Dee Montero is a UK artist with an international profile.
Part of that is down to the fact that he has played as resident at Cafe Mambo for eight years, so really has the Balearic sound on lock down. His own production also get played far and wide, and there are some new ones come on Stereo in the next few weeks. As well as that, Montero has some serious skills in the DJ booth having won the Vestax DJ championships back in the day. Here we talk to him about having chart hits, his studio process, getting support from big names like Solomun and Pete Tong and much more besides.
“all those long hours in the studio have finally made sense”
How, when, why did you get into dance music? What parties, labels, radio shows turned you on and what did you like about it?
I got into dance music in the early 90’s when I started buying vinyl at Belfast’s Underground Records. They also had a pirate radio station called Passion FM on a Sunday night which was hosted by Pablo Gargano, an Italian resident DJ at the infamous Hellraiser raves at the Ulster Hall. I’d tape it onto TDK 90’s and play it over again during class on my Walkman and the music just blew my mind. I was buying early Italo house and Belgium techno from labels like DFC, R&S, Harthouse, Rising High and Music Man before I got my first set of Technics 1210s in 1993 so my obsession started from there really
What is your own style in the studio and DJ booth? hat are your aims? What makes you, you?
It takes years to develop a style and I don’t think I’m even quite there yet, it’s a never-ending search for perfection. I guess listening to an eclectic mix of styles that I’m inspired by whether it be downtempo electronica, soundtracks, balearic or techno and taking ideas from those to incorporate into my own productions gives me my style
You have released on so many great labels – do you send them all demos or have you been tapped up for the music? Do they get involved with asking for changes and tweaks to your tunes?
It’s a combination of both. I’ll have a few key labels in mind while I’m working on a track but you never really know what a label wants as tastes and trends change very quickly in the dance world. There has been a few occasions when asked to tweak a tune but it’s very rare
Do you make music with a certain club, festival, crowd or label in mind?
The Space terrace used to be my main motivator for making tracks but these days it’s just what flows at the time. For example I’ll start out making a chilled electronic piece and it will end up turning into a “hands in the air” club track. So it’s more about how I’m feeling at the time in the studio
You won the Vestax DJ championships – do you still use vinyl? Do you think Dj skills have gotten lost in the modern world with sync buttons etc?
Yes I still buy vinyl and play it whenever I can. I was in Hong Kong a few months ago DJ’ing a vinyl only set at Potato Head which was lots of fun. I’m not a purist by any means and I don’t care how music should and shouldn’t played but I think we’ve lost something special with the convenience of digital. It’s so easy to DJ now and string a set together with the help of a sync button and there are amazingly talented DJs who use the equipment very well but for me it’s more important to programme a set and build a night musically which I find less and less of these days. I’ve always preferred to create a mood or dare I say “journey” rather than bang out a load of big tunes all night long
Are crowds into different things all over the world or do we all rect in the same ways to the same things do you think?
Crowds are different in every territory of course but the beauty of electronic music is that it’s global, and it’s a release for people when they go out no matter where you are. Obviously some crowds are more up for it than others but generally it’s positive all over whether it’s in Belfast, Bali or LA.
What’s it like to get support from Solomun And Pete Tong? Does that matter?
It matters hugely. Solomon’s support on ‘Halcyon’ really propelled the track into the stratosphere with his live video from Mar Del Plata. It always means a lot when DJs of that stature support your music and it’s important for any artist whether established or up and coming
And when you have a number one in the charts – do you care? Do you use that knowledge next time in the studio?
It’s a great feeling… It’s like all those long hours in the studio have finally made sense, but can never predict chart success that’s for sure
What’s in that studio, what gear, hardware, software etc? Does that matter to you?
I like to keep things simple in the studio. I’m running Ableton Live on my Mac with a handful of my favourite plug-ins like Native Instruments Komplete, Arturia V Collection and Rob Papen instruments. On the hardware side I’ve a Moog Sub 27, a few nice Korgs and Roland drum machines. I think you can get bogged down by technology with all the toys out there so it’s important to find what you’re comfortable with and make more room for creativity
What’s next for you, what have you got coming up this summer?
In the studio for next few weeks working on fresh new material then it’s back to Ibiza to play at In The Dark at Hi with Nic Fancuilli, Joris Voorn and Waff on the 29th June. I’ve a few gigs at the new club over the season so looking forward to be part of this new era of clubbing on the island. I’ve an e.p called ‘Aeon’ forthcoming on Stereo Productions at the end of July which will be my next release.