Had Miami's Oscar Gaetan and his playground buddy fulfilled their childhood military fantasies we might have been calling him Oscar the General not Oscar G, one half of the infamous production duo and label Murk.
Although having been prominently involved in the house music industry in the States since the early-nineties it wasn't until the release of the Steve Lawler anthem "Dark Beat" in 2003 - made with long-time production partner Ralph Falcon - that Oscar's career catapulted to international heights and has since seen him signed to the illustrious Excession agency in the UK.
A resident DJ at Space Miami for the last five years, October 2005 will see the release of Oscar's "Made in Miami" compilation on Star69 Records, a reflection of the current and past house movement in Miami injected with the dark drums and basslines that define his production and DJ sound.
More recently Oscar has turned over his Murk back-catalogue to the likes of Steve Lawler for some 2005 remix treatment on the Funky Green Dogs classic "Reach For Me".
RA caught up with Oscar G preparing to jet into that other known clubbing hotspot famed for its sun, sand and sound systems, Ibiza, where he will he play the Def Mix party at Pacha this Saturday.
When I see the words Oscar G I think of Oscar the Grouch. Presumably your surname starts with 'G' so aside from that, what else might the 'G' stand for that would be a reflection of you as a person or artist?
My surname is Gaetan…No one ever spells it right so the G makes sense! The G came from the fact my friends have always called me O.G. I figured I should keep some part of my name in there (preferably the easier one to spell!)
Your bio states that you started DJing at school dances when you were just 12. Do you remember what were some of your 'big' songs back then, the ones you loved to play or your school mates loved most ? What was the first record you ever bought?
There was a huge electronic dance music movement breaking at the time and that was mostly what I played. On any given night I would play: Soul Sonic Force “Planet Rock”, Cybotron “Clear”, Yaz “Don’t Go”, Depeche Mode “People Are People”. Looking back now I realize how fun it was to play such a wide range of music in one night. People tend to stick to specific genres and sub-genres now. It was an exciting time.
I think the first record I ever bought was Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album.
The line "I'm addicted to drums" from your track 'Dark Beat' has become an ethos for clubbers and DJs alike around the world. Tell us what are your addictions. What do you subconsciously go in search of or seek out?
Music in general is my addiction. House music in particular has been a huge part of my life for over 15 years now. I think I am always looking for new and innovative sounds but at the same time there are certain things that I keep going back to: drums and basslines!
Your latest mix album "Made in Miami" has just been released. How has Miami, its DJs and clubs shaped your sound as a DJ and producer?
Miami is a big part of who I am in general. The club scene in Miami has grown incredibly over the last 10 years. Miami has become one of the key cities for dance music in the world. The venues are some of the best in the world and it is loaded with great local talent. I am lucky to have been a part of that growth. Having the opportunity to play long sets, to a great audience every week at Space for 5 years has really helped me develop as a producer and DJ. I always have them in mind when I am working in the studio. They are my litmus test.
You're one of the lucky few to get a chance to experience two of the biggest events on the global clubbing calendar, namely the Miami Winter Music Conference and Ibiza, where you'll play this weekend at the Def Mix/Saw Recordings party. Both events/places offer clubbers the chance to enjoy a variety of DJs and parties with a big party atmosphere in a short span of time. Which one do you enjoy more as a DJ?
I would have to say Ibiza. I get the opportunity to experience the incredible Miami scene all year round. The WMC is only one week so it is a lot of stuff crammed into a short period of time. It can get hectic. Ibiza is a season. It allows enough time for people to develop parties and themes. It is very diverse and there are parties geared towards all kinds of different tastes. Ibiza is where music trends develop and new artists are broken. It is an exciting place and has a rich history in dance music. The crowds are always totally up for it.
Aside from your gig at Pacha how else will you spend your time in Ibiza? What other parties will you be sneaking in the back door of? Where will you go to escape the hordes of clubbers?
Whenever I am in Ibiza I try to take in as much new music as I can. I will definitely check out Circo-Loco at DC-10, Cocoon and the Space terrace is a must. There is always something to do and you will probably find me doing it!
You have a monthly residency at Crobar New York and you also have your weekly residency at Space in Miami, where the WMC is also held. In the past New York was responsible for massively shaping the dance music scene - Tenaglia, Morales, Vasquez, Sound Factory, Twilo etc. Which of the two has the better scene now - Miami or NYC - usually leads to a hotly-contested debate. What are your thoughts?
New York was the definitely the most influential city for me as a DJ. It has been home to legendary clubs like the Paradise Garage, The Loft, Shelter, Sound Factory. These clubs, and the DJs who played at them, have shaped who I am as a DJ. NYC has been through a tough time though. The government and other issues have really taken a toll on its club scene. I think its scene will rise again in time but for now I would have to say Miami is ahead (ducks head!)
Your release and remix discography is incredibly extensive. You've remixed everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears to Seal and many more. What's your musical background? How did you get into producing and remixing? Who or what has influenced you most as a producer?
Production for me was basically a natural progression from DJing. After DJing for several years I got the itch to try and make my own music. I fell in love with house music and began spending a whole lot of time in the studio developing ideas and sounds. I had a background in drums and percussion, which helped.
The people who influenced me the most were: Vince Clark, Francois Kevorkian, Martin Gore, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Louie Vega, Jellybean Benitez, Lil Louis and Larry Heard.
You've had #1 hits on the U.S. Billboard Dance chart, which is a more mainstream view of dance music. More recently the Grammy Awards added Best Remix and Best Electronic/Dance Album categories to their trophies? Do you think dance music in the US will eventually become more embedded within mainstream radio and music culture as it has done in the UK and parts of Europe?
I’m not sure. The U.S. is a huge country. Many states are like their own individual countries and cultures. This fragmentation really hurts dance music’s chances of going mainstream. Club culture is only present in the larger more cosmopolitan cities. The UK is a much smaller country and enjoys a thriving club culture even in some of the smaller cities. The UK charts have also always been much more diverse than the US charts. I am glad that the Grammy Awards have decided to acknowledge dance music though. That is definitely a step in the right direction.
I read that yourself and your production and label partner, Ralph Falcon have known each other since second grade. When the two of you were growing up what were your aspirations as kids before you became addicted to music?
We were totally into the military and being soldiers. We would wear camouflage and carry be be-guns and have small wars in our neighborhood with other kids. Ralph even went off to military school for a while. It’s funny, because that is probably the last thing I would want to be right now….especially given our current president!
Ralph and yourself recently started up Murk Records again and have re-released your hit Funky Green Dogs, a sign that dance music trends like most music trends, moves in circles. What musical influences from the past do you think can successfully be applied to dance music productions today?
I think the early Salsoul records and Traxx records are still a huge influence in all the house music records you hear. The arrangements, break downs, intros are all still very relevant. People like Larry Levan and David Mancuso had such a huge influence on dance music that you can still hear it in records today 20 years later. Also the big electro-house sound of the moment is just another turn on the acid house carousel. 808s and 303s all over again! Who would have thought?
Finally, I guess you'll be touring extensively in support of your "Made in Miami" CD in the remainder of 2005. Do you have any other news or releases in the pipeline that you'd like to share with RA's readers?
Be on the lookout for more Murk classics remixed by some of our very talented buddies. We are working on several new remixes at the moment and will be releasing a brand new Murk single soon as well. In the meantime, check me out in your home town for one of my Made In Miami parties!