If creativity could be bottled and sold, Victor Calderone would be wealthy beyond comprehension. The multi-talented master of musical manipulation has helped redefine the role of the American DJ in recent years, and, in the process, has amassed an impressive array of artistic accomplishments. Equally adept both in the studio and in front of live audiences, Victor is a veritable virtuoso who has inspired, enthralled and entertained legions of sonic savvy devotees around the world. His expertise and imagination transcend conventional expectations allowing him to effortlessly bridge the gap between multiple genres of music and generations of listeners.
Introduced to New York nightlife at the impressionable age of 15 by his older brother Cesar, Victor quickly developed an intense passion for dance music that would form the foundation for the Brooklyn native’s remarkable career. His first taste of success came less than a decade later when Sire Records’ Seymour Stein signed Program Two, Victor’s techno production partnership, to a record deal in 1991. The relationship fizzled after just one album, though, prompting Victor to reevaluate his musical future.
After a self-imposed hiatus during which Victor explored non-musical business ventures, he found his way back to the beat in 1996 when Athena, the woman who would eventually become his wife, encouraged him to return to the studio to create his first solo record, “Give It Up.” This signature hard-house anthem and its explosive follow-up, “Beat Me Harder,” both topped the Billboard dance charts, unleashing the meteoric Calderone phenomenon. Further inspired by New York’s then-thriving club scene, Victor landed gigs spinning at high-profile parties on Fire Island and at legendary NYC nightclubs Limelight and Life, eventually leading to career-defining residencies at both Roxy in New York and Liquid in Miami. Then, just when he thought things couldn’t get any better, Madonna called in 1998 and asked, “So, do you want to remix my first single? Intrigued by Victor’s innovative musical vision and sophisticated style, Madonna bestowed upon him the ultimate compliment – the opportunity to remix, “Frozen,” the lead single from her acclaimed “Ray of Light” album. “She, as an artist, understands better than anybody the need to just let people do their thing, and that’s the way she’s worked with me,” Victor proudly explains. “She just sends me the vocal and she doesn’t give me any guidelines. She just tells me to do my thing.” Victor has since remixed nine other records for Madonna and has established an unprecedented professional and personal rapport with the Grammy-award winning artist.
Standing out among the many highlights of his extraordinary career is Victor’s experience working with Sting. Acting on Madonna’s recommendation that he ask Victor to remix “Desert Rose,” the second single from his 1999 “Brand New Day” album, the British rocker not only called Victor to remix the record (something he had never done before with his music), but even went into the studio with him to re-record the vocals to match the remixed song’s new dance-oriented rhythm. The song spent an impressive 80 weeks on the Billboard dance charts including nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.
“Victor Calderone is highly energetic and his musical contribution helped introduce ‘Desert Rose’ to an entirely new audience. I look forward to working with him again.”
- StingFew DJs or producers have achieved the level of success that Victor has so diligently earned, and membership in this elite club definitely has its privileges. Spared from the stress of pounding the pavement in search of work and the proverbial first big break, Victor now enjoys the luxury of carefully choosing each new project from a multitude of exciting offers. This rare creative freedom has also encouraged him to create more of his own original material. Following the success of 1999’s “Do It Properly,” a joint venture with Grammy-winning remixer Peter Rauhofer, featuring C&C Music Factory vocalist Deborah Cooper, Victor once again enlisted Cooper’s dynamic talents in 2001 to record the #1 Billboard mega-hit “Are You Satisfied,” a record he both co-wrote and produced.
While it is nearly impossible to capture the essence of a live performance on a 74-minute CD, compilations do allow DJs to portray the music of the moment in a practical format that can reach even the most remote listeners. As part of a multi-record deal with Tommy Boy Music, Victor released his first beatmix CD, “E=VC2,” in 1999. Volume 2 followed in 2001 with sales and popularity of both compilations far exceeding all expectations. A third installment is forthcoming that promises to be darker and more progressive than its predecessors.
Victor’s studio work may have jump-started his career, but it’s his live performances that truly showcase his boundless energy and mastery of the turntables. “DJing is a major release for me; it’s something I need in my life,” he insists. “It goes hand-in-hand with the production work and the studio work. If you’re going to be producing dance music, you’ve got to be out there playing it and be in the clubs, so it’s very important to me.”
Victor also understands and appreciates the importance of continually evolving as an artist. While he still enjoys remixing and playing select mainstream records, audiences will notice a distinct difference during his future live sets. Relying less on the diva house vocal anthems that dominated many of his past performances, Victor has reinvented his musical style and will now treat listeners to an edgier and more progressive sound. He will also focus on producing more original underground tracks to compliment his latest transformation.
Shortly after leaving his three-and-a-half year residency at Roxy in May of 2001 to explore other creative avenues, Victor staged his most ambitious spectacular to date. Dubbed “Caligula: A Roman Orgy” and presented during Gay Pride Weekend in New York City, this massive dance party was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom and featured, among others, performances by Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Cooper and a 50-piece orchestra that played Brainbug’s “Nightmare” and Tim Rex’s “Relentless” live for 5,000 appreciative fans. Caligula boldly raised the bar for future events and will now be held annually the last weekend of June.
Victor expanded his rÈsumÈ in 2001 with bimonthly residencies at Stereo in Montreal, Canada and Tribal Sessions in Manchester, England. He also traveled overseas for performances at TLV in Tel Aviv, Israel, Cuvo Paradiso in Mykonos, Greece and L’Enser in Paris, France. He has also arranged the music for the past several Dolce & Gabbana runway fashion shows in Milan, Italy. At home in the United States, Victor spins monthly at Crobar in Miami’s South Beach, occasionally travels for special events around the country and is patiently waiting for the right opportunity to resume a residency in New York City.
Despite his many professional accomplishments, Victor still has some dreams to fulfill, particularly his desire to work on motion picture soundtracks. He is also currently working in the studio with a female vocalist he recently discovered to help develop her burgeoning career while further exploring the down-tempo side of electronic music. Victor’s Sensory Mix of Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” and his Calderone & Quayle Dark Side Mix of “What It Feels Like For A Girl,” both experiments in ambient electronica, garnered critical acclaim and impressed Madonna so much that she featured his version of the latter song on her Drowned World Tour.
Because his talent is so prominent, it is easy to forget that Victor Calderone’s career achievements are also the result of his true spirit of determination, as well as his dedication to perfection and persistence in an ultra-competitive industry. His many years of hard work and monumental success are only overshadowed by his sincerity, modesty, unwavering commitment to his craft and fierce devotion to his countless fans. A profoundly influential and inspirational talent, Victor has entertained millions of people, generously donated to charitable causes and earned the utmost respect of his peers, all while boldly pushing the universal limits of originality and ingenuity.
During an earlier interview, Victor summed up his prolific career perfectly when he modestly proclaimed, “If it wasn’t for the audience and the fans, I wouldn’t exist, so I wouldn’t have any right coming off to anybody like I’m anything special. I’m very grateful for all the support and everything that’s been going on in my life. It’s been amazing and I’m very happy.” Read more