Over the past couple years, Deorro has sent some mixed messages to electronic music fans. For starters, the electro house DJ/producer and Panda Funk label head announced his retirement from touring in 2014, only to keep performing throughout the world without a noticeable break in his schedule.
And then there’s the matter of his debut album. Deorro had been working on the effort two years ago, but had to shelve it due to logistical issues that he alleges required him to start over from scratch. Even now, although he claims that only a few finishing touches are required to complete it, his upcoming album still has no title.
Fortunately, Deorro has made himself available to set the record straight on these and other matters. He recently sat down with us during Miami Music Week to discuss the his career and give us behind-the-scenes insight regarding his record label, Panda Funk.
Take a look below, and enjoy!
Have you been enjoying Miami Music Week? Tell me the high point of your trip so far.
Deorro: Right now, man. Right now. I’m running into everybody right now; I’ve been indoors all week and Miami came out of nowhere. I was actually in New York right before I came here, and I was like, “Okay, cool, I’m probably gonna go home,” and my management was like “Okay, cool, we’ll meet you in Miami.” I thought that shit was next week! I lost track of time. I thought I was gonna come out here for a music video, and I came out here and filmed a music video on Tuesday, but I can’t believe it’s already Miami Music Week! This is the highlight right now.
I like your recent Will Sparks collaborations. Do you see yourself incorporating that Melbourne bounce style into your songs more often?
Deorro: You know what? I actually haven’t put anything out in a long time, but I’ve still been producing Melbourne bounce constantly since day one. I really hope to motivate people to keep developing and innovating because to me a genre doesn’t really die – people just stop coming up with new ideas. I hope a lot of the stuff that I present motivates a lot of people because I’ve gone almost complextro Melbourne bounce, progressive Melbourne bounce, even the original, funky Melbourne bounce. So yeah, the answer is yes, I am gonna be incorporating more of it.
What big plans do you have for your Panda Funk label in 2016?
Deorro: Well, I actually can’t take a lot of credit for Panda Funk because the boys back home are killing it, man. When I left and got back on the road, I pretty much told the boys, “Yo, let’s try to make it happen,” and tried to get everybody to come together as a team. I came back home and the walls weren’t white anymore!
There were schedules and plans – it was incredible. I was like, “I’m gonna step out of the way.” (Laughs) I’ve gotta give all the boys at home props, and the A&Rs, everybody. They’ve got schedules and I’m just like, “Fuck!” So as far as the label, it’s all on them. Whatever they wanna do. I’m pushing more for stages, and I’m definitely gonna try to put them in places but they’re definitely already doing well for themselves.
Back in 2014 I remember you said you were gonna hang up your DJ hat to mentor artists more. Obviously you changed your mind and got back on the road like you said, but has mentoring taken a backseat or have you just gotten better at juggling both?
Deorro: The beginning of my career was 100% DJing. I left my family. It was two things, and one of them was more on the personal side. I did wanna go home to mentor and keep helping the people I was helping before I took off, but one of the biggest things was family. I was actually willing to give it all up because I was in a position where it was either my family or my dreams, and there’s not really an option there. I was gonna go back home to my family and I was announcing I was gonna quit – I was in a tough position because there’s no rule book, nobody explaining how hard it’s gonna be. I said, “You know what? I can’t do this anymore. I need to go back home with my family.”
When I went back home, they really knocked some sense into me. I was mentoring the guys and working on the album, and my family was just like, “Go chase your dream.” They convinced me that I was stupid, you know? (Laughs) They were like, “Get back on the road, your dreams are actually coming true.”
Does that mean that we can expect an album from you as well?
Deorro: I was already working on something two years ago. I’ve always wanted to make something like [Pink Floyd’s] Dark Side of the Moon, something that you can listen to as one whole piece from beginning to end. They started asking for demos and I was sending them parts of it, because it was gonna be one entire thing, and they weren’t really feeling it because they weren’t letting me finish it and asking for stems. The whole thing became a mess. There was no longer a mixtape and they wanted individual tracks, so I was like, “Fuck.” I had to start all over again and this was like a year in, so I’ve been working on it and I only need two more tracks now.
What’s the album called?
Deorro: It was gonna be called No More Promises because of the way it was gonna be set up, but now since it’s all changed I like Change of Plans… Or Plans Have Changed, I dunno.
When do you think you’re gonna finish those two tracks, and when do you think the release is gonna be?
Deorro: You know what’s funny is that it’s not even that much – like, I need to change a little melody on one of the songs. As soon as I get back home, hopefully I’m just gonna open my laptop really quickly and do that before my kids beat me to it. As soon as they get to me, I’m not even gonna think about my laptop.
There’s a movement away from big, festival-friendly sounds, and your songs are very much like that for the most part. Do you find yourself hearing a lot of the new stuff that’s coming out and wanting to make softer music?
Deorro: You know, I do. I’ve been doing a lot of jazz. I’m a producer all around; to me, Deorro is one job, but I also go under the name “Sillywall,” do film scores, and develop artists. There are some jazz singers for whom I produce all the instrumentals. I just did a Toyota thing where they asked me to make music without using a single instrument and I used everything in my kitchen, and it sounds identical to a drum line.
I’m not really a music lover, I’m a sound lover. I love working with sound. I’ve done classical pieces, and I’m definitely all over the place. When it comes to [electronic music], I love that shit and I’ll do it just for myself. As for the other stuff, I wouldn’t really put it under the name Deorro because it’s not really the Deorro sound.
Do you think you might ever go back to using the moniker “Tonic?”
Deorro: (Laughs) I wish, man. If I have to, I’ll start all over with a brand new name, and I won’t use the name Deorro to promote it. If it works, it works. I’m a really natural person, I like to see real results.
That concludes our interview with Deorro, but we would like to thank him very much for his time.