This week we welcome renowned DJ/Producer from the west coast, Wally Callerio. Over the last 20 years, his wide range of work has graced the playlists of DJs and listeners alike, and it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a lot of his releases on labels such as Defected, Candy Talk, Cajual as well as many releases under his own label, Dufflebag Recordings. We’re very proud to welcome Wally to the mix – Enjoy!
Thanks so much for lending us your talent with this mix. You’ve been around for a while in the house music scene. What got you started?
Yes, it’s been quite a long journey. I started going out to parties my sophomore year in high school around 1988 almost 30 years ago now. I started DJing my freshman year in High School in 1987 so this may is going to be 30 years that I started DJing. My friend had a setup and I contributed a turntable. I was over there every single day and it just developed from there. I have always been wrapped in music. My freshman year I decided to play football and shattered my knee in the very first play of the very first game. So I couldn’t do much in a cast that went from my ankle to groin for 6 months so I went deeper into DJing more influenced by hip hop, rap and top 40. I started buying techno and house as soon as I found these amazing events filled with music you didn’t hear on the radio. It was amazing to me, I felt like I knew something nobody else did. My dirty lil secret. So I finally linked up with Steve Wiser who was producing a show called LOVE (1992-2000) around end of 95’ and started investing in the show and really getting involved on the production end of it. Probably the best move I made and I learned everything I could in those 5 years throwing that amazing event but at a certain point DJing took me over as it should have. Making music and playing it were my true love so I wanted to spend every moment I could doing it and producing shows on a regular wasn’t going to help that. My first lil’ peak was in ’98 with the release of my first record on my label Dufflebag. The rest is another long story. Ha! You get the jist…I’m old!
What are your favorite memories either from an era or a party?
My favorite memories have to do with getting into parties without paying when I was in high school. We didn’t have much money and we wanted to go out like 10 days a week so we figure out different ways to work the system. There’s definitely more than a few adventures I can’t tell but this one was a pretty funny one:
I was 17 in 1991 trying to attend a party at the train station in LA with my best friend at the time. Yes the train station downtown. So we get there and actually purchased these tickets for once. We walk up and security says they can’t let anyone else in. We were like “Bullshit we paid 20 for these tickets!” After he threatened to put us in cuffs he closed the door behind him. My friend looked at me and just said “no f**king way this is happening” and I answer “no f**king way”. So we start working our way around this building looking for any loose doors or lazy security guards. We come on to a door that has not been shut all the way and enter a hallway that’s dark but we can hear the music. So we continue down and all the doors are locked but there is a ladder on the wall and a giant industrial 24″ air duct above that we can hear bouncing music that we want to get to. So obviously having seen 800 people crawl thru air ducts in movies we were like “GREAT IDEA!” Genius even right?! Wrong. So we end up in a pitch dark metal tube that felt like it was going to bust with every move we made we even space ourselves a bit to “be smart”. It was hot as shit in there and we could barely breathe. It took us at least 10-15 minutes I damn near had a panic attack at one point but felt like 1 hour before we found a big enough vent to kick out and we could see that it dropped into the bathroom where there were ravers coming in and out. So my buddies kicks out the vent and drops down about 15 feet up onto the side of the mirror and down to the floor and I follow him down into the bathroom almost killing myself. When we get in there were like 4 people staring at us that were def a bit high and wondering if they were even seeing what they were seeing. I look at my friend and he is covered in black soot looking shit and dirt and I look in the mirror and so was I but we made it.. time to party right?!?! As soon as my friend grabs the bathroom door opens it the music turns off and we hear a guy making a sorry announcement parties over… but I will never forget that night. I have so many fond memories of late 80s and nineties LA rave scene. It was an amazing time for parties!
How has California helped your upbringing as a musician/DJ/producer?
I don’t know if my upbringing in California necessarily helped by any means because I was more influenced by what specifically my parents were playing in my house and what I was finding by switching radio stations on my own.
What’s your musical background like? Who are your biggest influences?
My musical background comes from doing the grind and learning stuff that I love. I would have to say my biggest influences were Quincy Jones and Tribe Called Quest. I obviously have many more than those two – Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Classic rock – so many different influences but when I decided to make the leap into production in 95’ that was my goal. Making music that was groove based, simple, elegant and sounded unique to some degree without using cheesy tricks or over producing. I wanted to create my own sound within my genre back than you didn’t want to sound like someone else you wanted to sound like you.
Any thoughts on your creative process? Where does it all start for you when you get a track started?
I think my creative process is different with every track and how I approach it. Normally I like to build from the rhythm section, then figure out some chords. After I figure out some chords to work in, I lay bass and just keep digging thru sounds. Sometimes I know exactly what I want sometimes I let the session guide me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your mix?
My mix is a bunch of songs I like strung together. I’m not much for analyzing what I play, but I usually just let the mix evolve from what’s in my playlist. I like to shoot from the hip. Whether it’s good or bad moments, you usually get an interesting mix that way.
What is your go-to tracks these days?
I don’t like to have go-to track. I’d like to think that every track I play I have to think of the go-to track or why even play it. I think it’s more about reading a room than a specific track that works everywhere. Its more about thinking what will work nicely for the dance floor.
What’s in store for you in 2017 and beyond?
I have lots of fun stuff planned for this year! As far as music I am releasing 2 albums back to back but in different genres. My personal album which is all house music will be out early April with 7 songs (brought down from 10 songs because I am doing a special edition limited vinyl run for the release) Also have a second album that I am collaborating on with R&B Legend and good friend of mine Jon B. This album is 108 to 111bpm all backyard boogie, uplifting vocals. Going back to the basics of the people who inspired us. The whole project really stands out and I see it as the pinnacle of over 20 years of music education from 2 guys that really love music the same even though we do different stuff we found a way to merge our 2 sounds!
I also have lots of cool gigs lined up running into summer playing Nightchasers in ST. Louis with one of my musical inspirations Osunlade (who I’m also going in the studio with). Also playing Bang the Drum with DJ Dan and Steve Loria which has been an LA staple since, well…forever. My favorite spot in Chicago, Primary. As well as headlining the Slinky Party up northern California which I am super excited for.. I’ll be posting a calendar soon with more details so just make sure you follow me on Facebook!
Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
I think the only thing I have time for is music and cooking so I guess cooking is my hobby and music is my love! Thanks for the love and the support! Hope you enjoy the mix!