East Coast dance floors might have been some of the first to hear DJ/Remixer Hector Fonseca, but it didn’t take long for this uber-talented music master to make a name for himself worldwide. From working with Blondie to remixing for the likes of Sia, Lady Gaga and Beyonce (who personally complimented his work), Fonseca has moved onto working with legendary photographer/director David LaChapelle & legendary heiress turned musical muse/artist Daphne Guinness on her latest music, to fantastic results. I sat down with Fonseca to chat about his career, how he thinks nightlife is going to change post-pandemic, & how his self-proclaimed “side brand” Muchacho Sessions has opened brand new doors.
Michael Cook: How did the boy from suburban New Jersey fall in love with music, leading to DJ’ing?
Hector Fonseca: First it was love for music. I remember my Mom playing Disco, R&B and Salsa records for me on the weekends. We would really take in the vinyl artwork and then listen to the whole record start to finish. That was where my love for music started. The DJ part came from frequenting clubs in New York City’s greatest moments like Twilo, Limelight & Tunnel, just to name a few.
MC: Who are some of your musical and DJ mentors? What have you learned the most from some of them?
HF: In the beginning, I listened to specific producers in the trance/progressive/techno scene, and then later in the LGBTQ scene that were crossing over. Acts like The Prodigy, Sasha & Digweed, Steve Lawler, Club 69 (aka Peter Rauhofer), Junior Vasquez & Danny Tenaglia. I think what I learned the most was how to affect the crowd via moments in your music & in your sets. Peter once said to me “You need to create moments where you draw them in, once you’ve got their attention….you can just play what you like & it’s easier to keep their attention (dancefloor full)”
MC: From Erika Jayne to Gaga to Willow Smith, you have remixed music for almost everyone; who are some that stand out and why? And who could possibly be left that you want to work with?
HF: Probably Lady Gaga & Katy Perry to start because it was personal. They saw a remix industry not acknowledging new talent from my scene and they decided they were going to change that. Erika Jayne also was personal because she would actually come to events where I was spinning and she knew me & my sound. Sia & Beyonce were a dream come true to hear their raw vocals in my remix project and get to start from there. Beyonce even commented she liked that I drew out her vibrato with Melodyne word for word. We were told she said “He did the work that the other remixers did not do…and you can hear the difference”. I still have not worked with some of my all time favorites like Bjork, Tori Amos & Mariah Carey. There are also some new artists that are amazing like Dua Lipa, LIzzo and Harry Styles, I would love to work on their vocals for a remix. My next official remix releasing soon will be for Daphne Guinness “Heaven” in collaboration with David LaChapelle, super excited about that!
MC: Working with Blondie was a breakthrough for you; tell me about that experience.
HF: It was a big personal experience for me because I grew up with Blondie’s music and they are a big influence on me. I remember I was at Mercury Studios in the East Village mixing my remix for Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” and the studio manager told me Debbie Harry heard the beat from across the room and said “who’s working on that? that’s what I want for our album….” We were introduced and I was honored and losing it internally to be honest. I was so thrilled she loved what I was working on and that she asked me to do a track on her forty year retrospective album. She told me she had a concept about the “mile high club” and doing a club track around that theme. We got to work right away and she was there the whole time. Chris added guitar parts and we recorded the vocals and worked on spoken parts that I co-wrote “Mile High, you and I….between earth and sky between earth and sky”. The beat I programmed was based on what I loved playing the most at the time and also what I was remixing. It was truly a collaborative experience and an honor I will never forget!
MC: Your recent collaboration was with heiress, fashion icon and muse Daphne Guinness Tell me about working with her on her single “Looking Glass”…
HF: This was another organic thing that happened. I was introduced to David LaChapelle at LifeBall founder, Gery Keszler’s house in Vienna. I am such a big fan of his work and we hit it off in conversation and became friends. When David & Daphne were working on this new brilliant project, Daphne expressed wanting remixes and David suggested me. Daphne and her producer Malcom both knew my work and were into it so they contacted me. I knew Daphne and her iconic looks & work. I immediately agreed to do several remixes after a conversation with her. We’ve actually done three remixes so far from “Revelations”. One of them being “Looking Glass” & the other “Heaven” which is releasing this week! She is the darling of fashion & indie music and if you don’t know her music videos with David, you need to head to YouTube right now and check them out; Truly iconic!
MC: What do you think about dance floors and nightlife in general will be different once we all emerge from this pandemic? What lesson have you taken from it?
HF: It’s a really strange thing but towards the end of last year, I remember thinking we were vulnerable to something new (like Covid19). I think unfortunately, the things that make nightlife fun also makes us really vulnerable. On the positive end, I think we will see improvements once the vaccine is ready for mass distribution and I can see face shields/mask fashion, sanitation practices & temp checks becoming a part of nightlife’s new norm. That’s a good thing; beyond Covid19, it will certainly not be the last contagious disease to come around. Lesson I learned is nothing is guaranteed and it can all end in an instant so you need to plan for such situations. I am thankful I was prepared due to my many years in the industry & not allowing myself to be undercut financially, but many were not prepared and I think we will lose some in nightlife when it’s all said and done sadly. I’m however looking forward to a more responsible industry & audience that leads the way when it comes to large gatherings/events. I also look forward to more outdoor events which I prefer these days. Most of all, I’m taking away a new appreciation for life, my friends/supporters & my craft.
MC: Tell me about Muchacho Sessions; It’s really taken off in the past year!
HF: Thank You! I started Muchacho Sessions a year ago as a kind of side brand to explore more creative & new sounds that I don’t normally get to play in a big room. Once the pandemic hit, I immediately took it to livestreams and the show has evolved to include art, travel & fashion that I love. I’m so happy people have taken to this passion project of mine. I’m in the middle of working on some deals with fashion brands, visual artists & travel boards to collaborate on new episodes for 2021. I will likely be launching these new shows on a new app I am helping to develop which will allow DJ’s & artists monetize their streams easily. Also look out for Muchacho Merch !
MC: What has fueled your creativity and helped inspire you during this past year?
HF: Well, it’s a new world we are coming into. A reset of life as we knew it. After twenty years of touring non stop, I’ve taken this time to reflect & think about what’s next. Renewing my passion for dance music & festivals has fueled my creativity. I’m trying alot of new things as there is no pressure to be the same thing or just one thing anymore. I personally see an explosion of creativity coming. A new roaring twenties with old norms being thrown out & new ideas thriving. I look forward to being a part personally and as we continue to highlight new artists at Audio4play. The big party is coming back in 2021, see you all there on the dancefloor!