Deorro discusses family, overcoming homelessness, and his album, ‘Good Evening’
Riding high on his legacy as Ultra Records’ resident bounce-head, Deorro began his DJ career by playing local gigs in Los Angeles when he was 14, and by 17 he was already producing his own tracks. Although he released several singles in the earlier stages of his career, including his remix of “Make Some Noise” and his original track, “Yee,” Deorro’s big breakthrough happened in 2014 when he released the hit single “Five Hours” which charted in Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Shortly after its release, Deorro announced on Twitter that he was going to take a break from DJing in order to focus on producing and expanding his record label, Panda Funk. A couple years and several singles later, Deorro began working on a new project: a concept album called Good Evening. The recently released album takes its form as a continuous compilation of twenty-four tracks, showcasing the producer’s versatility as an artist. Unsurprisingly, the album includes an eclectic arrangement of sounds and moods.
Every track on the album features a different style, tempo, and rhythm which makes the album absolutely thrilling – the juxtaposition of heavy hitting bass tracks and tracks drenched in pretty melodic synths creates an air of mystery and suspense for listeners. Deorro’s artistry is exemplified in his latest work as every track becomes a testament to his vision.
After listening to Good Evening in its entirety, one can see that while he maintains a distinctive sound, Deorro experiments with many different vibes throughout the album. The LP pushes the envelope by placing contrasting tracks together within the conceptual framework of one long and moving piece. By exploring more downtempo electronic styles, experimenting with slower and more melodic progressions, and flexing the bounce sound that he has been known for over the years, Deorro’s Good Evening will have something for everyone.
We sat down with Deorro to talk Good Morning and what’s up the producer’s sleeve next.
Let’s talk about your new album. It’s amazing… I love when electronic music artists go for the album because it’s such a forgotten medium. The music industry is very single driven–to the degree even that most albums are just 16 singles in 16 different directions. What was your inspiration for this album?
It was life. I had a whole existential moment, you know. I really wanted to help people look at death in a positive way. For me, I feel like life is all one gift… and death is a part of that. You can’t really take the gift and take that part out of it. You can’t wan’t death to not happen because it’s a part of life. I just wanted to find a positive way to look at it. It’s a message for my children and my girlfriend–a positive ‘keep your head up, it’s going to happen.’ Let’s just be happy with what we have right now.
So, when you said you had ‘an existential moment,’ that’s not an exaggeration, that’s literally what happened to you. Was there anything that had you thinking about that specifically or were you just seeking inspiration?
Well this album has been 3 years in the making. I’m a perfectionist so it takes a long time. I’ve always wanted to do something for people out there struggling. You know, I come from a struggle. I’m on that same path. At the beginning of this path I was literally homeless. Me and my family were on the streets and that’s not exaggerating, that’s 100% true. For me it was all about having a positive outlook on it. Ever since the day we became homeless, I started to just keep my head up and try to look at everything positively. Like I said, ever since then, I’ve always wanted to take that message and bundle it up and put it into an album and some music. So that’s were the album came from.
That’s an incredibly powerful story. First, let me say congratulations on your journey.
Thank you man.
What did you tell yourself to dig yourself out of that? How did you go for it?
For me the most important thing is being able to relate. I never really wanted to become the person who… I’m not a superstar. I’m not any better than anyone else and I don’t want to forget where I come from. I love relating to others on the other side of the speakers. That’s where I come from. The majority of my fans – a lot of Latin people – they have big dreams too. For me it wasn’t really about chasing a dream of having fame, it was more or less just doing what I love. So when it comes down to it, that for me is key. Being related to the audience. I just try to be myself on stage or even on Twitter… so that way if people relate to me they’re actually relating to a real person. I don’t have to put on a uniform and be someone else to go onstage, you know?
As someone who goes to a lot of shows and sees a lot of people play live, you can feel in a moment if someone is being genuine.
That’s important to me. A lot of people who support me… they’re hardcore and it’s so great because when I meet them in person, we click. I have so many friends now from that and it’s so cool. There’s just so much love. For me it’s just the power of music. I am always reminded of that when I try to leave the show and people want to take pictures, I’m like ‘wow.’ Every time I have to be reminded of just how far my music has reached.
I told my son the other day..he wants to do music, and I don’t want to force him into it. He was joking about it and I told him that music is not a joke to me. I’ve been able to touch lives with it. I told him I may not have been much of a good father, but I’m good at that and that’s something I can teach you if you want to learn. I’ve touched a lot of lives, I’ve saved lives with it and, for me, I believe I’ve saved my life as well. It’s given me everything that I’ve then been able to provide for my family. I’m glad I have that to pass off to my children if they ever take some interest in it. If my son wants to become a fireman, more power to him, but I hope he does get into music because I have a lot I can teach him there.
It sounds like music is almost like a church for you maybe? A a network of people communing in that same therapeutic way. Do you feel like electronic music is especially well suited for that sort of communal energy and that sort of journey?
I used to listen to Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, even Rage Against The Machine and Slipknot. I’m all over the place but what I really used to love were these albums. I think Dark Side of the Moon is one of my favorite albums of all time… but that’s something that EDM is lacking. Other than that, I feel like yes, EDM could go down that road, and become something that’s not just a phase. I feel like all it needs is for every artist to take a moment to present a project that is who they are. With that, I feel like EDM will have a lot more ground to go and explore.
Do you have any artists that you see doing that right now? Doing things that are pretty different, I mean… Who inspires you right now?
There are so many of them out in the world. I’ve met so many unique artists and I’m really trying to encourage a lot of people who support my music, I always tell them, I can only give you direction but it’s up to you to really give it a taste of yourself. That’s something I encourage from so many. Right now Coldplay. Alicia Keys, I love The Internet, The Neighborhood, Mumford and Sons… I could go on all day. I still listen to a lot of those old school rock bands too.
Circling back to before, I do agree with you that this genre really needs that kind of experimentation but I think that dance music in general is more capable of fostering that right now because DJs still have a degree of anonymity. A DJ can go stand in an audience in a way that Mumford can’t, and the dance floor – the darkness of the club – is the great equalizer. It certainly helps that production is so cheap, too.
Yes. With the album too, I want to say, it’s all over the place. I have violins, trumpets, drumlines, tracks at 110, 140, not just 128. There’s experimentation. Hopefully it kind of motivates people to not be afraid to step outside themselves. It’s really not like what you typically hear in my sets.
What’s your goal for the album?
For people to ask for another? I don’t know if I can push it up into this year, but the Latin album. I’ve already started on some ideas so hopefully I can get that out by the end of the year.
So what, Merengue inspired? Bachata?
Yes, Batchata, Cumbia, some Mariachi in there with some EDM.
In a way, is seems like you’re taking on these very intentional projects. You’re taking it upon yourself to do something you’re personally not seeing?
For me that’s something I always encourage other artists to do. People always ask me, “How do you make hits?” For me, my best advice for young producers is that you’ve got to see yourself as two people. One, as a creative creator. Two, as a part of the audience. When I play for people, they’re usually my same age so you have to put yourself on the other side of the speakers and really ask yourself what it is you want to hear. If you’re at a festival ask yourself ‘what do I want to hear, what will be fun?”; as a creative producer, you have to ask yourself ‘what doesn’t exist yet?’
It’s a bit like that Ghandi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Exactly. It’s like a lot of people say, “Okay, that’s a hit,” but when you hear that ever lasting hit for the fist time, it’s always something you’ve never heard before. It’s always something entirely brand new. You can’t be afraid to take on that frontier and be the pioneer of a new sound. You never know, you could be on the frontier of a whole new genre. How do you think things like that happen? It’s because people try those things that have never happened before.
Stream Good Evening below:
This article features introductory reporting by Kassi Chrys.