gay audience. In that world, just the lifestyle, everything about it. Gay men are just aware, they’re very much into the music and that’s important to a DJ, at least it’s important to me. The gay audience is totally on the floor for the music. That’s how you develop the connection and have those magical nights.

What mix-masters are you impressed by?

Currently, these two guys from Barcelona, Chus and Caballos. In my opinion, these guys are just on fire right now with what they’ve been doing. They’ve been putting out a lot of bassline-driven tribal music. They’ve also been doing some really cool vocals. What they are doing is right up my ally. I’ve just always loved tribal music, it’s a big part of my sound.

What vocalists would you most like to work with that have so far eluded you?

I’d say Bjork. I’d like to do something for her. Second on that list would be U2. I think Bono’s voice would just totally lend itself to a really good dance mix, kind of in the way “Desert Rose” worked. I just love his melodies and the sound of his voice.

Switching gears, what the best thing is in your life right now?

I’m a married man and we just had a baby. We had a baby boy who’s just a four-month old! That would be it! My family, yeah, it’s just been incredible. I’ve developed a great amount of inspiration from it all. I’ve been electrified since his birth and just been pouring it all into my work. I’m in such a great place right now, mentally and musically.

What is your favorite thing to do that has nothing to do with work?

I’d say spending time with my wife Athena and my baby.

I just finished listening to your new CD Resonate. It’s fucking great. What’s next?

There’s a three-month tour for the CD that starts in New York, then goes to Miami, Montreal and then all over Europe. I didn’t have that with my last album. I’m excited, I’m worried. It’s a little more laid back in a sense. There aren’t as many vocals on there, but I really stand by this album because it’s a reflection of where I’m at musically. It’s me evolving. Not to say I don’t like vocals and that’s why there aren’t as many on it, it’s just that the vocals I did put on it are ones I really love. There are two vocal tracks that end the album; those are my favorite records right now. I wish I were able to find more vocals like that. It’s not so much that I’m against it, the big diva thing, I just think it hasn’t evolved in a good way and those records have become very predictable and I didn’t want this album to have that on there. I wanted the music on this album to have some life, so four or five months down the road you could still enjoy it. Those big vocal anthems are just getting killed in the clubs. They’re just being played over and over and over again and by the time I put it on my album and it comes out, you don’t want to hear it at home. So, I tried to stay away from that with this album. I’m a little worried that it’s gonna turn some people off, but then again, I think it’s gonna appeal to a whole other audience that I wasn’t reaching with my other albums. So, that’s why this whole tour has come in, we sent it out to the press and promoters, and it just created this huge tour. It’s gotten an amazing response overseas where we haven’t received that in the past, so I’m excited on that end. I just hope this doesn’t alienate any of my other fans.

You have to follow your heart.

Exactly! That’s what this is. It’s really stripped down from what my last albums were. I’m no longer with Tommy Boy Records. This is my record, my project. I am financing it entirely. It’s a little scary in that sense. I’ve taken creative control, where before I was pushed to do things that I wasn’t too keen on doing. They were all about getting the big names on there to sell it. This is more to the core, so I think if you’re a fan of mine you’ll appreciate this album.

I look forward to it, as I’m sure your fans do as well. Congratulations on your immense success. I wish you the very best.

Thank you so much for all of your support, I really appreciate it.

For complete information, log onto VictorCalderone.com

© 2003 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.