Interview by Paul Salfen
When we last caught up with rising star Deorro, the 26-year-old LA-based DJ, he was packing houses across the country but had yet to put an album out. He was excited about the possibilities but ran into unexpected delays. But instead of his popularity waning, it only increased the demand when he came back out. At last glance in Dallas, Deorro was huddled over tacos backstage at Stereo Live, barely up before his set. But he went out and delivered to a diverse and loyal crowd. Now it’s hours before his set and he’s full of energy, excited about the whopping new 26-trck double album, Good Evening, and ready to entertain a packed venue at House of Blues. Lounging in the back of his tour bus, the DJ – born Erick Orrosquiesta, looks ahead at his bright future.
AMFM Magazine: Last time we saw you, you didn’t even have an album out and now your first one is a double. You must have been busy!
Deorro: Yeah, man. You know what’s crazy? I had planned this whole entire era where I would actually slow down and taking care of my situations at home with my kids and stuff – and it’s real good now. I said to myself, “As soon as this gets sorted out, I’m gonna dive back into EDM” and I had promised my management and everything and as soon as I released the [Vice] “Obsession” remix, I was like, “here’s the next one, here’s the next one…” And I was like, “Cool. We gotta get back to work.” I feel like the timing was perfect with the album because there was a lot of emotional stuff going on at home, you know? So I’m feeling good, back on the road, and back doing EDM now, so all good.
AMFM: It’s hard when you’re supposed to be the life of the party to have all of that going on.
Deorro: Yeah, definitely man. It takes just as much energy to do this and I have to revolve my life around this as with my kids – if not more.
AMFM: These kids in the venue are like your kids, though.
Deorro: Yeah, these are definitely the ones I do it for. Every time I get a compliment like, “Oh, that was an amazing show” and I get a chance to respond to them face-to-face, it’s great. It wouldn’t be the same show without that crowd. I could be doing the same set in my room, you know? But it’s definitely the crowd…they’re my babies- it makes sense. I take care of them.
AMFM: The “panda fam,” right?
Deorro: Yeah! Fuck yeah, dude!
AMFM: You have the panda tattoos like they do…
Deorro: Yeah, I actually have a couple [shows arms] and a couple on my calves. It’s incredible to see that. I’m very optimistic and I like to think that’s going to be with them for life. I don’t know how to thank them. I think it’s really fucking cool and I hope that every person that gets them knows that there’s a deep meaning behind it.
AMFM: Now with so much new music and a lot of other classics and remixes, how do you decide what will go in your set, especially tonight?
Deorro: Yeah, especially this week since the majority of my audience will be Latin so I’ll mix in that and the new album – and I feel like it’s already been around, but I’m trying to make it a thing because I love it, this “hard bounce” sound. It’s like an open bounce but it’s at 140 so it’s like hard-style. I’m already playing older songs like that and I’m trying to continue it so it keeps going.
AMFM: Even though you just put out your new album, I’m sure you’re already thinking about the next one.
Deorro: Oh, man…right before I left I was thinking about that. The day before, I was like, “Here’s another EDM track” and then “Here’s another EDM track.” I was able to send 3 before I left so management was like, “Yo, man. This is going to get us to go to work!” and I’m like, “Everyone’s going to work!” [Laughs]
AMFM: And you do a lot of work while you’re on the road in this bus, too, right?
Deorro: Definitely. I think that’s one of the biggest advantages, that I’m a mobile producer. I feel like this generation of producers has the advantage and we need to take advantage of it. We have everything we need on a computer. People say, “What’s your favorite instrument?” and I say, “My laptop.” [Laughs] All of the stuff I have access to, it’s incredible. Then you’ve got sample pack companies and they’ll just hit you up and I’m like, “Man, sure!” And that helps a lot – getting support not just from the audience, but the production community.
AMFM: Plus you spend a lot of time on the road because you’re actually afraid of flying aren’t you?
Deorro: Oh my God, dude! I fucking hate flying! It scares me, man! The more you fly, the better the chances of something bad happening. It’s inevitable, though. You have to suck it up and go through it. One half of me says, “Nothing is going to happen” and the other half says, “But what if it does?” [Laughs] It’s been a while since I toured the world. I went to Japan and next year I’m going to Europe.
AMFM: Yeah, you have to get out there whether you like it or not.
Deorro: I gotta do it. I know it’s about talent but it’s really about hard work and consistency. It can be more powerful than talent.
AMFM: Is that what you tell the kids at shows when they ask you for advice?
Deorro: Hell yeah! My advice whenever someone says, “What advice to you give to young producers?”…my thing is like, you have to do some things you don’t want to do. So say you want a house or building, you have to go cut down trees and put it all together and put in all that hard work. But imagine if you could get yourself to fall in love with the process of building that house. But not necessarily the house, but the process of making the house. Imagine how many houses you’ll end up with? So I always say fall in love with what you’re doing and not what you want to get done. Making music was my reward at the end of the day. People say, “I’m not happy with my music. How do I get it recognized?” I’m like, “You should already be happy.” Since I was young, making music was my reward. Because I had a child really young when I was 16, I would always be on the computer with one headphone on because the other ear was listening to make sure my baby was breathing right. That was my paycheck, that was my trophy. So to expect a trophy out of my trophy? I don’t ever give advice on something I haven’t experienced. So I’ll tell them it worked for me and maybe it can work for you.
AMFM: You’ve been through a lot! And you even went through a name change.
Deorro: Yeah, dude! That was scary, man. I got a cease and desist letter from a lawyer and I was like, “No! My career is over!” But you have to go through those speedbumps and those hard times to get to here. I always say to get to that big stage, you gotta bust your ass off. Someone like me, I produce music and I’m up there but even for someone who doesn’t produce their own music, they still have to bust their ass off. They gotta stay on the road. They can’t just take some time off and work on some music and they gotta do a shit-ton of marketing to get up on that big stage.
AMFM: Who’s your inspiration in the business?
Deorro: For me, I’m a musician, so on the pop side, [hit producer] Max Martin. He’s had it figured out for years. He’s had it figured out since Britney Spears and NSYNC – for decades! You want a hit, you go to him. And on the production side, Hans Zimmer and John Williams. They produce music that brings out the emotions, man.
AMFM: Well, you’re still on your first album but you keep playing bigger venues every time so we’ll hope to see you at the next level at an even bigger venue next time.
Deorro: I hope so. My people have never failed me I’m going to do my best so I don’t fail them, man.