Oscar G Calls Out Club Culture: "DJs Are Going to Have to Grow Some Balls"

Categories: Q&A
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​​If Miami wasn't always a house music town, DJ-producer Oscar Gaetan did plenty to change that in the '90s. In fact, his production outfit and eponymous label Murk with Ralph Falcon is widely considered essential house listening.

As Intruder, Liberty City, Funky Green Dogs and more, the Murk boys perfected that sultry '90s vocal jacking house formula, seeing seven consecutive singles reach the number-one spot on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.

Consider yourself lucky that Oscar G and Falcon call Miami home. Go meet them at the Electric Pickle this Sunday. But in the meantime, find out what Oscar had to tell Crossfade about how to turn Miami into a dance music mecca.

Crossfade: How did growing up in Miami influence you musically? What did you listen to growing up?
Oscar G: Miami shaped who I am (and am not) in many ways. [I grew up listening to] Benny More, Depeche Mode, Celia Cruz, Joy Division, Mantronik, Blaze, Muñequitos de Matanzas, Ten City, Todd Terry, Ciro Llerena, Junior Vasquez, Yaz, Kraftwerk, Larry Levan, Patrick Cowley, Lime, François K, Danny Tenaglia, 2 Live Crew, Man Parrish, Frankie Knuckles, Tony Humphries, David Morales, Arthur Baker, John Robie, Bob Marley, Louie Vega, Michael Jackson, The Police, Talking Heads, Eric B & Rakim, U2, Beastie Boys ... I can go on and on.

When did you first start producing electronic music? And how did Murk come about?
I first started experimenting with drum machines when I was around 14. When I was 16, I went to a studio and recorded a song with my buddy MC Lee Luv. They basically ripped us off and took cash I had been saving up (from doing DJ gigs) for about a year. They never released the song and kept the masters.

A few years later, while still in high school, I started working with Ralph [Falcon] at his mom's house, where he had a little MIDI rig in his bedroom. We released a few songs on the DSR label. Then, soon after I graduated high school, we started Murk Records.

Ralph and I are childhood friends. We grew up together in the same neighborhood and went to the same school. The music thing came about much later when we had both coincidentally gotten really into electronic music and DJing. Ralph went away to military school when we were teens, so we lost touch for a few years. When he came back, I caught wind of music he was making because I was already DJing. We were re-united by a mutual friend and ended up making a bunch of music. Murk is a vehicle for the original material Ralph and I write.

Miami in the '90s was mostly known for booty bass and hip-hop. Was there a local house scene at all when you were first releasing the Murk records? And how involved were you guys in that local scene?
There was a small house scene in the early '90s. The gay clubs were playing it and several smaller venues had parties where you would hear house music. Danny Tenaglia was a weekly resident at Cheers in South Miami, Louis Diaz and David Knapp at Boomerang, David Padilla at Warsaw Ballroom, Aldo Hernandez at Club Nu, and a couple of other guys were spreading the gospel. We were not involved very much because we were touring very heavily once we started the Murk label. But we would definitely try to hang out when we were home and definitely would bring the DJs our latest projects.

In a way, that "Murk sound" was the blueprint for '90s vocal jacking house, and it's considered a major influence by many producers today. What can you tell us about developing that sound? What was the creative process behind it?
We don't have a specific plan of attack. We just kind of hang out until we feel like making music. We are very openly critical of what we do in the studio with one another, so I think that always brings out our best and pushes the creativity factor in our work.

So what's been going on with Murk this year and what do you have in store for the production project and label next?  
This year, we released a song titled "Amame", featuring vocalist Jei, on our Murk label. We released it exclusively on vinyl. We had an amazing response from many DJs and the song soon became an anthem in Ibiza over the summer. Due to the big support from DJs all summer, the song will now be released digitally for the first time, on Defected. We will also be re-releasing the entire Murk catalog on vinyl with B-side remixes from some of our favorite producers and friends. We have a few original songs that we are finishing up as well, to be released on Murk Records. In 2012, we will be doing a series of events to celebrate 20 years of Murk Records. Stay tuned!



Not enough people seem to know about your weekly Tropicasa party with Lazaro Casanova at Little Havana's Hoy Como Ayer. How did you first launch this night and what is it all about?
Tropicasa is a passion project. Hoy Como Ayer is a legendary live venue for Cuban music. They completely respect the DJ as an artist and allow us to conduct our little experiment there weekly.

Tropicasa is a live fusion of house, tech, dub, guaguancó and Afro-Cuban rhythms. I perform on digital decks and keyboards with El Chino Dreadlion (lead vocals and guitar,) Philbert Armenteros (percussion and vocals), and Michelle Fragoso (keyboard and bass guitar). These guys are all accomplished musicians in their own right and we do about an hour or so of original material and improvisation.

Every Wednesday, we also have Lazaro Casanova start things off for us with his blend of deep grooves and Afro-Cuban stuff. We sometimes have some of my DJ buddies drop by and close things off too. It is small, intimate, and pure. No promoters, no VIP, no dress code, no guest list. Only for the true heads.

How does playing in a small intimate setting like Hoy Como Ayer or the Electric Pickle compare to the big rooms you're used to at Space and Pacha NYC? Which do you prefer?
They are both very different experiences but can be equally as intense. What I love about my Pacha NYC residency is that I can take them on a nice, long eight-hour journey. That kind of time allows you to tell the full story and create moments. The energy and sound system in that room is second to none. It kind of makes me feel the way Space did back when it had a main room I resided over. I am fortunate that I get to experience both on a regular basis. I prefer it that way.

As a long-standing Miami DJ, how do you feel the EDM scene has changed in the last decade? Do you think we have the potential of becoming a true dance music mecca, and not just during WMC?
I think in Miami, much like the rest of the world, a lot of folks lost the plot. Somewhere along the line, it became more about photo shoots, followers and hair-dos, and less to do with beats. DJs in positions of power don't take chances and music becomes saturated and commercialized.

The bigger venues have to rely on big, expensive, imported talent on a weekly basis and there are no residents, consistency or new records being broken. The VIP/bottle culture doesn't help matters either. It seems dance floors keep shrinking and those dumb sparkler things are constantly running around.

I am all for folks making a buck and understand why some may want a place to sit and have booze served to them. But I also think there are lots of people who are into a more basic party where there is great music, sound, lights, and dance floor. Those people need more options in this town. In order for us to become a true dance music mecca, DJs are going to have to grow some balls, club owners are going to have to take some chances, and promoters have to stick to promoting or whatever it is that they do.

What else have you been up to in 2011? Any personal highlights? 
I am very grateful I get to do this thing I love. A highlight has definitely been my Pacha NYC residency. I look forward to it every month and consider it a DJ's dream come true to play a room like that in a city that influenced myself and house music in such a huge way.

I have enjoyed my Made in Miami residency at Mansion and have agreed to four more dates with them next year. I also made a return to my old stomping ground Space this year. I have agreed to a quarterly residency there for 2012. I am working on my next album project for Nervous Records. It is part artist album and part DJ set. It will be out early next year. My new single is out now, titled "Fallin'" featuring Adaja Black. I also have a track titled "Agua Bendita" that several of my DJ friends have been playing, which will be available on vinyl soon.

Oscar G, Ralph Falcon and Lazaro Casanova. Sunday, November 13. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.


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Electric Pickle

2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Do what you feel but...
Do what you feel but...

It's widely known Simon Dunmore doesn't pay his artists their royalties so I hope this guy has plane fair cause it's a long flight to London to collect cash. It's not a come up to work with Defected and Simon is one of the people that needs to get some balls

Burnt
Burnt

LOL -- DJ's need to grow some balls....right. This coming from a guy who is no longer relevant in the Miami underground scene, nor has been for many years now.  Yes, back in the day Murk did some great things, but that was then and this is now....you got some lucky breaks O.G. -- no other local DJ's got the chances that you got. Enjoy what you have -- but don't diss on other local DJ's.  You are not the King -- I have heard guys play better in their living rooms than you on your best nights.

Billy Johnston
Billy Johnston

Well said! I left Miami & bypassed the whole scene. Too much politics & very little inspiration!! It worked for me! Billy Johnston(BluFIN, SLEAZE, Octopus, Defected) records artist!

Pinchadiscos305™
Pinchadiscos305™

club owners hire free jays nowadays and don't let DJs play out and engage the audience the way they want. We got tired of the game and now play what we like. The result has been, less gigs and a smaller fan base. We don't care, because we grew "balls" and now enjoy it more than ever. Thanks Oscar. Great article.

Oscar fan
Oscar fan

As a long-standing Miami DJ, how do you feel the EDM scene has changed in the last decade? Do you think we have the potential of becoming a true dance music mecca, and not just during WMC?I think in Miami, much like the rest of the world, a lot of folks lost the plot. MIAMI DJ'S HAVEN'T LOST THE PLOT. THE OWNERS HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON BRINING IN TALENTSomewhere along the line, it became more about photo shoots, followers and hair-dos, and less to do with beats. GO ON FACEBOOK ON MIAMI HOUSE HEADS AND SEE HOW MANY PRODUCERS ARE CONSTANTLY POSTING NEW MUSIC.DJs in positions of power don't take chances and music becomes saturated and commercialized.  YOU SHOULD ELABORATE WHICH DJ'S OF POWER ARE DOING THIS..BECAUSE ALL I SEE AND HEAR IS PASSIONATE DJ'S TRYING TO DO GREAT NON COMERCIALIZED MUSIC.The bigger venues have to rely on big, expensive, imported talent on a weekly basis BECAUSE THEY CHOOSE TOO AND BECAUSE THEY WANT TO STAY COMPETITVEWITH THEIR COMPETITION.  NOT BECAUSE MIAMI HAS NO TALENT. WITH THE RIGHT PROMOTION AND VENUE A LOCAL DJ CAN HAVE A GREAT TURN OUT.and there are no residents, consistency or    new records being broken.JOKE... THEIR ARE NO RESIDENTS BECAUSE THAT TREND STOPPED MANY YEARS AGO..NOW IT'S JUST ABOUT BOOKING INTERNATIONAL TALENT OR OUT OF STATE TALENT.  TO THE CLUB OWNERS  THEY BELIEVE THE IMPORTED PRODUCT SELLS MORE TO THE CONSUMER. THERE ARE GUYS IN MIAMI TRYING THEIR BEST TO GET ON TOP BUT THEY ARE CONSTANTLY OVER SHADOWED BY THE IMPORTED TALENT. AND MIND YOU THEY ARE DOING GREAT PRODUCTIONS TOO.  THE CLUB OWNERS FEEL A BETTER DRAW WITH A NON LOCAL.  TIMES HAVE CHANGED ...MIAMI HAS A LOT OF GREAT TALENT BUT IF THE CLUBS OR PROMOTERS DON'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE THEY WILL NEVER SHINE.. BIG RESIDENCIES ARE RARE NOW.  NOW IT'S ABOUT WHICH CLUB BRINGS THE BIGGEST NAME IN THE TOP 100 From DJ MAG..MIND YOU THEIR ARE OVER 250,000 DJ'S WORLDWIDE.. ONCE IN A WHILE YOU'LL GET A LOCAL DOING IN A SPOT HERE IN THEIR BUT THATS IT. YOU HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS AND ARE CONIDERED OME OF MIAMI'S HEAVY HITTERS, BUT IT'S BEEN OVER 15 YEARS. BUT I REMEMBER THAT YOU COUDLN'T EVEN GET A GIG BACK THEN EVEN AFTER YOU HAD YOUR MURK RELEASES..YOU WERE LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY  TO HAVE THE SPACE RESIDENCY FOR MANY YEARS. HAD YOU NOT HAD THE RESIDENCY YOU WOULD BE SINGING A DIFFERENT TUNE TODAY. YOU BECAME A  MIAMI ICON THANKS IN PART TO LOUIS PUIG. NOT ALL BUT IN PART...DID YOU FORGET THAT NICE BILLBOARD ON 836...WHAT DJ' HAS HAD THE KIND OF PROMOTION. NONE.....MOST WELL KNOWN MIAMI DJ'S HAD THEIR BREAK AT SPACE..EDGAR V, IVANO BELLINI, ROLAND, ETC...In order for us to become a true dance music mecca, DJs are going to have to grow some balls, LOL...GROW SOME BALLS..THE DJ'S DOWN HERE CAN GROW ALL THE BALLS THEY WANT AND THEY CAN CREATE BIG RECORDS WHICH IS WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO AND HAVE DONE..BUT AS LONG AS  THE CLUB OWNERS DON'T GIVE THEM A CHANCE MIAMI DJ'S WILL HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME BREAKING THRU. YOUR POSTING LIKE IF YOUR THE ONLY DJ THAT HAS BALLS...LOLANOTHER THING YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY EUROPEAN DJ'S DO WELL..BECAUSE THEY STICK TOGETHER.. THEIR IS TO MUCH JEALOUSY AND HATING DOWN HERE AND NOT ENOUGH NETWORKING. LOOK AT SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA..A SOLID NETWORK..I RESPECT YOU AS A TALENTED PRODUCER AND DJ BUT MURK SHOULD OF STUCK TOGETHER...RALPH FALCON IS A GENIUS...IN MY OPINION WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCTION HE IS THE MASTER OF THE DUO.TO COME ON HERE AND SAY THAT MIAMI DJ'S HAVE TO GROW SOME BALLS IS BULLSHIT AND INSULTING. YOUR JUST BASICALLY DISSING EVERY DJ THAT IS TRYING TO BREAK THROUGH...IT'S NOT ABOUT BALLS IT'S ABOUT POLITICS...IT'S WHO U KNOW THAT GETS U THEIR AND YOUR TALENT THAT KEEP U.REMEMBER THEY WERE NOT GIVEN NOR WILL BE GIVEN THE CHANCES AND SUPPORT THAT YOU RECIEVED FROM ONE OF THE BEST CLUB IN THE COUNTRY(SPACE)..WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IS COME ON HERE AND SAY IS THAT ...CLUB OWNERS SHOULD ONCE IN A WILE GIVE THE LOCAL TALENT A CHANCEAND MAKE NEW ARTIST FOR THE WORLD TO SEE..  JUST LIKE LOUIS PUIG DID WITH YOU AND THE OTHERSIM SURE IF THE DJ'S ARE GIVEN A CHANCE THEY WILL PROMOTE THEIR ASSES OFF TO GET HEADS THRU THE DOOR. IT'S A WIN WIN FOR BOTH THE CLUB OWNER, THE DJ AND THE MIAMI SCENE.ANOTHER GOOD POST WOULD BE TO TELL THE DJ'S DOWN HERE  TO UNITE TOGHETER AND WORK TOGETHER AND NOT AGAINST EACH OTHER REMEMBER THE FAMOUS WORDS..UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.....NEW YORK DOES IT..EUROPE DOES IT WHY DOESN'T MIAMI..OSCAR KEEP UP THE THE GREAT WORK BUT APPROACH YOUR FRUSTRATION ABOUT THE SCENE IN A DIFFERENT MATTER. DON'T DIS THOSE THE ARE BELOW TRYING TO MAKE IT OR THAT LOOK UP TO YOU AS AN INCREDIBLE TALENT. THEY ARE TRYING THEIR BEST...NOT EVERYONE WAS BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON IN THEIR MOUTH.WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS SHOW THE CLUB OWNERS THAT THEIR IS TALENT HERE IN MIAMI AND THE DJ'S WILL BRING IN A CROWD.THEY CAN MAKE ALL THE HITS THAT THEY WANT BUT IF THE CLUB OWNERS LOOK THE OTHER WAY AND SEE THEM JUST AS A LOCAL ARTIST AND NOT A TALENTED ARTIST. THEY ARE ALL SCREWED...PROPS TO MARIBEL THE PROMOTER WHO IS CONSTANTLY HAVING PROPERTIES WITH GREAT LOCAL TALENT.  THIS IS WHAT MIAMI NEEDS...  

William
William

Great article. congrats on your success Oscar keep up the good beats and the great mixes,NYC pacha loves u too man I'm looking forward this Saturday nov 12 for that 8 hour journey of pure classic house,tech,dub,guaguanco and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Dania "Chacha"
Dania "Chacha"

Oscar you are 100%  correct  Congrats and keep on the good work see you in Tropicasa ♥

Carlos Carles
Carlos Carles

Well said OG, they need to grow cojones and appreciate real talent!

Pmdesales
Pmdesales

Great article...Very true about the house music as in "mecca" and the club scene/owners that want to focus only $$ instead letting the music bring the "fun"..congratulations Oscar G on your career.

Kumbajay
Kumbajay

This guy definitely knows what he's talking about. Murk are one of the essential and original pioneers of what dance music is. I recall when deep dish was starting to hit it big, they were labeled "the Persian version of Murk". Great article.

Jp Quiceno
Jp Quiceno

Great article! You were spot on with the questions. Keep em' coming.

David Solero
David Solero

There is no doubt that Oscar & Ralph and their Murk label contributed to the house scene here in Miami and abroad. I have plenty of their test pressings on vinyl to prove it. Oscar is absolutely correct in his comments! What ever happened to going to a club for the music, to hear the DJ take you on a musical jopurney, to having a club be consistant on the theme of music on whatever night it is??? A real dance club??? I do remember an event at Le Bains Nightclub on South Beach in the mid nineties called Masters at Murk! Yes, Murk and Masters at Work joining forces during the Winter Music Conference where the resident there was Sammy O. For me it was all about the music and these guys brought it to the tee!

Big respect to them and looking forward to hearing them at The Electric Pickle this Sunday!!!

Househead
Househead

Oscar G is one of the original and most innovative house producers of our time. It is a shame that he no longer resides in Space and that Space no longer has a ballroom to really enjoy. I do agree with his views and look forward to seeing him live this year.

Andrea Batista
Andrea Batista

He's 100% correct about club owners taking chances ... too often they want to try & control what the DJ plays instead of just letting them do their job! Great article!

Oscarfan1
Oscarfan1

You are so right..Im amazed at this guys arrogance..Pride and arrogance comes before Destruction..

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