Hector: Taking The Plunge
Regularly gracing Mobilee line-ups and releases only a few years back is a forgivable oversight when one considers Hector’s glittering career, paradoxically underpinned by humility and a disinterest for stardom. Having quickly established the role of Desolat staple, so synonymous are the two that imagining Hector with any other agency just doesn’t quite sit right. With his varied, yet impressive, back catalogue it ought to be simple enough pairing him with previous employers Crosstown Rebels or Mobilee. Though the effortlessness of the way that Hector has integrated into the Desolat camaraderie makes it almost implausible that he could ever have worked anywhere but.
With modest beginnings Hector arrived in England with little more than a backpack, leaving behind a professional football career abruptly brought to a close by a career-ending injury. The subsequent events that mapped out such a successful career, whilst largely due to perseverance and graft also describe the most stunning serendipity.
At 34 years of age Hector is undeniably an integral part of the Desolat family, though regular releases with other labels make for a more complex palate. The pleasure of speaking to someone so firmly grounded and respectful of from where they have had to launch their career was all ours as we caught up with Hector prior to his birthday celebrations.
Hector. Hi. How’s it going? It’s your birthday weekend right?
Yes. I’m just getting ready. Tonight I’m going to Basel in Switzerland. My favourite club there is Nordstern, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it. It’s really good, the capacity is about 500, the soundsystem is amazing and the crowd is really good. Dice, Marco Carola… everyone goes there because they love the club.
It’s nice to hear that there are still some DJs who like the intimate gigs.
Exactly. I played at Music On and then the day after went to Valencia and played to 2000 people who wanted me to play hard so it was one bomb after another. Then when you have a gig like this you feel no pressure, you can play whatever you want; you can play deep, you can play hard, you can play whatever. It is more intimate and you feel freer to do what you want.
It’s interesting that depending on a crowd you may have to play a different style, though when you produce music you don’t have those same constraints.
The thing is, for example for me, I worked in Phonica Records and everyday we had completely different styles coming in from deep to techno to minimal, from disco to dub….everything. So I had to listen to every single record that came into the shop to know what I was selling. Having to listen to that range of music I found that there was always something that I could take away from different types of tracks. As a consequence it’s not a problem now for me to play with Marcel Dettmann, I have the music to play with Richie Hawtin, back-to-back with Dubfire, with (Loco) Dice. On the other hand I can go and play with Hot Since 82. I’m lucky to have had this experience at Phonica that brought me close to many different styles.
With such varied tastes, if you’ve got to go to play a club where the crowd like it hard but your mood is for something a bit slower with a groove, how do you get in the right mindset?
I always try to get an hour or an hour and a half at the club before my sets so that I can get into the same zone as the crowd. It would be really bad if you had techy tracks in your head or some minimal, you arrive five minutes before your set and the other guys are playing really hard and that’s what the crowd wants. It would take you about half an hour to get into it, you may be nervous and end up playing a track that just doesn’t work… That’s why I always try to go a bit early and get a feel for the crowd. Sometimes even if the guy before you is playing pretty hard you might get the feeling that the crowd want something a bit groovier. You have to go to the club, try to adapt to what the crowd wants but always staying true to your own sound.
People perceive DJs as purveying a certain brand of music but DJs are more malleable than that…
Yeah, though sometimes that works too when people are there just to hear what you have. I’ve seen this from Dice that he will start to play hard, then he’ll go and play old school house and will take people on a journey through all kinds of sounds. It’s the same with me; if I feel comfortable I’ll go from one style to another just depending on how I feel. It creates a really cool story for the night. I guess it’s how you stand out from the other DJs by knitting together several different styles and keeping the crowd interested.
You mention Phonica Records in London as being an important part of your career. You grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico though right… were you surrounded by much music while growing up?
At the beginning I was into my friend’s bands, rock bands, I would listen to Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine. Then I used to listen to Hip Hop like Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill and that was down to my Latin influences. I always wanted to be in a band and I used to play drums; I was always into music albeit not necessarily electronic. Music has always been part of my DNA since I was young. I still listen to things like Metallica when I have time.
Ok… and then you moved to London. When did that happen?
That was in 2000. It’s a funny story. I used to play professional football in Guadalajara, I played for the national team for the under 17’s. I was playing in the second division but training with the first team and was earning a good wage. Everything was cool and then one day I met these English students who were in Mexico to study Spanish and had come along to training to take photos. The landlord for the house where they were staying supported my team and so he had brought them along to watch us train. There was a big group of them, I met them, I liked one of the girls and so I suggested going for drinks that night. We became really good friends and I started to go out with this girl, so I would go over to their house and hang out and they would be playing electronic music; CDs from Fabric, CDs from The End, etc. I really started to get into all of that stuff and at the same time there was the boom with Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers.
Finally one day they left for London and later that year I had a really bad injury that stopped me from playing football altogether. It was so hard not being able to play football any longer but then on top of that my friends with whom I’d hung out for at least a year and a half had also returned to England. I was really depressed and they suggested I visited London for at least a few months, so I decided to go for three months with just a backpack to see what it was like. That was it… I got introduced to Fabric, The End, to every single small party too and that was it, I was blown away. One of my friends was studying sound engineering and because I wasn’t tied down to anything in Mexico and was interested in music, I started studying too. That was the beginning and I never returned back home. That three months has now been almost fifteen years…
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