He's a star among today's music producers and remixers, creating an incredible number of club hits and remixes for loads of major artists. MadonnaTribe chats with the one and only Victor Calderone about his work, his music and working with the one and only Queen of Pop.


You are one of the most famous Dj and remixer in the world, how did it begin for you? Is this the work you always wanted to do?

Victor Calderone: I never dreamed it was going to be like this. It started when I was 16 just deejaying and my older brother was a DeeJay and that's how I got into it.

So it's a family of dj's?

VC: Yeah (laughing) exactly. There was always music playing in my house, always records everywhere, so yes, I grew up in a home always with music on so that's how I got into it, it was through my older brother.

M-Tribe: How do you usually transform a song you have to remix. Do you take ideas from the original track?

VC: Well, I try not to take too much from the original. Usually the only thing I use are the vocals from the original song but I always keep in mind that I want to keep the integrity of the original, of course it's gonna be a new production and remix but I want it to be identifiable and that people can tell it's a remix of that specific song.
I try to get inspired from the vocals and the melody, usually that's where I take my inspiration from. It's no magic formula or anything, it's just something that happens. I sit in the studio, I listen to the vocals and I just keep layering sounds and beats and drums and let it unfold.

M-Tribe: Do you test your remixes in clubs before sending them back to the labels to feel the crowd's reaction and maybe adjust few things?

VC: Whenever I have time, whenever the deadline is not "right away" if I have the time to test it and maybe go back into the studio and make adjustments I usually try to make as many adjustments as possible before I send it back to the label so yes I have the opportunity to play it out, of course I definately try cause it has always helped, cause whenever I played out I would always hear something and I go back to the studio.

But most of the time you never get a chance to test it, usually they always want it right away and... especially with Madonna. Most of the mixes I did for her... usually they give me three/four days...

M-Tribe: Oh Really?

VC: Yeah... I never had a lot of time to work on her mixes.


Frozen was you first Madonna remix, the first of a long time collaboration, did Madonna contacted you herself?

VC: It was actually through a mutual friend, Ingrid Casares. I was working with Ingrid in Miami. At the time Ingrid had a night club and we were working together and Ingrid loved what I was doing and she said "I'm gonna let Madonna hear what you're doing. Madonna is working on her new album right now' at the time. 'I'm gonna introduce you guys".


But at the time I didn't think anything was going to happen. I thought she was just talking basically.

And one day Ingrid called me when I was in Miami and she said come and meet me at China Groove a restaurant in Miami and she didn't tell me why, I went there and when I got there Madonna was sitting there with her.

And that's it, that's how it happened. We met each other that night and she asked me if I was going to remix her first single. And the first single then was Frozen...

And it became a classic somehow, Madonna fans and fans of remixes in general love it. What was your approach to the song and was it difficult to turn a slow song into a club anthem?

VC: Well it doesn't always work. Sometimes the tempos really don't lend themselves to be remixed.

If you speed it up sometimes the vocals don't sound great so sometimes it works, sometime it doesn't, sometimes the record labels don't listen, sometimes when I tell them it's not a good idea to remix the song they still want to do it, they still insist.

I've been lucky with Madonna.
A lot of her stuff works very well on the dance floor and it lends itself to be remixed. I guess it's always because of her connection to dance, to the dance music world and that's why it always works.


M-Tribe: You worked twice on Madonna's "Sky Fits Heaven". What is the main difference between the version included in the "Drowned World/Substitue For Love" single and the one you released on E=VC2?

And how did you come up with the idea of making a new, different mix of the same song?

VC: Well originally I wasn't happy with the first mix.
It was something that I did and I didn't get a chance to really spend the time that I wanted on it and in the end it didn't go into the direction that I really wanted it to. So I always loved the vocals and I always said "I'm gonna do the mix over again".

The opportunity came up when I was putting together my album I thought about using that vocal and do a new mix of the song and have it exclusively for my album. And that's why I did it.

M-Tribe: And speaking of exclusives, there's your Runaway Lover remix that hasn't been officially released yet.

VC: Yeah, that was a remix I did again exclusively just for my album. I asked her for the vocals so I could remix the song for my compilation and they agreed to let me have it. That's how that happens.

M-Tribe: So is it going to be published soon on your next compilation?

VC: Possibly, I don't know. I'm doing various different things now. And I decided not to use "Runaway Lover" on the last album cause I wanted to do something very different.

M-Tribe: Your mixes are a sort of crossover between the eighties classics such as the ones by Junior Vasquez or the Masters at Work and the late nineties beats.
Your style is always evolving. From "Frozen" to "Hollywood" there are some huge differences. Has the way you deal with Madonna remixes changed through the years together with your own style?

VC: Yeah I think so, some of my interests have evolved along with my style and working with Madonna you have to always try to come up with new different things.

Working with her you don't want to repeat yourself and you want to experiment and try different things and when you do that sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't but she respects you when you try to experiment and push the envelope and do things in a different way and not give her the same style of mixes you did last time.

She enjoys that.


That's what she likes and she respects that.
For me What it feels like for a girl... that's one of my favourite mixes that I done for her. It's not dance music and among the mixes I've done I love this one the most because I tried something really different. And I think it was her favourite as well.


M-Tribe: Well she used that version on her 2001 Drowned World Tour live and she sang the spanish lyrics on it.

VC: Yeah

M-Tribe: Have you been involved into creating that live version or it came up as a surprise to you?

VC: I was really surprised actually. For me it was the biggest complement. It just showed she really loved what I did and loved it enough to use it in her show. For me it was very exciting and rewarding. It really paid off to try something different.

M-Tribe: Does a Spanish version of the remix using the Spanish vocals exist?

VC: No, it doesnt.
I just did the one with the original vocals. She did the Spanish version later on.


The story that is being told in many publications is that after you did Frozen for Madonna, she was so impressed that she recommended you to Sting to create a new version of for his "Desert Rose".
How did that happen and how was working with Sting, who is someone who is even more far from dance music ?

VC: For me it was really exciting because Sting like you said is someone who really didn't have any connection with the dance music industry and so I received a phone call from him and I couln't believe that he was interested in a dance remix off one of his records and the whole connection came from Madonna.

She recommended me to him and when he called he was like: "Madonna recommended you so are you doing my first single?" It was an exciting time for me.


M-Tribe: In the past months, speaking about your work with Madonna, you said "I need to take a break from the Madonna stuff, I don't want it to seem as if I'm just riding her success".
Do you think that something new, and completely different, can be thrilling enough to have both Victor and Madonna's fans enjoying again a new collaboration?

VC: Oh I don't know. I don't want to say no or never, you never know what happens. I think if we would go into the studio it would be a great collaboration.

I just think I needed to take a break from remixing and give some other talented people around the chance to remix some of her songs as well and also like you said I didn't want to seem like I was always just riding on her success.


I was always recognized for Madonna and I worked with a lot of other great artists such as Destiny's child, Garbage, Sting and a some really good artists but people from magazines always wanted to talk about Madonna, which is great but I just wanted to take a break.

I think it was important for me to take a break from that.


Speaking about the whole range of your remixes is there one you're particulary proud of?

VC: Like I said my favourite Madonna remix is What It Feels Like For A Girl and I also have to say Desert Rose, the one I did for Sting.

It's something I really enjoyed doing. I love the original song, I love the original vocal and it was a really big success for me.

You know I have a lot of remixes that I really like but those are the ones I'm really proud of.

M-Tribe: Which are your future projects, are you working on something special at the moment?

VC: I'm working on mostly original new material. Not taking too many remixes. I'm just trying to focus on my own original work at the moment.

M-Tribe: Can't wait to hear that. Vic, thank you very much for sharing some of your time with us.

VC: It was a pleasure.

M-Tribe: Thank you.


MadonnaTribe would like to thank Victor Calderone for sharing a bunch of his time with us and for the gift of his music in so many unforgettable tunes.
Special thanks to David Lopez for his help and assistance. To know more about the art and talent of Victor Calderone and be up-to-date with the latest news be sure to visit his official website at VictorCalderone.com


Copyright 2005 MadonnaTribe


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