With the temperatures rising these last couple weeks, Montreal is finally coming back to life. People waking up from hibernation and businesses getting ready for the summer, our beautiful city awakens.
The sun blazing and the degrees increasing, the city and its people are getting ready for the multiple summer festivities to come. The sidewalk sales, terraces, tam-tams, Piknic Electronik, festivals, F1 weekend and all other fun summer activities are finally back for another edition.
With the numerous festivals and musical events offered during the next months, we felt like the local scene needed a little more love and appreciation. After all, local music is said to be the heart of a city.
With the hundreds of shows scheduled, we must keep in mind the importance of supporting our fellow Montrealers. Together, we are the most powerful platform to help them grow, succeed and get their music out there. Surely, there is room for both international and local artists in our hearts. With that said, Husa Sounds decided to come out with a new series of articles showcasing both emerging and established local DJs.
In the first edition of the “Get To Know Your Locals” series, we interviewed Simply City (aka Cesar Romero). In anticipation of his next big Stereo night along side Guy J, we decided it would be a great opportunity to get to know Cesar better! [Event]
HS: When did you get into the music scene? How old were you when you started?
CR: “Got into this in the early 90’s right after the Military dictatorship of Chile ended, back then I was 15 years old. Many exiled Chileans were able to return to Chile from many places of the world especially from Europe….That produced a huge cultural explosion so me and a couple of friends started doing parties and getting deep in something we never knew was going to be huge.”
HS: Did you come from a musical background?
CR: “I have a cousin who is a professional pianist, he does concerts and everything. In his house he had pianos in almost every room and I used to go there and play with them… I was fascinated by that musical world and he saw in me a lot of musical potential, he got me an audition in the musical conservatory in Chile and I passed, but my mom and dad had limited resources and we could not pay for the course that was expensive so instead I turned the page I devoted myself to computer science and to being a DJ. So that’s my musical background, let’s say that god gave me a good ear. ”
HS: Where did you learn your skills?
CR: “Alone in my house. After that frustrating conservatory story I wanted to pursue DJ like nobody else. I asked my dad to help me to buy 2 Technics SL1600 turntables and a 2 channel mixer that I don’t remember the brand but I think was a Vestax. I bought myself 2 copies of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Album and I started mixing the two copy of “Billy Jean” non-stop for countless days/nights, weeks, hours until I got them playing “on beat” and that was my goal accomplished, learn how to mix without making a mistake, then I started to mix some other vinyls and it became very easy and seamlessly. I turned into the kid that brought mixtapes (yes tapes) to the school with music, I was the kid that brought mixtapes also to friends parties and stayed all night besides the tape player playing to my friends the music I had recorded the day before. ”
HS: Did you have any useful connections when you started in the business?
CR: “Not really I didn’t had any, I just became this passionate kid that was playing for people and they liked it….so with the years I became a strong local reference and one of the founders of the electronic music scene in Chile along Luciano, Villalobos and a big list of Chilean dj’s that each on their own (all without knowing what we were doing) became founders also and active members of the today’s electronic movement in Chile.
After time and around early 2000’s the game changed, this became massive and I found myself winning a dj competition, chosen by Paul Oakenfold at that time the number one dj of the world. Then I met Hernan Cattaneo when he start touring the world with Paul, etc, met a bunch of big players and rapidly I was opening for the best acts in the world in parties from 4.000 to 10.000. So, sort of say I built my network, my reputation, gained my experience, then I left Chile with a dream and started my adventure. ”
HS: Are you signed to any labels?
CR: “Yes, I have signed music for SudBeat, Global Underground, Renaissance, Hope, Dopamine, Particles, Proton, Imagine, Strange Town and I have some coming on Modern Agenda, More Particles/Proton, Movements and some other coming that I cannot talk about for the moment. ”
HS: Do you DJ, produce, or do both?
CR: “Yes Both. ”
HS: What’s your ideal/preferred DJing set up?
CR: “3 Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NXS2 a decent mixer and clear monitoring. ”
HS: What’s your preferred BPM?
CR: “Depending on the moment, as you know I do several openings at Stereo Montreal. When that happened I can range from 115bpm to 119bpm, above that I can go up to 124bpm headlining and in a festival things can get a bit faster since you’re playing and entertaining masses of people, energy is higher. So all depends of the moment, the place and for how many people you are playing. ”
HS: What genre are you mostly playing at the moment?
CR: “I play House, Tech House, Techno, Deep House in a progressive way by bringing groove, melodies and emotions, and sometimes a bit of darkness. A lot of music cataloged as Progressive House also. ”
HS: Have you always played this style?
CR: “No, I started with Rock, Hip Hop, Breakdance music….. my beginnings in raves were very acid house and techno…..while I was getting older my sound matured to what it is today. ”
HS: What piece of equipment could you not live without?
CR: “My computer. ”
HS: What are your career aspirations?
CR: “In term of career, my aspirations are to keep playing the most I can and releasing music the most I can. ”
HS: Tell us about the evolution of Cesar and/vs Simply City;
At some point Cesar “Bass” Romero stared to sound too 90’s for me. That was the main reason of evolving, so I had this idea of killing Cesar and reinventing another product. Everybody around me told me that I was crazy since with CBR I had already a career made and achieved a lot of things, many told me that starting from 0 it was almost putting everything on the trash. I started from 0 many times in my life so that wasn’t an issue for me. I ended up killing CBR and gave Birth to “Simply City”. To be honest I don’t regret it, I am very proud to say that Simply City is giving me a lots of smiles, the project is going around very fast gaining a lot of attention and love and I am happy it keeps continuously and organically growing. For those who know me, I hate rushing things and bust balls, so here I am very happy with the change and results. About evolution I think CBR brought me to where I am now, gave me so much beautiful moments, great nights/parties/people/travels/etc. Because of him I was able to meet key people from Montreal that felt in love with CBR, flew me in to play Bal en Blanc & Red Lite. I was living in Cancun at that time with my son, destiny sent us a huge hurricane and we lost everything so then I decided to move to Montreal after coming in and out to this city for almost 5 years. After Red Lite dies, eventually I went to knock at STEREO’s door, spoke to the owners and asked for a chance, 6 months after I was called to do my first opening at the club, It was for Hernan, I proved myself and I think they are happy with me and that makes me even more proud and appreciated, so yes I’m lucky to be a Stereo resident, but I earned it. Because of CBR I met my beautiful woman who happens to have years also in the scene, together we formed the cutest blended family that somebody could have dreamt of. So for me CBR is a huge part of my story I owe everything to him, thanks to him I was able to evolve to this new episode called Simply City a “pun” that reflects the simplicity of my music and life. I am a very simple guy, those who knows me they can tell you. I am a City guy also….all the action happens all the time in the City. So I was always amazed by this image I had in my head in fast forward “Listening this Simple track in a car at night, going around in a big city to then pulling over to see a break-dancer do his show”. So then was “Breaking” born released on Nick’s Warren label HOPE, with this sample from Arthur Baker – Breaker’s revenge…that was the point of no return. ”
HS: Who’s your biggest musical inspiration and favorite DJ/producer?
CR: “Musical Inspiration: Depeche Mode
Favorite DJ: HERNAN CATTANEO.
Favorite Producer: GUY J. ”
HS: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played for?
CR: “Not really sure the exact number but in between 40.000 – 50.000 people in places like Sensation White, Creamfields and Mysteryland. ”
HS: Which venues have you played and do you have a preferred one?
CR: “Not because I’m a resident dj there but the best venue I ever played is Stereo Montreal. Once you play there then you visit other places, your ears, mind & soul will thank you once you go back to that magical place J”
HS: Where would you like to play next?
CR: “Argentina, Israel, India, New York and wherever I get called to play.”
HS: What are the biggest challenges in order to achieve your goals?
CR: “Nowadays is Time and Discipline. With a family with 2 kids and a Day Job things are not evident, that’s my biggest challenge nowadays, the search for that balance. Family is demanding (full time), job is demanding (40 hours a week) then after that, I need to find time for Music. ”
HS: In the coming months, do you have any exciting gigs or new music coming out?
For the first time since the inception of the fairly new festival, I’m happy to be part of the 2018 AIM Electronic Music Festival’s lineup. Come celebrate with us on July 6, 2018 as I will be opening the trance room with some proper progressive.
We are also working on a South American tour with Emilie (my wifey/agent) and some friends in the business helping to make it happen. Plans include Chile and finally Argentina the mecca of Progressive in my books. For Music there is a Remix for Michael A, called “Nothing is Useless” on Strange Town Records, then I have a Remix for DOUSK coming on Particles, A remix for James Gill on Modern Agenda, finally a single EP I’m working secretly to be presented/released in my all-time best label. ”
HS: In your opinion, what does it take to make it in this business?
CR: “The DJ scene has changed a lot in the last 2 decades, but something stays the same: personality is the most important. You must have your own identity, and to try hard to be a leader instead of copying somebody else. So many DJs and producers just copy what they like, they go check the latest dj chart or dj sets, search for the track-list and they play it, so you’re basically hearing the same, nothing new. I saw dj’s wanting to be Luciano 1 year, then they wanted to become tale of us, then with the progressive booming they wanted to become Cattaneo or Warren. I don’t think is the right way, that is totally wrong. For example I play a lot with Hernan, he is my mentor, idol and I want to be like him as human, as person because he’s a role model for me but I don’t want to be him as an artist, there is already one and unique Hernan, that’s why Simply City was born and I have my unique style. If you think about the big DJs worldwide, they all have that quality; people need to hear your mixes or tracks and know that it’s you because of the way it sounded. Finally you must be humble, hardworking and specially have a strong character to overcome certain obstacles that the nightlife puts in your way. ”
HS: If you had 1 piece of advice to give newcomers, what would it be?
CR: “This career is long, do not expect to start today and be playing big stages tomorrow. This is like in every order of life when you enter in a job you start from 0, you don’t go directly to occupy the CEO office…..
Believe in the long-term, believe in building an extended career and a good local or global fan-base. Scene is very trend-oriented, therefore very tricky. You’ll think you’ve made it, and then the trend passes and only very few remain alive – that happens all the time. I saw a lot of names raising and dyeing.
a) Learn your stuff, you cannot show up to a show without not knowing how to connect your own equipment or use the equipment provided.
b) Learn how to properly mix, you cannot show up to a big stage if you only know how to mix with Traktor and sync, then your computer crashes and there’s a pair of cd players or turntable that you have no idea how to use. Learn the basics.
c) Learn how to do a proper warm up, if you have the chance to open for somebody do it proper and gain the respect of the dj after you and the people around…..your prime time will come easier …. With time.
d) All 3 above based in true stories I saw with my own eyes.
e) You have to go for it. Nobody is going to come and knock on your door and say you are great, you have to go and knock those doors and if you are good enough they will open. It may happen but usually you shouldn’t expect that. You should just go for it, do not just wait to be discovered, because it isn’t going to work like that.
f) Make Music, unfortunately we are not living in a “dj only” era, that’s past. You have to deliver as a dj and as a producer in order to gain attention.
g) Identity, when they see your name they know what’s going on.
h) You gotta be patient, like they said “the good things comes to those who wait”.
i) You need to know that overnight DJ success doesn’t last.
j) Be humble.
k) Control your Ego.
l) Be respectful and grateful with those who give you a chance.”
After seeing Simply City open and close for Hernan Cattaneo last month, I can say without a doubt that next weekend’s event will be another incredible and successful night for the DJ. As always with Cesar and Guy J, we predict a night filled with emotion, hypnotic sounds and good vibes.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Simply City better! For more information, follow the links below
See you all under the disco ball next Sunday.
Article by: Telsa EP