INTERVIEW | CHUS + CEBALLOS
Chus + Ceballos are the most solid, professional pair of DJs/Producers from Spain. Known worldwide for their exceptional productions, including official remixes for world-renowned artists such as Madonna, Rihanna, and Jlo. Their marathon DJ sets capture their genuine Iberican character, capturing the dance floor with their constant blend of house and techno. Their label, Stereo Productions, serves as one of the most influential Spanish electronic music labels in the past decade, further spreading their signature Iberican sound. Their most recent album, Nomadas, is out know on vinyl, and comes out on digital format later this month on September 30th.
Come dance with us as the Chus + Ceballos make their Bang Bang debut in downtown San Diego, Friday, September 18th. Tickets can be found here.
With summer coming to a close, what are some of your favorite memories from the season?
Ibiza season has been one of the best so far, with great shows at Space, Blue Marlin and Sankeys. But not only Ibiza, this summer we played at some important festivals in America with EDC Vegas on top of all of them. We also had our residencies at Output Brooklyn, Stereo Montreal and Space Miami that left us with unforgettable moments. The Icing on the cake to a great summer is the biggest and most important project of our career, the release of our first artist album called ‘N O M A D A S’, we just started the album tour and we’re beyond excited!
How did you each discover the house music sound while living in Madrid at a time when house was not very popular?
Chus had the chance to travel to Portugal in the early 90’s where House music was already huge there. He became the resident DJ at the legendary club Kadoc in Algarve which held massive raves during the 90s. There he had the chance to play along DJs like DJ Vibe, David Morales, Erick Morillo, Roger Sanchez, Deep Dish and Carl Cox among others. He brought that sound to Madrid playing at the first House clubs in Madrid, Teatro Kapital. Pablo’s background was a bit different, he was more influenced by the European techno and British Pop artists, but Chus helped introduced him to the American underground sound and we both were immediately very influenced by the sounds of Danny Tenaglia, our mentor. Quality and proper underground house music was always our background, and a solid foundation of our music.
How did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?
We both grow up in Madrid sharing our love and passion for music, and as we just mentioned Chus was the resident DJ at one of the very first House Clubs in the capital of Spain and Ceballos was trying to make himself a name for himself in music production. Pablo used to bring me his electronic demo tapes to the club, so after a few years back and forth, we decided to try working together and from the very first track the magic was there! That track was called The Groove Foundation ‘That Feeling’.
How have the two of you grown individually through working together over the years?
We have different musical backgrounds and personalities so we learn a lot from each other. Music is an endless learning process and that is exactly what we love the most. Nowadays we just need to look into the other eyes to know what’s going on, it’s all about confidence. The greatest thing is that when you have two compatible personalities you work as a team and you reach farther than a solo artist. The most challenging part is to find a person you are compatible with, which isn’t easy, and there are some days when we’re not seeing eye to eye and the chemistry isn’t working, but in our case thank God its not very often 🙂
For those who are uneducated on the matter, describe your signature Iberican sound and how it came to be.
‘Iberican’ is the best word that we found to tell the people who we are and where we come from, since there was a very interesting and unique musical movement happening in the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal). So more than any style, it was a way to tell the people where this new sound was coming from. The features that distinguish our sound is the groove, the percussion and the rhythm with some other soul elements like hypnotic melodies or vocals frequently with an ethnic touch.
Breaking as an artist isn’t easy (obviously). What are some of the hardships that you two went though while making it within the dance music scene?
Our biggest barrier was to fight against the mentality of the A&R of the Spanish labels. In the early days, they didn’t trust the local artists and we had to succeed abroad before to getting their respect. That was the main reason why we founded our own independent label ’Stereo Productions’ because most of the major labels didn’t have an identity, they just followed what was happening in other markets.
The release of your hit Strong Rhythm marked a big moment in both of your careers as a duo. What was the creative process like in creating the track?
This track was the first expression of the Iberican sound (Spain-Portugal connection) and the beginning of the movement. It was a studio collaboration with our Portuguese friend DJ Carlos Manaca. We just were just doing what we felt in the moment. We were so tired of listening to the same out sounds so we just went into the studio and made something original. We mixed our different backgrounds in the blender and Strong Rhythm was born, solid drums, hypnotic voices, driving beats. It was the first release of Stereo Productions and one of our first tracks to break into the international music scene.
What is your favorite dessert food and why?
We both love chocolate in any kind and form. We’re a really bad team, we can’t say no to sweets! We also love portuguese deserts, ‘Pastel de Natas’ is our favorite! You have to try it to really know why we love it!
How did your careers grow after entering the Portugal music scene?
Chus: I discovered a complete new world, Portugal changed my life forever and it was the beginning of the Iberican Sound. I fell in love with the country, the people, the food, the culture, the way they live their lives and their love of music. It was in the early 90’s when I saw DJ Vibe for the first time. He was a real DJ doing an amazing work, transporting everyone on the dance floor to a collective ecstasy! After that comes America and the legendary clubs and parties in Miami, New York and Montreal. Since then we’ve kept the focus on America as our main goal.
15 years ago this month, your label Stereo Productions was born. How has Stereo Productions grown and developed since its birth?
We started producing music for many other labels a few years before, but we understood that we really needed our own label and brand to stand out from the rest, so in 2000 we founded Stereo Productions and it was a very natural evolution. Since day one, we had a big following, many DJs and producers identified with our sound. We became very popular in a short period of time and we grew up so fast. We used to press thousand of vinyl copies till the digital big boom. Some of the first Stereo releases are now vinyl collector pieces. A very inspiring time in our lives.
Nowadays we keep the same philosophy for the label. Defining a genuine style, keeping global perspective and supporting talents from not just from our country but worldwide. As team we have carry the Stereo flag on this long journey of ours.
You guys have recently released your first album, Nomadas. Congratulations! The video for your track Abisinia is amazing. How did Nomadas develop from concept to reality?
We just felt that the time had come. Burning Man festival last year was the trigger. It was a great experience at Black Rock desert and it opened our eyes to do something different, something more musical, something nice to listen to at home. We wanted a long player experience, not just a bundle of dance floor tracks, something deeper to enjoy at an intimate moment, a different side of us we’d not showed before. The album reflects our different and diverse backgrounds, influenced over the years by travelling. It’s ethnic, melodic and deeper than our usual dance floor tunes. We also loved to work with such a talented artists like Leonardo Gonnelli, GiGi, Quilla, Astrid Suryanto, Cevin Fisher or El Chino Dreadlion to name but a few.
The two of you consider yourselves to be more suited for club shows rather than festivals. Would you mind expanding on that?
Well, we really love intimate rooms, you can connect immediately in a very mystical way with your audience, that’s priceless! Festivals and Clubs are indeed a completely different experience and we have to admit that we really enjoy doing both, a festival is all about the here and now, an explosion of energy, you have to play in a very different way, very dynamic with no time to lose, people want to reach the climax right away, they get extremely excited to gather together for a massive experience.
What kind of preparation do you guys go through before performing a marathon set?
We have to be physically, mentally and physically prepared for a long running set and do it only in places where we are specially connected to the crowd with proper sound system conditions, lights and a comfortable DJ Booth. A Marathon set is something that should happen naturally, not forced. The best part is that you have the chance to play those special tracks that are more difficult to play in a 2 hours set, those tracks creates special moments, the ones that your audience keep in their minds, and that journey is the reason why we love extended sets.
San Diego is excited to have you in town. What do you two have to say to your fans before playing at Bang Bang this Friday?
This is our very first time playing in San Diego! We’re familiar with the west coast audiences and we have heard really good things about the club and SD so we are beyond excited to finally play there. We want to invite to everyone who loves house music to experiment a Chus + Ceballos set. We’re fully loaded with new music including exclusive tracks from our new album. We’re sure that it will be a great first night, with many more to come.