Pao Calderon was born in New York and raised in Colombia. From a young age, she demonstrated her innate talent and that absolute conviction that led her to debut as a teenager with great legends and exponents of the international scene having being awarded several times as best DJ in Colombia. Music producer, founder and director of the record label DTL Records. Her skills both in the studio and behind the decks have already been more than demonstrated over more than a decade of experience.
We caught up with Pao Calderon to talk about her latest musical projects.
Electronic Groove: Hi, Pao, and welcome to Electronic Groove. First of all, how are you? How have you been dealing with the whole COVID-19 situation these past months?
Pao Calderon: Hi, Electronic Groove! I’m doing great, super excited to join you guys once again. The COVID season has been strange, we are still in lockdown here in Colombia, everything is shut down, I am spending a lot of time at home, in my studio making music and just chilling.
EG: Can you tell us how did you first connect with music? How did you figure out that electronic music was your thing?
Pao Calderon: Music has always been in my life for as long as I can remember. When I was three years old, I had my first Fisher-Price cassette player and I fell in love with music. I dreamt of being a singer all my childhood while listening almost all the time to my cassettes, then Fisher-Price cassette player became my favorite toy, which then I replaced it with a walkman, and then a Discman, and then turntables. I started playing guitar when I was 13. I was a huge collector of music and I built this collection of vinyl and CDs, I used to spend all my money on music during high school. When I was 18 I learned to DJ and then it all came together for me. I felt this tremendous connection with the whole stage thing, I felt nervous, but it felt like nothing I had ever tried before, so I became addicted to playing music.
EG: How about your sound? Was it hard to find your own? Do you spend a lot of time in the studio?
Pao Calderon: Since I was a huge collector of music already, I guess that helped me a lot to have my music taste and sound very defined already. I also was a huge raver so I was constantly discovering new music and artists. When I started Djing I just picked my favorite songs and built lots of playlists. I used to practice 8 or 10 hours per day, so I learned really fast. I guess I was just in love with the whole thing, music, DJing, it was like living my dream playing at amazing clubs and festivals. I was and still am very disciplined with my research. So I guess when you work that hard, things work out at the end. I have my own studio at my place. I spend a lot of time playing, listening, researching, and making music. It’s a lot of fun for me. I feel so lucky that my passion became my job.
EG: You run your own label DTL Records. How did that come about? Why did you feel the need to start your own output?
Pao Calderon: When I started releasing my own music in other labels I felt like I didn’t have control over everything, like the album cover, the fonts, images, colors, release date, sales, so I felt the need to have my own record label. Then I just opened the imprint to other artists as well. I wanted to give upcoming artists the opportunity to release their music. I wanted to collaborate and connect with other artists in the world.
“I felt this tremendous connection with the whole stage thing, I felt nervous, but it felt like nothing I had ever tried before, so
I became addicted to playing music”
EG: For those that might not be familiar with your work over at DTL, could you tell us what the label stands for? What kind of artists and music do you seek to promote?
Pao Calderon: Great underground tunes for the dance floor. DTL Records is more focused on deep melodic techno, deep house, and progressive house but It is also opened to other genres as well like deep house, clubby techno, indie dance, I have released also ambient and chill out. The imprint has grown so much, I have 260 releases and 170 artists from every continent in the world. I really like to see where this is going. It has from big local talent from every major city to small unknown bedroom DJs. Small electronic bands and live acts, to DJs that are constantly touring and DJing all over. Also, musicians that only produce, so I guess we have a bit of everything and nothing mainstream.
Electronic Groove: How do you go about planning your sets? Do you plan a lot, or is it a thing of the moment?
Pao Calderon: I love playing new music all the time and surprise the audience, when I am Djing I feel like I am giving people small gifts through music. I can even see people on the crowd with shazam open sometimes, or I get messages of people telling me how cool this song was, or when they tag me on their stories they point out how much they loved that song. So I feel like people appreciate it and love to find new music as well. So, I try to always play new stuff, as a way to make every set and night and gig different and new. It feels awesome to play fresh stuff for me. I try to make new playlists every weekend. Especially now that I am recording sets and live streamings regularly, I prefer to have them all with different songs, so at the moment I do plan almost every single song. When I play at clubs I guess I like to improvise a bit more, and at festivals I like to plan it in advance, so I can focus more on just having fun and dancing with the crowd, instead of or browsing my playlists. It saves more time.
Electronic Groove: What can you reveal to us about your upcoming set for our Electronic Groove Music Weekend?
Pao Calderon: I am thinking of melodic techno and progressive house set, nothing dark, more like happy melodic chill techno, and a lot of indie dance. And I am going to play my latest track for the first time, it is still unreleased so really excited about that.
Electronic Groove: Many thanks and we wish you nothing but the best moving forward! Can’t wait to hear you rocking our Electronic Groove Music Weekend!
Pao Calderon: Thank you so much! It is a big pleasure for me to share my music with you guys!