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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exclusive Q&A with Club Dj/Remixer Steve Amoroso

Dj Amoroso was spinning at Icon on the club's opening in December. We said hello, but Steve was already busy spinning so there was really no time to talk. Therefor, I was so grateful (with special thanks to Barbara Sobel) to be able to learn more about the fabuloso Amoroso when he agreed to do this interview.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Hi, Steve! It's such a pleasure to finally get to interview you since I heard your set at Icon's opening night. You're now resident dj there on Wednesday nights' Fierce. What can club goers expect from your sets, and are they indeed promised to be fierce?
Dj Amoroso: I’m glad you asked! Wednesday nights are indeed nothing short of fierce. Patrons can expect to hear something new and fresh or even classic at times. I believe music shouldn’t have rules, and being different is what makes a party memorable and unlike the rest. I believe most of us are tired of hearing the same songs over and over. I remember when people used to go out to discover new music, to hear songs they never heard before and fall in love with them. My fondest memories of some of my favorite songs is where I first heard them, usually at the nightclub with my friends dancing our asses off and screaming, “What is this track? Oh my God!” I don’t get the same enjoyment hearing music for the first time on the radio, tv, internet; it’s just not as special an experience. I look to recreate that experience as best as I can during each and every one of my sets. If I can make life long memories through my music or even one song for one person that night, then it was all worth it. Music-wise, you’ll hear a mix of all sorts of house music, with the goal of making everyone shake their asses off. I am also bringing in my very talented special guest DJ / producer friends now every week, who are both well-known locally and internationally, and that will turn you out each and every Wednesday.

I see that you live in Astoria, the neighborhood in Queens where Icon is located. Does that make your bringing your records and equipment to the club convenient; less of a schlep for you?
Records, no [laughs], it’s been a long time since I’ve brought out the milk creates with vinyl records but I would love to one day, especially since it is so close to where I live. I literally walk to and from Icon; it’s about a 15-minute walk and I’m not lugging records or CD’s any more. I recently went all digital spinning on USB sticks. All my music loads up just like a CD on the Pioneer CDJ’s at Icon and I can bring hours, even days, worth of music on one tiny stick.

How did you become a resident dj at Icon? What brought you there in the first place?
It’s actually been years in the making. One of the owners always really enjoyed my sets, and constantly compares me to Danny Tenaglia, who is my biggest influence so that’s the biggest complement anyone can give me. Since the first time he heard me, he always said, “When I open up my next club, you are going to be my resident.” The rest is history.

You're a native New Yorker, so you should know the score by now. Grew up in Brooklyn (where I currently live). What was it like growing up there and what music did you grow up with? What dance-music influenced you in your youth?
Growing up in Brooklyn was great! The block parties, backyard bbq’s/pool parties, Coney Island, and the pizza… fooogettaboutit! Since it is such a melting pot I was exposed to many different cultures and music growing up. From freestyle played by my Aunt and Uncle’s in the late 80’s, to hip hop and alternative music in the early 90’s, to dance hall / metal / industrial / dance music in the late 90’s. It was in the late 90’s that I was first introduced to trance, dance and house music, I was a big fan of Daft Punk which led me to the clubs. Shortly after, I was out seven nights a week in Manhattan. Armed with my fake ID, I headed to Roxy, Tunnel, Sound Factory, Exit, Lime Light, Centro Fly, World and Vinyl. My biggest influences dance music-wise during this time were Peter Rauhofer, Johnny Vicious, Jonathan Peters, Tony Draper, Erick Morillo, Danny Tenaglia, Green Velvet, Hex Hector, Junior Vasquez.

You have some remix work upcoming from Sobel Promotions. Can you tell us anything about that?
Yes! I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a remix I did with my record label partner John Spinosa for KC and The Sunshine Band’s latest track “I’m Feeling You." John and I are also collaborating on two other remixes for Sobel Promotions: aremix to a remake of “Baker Street” by RexKwondo, and a new song by Toca's Miracle singer Coco Star called “AC/DC.”

What was it like to dj at Cielo, as you did very recently, as that chic spot in Manhattan's trendy meatpacking district has become something of a legend?
Amazing, every time! I’ve spun at Cielo more times than I can count and every time is like the first. The vibe in there is unreal, the crowd is always the best, the sound system is beyond amazing, and the DJ booth… Mama mia! Cielo has been open for a little over 10 years now, and for god reason, it’s, as they say, “where house music lives” in New York City. Aside from DJ’ing at Cielo I have spent some of my best nights on that dance floor as a patron.

What do you feel sets you apart from other club djs on the scene right now? What makes an Amoroso set special or distinctive?
My sound has been described as very New York but has been praised internationally too. I’ve done it all from day parties, to night, to afterhours, to gay, to straight, to upscale, to underground, and I have never gotten pigeonholed because I believe most people can relate to my sound; even those that don’t usually listen to house music have told me that they love the way I do it. Genre-wise, I blend new tracks with that classic house sound, upbeat, in your face, latin and retro, lots of drums, and most recently I’ve gone back to my roots playing primarily deep b/c. That’s the music that’s inspiring me most right now. I also love throwing in classics whenever I can because some are just timeless, go so well with the new deep house coming out, and bring back so many fond memories. I guess most of all what makes my sound distinctive is that it’s so hard to describe, but it’s most definitely “house.”

Steve, when you have time off and you can just kick back, what do you like to do?
I love spending time with my 10-month-old daughter, she’s the most important and precious thing in my life. When I’m not working on music or DJ’ing, I love just spending time with her, taking care of her, watching her grow and making her laugh/smile as much as possible.

I think people can have very stereotypical ideas of what the "swingin' life" of a club dj is like but I know it can often be a lot of blood, sweat and tears. What can you tell us, from your own experience, about leading that life? And what day jobs might you have had to take on to help support your passion and true calling?
I haven’t had a day job for six years now. It’s been a struggle but I believe every artist needs a starving moment to test his or her true passion. I’ve done the ramen noodle and peanut butter and jelly diet, lived in a rented room in Queens not knowing when my next gig (paycheck) is coming in. The last couple of years have been great for me, though. I’m not rich but I make enough money to pay my bills while doing what I love, and that’s all I ever wanted. I have bigger aspirations and work hard every day to make a better life for my family. Most people think it’s just a party lifestyle, but there is so much work behind the scenes. I love what I do. My biggest reward is making someone’s night, having people dance/smile/laugh/carry on. Going out dancing is a release. My job is to have all these hard-working people in the club forget about their day jobs, their worries and their stresses. My job is to make the people on the dance floor forget about all that and dance the night away. You can’t put a price tag on that, and it makes all my hard work behind the scenes worth it.

Your views on the club scene 2014?
It’s getting better and better every day! EDM is on its way out, and deep house is on it’s way in. The quality of music had been a little dull and redundant in the EDM scene for a while now, the fact that Daft Punk took the GRAMMYs this year shows that dance music is going in another direction and the club scene is evolving rapidly. Most of all for me, the new club scene is a breathe of fresh air! If your readers want to see the future of dance music that’s blowing up in the scene, I’d tell them to Google, “Disclosure - F For You ft. Mary J. Blige.”

Steve, thank you for your time and cooperation in doing this Q&A with me. Before we conclude, what might you still like to say to our readers around the world?
I believe great music saves the world, keep your ears open, try new things, you never know when that one song might change your life or how you view things. Music has changed my life in a positive way. I am humbled and blessed to be able to share my music with you, and the rest of the world. Thank you for taking the time to read this Q&A with Charles and I. God bless.

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