Spanish deejays and producers Chus L. Esteban and Pablo Ceballos both started their career in clubs when they were almost still teens, and then begun working together five years ago under the name of Chus & Ceballos also running together with Carlos Calico their own label called Stereo Production.
From the vibe of their Iberican Sound to Madonna's Hung Up, Chus & Ceballos meet Madonna Tribe to talk about their adventure in the music business, their work in the club scene, and producing and remixing the brand new single by the Queen of the Dance Floor.


MadonnaTribe: Hello guys and thanks for stopping by at MadonnaTribe.
We use to start our interviews asking to our guests how did their adventure in the music business begin. Chus & Ceballos started working together in 2001, what can you tell us about your own career before?

Chus & Ceballos: We use to say that you don’t choose music in a moment of your life, music chooses you the moment you are born, it's a way of life. Both of us have long carriers, Chus has been working in the music professional business like dj and producer for more than 18 years and Ceballos for more than 10.
Tired of the music made in our country, Spain, we decided to work together to a common music project - we believe in 2000 - one year later we started our own label "Stereo Productions", this year marks its fifth anniversary.


MT: How did you two meet, and why did you decide to start working together?

CC: We met many years ago, before deciding to work together. We lived in the same town and both of us were working in the music business. Chus was resident dj at a club in Madrid and I went to listen to him several times. Both of us were working in the music production and after a meeting we decided to work together.

: We can say that your experience starts from the world of clubs and the dance scene, and this has been a major part in your work, dee-jays are usually known for having residencies but you went further and had a chance to open your own clubs and organize events yourself.

What was the reason for such a choice?

: Because a good party is not only about the music, everything is important, the dj programming, the lights, the crowd, the sound system, the venue, atrezzo, so when you have a concept for a night, you need to work on all these things to bring people the vision of what a party is to you.

: A disco is somehow a mix of space, sound, lights, vibes and cool people.
How did your experience in the deejay booth influence the style and feel you wanted to create in your own clubs, was there a particular idea or concept you wanted to create for them?

Of course, the music is the start of the party, the deejay is the main actor and everything has to turn around him and once you do that, magic happens, every detail has to be perfect to make his work easier.
The kind of dj that we support is the dj that sets off for a trip, a long set of many hours where an history is told and everything is possible, any kind of music can go in but always with sense, fluid but with elements of surprise. That’s what we want at the club and what we work for.

MT: The new Madonna album is called "Confessions On A Dance Floor" and I can't help thinking that by asking you to remix her first single she really wanted someone who knew the Dance Floor so well to work on "Hung Up".
Did you have this feeling as well?


CC: That’s the first thing that we thought, you are right.
People consider us as those remixers that work better in the dancefloor, and I think that Madonna's team was into it. We work to make people dance and we love that.

: How were you contacted to work on "Hung Up"?

CC: We received an email from a Warner Manager, Orlando Puertas, asking if we were interested about working on a remix for him, after that, they told us it was going to be a remix for Madonna. That was very good news.

MT: How long did it take to create the mix?
Are there several different takes you worked on, versions that were somehow different from the final mix?

CC: It was a week of work more or less, the most important thing always is to have the main idea, we had it from the begining, we didn’t have much time to finish the remix so we were focused on one mix only. There is a dub version but with the same idea, just less vocals, that comes always usefull to deejays.

MT: The version of "Hung Up" produced by Stuart Price for the album is marked by the extensive use of the sample from Abba’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” Is that the version you had a chance to listen to as well when you were asked to produce your own remix of it or you listened to a demo or an unfinished version maybe?

CC: We received all the parts of the song separately, but only 30 seconds of the final mix, we didn'’t receive the whole track mixed, so we listened to the final version only weeks after we finished our remix.
This is a normal thing with the majors, it's a question of security, piracy is killing the business and they try to avoid that in any way.


MT: How was your approach to the song? I bet your remix will be quite different and how did you melt together Madonna and your “Iberican Sound”?

To us the essence of the song was of course the vocals and the Abba sampling so we respected that and we added our sound, our energy with the rest of the elements, good beats, a drive bassline, nice synths and a dinamyc structure, that is the Iberican touch.

MT: Which part of the original song you included in your mix, and which ones did produce yourself?

CC: We received all the parts of the song, and we only use the vocals and the Abba sampling that to us it's the spirit of the song, all the rest was our own production.

MT: The Chus & Ceballos remix of "Hung Up" is over ten minute long and happens to be the longest one in her new maxi single.
Which kind of structure did you create for it, and do you have a certain length for a song you feel confortable working with?

: We are djs and we know very well what the djs need, we never think about the time, we do what the remix needs to explain our idea. We use many different elements to make a rich production and you need time to explain all that, so our remixes use to be between 9 and 11 minutes long.


MT: What about the use of the original vocals?

CC: What can we say... Madonna is one of the best singers of the last years and a diva of disco Music, her voice has energy, feeling, it's sweet and deep at the same time, she has everything.

It’s a gift for us to work with a master voice like that.

MT: Your mix of “Hung Up” is not a conventional Madonna remix. Can it be considered a typical “Chus & Ceballos” mix, or it is somehow different from what you usually create?

CC: We try to be different and surprise ourselves in every production. We love when people say: hey... it doesn’t sound like you; it’s a challenge for us. We always look for new sounds, new effects, new beats, elements of surprise.

The common features in our remixes are the fact they dancefloor friendly, the groove, and the searching of elements that get a good reaction on the dancefloor.

This Madonna remix is different like our other remixes but it has these common elements that are featured in our sound.

MT: Do you usually test your remixes during your dee-jay sets before submitting them to the record company? Did it also happen with “Hung Up”, and which was the reaction of the crowd?

CC: We always do that, we do music for the dancefloor and we test everything before we send it. When you test the music in the club you see things that you don’t appreciate in the studio, so you go back to the studio and fix it. The reaction of the crowd was very good, the people was dancing and saying... "Hey is Madonna's voice but.. Which song is that?", it was funny.

MT: Did you have a chance to submit your work to Madonna herself or that happened through her producer Stuart Price or the record company? Did you happen to meet her in person?


CC: No, we didn’t have the pleasure to meet her, all our contact was with people from the company. We know that the remix was chosen by herself so we fell really proud and happy for it. We hope that we can meet her in the near future, and swap some comments of the remix.

MT: What was the first thing you thought when you learned that your remix had been chosen to be included in her new maxi single?

It was a big responsability to make this remix, and we had very few time to do it. The secret was to do the work like we usually do, without thinking it was Madonna or Warner, just like we are used to work, trying to reach the best, like a usual remix, without pressure.
When the company said that it was chosen, we felt that all the hard work of the last years was getting sense. To us and to the majority of electronic music remixers, Madonna is one of the top artist to work with. We felt really proud.

MT: With this new album Madonna gets back to her roots and to the dance scene she originally comes from. What is your opinion of Madonna as an artist, and did you experience of working for her change the way you consider her?

CC: We really respect Madonna’s work, she is always looking for new things, new producers, new remixers, always trying to innovate and always looking for upcoming tendencies.
This is the mentality that we have when we work as djs and producers so we feel very close to her spirit and the love that she has for the dance music. The chance that we had to remix her was the confirmation of this feeling that we have with her music.

MT: Madonna had the chance to have her songs remixed by a number of different talents through the years, and you can almost describe the history of the dance music of the last 20 years through the remixes of the Madonna hits.
Do you have a favourite remix of Madonna?

CC: There are many good ones but may be "What it feels for a girl" (Victor Calderone remix) and the remixes of "Bedtime Story" are some of our favourites…

MT: And do you play Madonna during your dee-jay sets?

CC: Before working on our remix I remember we used to play very good remixes from Victor Calderone & Deep Dish, or some Madonna classics in special moments like "La Isla Bonita". I think that every good deejay has played Madonna sometimes in his life.
Yes, there are very good Madonna remixes that we have played.


MT: Is “Hung Up” the first Madonna remix you produced, or you happened to work on some previous songs of hers, maybe just because you liked the idea or because you wanted to give a particular song a special feel?

: We used many times during our sets some Madonna samples or acapellas and mixed them live with the records, but this is the first serious Madonna’s work.

MT: If you had the chance to pick up one song from Madonna’s entire career to work on and to produce a "Chus & Ceballos" mix of it, which one would you choose?

CC: Difficult question, there are many, but maybe with songs like "Ray of Ligth", "Bedtime Story", "Justify My Love" or "La Isla Bonita"... I think we could do an interesting work. Madonna... did you hear that? (laugh)

MT: Did you have a chance to listen to the new Madonna album in full? Do you have a favourite track, and maybe one you would like to create your own mix for?

CC: The album is a secret at this time already so I didn’t have a chance to check it out, everybody has to wait till 15th November including ourselves. (sigh)

MT: What do you think about the concept of the new Madonna album, that it is continiuosly mixed as in a dee-jay set, something very common in deejays compilations but that only happened to Madonna with “You Can Dance” in the past.

CC: We really love it, is the same concept of a dj set, to make a fluid mix with different songs is a higher level, it’s a challenge for the producer and it's really close to a dj set. It's a concept really familiar to us.


MT: You produce remixes for a number of mainstream artists but also work on a huge number of tunes that were meant for the dancefloor you released with your own label. What is the main difference between working on a pop song and producing a dance track from scratch?

CC: When you work on a pop song your job as a remixer is to bring the song the closer to the dancefloor, the vocal is the most important part of the work, but when you are doing a track that is not a pop song you have more range of experimentation, everything is possible, you can do whatever you want, it's so creative but, at the same time, is more difficult to find the main idea without a main vocal behind. We love to do both things.

MT: Madonna performed “Hung Up” for the first time to a live audience during the MTV Europe Music Awards in Lisbon on November 3. You are very familiar with the Portuguese crowd and also is Madonna who stopped by during her last tour. How do you expect from the Portuguese audience will welcome her “back on the dance floor”?

: Portuguese crowd loves Madonna & dance music, and it has been a long time since Madonna latest live appearance for Portuguese people, so it will be a success for sure.


MT: How is your work at Stereo Production evolving? It marked somehow a move from event organization to full time production, artist management and also running your own record company. What is the most challening part of this adventure?

CC: We see it like one project: to work for quality dance music in any kind of way, from the production and remixing to the dj booth. Our label ‘Stereo Production’ and the other five ones, are a way to show people the music that we believe in. Maybe the dj work is the more challenging and exciting part because you have direct feedback from your crowd, the studio use to be hard work and sometimes it's a bit cold, it's just you and the machines, but, I can understand this work without being involved in all the different steps of the chain of the dance music. It's a way of life, it’s our way of life.

What have you recently been working on, and what is coming up next from Chus & Ceballos?

CC: We are working on a new album for next year, finishing new collaborations with some masters of the dancefloor like Danny Tenaglia or Victor Calderone, and working to new remixes as usual. New mix cd’s compilations and all this without stop, travelling every weekend all around the world. Hard work, hard life.

MT: Thanks a lot guys for saving a bit of time from your busy schedule and stopping by at MadonnaTribe. All the best!

CC: Thanks for the chance and our best.

For further information about Chus & Ceballos please visit

Thanks to Carlos Calico for his precious help.

Pictures courtesy of Stereo Production. This interview Copyright 2005 MadonnaTribe


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