Okayfuture Mix 006 ENFERNO

ENFERNO, a Washington D.C. native, is a DJ’s DJ. Highly skilled in the art of turntablism, he’s not only a DMC Champion, but has been involved on tours with Madonna, Rihanna and Michael Jackson. And it doesn’t stop there. With the gaining popularity of his crazy-talented live remix performance videos, and already impressive resume of official remixes for mega artists, ENFERNO has his eyes on the future of electronic music.

In his truest form, ENFERNO created this exclusive mix for the Okayfuture Mix Series, #006 and sat with me for a Skype video interview while he was in the studio with a certain fellow DJ/producer whose name we cannot disclose, but hereinafter shall be referred to as “Top Secret Person.”

Read our interview with ENFERNO below, along with a special selection of his work, including his exclusive mix for Okayfuture.

Top secret project with a certain someone.  Joint production or live video performance?

The live part is a given, if you know my background and if you know his background – the videos and live performance side is our thing, separately. So now it’s put together almost like a super team.  Musically, it’s clicking too so the tracks we’ve been working on so far are right up the alley of what you guys would be into, but we can’t really say anything about it.

Who are you to yourself? A producer, DJ or live remixer?

Actually, I started off as a musician. Your parents ever make you take like piano lessons? You’re Asian so you probably play an instrument right? That’s like the stereotype [He’s right. I play saxophone…] My parents tried to put me in piano lessons when I was 5 years old and it was way too early so they pulled me out.  So at like 7, I remember distinctly I was like, “hey can I learn piano now?” So that’s how I started in music – as a musician first.  Then I got into the DJing, and then the production kind of came along once I learned how to technically do things.  But now… it’s the beauty of technology now that allows me to be everything at the same time… literally, at the same time.  So with my live stuff, I can say I’m a DJ, producer and musician all at the same time in that moment that you’re seeing me.

Do you get a manicure before recording your live remixing performances?

That’s a good idea.  I thought about it once when I was looking at the “Pound Cake” video and thought my hands were pretty ashy.  So I’ll take a bottle of moisturizer with me next time and thank you for reminding me.

Do you intend on releasing original music as a solo artist?

Yea.  Getting serious about music production was right after the Madonna tour and then I started realizing that I did a lot for that tour, and maybe it’s something I have a knack for, so I started really pushing it – even though I have been working with music production software and equipment since like 1993, but moreso within the last few months.

It’s been a lot of remixes, remixes, remixes, taking other people’s work and making it into something that’s my own. But for the past year, I’m more focused on original material and the only remixes I’m really working on now are things that I would use for a video – like the thing I did for Steve Aoki‘s “Boneless,” or “Pound Cake.”  Other than that, it’s all been original work.  Like the stuff I’m working on with Top Secret Person, the stuff on my own, it’s all original stuff.  Honestly, it’s a lot more liberating to not have any rules – it’s just whatever pops into my head or inspires me.

Dream collaborations

Prince.  Some sort of musical genius that I’ve always looked up to.  I came up on like R&B and soul.  [Top Secret Person says, “you’re living the dream right now working with me!” LOL] I think it’s really cool to vibe with another producer that’s got a tight, creative process or has different ideas.  Maybe like Wave Racer, or I’d like to see how Ta-ku puts a track together.  There’s a bunch of guys out there.

If you could play any other musical instrument, what would it be…

Guitar. My dad is a musician as well.  He taught himself how to play guitar at like age 9.  Most of his life, he’s been playing guitar.  He tried to teach me once when I was a kid.  He’s like, “you know, your fingers are gonna hurt and you’re gonna have to build up calluses on your fingers,” and I’m like “no problem.”  And after awhile, I’m like “he’s right,” and I lost my patience for it.

It’s not too late to learn, but I would rather take more in-depth lessons in piano to get better at that.  One thing I love about piano is that it can stand on it’s own.  You can play chords and notes and carry everything.  But, if I had endless amounts of time, I’d want to learn to play the drums.  I’ve gotten on some sets before.  I think I’m a coordinated guy.  Honestly, I think of myself as somewhat of a percussionist thought too – I play some percussion, it’s just on an electronic instrument.

Your exclusive mix for Okayfuture…

As a DJ, I always like to mix things up.  So in terms of like tempos and BPM, it’s gonna be a range.  Melodic, but some uptempo, double-time into half-time.  There’s some original tracks of mine to preview too.

Touring and his favorite destinations

Traveling-wise, it’s usually every week.  I travel on the weekends and come back on the weekdays.  I’ve been lucky.  I started traveling in like 2008/2009 and it’s been consistent.  Shout out to my agent.

I’ve seen some places in other parts of the world that I never thought I’d see.  Tel Aviv is beautiful.  Dubai.  The most fun crowd internationally was Rome.  But sometimes, it could just be a small city in the U.S. that nobody knows about, but the people are so into what you’re doing and so happy to have you there.  I’m just as happy with that.

Favorite artists or DJs he’s played with

I’ve only toured with Madonna and she was pretty awesome.  One of my favorite DJs I’ve played with is Z-Trip.  I got to open for him at a show in D.C., and I thought it was just the coolest thing… I just went up to him and he’s like “hey, here’s some vinyl,” and it was like a white label exclusive scratch record. I have a lot of respect for DJs that respect the art of DJing and that’s one of those dudes for me.

Travel must-haves

One of the biggest things is a pair of warm-ups with zipper pockets.  Like Adidas warm-ups.  They’re the most comfortable when you’re on a plane, walking around or sleeping, but the zipper pockets keep all your stuff safe so your wallet doesn’t fall out.  Also, sleeping masks and ear plugs.

ENFERNO Interview

Stranded on a deserted island and you can only have 3 things…

A large knife.  A solar-powered cellphone.  It would have everything on it ’cause phones do everything.  I’d have the ability to communicate, I could put my music on there, I could download music from the cloud.  All on my cellphone.  I could talk to my family and see pictures of my kids.  [Top Secret Person: can’t you have like a giant boat? No.  That’s cheating!]

Guilty pleasures

Chocolate. Any type of dessert and sweets.  Sweets and Michael Jackson.  Me listening to chocolate and listening to Thriller on repeat.  Ooh, and pancakes at Mama’s in San Francisco.  I would have a gig ’til 3 a.m. and then wake up at like 7 in order to get there before breakfast started to get theses pancakes.


Best of D.C.

Most of the places that I really like you could get elsewhere like BLT Steakhouse and Del Frisco’s.  Awesome steakhouses.  Nightlife in D.C. has really changed since I’d last gone out or went out on a regular basis.  I work in nightlife on a regular basis, so I find it hard to go out on a weeknight when I could be home, knowing I have to be up at 6 a.m. when my son wakes up.  So yea, steak.

Kids and their musical influences

My son’s 1 and a half years old.  My daughter is 4 and a half years old.  Right now, they pretty much have control, but I’m starting to grab more control of my daughter as she’s older.  When they’re young all the want to listen to is Disney stuff and Yo Gabba Gabba.  But yea I make her listen to old R&B, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder… but she always ends up wanting to listen to something else.

She sees me when I’m working in the studio though and she wants to get on, touch the keys and touch the pads.  I hope one day I can teach her and my son what I know how to do.  But it’ll probably start with piano.


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