Lazaro Casanova: From Local Rave to Global Stage

Lazaro Casanova: From Local Rave to Global Stage

by Marcos Colón
03.17.2008

It’s not everyday that young talent comes around. There’s always the want to be a star, but the talent is scarce. You always get kids wanting to be rock stars, singers and even artists, but what about DJ’s? This may be more of a case for Miami, with its rich club culture and exposure to the many names that grace the thousands of flyers spread throughout the city. Most of these kids looking to be the next Tiësto usually get their break, if lucky, after they’ve paid all their dues, meaning later on in life. But this isn’t the case for a select few. Enter Lazaro Casanova, Miami native and DJ boy wonder. Getting a pair of decks at a young age and playing for the hell of it and for the love of music, Lazaro started paying his dues and making the rounds at clubs starting with a residency at the now defunct Revolver party. After creating a buzz around himself with the help of his Shot Callin’ blog and his gigs around Magic City, he began to get the attention of some big names in the music biz, most notably MSTRKRFT. Now, after establishing his name in Latin America, sharing an agent with Tiësto and Richie Hawtin and earning the gold mask charm from the MSTRKRFT guys á la Kanye in Through the Wire, he continues to work on his music to branch out and conquer the rest of the world. CoolJunkie recently sat down with Laz before his first show at Mansion where his name graced the marquee last Saturday night, and later caught up with him in his new pad in Uptown Miami.

Clubplanet: So how did you get started?

Photo Credit: chipiLaz: I first started when I was 15. I was DJing, as bad as this sounds, all ages raves with Dream Team and shit like that. I went under a different moniker.

CP: What was it?

Laz: DJ Trips. I remember at the time the DJ’s that were doing this type of party were guys like DJ Seasons and even Danny Daze.

CP: What kind of sound was it?

Laz: It was house, but a lot darker.

CP: What Miami kids used to call rave music.

Laz: Yea. Because I know that a lot of people at the time were playing stuff like tribal house and trancy stuff, and I was just like on another trip and playing a bit harder and darker.

CP: So you were 15 at the time, meaning that it was 2001?

Laz: Right, this was my first year of high school. It was a weird mix of music around that time.

CP: Did you play Higher State of Consciousness at that time?

Laz: It was basically really random shit that I would come up on.

CP: What were some of the influences that you had around that time? Or were you just a kid who wanted to be a DJ?

Laz: Yea, at the time I really didn’t have any influences. My friend got a pair turntables and I decided to get some for my birthday. Early on when I first started listening to dance music I think Oakenfold was still reigning, but then Tiësto took over. Those were the kind of big names that I heard about because I wasn’t into the underground scene yet.

CP: One of the characteristics that make you unique is your musical consciousness. What musical influences did you have as far as groups or acts?

Laz: Number one for me would be Bob Dylan. He was amazing. For his time he was doing his own thing and didn’t care what anyone had to say. He kept his artistic integrity for the most part. I have a really weird musical background. The second single of a song I was talking about earlier I was actually sampling ‘Napoleon’ by Joe Arroyo. I was sampling the horns for a massive break down. So I have a couple friends that said, “Hey your Cuban, maybe you should be sampling a little more Afro-Cuban percussions in your productions,” because a lot of people are doing Spanish house, but it doesn’t have a rough edge and it’s very simple and it doesn’t really sound like electro house with Spanish percussion. But for the most part, the 90’s were mostly hip-hop and rap for me.

CP: What acts?

Laz: Warren G’s Regulate…G Funk Era was probably one of the first CD’s I ever bought. The first tape I had was Doggystyle. Regulate was a big record. But then I got into a little classic rock after that. But the dance really started up for me with Daft Punk, which really opened up the eyes for a lot of people toward the genre. It was something that was easily accessible no matter what musical background you were from.

CP: Can you talk a little bit about the transition from when you fifteen to when you started doing the Revolver party?

Laz: I took a couple of years off after that but then one day this girl forced me to go out to Revolver when I just turned 18, and at that time I was against going out anywhere. So she took me out and I met Josh (Menendez), and he’s the kind of guy who sees someone new on the scene and would like to make them guest DJ so people can see who was new on the scene. So I played the upstairs of the Soho Lounge and no one really knew that I had DJ skills, but it went well. About a week later he offered me a residency downstairs with Greg at the getting all my records from Pure Grooves and Piccadilly Records over seas. So as soon as they moved into Pawn Shop that’s when I really tried to push the dance music there in the main room. But Josh wasn’t having it at all and he would freak out whenever I would lay down a track that was somewhat dance.

Mar Bar. At the time all I had to play was indie rock and 80’s stuff, but there was a period where the whole rock remix thing was coming up and you had acts like Cut Copy and Digitalism remixing and when that started happening I started to get really excited because I thought, cool I can start heading back in the dance direction. I just remember that once the dance music stuff was creeping into indie rock I started

CP: Yet your profile managed to just snowball.

Laz: What would happen is that the night that we’d have some guest DJ’s in, like if the DFA guys were gonna be in town or if Winter Music Conference was happening or if I knew any guest DJ that would like that sort of music, I would just go against anything they had to say and be like ok I want to play this, I want to network with people, I want them to hear what I actually want to do.

CP: And that sound was representative of your creative identity?

Laz: Yes. And I think that one of the first guys that actually picked up on that was this promoter based in New York called Alex English. He does Hero Ballroom and a couple other parties up there with GBH. I think that he was one of the first people to fly me up there and appreciate what I was doing down here, and I was at the District here at the time.

CP: So let’s take a bit of a turn and focus on Miami a bit. What other Miami artists or DJ’s do you believe are doing it right?

Laz: From the very beginning I think that the person that was holding it down for Miami and still is, is Robby Rivera with his Juicy Music stuff. I play Robby tracks now. He has a remix of Nightcrawlers and it’s amazing, I mean it kills dance floors. I had to edit it because it’s like 10 minutes. But besides that I haven’t really heard of anyone as of late as far as Miami music goes because I haven’t been around. Most of the stuff I hear when I go out is Top 40 mash-up shit.

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