We have the honour and the great pleasure to introduce our “In Conversation with” series with a great friend and one of our favourite DJs of all time: Hector Romero
An internationally acclaimed DJ, label manager, A+R executive at Def Mix Music, the driving force behind SAW Recordings and currently rolling out a distinctive brand of productions and remixes.
Born and raised in The Bronx, Hector’s journey in the music industry started early. Working at a local record store and DJing throughout NYC, firstly at La Mirage in The Bronx before moving on to Manhattan at spots such as Save The Robots, Palladium, The Roxy and The Red Zone where he opened for David Morales. Hector spends a great deal of time travelling and DJ’ing around the world. He can be found stirring up the dance floors in US, Canada, Greece, Tokyo, Spain, Italy..
Hector has been using his talents by stepping into the remixing and production arena. He is collaborating and honing his skills working with numerous established remix producers.
Hector works hard at his craft ensuring that the clubbers always have a good time.
What sets Romero apart from the rest is his ability to reach the masses through his music as well as his personality. He has earned the respect of DJs and record labels throughout the world and although he describes himself as a DJ with a musical identity crisis, deep down he knows that it’s his diversity and eclectic taste that set him apart from his peers. This is what makes him a favorite with promoters and clubbers alike.
You’ve started your career as a deejay in your hometown, New York, very early. What has changed since your nickname was “Baby Hec” (Romero)? Which are your best career moments that you’d relive and the ones that you’d forget?
I’ve started my career 34 years ago, actually 34 years ago will be in 2017 and I’ve started with these guys behind me, my vinyl collection. That’s just some of it that I can show. But it’s been an amazing journey. I went from vinyl to playing CDs, playing with computer and now I’m just with the USB, which I love. I did my fair share of carrying vinyl and losing them on the road, so I don’t miss that very much. I started off as a Hip-Hop Dj because I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, where the Hip-Hop started and as a matter of fact I recommend a really amazing documentary called “Evolution of Hip-Hop” which is on Netflix and I know Netflix is in Europe now, especially in Italy, I’m sure my friends can watch it out there. It’s just an amazing documentary about Hip-Hop music and its evolution, how it started in the Bronx, some of the pioneers that paved the way for deejays and rappers. Even if you’re not into Hip-Hop music I think you’ll enjoy this documentary, I really recommend it. It tells a little bit about my personal history, where I grew up. After Hip-Hop I really fast got into House music. Early days of House music like 1983 with the Chicago sound, it’s just been amazing and I suppose that I can definitely, without a doubt, say that my highlight in my career was when I joined Def Mix in 1995 and in 2017 that it would be 22 years ago. It’s been an amazing journey walking alongside with David, Judy Weinstein the boss of Def Mix. Frankie (God rest his soul), we miss him so much, it was amazing working with him, always. With Satoshi too. All those people made me basically who I am, as far as the style of the music I play; I take a little bit of everything along with my style, my personal style. They’ve been heavy influences in my life and life changing. It was a life changing career, move, going to Def Mix, something that I would never regret and that I will always be happy to be part of it. We’re going to be growing until, who knows…we’re here for the long haul.
So yes, 34 years ago with deejaying and 22 years at Def Mix, it’s been a long, amazing ride.
Your Label is historical, the DEF MIX, also known as DEF MIX FAMILY. How does it look today?
So, DEF MIX: a lot of people have thought that it is a label, but in fact it is a remix, production and management company, started by Judy Weinstein nearly almost 30 years ago and she just wanted a platform for managing the careers of deejays, remixer producers and of course she started with David and it just went from there, it just grew. So, we did have a label in the 2000s called DEFINITY RECORDS, where we had some hits like David’s “Needin’ u” or Bobby D’Ambrosio produced stuff for the label and a bunch of other producers. We started doing the label in the mid 2000s when the explosion of digital sales and the decrease of vinyl records went down, we just got a little discouraged and it just wasn’t working out. And our fast forward to two years back actually, when David decided that he wanted to start the label again and release music that he’s been producing of late and I was just doing it. He’s got my full back. Basically I see the day to day operations for Def Mix the label and I’m actually happy that we called it “DEF MIX”, because now we definitely have the DEF MIX label, we’ve been growing. One of our hits last year was Janice Robinson “There must be love”, which is just still growing, the sales just keep growing on this record, we are really happy. Actually in Italy when we play it, it’s like a national anthem, we can say that we already have a hit “There must be love” on Def Records, we’re really excited. We’re going to sign music from other producers in the next few months and if there’s anybody that has music that they want to release on DEF MIX, please get in touch with me. You can always find me on Facebook and just get in touch, hopefully we will work together. I’m really excited because for me it’s a passion to do the label part of the business. I do some remixing producing, but I’m not a total lover of being in the studios, I must be honest to me. I love the business and the back of putting records and projects together and make them happen and see them flourish. I really love the whole business side, speaking with lawyers and doing all that kind of administrating stuff. This is what I love about the business side. And first and foremost Deejaying for me it’s my number 1 passion, that’s what got me into this. So yes, DEF MIX will be doing it in 2017. Look out for more projects coming out.
House of Frankie is a project dedicated to Frankie Knuckles, passed away a few years ago.
Do you have any thoughts?
House of Frankie, what can I say? It’s an amazing name first and foremost! Even if it wasn’t just dedicated to Frankie Knuckles, I think House of Frankie engulfs the love and the passion for music. When Alessandro and Giordano asked me about it, they were planning on doing this project and dedicating basically a good portion of their lives to this project, House of Frankie, I gave my blessing, I thought it was a great idea. I think they’re amazing, I guess you’d say troupers for House Music, they wave the flag for House Music, Alessandro and Giordano. I love them, they’re very passionate about music and I think they’re going to do a great job of making the House of Frankie project grow. The website it’s going to grow in 2017, there’s going to be a podcast, a radio show, so it’s going to be a great platform for people who love music to go to and get information; especially people that live in Italy to get educated about the history of House Music and current situation in House music. So I give my sincere respect and admiration for what they’re doing. Frankie would have loved this project, he would have definitely been a full supporter of them, he would have loved the guys, and they’re real lovers of house music and music in general which is a great thing. They’re really dedicated, so I know that House of Frankie it’s going to be a project that’s going to grow and be amazing for a long time to come.
Recently also David Mancuso has left us. He was the owner of the legendary LOFT in New York; do you have any memories of him? According to you, why did the LOFT so influence many other clubs, in New York and not only?
David Mancuso, what can I say? It’s just one of the main pioneers for what we do. I didn’t have the pleasure of speaking or meeting him in person. I did it indirectly; he was friend with a lot of my peers in the deejay world. What he did was invaluable. The way he presented the music that he loved to his fans, to his people, putting together parties at his LOFT, inviting people basically into his house. How people respected that, I heard that people loved being in his venue and the great vibe of just playing good music. It wasn’t even about mixing all the time, it was about playing quality music, which by itself says a lot really, because it’s all about music first and foremost, and how it is presented. He presented it the greatest house music hits, big audio file I’ve heard, he knew that it needed to be presented in the right way. Of course I’ve learned from all the pioneers, I respect and admire them for what they did and how they had to go about it before me. I’m the newer generation that, hopefully, is giving something back as well. It’s just an amazing journey what he did, what he did for dance music and I will always respect him for that. So Mancuso, another one that has gone far too early, I hope he’s in paradise enjoying the company of Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles and so many others. Just a beautiful thing. It makes my hairs stand up, the possibility of all of them together just playing good music.
On December 17th, 2016 you will play just outside Milan at Shed Club, in Busto Arsizio (Varese), in Northern Italy. What do you think about it?
Yes this Saturday December 17 I’m at Shed Club in Busto Arsizio (I hope I’m pronouncing that correct). I’m very excited because this is the Winter Edition of Shed and a couple of years ago I did the Summer Edition which was just an amazing gig, I had a great time. The whole vibe was amazing and I’ve met some really great friends that I still keep in touch with in the Milan area. So yes, I’m going to do it again this Saturday, we’re going to start off the “Holiday Natale Season” with some good friends, good music and just be happy and have a good time. It’s simple! That’s my model, always, when I play music. Just have a good time; everybody has a great experience and amazing night. So yes, I’m looking forward to this Saturday at Shed December 17, enjoying me and all my people coming from Milan and all the region, I’m looking forward to seeing you guys, we’re going to have a great time and yes, as you always know, we’re going to do it in the Def Mix style.
Can you mention any of your upcoming projects?
What is 2017 bringing for me? Some beautiful things and I guess one of the main things I’m really excited about is the project that I’m doing along collaboration with Nervous Records, NYC. Nervous Records is one of the leading labels from NYC that has been around for 30 years now and Michael Weiss from Nervous asked me to mix for the next compilation that has to release next year around late February on Nervous. It’s a compilation of new music, I’ve been working on finding new music from different producers that I really love and reached out to them, everyone has been giving me their upfront projects that have not being released. So I’m really excited and I’m flatter because Nervous is a label that I have always admired and always been fan of, like Strictly Rhythm, Emotive Records (where I used to work at) or Tommy Boy Records in the early 2000s, just so many labels that were in that era, the late ‘90s. Basically it was the golden age of house music, so Nervous is one of those labels that I will always love. Kind of flattering doing this new compilation that it’s going to be called “Dancing”. It’s releasing in 2017 on Nervous Records so look out for more information, we’re linking with House of Frankie to give you some more info about the release date and the final package. Along with the compilation, I’m working on Winter Music Conference for 2017, working on the summer already, I can’t believe it, we’ve just started winter but it’s all about dedicating time to working on the summer schedule. I’m going to be in the South of Italy, in Puglia, I always have a good time in the South of Italy and around the world for sure. The release’s on the DEF MIX label so look out for that, you can get all the info on DEF MIX Facebook page. Of course I’ll be always working really closed to House of Frankie. So Look Out! 2017 is already looking great.
Thank you so much Hector! We look forward to seeing you in Milan.