Vato GonzalezApril 4th, 2011 | electronic
What began life as an experimental instrumental 4 years ago, sampling the classic Hip Hop tune Simon Says by Pharoahe Monch, has over time become one the biggest club anthems of recent years, and as yet it’s still not seen an official release.
A few years ago, Vato Gonzalez released a series of bootlegs, titled Dirty House, and after limited play from a few big name DJs in 2007 and 2008 the tune was picked up by DJ Zinc, who at the time was coining his now widely accepted ‘Crack House‘ sound. He featured the tune in one of his famous Crack House mixes in early 2009, and the tune quickly spread among the underground and the increasingly popular UK Funky adopted the tune as one of its own.
Badman Riddim it seems had become somewhat of an internet sensation, and Radio 1 heavyweights Mistajam and Annie Mac began supporting the tune heavily, and over the course of 2010 the tune had become one of the most requested tunes at clubs all over Europe, also with millions of views on YouTube.
Ministry of Sound snapped up Vato and a release package has been formed, with a reworking of the tune featuring Foreign Beggers.
We at OfficialFM caught up with Vato to talk about the upcoming release and his thoughts on how the Internet has helped shape his career as a DJ and Producer.
What are you up to at the moment?
In between mailing with Ministry of Sound about the release of Badman Riddim, negotiating deals with venues for my own events, photoshopping for the upcoming releases on my Dirty House label, Twittering about new projects on my Soundcloud, writing press messages for my 010Bookings artists, munching a few slices of bread and recording radio commercials I’m enjoying life to the fullest.
What would be your dream online music service?
A service and device that compiles, records and distributes the ideas straight from my brain onto the eardrums of people without interference of the industry for a fair price. Music is emotion, so every step closer to keeping that emotion as pure as possible is a dream on it’s own.
When did you decide to embrace an artist career, was it the initial plan?
Who ever said there was a plan? I’ve always made music because I like to make music. It’s not that I have to do it, it’s because I need to do it in order to function as a human being. If there was any plan at start it would be getting my music and mixtapes into the world for free, regardless the industry or laws created to generate profit.
How do you keep in contact with your fans? Through your site, community sites…?
I consider myself an artist from the ‘new’ generation. A generation no longer infected with the view of the scene as the classic industry used to be. So, internet is one of the most important parts of my career. It enables me to contact my complete fan base directly and personally. I usually spend at least 2-3 hours every day on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, Hyves and the forum on Vato.nl. Whether it’s a poke or direct 1 on 1 chat, I try to be in contact with my followers at all times.
How have the technological advances of the internet impacted your career?
Before my DJ/Producer career I was working as a developer of web applications, so the internet and the new media are like my favourite toys. I’ve always been on the cutting edge of technological advances to spread my music, trying to keep this as simple and fast as possible for the audience. Without the internet I wouldn’t be making a living out of music. The internet has given artists back the control and freedom to do as their creative hearts please.
Internet has changed a lot of things in the music industry: faster communication, new ways to monetize music, but also piracy. From your experience what are the pros and cons?
I believe that all music should be free in the first place. The only reason I’m participating in ‘releasing’ music is the marketing advantage a place in the charts gives my product. The money will be made on the performances I do, I’ve always put all my music online for absolutely nothing. If the music on it’s own is good enough, it will spread naturally through the hearts of music lovers worldwide. So the con is not making money on the release myself. Than again the pro is that the publishers, labels and other leeching processes on the creativity of the artist won’t make any either.
How has internet and the new media changed your way of working as an artist? How do you use it on a day to day basis? How do you see it evolving in the coming years?
Internet will only become more and more important for artists and creative individuals for that matter. Because of the massive amount of participants within a certain style, you’ve got to push yourself to the absolute limit of your own creative boundaries in order to stand out. Effectively this means a form of creative inflation is going to emerge. The coming years services will come and go, as the internet is still like a new formed eco system. Still evolving new services and disregarding the old ones. Like we’ve seen MySpace going up and down, all services will have a similar life cycle. Any artist being an early adaptor of the new mainstream service is going to be successful online. I used internet almost every waking moment, not only as promo, but also as a tool to collaborate with my people. Geographical location is no longer an issue, handling email and producing on tour has become every day business and collaboration with foreign artist has become like working with the neighbours. Internet will continue to make the world a smaller place with more possibilities for those who can follow it’s advance.
Do you think that giving away music for free (as free mp3 or streaming) could help you sell more physical or even digital releases?
I don’t even think that. I’m telling you that for a fact. The reason I’m doing this interview in the first place is because I’ve always put my mixtapes, bootlegs and releases online for free. If people like your music, they’ll put it on their iPod or telephone. It’s the best way of creating goodwill. Every time you get played, that’s a bit of priceless marketing. Once you’ve got an official release after that, people are more likely to pay for it out of loyalty. Combine this with social media and you’ve got a chance to enter every individuals personal circle of friends, leading to every greater goodwill and customer participation throughout your commercial network.
How could success on the internet (loads of plays, downloads, great blogs coverage…) help you to break a band into the traditional media realm?
I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m going to anyway. The traditional media realm is a bunch of money hungry back stabbing stubborn old fossils that can only be moved by brute force. Their industry was profitable when artists depended on their connections and companies to gain momentum. They had the power. Now with internet and social media, we can empower ourselves. The hilarious conclusion is that you need to work so hard on your own releases, distribution, marketing and promotion that once you’re big enough to get noticed by the traditional media realm you’ll no longer have a need for them.
What’s your schedule looking like for the rest of the year?
Stuffed as a pinada. I’m touring this summer with my own concept ‘Dirty House‘ throughout Europe and as an artist doing all the major music festivals in The Netherlands and Belgium. But, there is always room for more international gigs!
What are the next musical trends you see emerging?
Dubstep is reaching a peak in a while, with a lot of cross over dubstep/pop things coming up. In the Netherlands the ‘dutch house‘ sound is going out of fashion, worldwide it keeps being booming. The 5 year cycle of music had been broken by the internet and house will keep on being a profitable industry. The scene is going to become more professional because of global participation and the internet will establish a firm and stable position in the every day lives of people on the planet. Hiphop and House will continue to merge, technology will influence the live performances of DJ’s to the point they’ve become stage artists instead of record playing persons. I still see a lot of future for latin kind of beats, the classic ‘murder she wrote’ pattern of snares is still silently progressing in new styles such as UK Funky, Moombahton and a lot of other house music. Funny, how the influence of Jamaica is still ever present since the foundation of hiphop and all styles emerging from it.
Any advice you can offer to aspiring artists?
Do whatever you want to do, but what every you do you’d better do it to the fullest. Stand out of the crowd by passionately following your own musical heart and bring the best you can to the world. You are no longer a musician, but a product. Make sure your music, marketing, images, online presence and network is the best you can possibly make of it. The whole 360 has got be complete, once that is established you will be recognised, sooner or later. Regard the ones surrounding your that are always talking about ‘going to start’ this or ‘wanting to release’ that. Don’t believe in promises of a golden future, use your own two hands to reach golden present. Read ‘The Art of War‘ and use your common sense. This industry is a snake pit and once you’ve reached a point you’re finally making money of music, war is upon you whether you like it or not.