When you’re commonly known as El Maestro in the industry, there must be one, or a thousand reasons for that. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1965, Hernan Cattaneo has established his presence as a pillar and originator of electronic music. Read on for an exclusive interview with Hernan and a look back onto his singular trajectory.
The artist starts his professional career in the early 1990s working for FM Z95, a local Argentinian radio station. He cites Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode and New Order as early influences. Landing his first ever residency @ Clubland, in his hometown, in 1996. His passion, professionalism & dedication to dancefloor reading leads him to friendships with household names like Sasha, John Digweed and Paul Oakenfold – the latter being so impressed by his craft that he invites him to open on tour, and eventually signs him on his Perfecto imprint. From then on and within a couple years on the international DJ circuit, he becomes the first ever South American to land residency for the Cream global brand, either playing in Liverpool, England or Ibiza, Spain. He’ll later make waves with his longtime affiliation with Renaissance superclub in Nottingham, UK for whom he releases countless & timeless mix compilations. The man spent over ten years in the Top 100 DJ Mag, reaching #6 at some point. Father to the Sudbeat label, he now uses his over-30-years career experience and knowledge to curate & promote the best, most forward-thinking progressive music from upcoming artists as well as veterans, that you can all hear on his Residency radioshow, which now counts an impressive 450 editions.
Mr. Cattaneo, welcome to Husa Sounds! Thanks for being here.
In the two last years, the world as we knew changed a lot. How have you been?
Hey there ! Thanks for reaching out. First few months of the pandemic were not too bad. After more than 20 years travelling non-stop, I enjoyed being at home with family and no agenda. Later on, when we all saw that things were going to be stopped longer than expected, I started working on other projects that didn’t require touring, i.e. the DJ streams, the book (El Sueño Del DJ), the HBO thing and the Netflix documentary ; all work that is very time consuming and would have been really difficult to do in normal DJ globetrotting times.
Everywhere in the world, restrictions seem to loosen up. The world is slowly going back to its normal activities. How does it feel going back to this rhythm?
Oh man, I missed that “normal” so much! Late 2021, I’ve been travelling to US & Mexico doing shows and can’t tell you much much I enjoyed going back to sharing music in a face-to-face format. It now seems like the whole planet is coming back, allowing us to do our thing so I’m really pleased to be planning 2022, exactly the way we used to before the pandemic. Since I was 12 years old, I’ve been a DJ. I never did anything else than spend all weekends trying to make people dance so I really needed that back in my life.
In collaboration with Netflix, you’ve recently put out the amazing documentary Connected. Can you tell us a bit more about the project and how it came to life?
Well, the main idea was to make symphonic concerts as a reply to the media in Argentina, that always portrayed a very bad image about DJs and club culture. Luckily, it went super well. Once it was done and with our reputation restored a bit, we felt it was a great opportunity to put together a documentary and to work with Nextflix to show the Connected project to a bigger and wider audience worldwide, as our friend & producer Nacho Mazzini had quietly filmed and compiled the whole project’s process.
For the shows at the Opera House, the biggest challenge was getting support. As I said, in Argentina at that time, DJs didn’t have a good reputation so we faced a big opposition to play at the highly revered Teatro Colon. But when it was all said and done and got full approval from the crowds, suddenly the wind changed and we were the heroes of electronic music ! (Hernan laughs.)
I try to see the good side and I’m very pleased with not only the results, but also the fact that we were the first providers of club music & young culture to enter this highly coveted place. I’m sure that it will give an impulse to many other younger artists to follow.
Any other big projects you’re working on at the time? Any upcoming remixes or originals?
I’m always working on something 🙂 I’m busy translating my book (El Sueño Del DJ/The DJ’s Dream) to be published in English in 2022. It was a bestseller in Latin America last year so I’m looking forward to having this new edition sent out to the rest of the world. Also did remixes with Soundexile for the new Stephan Bodzin album and with Marcelo Vasami for a forthcoming Husa & Zeyada single.
How is your label Sudbeat evolving these days? Any upcoming stuff you’d like to share with us?
We are really happy with it. Even during the pandemic, the label never stopped pushing the sounds we like and giving visibility to our producers. We have a long list of releases lined up and since I’ve already been testing them on the road, I know our followers will be really pleased when they are out, anytime soon.
You are finally coming back to Stereo Montreal, after being cancelled there through the pandemic. How do you feel coming back to this special place you once called ‘’the best club in the world’’?
I can confirm March 19th as the date for another long set. I really can’t express how excited I am to finally return to my favourite nightclub, one that I’ve missed so much. I spent so many nights thinking about it. Luckily, it’s very soon !!!
How does one prepare for a marathon set, going on for hours on end?
We progressive DJs usually do long sets. I try to build up in a subtle way, from slower tunes, looking around, reading and feeling the vibe and the crowd. Playing at Stereo is always a treat because the quality of the sound and the club are unparalleled and the crowd is all in for the long run, they’re long sets lovers. It’s ALWAYS special. To be patient, well rested and in good shape is very important. Most of the times, our good friend Dr. Kaz helps us along the night with some stretching & natural good energy stuff. He’s a massive help in such circumstances.
In previously mentioned documentary Connected, we get a glimpse of Hernan the husband and father of three. What is your secret to handling both career and family successfully?
The balance, it’s the secret. No other. I spend all my days between my family and the music. Of course my wife & daughters come first, but Jackie helps a lot so I can also spend all the time I need on the DJ stuff.
What do you feel is the key to a long lasting success like the one you’re enjoying?
I think there are four main things for a long term global career. With talent, lots of hard work and some luck, you can definitely find some success in the DJ world. Once you have that, it’s crucial that you are well surrounded (family, friends, agent). Without that last one, you may have success, but it will not last (the sad story of Avicii is perhaps, the best/worst example of that).
Thank you for your time, Hernan. Wishing you the best for the future.
Same goes to you all. Thank you for having me. 🙂