We recently had the pleasure of catching up with our very special guest for Forward Disco 014 at Cielo, Hector Romero (Def Mix) From his beginnings as “Baby Hec” in the Bronx to his management of Def Mix and SAW.RECORDINGS, to his jet setting schedule, one thing has always remained constant, Hector lives, eats and breathes music and his love of it comes through each and every time he steps behind the decks.
You started your career in the Bronx at the tender age of 13 as Baby Hec, since then your career has taken you all over the world, but it is clear that you have never forgotten your roots. What does NYC mean to you and what is it about this city that makes it like no other?
NYC runs on a 6th gear, we just do things differently than the rest of the world. We’re cutting edge & forward thinking. I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world but I can honestly say that there’s no city like New York. We may not be at the pulse of Dance/House Music at this given time as we were in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s, but I’m confident that we will get back to being on top of our game in the near future. But that’s up to our local producers who need to take their time to develop their productions & remixes and not rush to complete music in a few hours. Producers need to get back to song structure & song writing once again. Why do think guys like Dennis Ferrer, Quentin Harris to name a couple do so well.
You have had the pleasure of playing just about every room and party in this city, is there any particular room or event that really stands out to you as the quintessential NYC event?
I don’t think there’s one event that’s quintessential to NY, & that’s because NY is so diverse. When my EU friends visit NY I usually send them to Cielo because of it’s diverse lineup through out the week. If anything Cielo is the quintessential nightclub that represents NY properly.
Speaking of Cielo, on September 27, you will be joining us for Forward Disco at Cielo. What can we expect from Hector Romero for this party?
It’s going to be a party and that’s how it should be, plain & simple enjoyment of music & dance. People work hard all week & I want them to join us Friday night & forget the stresses of life & dance the blues away.
Having the career that you have had, you clearly need to stay ahead of the curve, what do you think has been a key to your longevity?
The key to my longevity is the fact that I never consider what I do a job, I simply love what I do & I’m grateful. Traveling is probably the only part that’s work, the rest is fun. I never take DJing for granted & I work hard to do my best at every gig, whether it’s a gig for 200 or 2000 people, I treat them all the same. I’d also say that I never got caught up with playing one particular style of House Music, I’m known for being eclectic in the music I play so I feel this helped with my longevity in the game.
You have made no secret that production is not your thing, and that being a ‘Record Man is quite fulfilling’ – we unfortunately are in an era where promoters struggle to blur the lines between someone who is a great producer and a great DJ. Do you think that the art of DJing is becoming a lost one?
I don’t think the art of DJing is becoming lost but at the same time things have really changed. You here it all the time now, “I’m a DJ, “I’m a DJ”. It’s really gotten out of hand. I’m a firm believer that people can try a new hobby & hopefully turn it into something serious. But If you’re not going to take it serious & LOVE your craft as a DJ then find something else to do. Don’t make a mockery of an art form that I truly love & work hard at. I feel I’m the last generation that gets away with just being a DJ. I don’t want to be forced to remix & produce in order to get gigs & that’s what’s happening to many DJ’s these days. This is why the quality of Dance/Electronic music has gotten so bad. But never say never, I’ve been dabbling in the studio a little of late with no pressures to meet a deadline. I’m now celebrating 30 years DJing & I feel like I can contribute to a production much easier than I would’ve 15 or so years ago.
We could not have said that better ourselves! Outside of the confines of NYC, you are internationally known, with regular spots all over Europe, and most notably in Montreal’s Stereo. Is there any particular crowd that shows you more love and gets your sound better than anywhere else?
Absolutely, EU and especially Italy gives me the most love & love them back. The Italians really know how to party, they don’t mind getting hot & sweaty in their Prada gear & dance the night away. I get so much love in the EU that I might wear a T-shirt to Forward Disco that says, ‘I’m More Famous In Europe’!! LOL!!
Haha – well maybe we will bust out our Prada gear to make you more comfortable.. Aside from your work behind the decks, you are also the head up two of the most influential house music institutions, Def Mix and SAW.RECORDINGS. What lead you to this aspect of the business and what is it about the work outside of the clubs that you enjoy?
I believe that every DJ doesn’t have to be a remixer, producers. There are other ways to make it in this business other than remixing & producing. I personally had a connection with the business side of this industry. I get great satisfaction from handling A&R duties, reading contracts, speaking to lawyers, distributors etc. I love everything that goes into putting a project together and seeing it come to fruition. My mentor, Judy Weinstein (Def Mix) & I make things happen each week & that makes me happy & I feel like I’m contributing to the growth of Dance Music. But my first love first and foremost is DJing 🙂
It is great to be able to do what you love for a living. Def Mix has allowed you to work with some legends of the industry, notably, David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. What is one piece of advice that you have received over the years that you can pass along to us?
Be yourself, don’t play for DJ’s, play to your crowd & don’t be afraid to play a record two or three times in one night.
Lastly, what are the five records that mean “New York City” to you more than any other?
Hmmmmm that’s tuff to give 5 choices but here’s a few:
1. Robert Owens ‘I’ll Be Your Friend’
2. MAW Feat. India ‘To Be In Love’
3. Moloko ‘Sing It Back’
4. Funky Green Dogs ‘Fired Up’
5. Sono ‘Keep Control’