Story By Paul Salfen
Unlike many jet-setting, hard-partying DJs on tour, Deorro prefers to take a tour bus and sleep until closer to his set time. It’s a very simple decision for him – he says he’s “terrified” of flying and just loves to sleep like his spirit animal, the panda. As he comes off the bus at Stereo Live in Dallas on his Detour Ahead stop, Erick Orrosquieta 25, formerly known as TON!C, has a few things left to do before he hits the stage, including a truly Texan meet and greet, complete with tacos and tequila.
Although still young, Deorro has been at it a while. He started playing DJ sets at 14 and has been producing his own tracks since the age of 17. He first made his mark with the 2013 single “Yee” on Hardwell’s label, Revealed Recordings. Since then, he has collaborated with the likes of Steve Aoki, Diplo, R3hab, Chris Brown, and merengue star Elvis Crespo
The house prodigy now has 20 million plays on Soundcloud, his own label, PandaFunk, and a devoted sect of fans known as the “PandaFam.” This month he will finally release his first full-length album, Good Evening, on Ultra Records.
Right before hitting the stage in front of a loving sold out crowd, Deorro took some time to talk to AMFM Magazine about his incredible journey so far.
AMFM Magazine: What a great night! We have tacos, tequila, and a sold out crowd that can’t wait to see you. You must be pretty happy right now.
Deorro: Yeah, man – and we had a birthday in the house, too! I love Texas. I always say it’s my favorite state because a lot of my real fans that support the music – they’re out here. They’ve always supported me since the beginning of my career so it’s always a pleasure to come back. It’s always special when I come here.
AMFM: There are a lot of aspiring DJs out there looking up to you. What do you tell them?
Deorro: Honestly, one of the questions I get asked most from them is how do they get on to the stage – and I want to get them fixed on the art of producing. It was the music that really got me there. You know, with DJ Mag, I never did a campaign – it was because of the music. The reason why it’s sold out tonight is because of the music. It really does come down to how passionate you are. You don’t want to be another copy that’s coming out that’s already been done before. My biggest advice to producers is to not sit down and produce something they don’t understand, which I hate. Nobody understands what a hit is but if I had to put it in words, it’s something that has never been done before. When it comes down to it, everyone is their own unique creator. Instead of sitting down and saying, “I want to make a hit,” sit down and say, “What’s never been done before?” There are two perspectives – that one is from the creative creator. The other is from the audience. “What do you want to hear? What’s fun?” The people I hang out with are all about the same age and same generation and there’s not much difference when it comes to things we like. And have a good time with it. Once you do that, everyone will like you for doing something unique and they’ll support it – as long as you stay humble and show appreciation for everything.”
AMFM: You still do have to do a lot of shaking hands and kissing babies before the music starts with meet and greets and interviews.
Deorro: Yeah, man. A lot of people in the industry have always shown love. So I’m getting love from both sides: the people that support my music and the people that are trying to convince them to check it out. It’s a blessing and as long as more support keeps coming in, I’ll put more work in. I’m doing what I love and I’m blessed – I wouldn’t be here without any of my team. I always say on the internet that’s it’s not just me – there’s a big team behind me. I’ll never be the one that tells everyone what to do. It’s always a team effort. People always give me the credit but I always make sure it’s spread out evenly.
AMFM: Do you know what you’ll play tonight or does it depend on the crowd?
Deorro: No, it’s always different. I understand the area that I’m going to be digging through with my music. Like when I’m up North near Canada, they like more pop stuff but I just like to have fun with it and be all over the place.
AMFM: So you’re about to go on and you have no idea what you’ll play?
Deorro: Well, you’ll hear some of my stuff because I have to play the “staple songs” but I’ll play some of my favorite tunes and try out some new tunes.
AMFM: It’s great to see all of the people with panda heads out in the audience, too!
Deorro: Right? It’s crazy, man. I’m telling you Texas is special. It’s like I’m looking into a mirror. Pandas everywhere!
AMFM: How did that whole thing start with the panda being your mascot of sorts?
Deorro: It’s a long story, but back then when we were just starting off, it was about the movement – about paying it forward – “PF” and that’s how we got the initials for “PandaFunk.” The reason I chose pandas is because they were about to go extinct and the world got together and we saved them. The idea is that we wanted to base it on saving the dream, saving the art, saving the music – and hope. And they look really cool, man! And I got the honor and pleasure to meet one. It was surreal. They’re so gentle and remind me so much of me – just sleep and eat! [Laughs]
AMFM: You’ve been releasing singles for years, but we’re finally about to get an album, right?
Deorro: The album is finally coming in! I’ve been saying it for three years but it finally is. [Laughs] The first single came out and another one came out today and we’re going to drop two more singles and finally dropping the album at the end of March. I’ve been working so hard on that album so I’m stoked to finally put it out. I really expressed myself through the music. I’m playing violins, I’m playing cellos – it’s a story from beginning to end. It’s a trip – it’s outside of EDM. But if all else fails I can always jump back. This is my home: EDM.