Chicago In The House
The House Moguls—Bill Basil & Gus Calderone—are house music junkies, literally. United as a duo in 2006, their unique style of combining classic house samples with pulsating electronic melodies has led to their original productions being featured in primetime T.V. shows, licensed throughout the world whilst their remixes are their other strong suit. Artists like Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Crookers, Basement Jaxx, Common, David Guetta and Mighty Dub Kats have all experienced a House Mogul’esque facelift — appealing to a more diverse audience and expanding into newer horizons. We check in...
Gus and Bill, welcome to the DMC World. Two Chicago boys who got together in 2006 - where did you two first meet and why did you decide to hook up and start making music together?
“We have actually been really close family friends for many years before we ever started working together. We decided to start making music as our DJ careers progressed. Our friend Josh The Funky 1 was doing his single ‘Universal Sound’ for System Recordings, so we helped out and co-produced his single and also did a remix"
Who are the artists you were listening to as teenagers that got you into the house groove?
GC: “Like most of the DJs and producers in Chicago, the Hot Mix 5 / Super Mix 6 and later the B 96 Mix Masters were a huge influence DJ wise. I grew up around kids a lot older then me, so I can always thank them for teaching me who these guys were on the radio.”
BB: “Growing up I agree with Gus when we say the Hot Mix 5 and the original B96 Mix Masters were a huge influence. Bad Boy Bill, Julian Perez, Brian Middleton and Tim Schomer most notably were really talented guys. They were some of the first guys to introduce house music over a major radio airwave in the United States.”
What did you want to be when you grew up and what did your parents think of your eventual career?
GC: “I always knew I wanted to be involved in music when I was a child. I received a Fischer Price turntable and microphone I think at the age of 4 or 5. I used to pretend I owned a night club called Pecans. Don't ask me where the hell I came up with that name. Growing up DJing in teen clubs and raves my mom was very supportive, but my father who is one of those old school Italian guys, was sceptical and still is to this day.”
BB: “I played a lot of instruments growing up so I knew my career would somehow involve music. I started DJing around the age of 12 and from then it just all progressed into production. Until I started to become successful, my parents were very sceptical of what I was getting into. They wanted to see me in a much more ‘9-5’ type of job.”
What were the first Chicago clubs you ever went to - and what is the best Chicago club you have ever been to?
GC: “Well my first club per say was called The Slam that was in ‘93 if I am correct. It was an arcade/batting cage place they turned into a teen club on the weekends. My first 21 and over club was Karma back in ‘97 or ’98 - I can't remember. Some older friends knew the door guy and that's how I got in. Karma was by far the best club in Chicago.”
BB: “The first Chicago club I ever went to was The Slam and Zero Gravity. Those were the popular teen clubs at the time and actually Zero Gravity became my first residency at the age of 15. The best Chicago club I've ever been to was the original Crobar. It was an amazing set up there. More recently I would say The Mid and Vision.”
Chicago, a city perhaps responsible for starting house music. Who are your favourite Chicago DJs of all time?
GC: “Hands down - the legend that brought it to the next level and someone I call a friend…Bad Boy Bill.”
BB: “I really love Mark Grant, Andre Harris and Diz. As far as deep, groovy house there aren't too many DJs that can rival these guys. Also Bad Boy Bill and Cajmere. Both have very different styles of playing but are extremely talented not to mention, good guys.”
Who are your big Chicago music buddies?
GC: “Billy is one of my Chicago music buddies of course. There is also Josh The Funky 1 who is my partner in Funktion Recordings, Johnny Breaks, Bad Boy Bill, Andre Harris, Uncle Milty and Tony Arzadon are the guys I talk to on somewhat of a regular basis. I am more of a closed of person in my personal life. A lot of people in the local scene here label me a dick or someone hard to deal with. At the end of the day, this is a business and something we have worked our asses off for. I see through other DJs, promoters or managers bullshit in 5 seconds and will call them out on it. Why would I let you come into our studio and learn our tricks, or play a back room, or have to sell 100 tickets to get a gig with a promoter? We have international hit records and have been able to travel all over the world, I can go threw my phone book and directly call guys like Morillo, Roger, Thoenick etc. - you tell me some opening DJ that has those kind of connections?”
BB: “Being that I Dj 3-4 nights a week here in Chicago, I’m close to a lot of the DJs and producers here. Mostly of course Gus, Tony Arzadon, Josh The Funky 1, Jesse Seely, Andre Harris and Dj Bam Bam.”
You have a very unique musical style - how would you describe it?
GC: “I feel we like a BIG SOUND. We always say, ‘that's not big enough, we need it to be bigger’ which a lot of sceptics say is a downfall, but we are doing what we like. I guess it's just a big room house sound.”
BB: “We've really adapted over time. Some tracks we've produced would be considered techno and some would be considered trance or progressive. As of more recently I would have to say our sound is festival songs. Huge breakdowns with epic build-ups and massive deliveries. We truly make our songs with the idea that a Tiesto type DJ will play it for large audiences.”
What makes you different from your fellow producers?
GC: “Probably our determination and real hard work ethic which is both a good and a bad thing. We constantly try to find something fresh. We are not fans of holding on to something for long periods of time, I call it our Musical A.D.D. Our in depth knowledge of this business as a whole from the record label, contracts to marketing really plays a nice roll also.”
BB: “I think we don't really try and make music that sounds like other hot producers. When Deadmau5 came out everyone was copying him. Now everyone is trying to copy David Guetta or Skrillex. We've never wanted to steal someone else's identity, just have our own and hope that our fans could see that.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are spinning right now?
“Dirty Secrets just did a remix for our Flauto In Terrazza which is amazing, also a record we did back for WMC /MMC called ‘Fiv3’ which was also on your Buzz Chart that I absolutely love. We are also working on a vocal for it. Fedde's remix of Robyn ‘Rye Rye’ is a super smash. Aad Mouthan's ‘Pollo Sin Cabeza’ Joey Suki remix just bangs. Rehab & Swanky Tunes are on fire right now and ‘Sending My Love’ with Max C is amazing. Sander Van Doorn, Hardwell & Fedde Le Grand ‘Eventa’ & Swedish House Mafia Feat. Mr V ‘3 in 1’ will be huge. Deadmau5 ‘Where’s My Keys’ is just straight nasty! DJ Fresh ‘Louder’ Hardwell remix has tonnes of energy. Tom Thunder ‘Edge Of 17’ is a great tracks that probably no one knows about. Then to close off, a record I signed to Funktion by Bass Fly feat. Nicolas Sasson called ‘Wake All Night’ which is going to be huge!”
Junior Sanchez - I Believe In
Ali Bohem - Scotch Your Mind
The House Moguls - Fiv3
Massimo Massivi - Hands Up (John Dahlback Rmx)
Crazibiza - Eastchester (Crazy Rmx)
DBN - All My Life (Belocca LUV 2 Step Dub)
Etienne Ozborne & Zoltan Kontes - Sotto
The Aston Shuffle feat Lovers Electric - Start Again (Hook & Sling Rmx)
Ellie Goulding - Lights (Bill Basil Rmx)
Alesso & Sebastian Ingrosso - Calling
You basically live in the studio. What are the best qualities each of you bring to the mix?
GC: “Billy is the man on the keys, he is super talented when it comes to that. He will start playing and I might hum something to elaborate more on the melody line...I took Musical Theory and know keys, but I play the keys with one finger, so something that Billy comes up with in 20 seconds would probably take me 20 minutes lol. I am a huge tech geek, I have my degree in Audio Engineering and I am constantly reading and checking out new gear or new tricks to make our tracks bang during the mix down period.”
BB: “I agree with Gus on this one. A lot of the keys are done on my end but as far as our overall quality and mix down - that’s something Gus is more knowledgeable and responsible for.”
If you could change one thing about each other what would it be?
GC: “I wouldn't change anything cause then we would be different people. The ying and yang work together cause they each bring something different to make one thing whole, that's how we are.”
BB: “I wouldn't change anything at all.”
You have remixed some mighty superstars. What 1 remix have you been especially pleased with?
GC: “Daft Punk ‘One More Time’. It was something we did as a DJ tool just for us. I walked into the studio one day and said, ‘hey I got this idea’ and it just blew up overnight. All the support has been great. Records nowadays have a shelf like of a month or so, so I am honoured to hear people today still finding that record and enjoying it, like we made it yesterday.”
BB: Daft Punk ‘One More Time’ by far. Our Daft Punk is almost 5 years old and is still one of the most played and requested remixes all over the world. One thing I’m proud to say is DJ AM played it in everyone of his sets before he passed away. He was a trendsetter for American DJs and I’m really proud he loved our remix as much as we do.”
And on top of that - what 1 record of all time would you like to remix?
GC: “I would have to say a Prince tune - he is an icon.”
BB. “I really can’t pin point one song. I always wanted to remix Depeche Mode and I did a version I was really happy with of ‘People Are People’. It still gets plays today and it was released on vinyl only in 2005.”
You've had a tune appear on nationwide US TV - what's the story there?
GC: “It was a fluke. At the time we both really loved Fedde Le Grand's ‘Le Me Think About It’. As usual it was a normal day in the studio working on some beats. I told Billy let’s put a guitar on this groove. At the time the guitar we had was real old, so we went out that day and bought a guitar, threw the spare vocal we had laying around from a previous session and BAM finished the track probably in the early morning of the next day. The record was out for almost a year when a friend of ours called us up and said, ‘Hey you’re on Ugly Betty.’ Both of us looked at each other like our friend was out of his mind. I sat up all night waiting for ABC to have the episode online to verify that it actually was our record.”
BB: “The track was coming together really well and then we remembered we had some vocal out-takes from another track we had done that didn't make it to the final released version. So we took those ‘Get The Feeling’ vocals and put it to the guitar riffs. It sat really well and by the end of that session the song was finished. Shopped it to some labels and System Recordings out of New York picked it up and helped us get it onto the television show Ugly Betty. We were amazed with its success. It not only aired on that show, but was also used at Midem in Cannes, France as well as used by the Armani Exchange Clothing Line for their international spring campaign.”
What producers from around the world are you giving props to at the moment?
GC. “Of course you have to say the Swedish House Mafia for always pushing the envelope. A lot of the guys from Toronto like MC Flipside, A Divizion, Iron Mike & Nat Cavello, Matteo Di Marr rock! I have always been huge fans of Chus & Ceballos since the early 2000s. Nic Fanculli, Chris Lake, Paul Thomas, Hardwell, Fedde Le Grand, Sander Van Doorn, Swanky Tunes, Ridney & James Talk. Stefano Noferini, Alex Kenji and all the other Italians are on fire.”
BB: “I have a wide variety of taste so I really like a lot of different genres. I love DJ Chus, Paul Thomas, Crazibiza, Marco Lys, Rainer Weichhold. And for some tougher stuff, I always feel John Dahlback, Axwell, Dirty South, Umek - and Christian Smith is a fuckin’ beast. Ridney and James Talk are really talented as well.”
Who are your all time heroes - non musical?
GC: “I would have to say my great grandfather who came here from Sicily as a young boy with barely any money and couldn’t speak any English. He was able to become super successful in real estate. I can also put my father on that list since he never graduated from High School. He has become a great politician and has successfully run a business with my mother for 35 years. I can also put anyone who is willing to be a fire fighter, police officer or in the military on the list.”
BB: “I don't really have an all time hero or famous person I look up to particularly. I would have to say my heroes are my family.”
Ever had your heart broken?
GC: “Of course, who hasn’t? That’s what makes for great music!”
BB: “You can't make a good song without it.”
What is the best piece of music you have created?
GC: “I personally think that is yet to be heard.”
BB: “To this date, I really love a song called Cuyler. It’s one of the first solo songs I ever released and it reached #23 on the Beatport Top 100. It might not be the best piece I’ve ever created but it definitely comes to mind.”
Best festival you've been at in 2011?
GC: “Here in Chicago we don't get many festivals and with running a label and us working in the studio or travelling, time is short. I wanted to go see Carl Cox at NCMF but the weather was terrible and I wasn’t going to go and get my dope sneakers wet for that LOL. I would love to play EDC thou.”
BB: “Honestly I would've loved to go to Lollapalooza here in Chicago or EDC in Vegas, but our schedule was so hectic this year between my solo DJing and production as The House Moguls there just wasn't a lot of free time this year. “
Who has been the cheesiest person you have turned down to remix?
“We don't get those offers!”
Who is the coolest person on your mobile phone?
“Having the opportunity to be in this game for a long time I know a lot of these personally so I can skim threw my phone book and names like Eddie Thoenick, EDX, DJ Antoine, Laidback Luke are all cool to have in my book. But a guy by the named of Joey D from Chicago - he was the Marketing Director for Crobar here in Chicago and used to own a club called Domaine. He always send me funny pictures and stupid stuff to make me laugh.”
So we come back to yours after a night at the club, what are the 10 big Back To Mine tunes you'd chill us to?
GC: “In all honesty that would be either, Prince or Michael Jackson. I can’t give you 10 but their greatest hits should do just fine.”
Tribe Called Quest - Find a Way
R Kelly - Fiesta
Notorious BIG - Story to Tell
Tyrese - I like them Girls
LL Cool J - Phenomenon
Madison Ave - Don't Call Me Baby
Synthique - Bubbles
Kaskade - Its You Its Me
David Morales - Here I Am (Kaskade Rmx)
M Factor - Mother (Vocal Version)
Tell us about your live shows - what's the thoughts behind it?
GC: “4 or more CDJs and a Pioneer mixer is all we need. We like to play long and we like to play hard! We have been DJing for such a long time, we know how to play for a crowd. So there is no need for flashy lights, or all these effects box. Give us a big room, turn the lights off and put on 2 strobe lights, an air horn and watch magic happen.”
BB: “Our live shows usually consist of us on 4 or 5 CDJs and we tag team the set which usually consists of 4-6 hours. But we're known to go over our time limit lol. When you’re locked into that mindset and the music is going and the people are raging getting us off the decks is a tough thing to do. One time I played a tag team set on the beach in Mexico for 15 hours with one of my buddies. One of the best fuckin’ parties I've ever seen. Didn't ever wanna shut that party down. Its times like that, that’s the reason you do it and you want to every day.”
What is the coolest thing in your house?
GC: “My sneaker collection, its something I have had an infatuation since I was a kid. Last time I counted was 150 and that was a year or so ago, so its grown some more.”
BB: “Danny Farmar's spaceship. Shhhhhhh!”
What is the worst job you have ever had?
GC: “I never had a bad job. I like to make the best out of anything.”
BB: “I had a paper route when I was about 10 years old. That job lasted for about 3 weeks. I guess it was an early sign that waking up at 4am to deliver papers wasn't my thing and that DJing ‘till 5 or 6am would be.”
And finally - what's next from you studio wise?
GC: “Really don't know what the future holds. We might be a little burnt out and were are taking a little break and we will see where it leads to. Which kind of sucks cause we were working with Jimmy which was the singer on ‘U Should Stay’ on a new single. We are also working with Danny Izernillo who is the writer for Serge Devant on 2 projects. The S Man Roger Sanchez has talked with us about doing some remixes for him, along with doing some stuff with Fedde and also Erick has talked to us about doing another smash for Subliminal. To even top that off, rumour has it a tour with Matt Darey. So we will see what happens. If it’s the end of us together it’s been a great run, so who knows.
Thank you for giving us this amazing chance to be interviewed Dan. Smile, be well and live with passion
BB: “We're really fortunate that we worked so hard over the last year because a lot of our music is still coming out and it’s giving us time to work on other projects or take a small holiday and reset a bit. People constantly contact us for work so it’s hard to say what will happen when. Looks like you will have to tune in to find out!
Thanks very much for the interview and be well!