The maestro, Danny Calderon or Mr. Calderon, is on his way to becoming a household name in the nightlife scene. The New York native can be seen mixing top 40 hits with calypso vibes during his residency at places like The Living Room at The W Hotel Times Square, NY, or during New York fashion parties. The DJ, who also produces, balance’s the tempo of his budding career with being a mentor to up and coming disk jockeys in NY. While preparing for an exciting series of events during Art Basel Miami 2016, Mr. Calderon is also preparing to debut his debut album boasting a heavy list of features.
Last but not least, Mr. Danny Calderon himself. At this point my assistant and I were huddled in a corner surrounded by a pile of notes and empty glasses, a tad frazzled to say the least... but the moment Danny walked in we were immediately re-energized by his presence. Find out why Danny Calderon is about to be New Yorks favorite DJ.
J: What attracted you to the Sherman|Preston and the #HYPE campaign?
D: I think Sherman and Preston, their presentation of art, it transcends everything. What I mean by that is that it's youthful, it's cultural, it's colorful, and decadent. There's a quality to it that brings out the best in the individual who wears it. Another factor is comfortability. It's very comfortable. You know you're going to look good and feel confident.
J: Walk me through your personal style journey. The evolution of your personal style.
D: Growing up as a New Yorker I was very much into the hiphop culture and I always had a passion for the preppy/varsity look. As the years went by, I was able to define what I feel comfortable in and that is Americana meets street wear. You know also the preppy look as well. All those elements combined, I tend to fuse that...incorporate that into my own look.
J: I tend to think I created that look. Back in high school, I was the first person wearing Hollister clothes with fitteds (laughter).
D: (Laughter) My thing was more Diesel. Like I would buy Diesel, Coogi, Iceberg, etc. At the time that I was in school and that was what was hot. Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Helly Hansen, those were all staple New York City looks. So all those things really drew an inspiration to me. The hip hop culture, the New York City culture was very impactful on my fashion taste and sense.
"Not being so selfish. As a music curator, a music selector, a music maker, you have to be keen to what people's expectations are."
J: How did you get into being a DJ? How did it all start?
D: I started out producing at the age of 17 right out of high school. I decided to attend a music engineering school where I received my certification and then I pursued music production. But my background is really in art. I'm a visual artist. I paint and I draw.
J: Oh wow, really?
D: Yeah. I went to Art and Design, the high school of Art and Design. A specialized art high school here in midtown. Music and art is relative.
J: I went to art school as well. I went to the Art school of Boston. I was originally going to be an Art teacher but clearly that didn't happen (laughter).
D: I was going to be a music teacher.
J: Look at that. (Laughter). Two teachers.
D: Actually my day job, I'm a technician. So I deal with software but aside from that, to get back on topic (Laughter), my background is in visual arts and it evolved into the sonic, musical style of art. So I have a passion and a background for that. This then evolved into an interest in DJ'ing. That's what I currently do professionally. I think it coincides because it helped sharpen my listening skills, my instincts in production, understanding what makes a person move, what makes them recite words, what inspires them to have a good time on the dance floor. In lieu of that, being the catalyst in providing that inspiration and that mood of making people feel a certain way and giving people an experience and a story in the nightlife. I have a very keen connection to how people feel and collectively it feels good to get the energy of the crowd and reciprocating that. The DJ'ing helps in my production because it helps me understand what will make a person react. Getting a sense of what the trends are and getting beyond that trend.
J: When it comes to your personal style, fashion and DJ'ing, how big of a role do you think your style plays in actual DJ'ing? You know how popstars are sort of forced to kind of marry the two. You have to be talented and be fashionable. Do you feel this same pressure?
D: I think with fashion, it says a lot about the individual and their preferences for sounds and genres of music. I think ones fashion and music exemplifies the persons individuality and creates an identity to which people can relate and connect with. A lot of times the look transcends the actual sounds. I think people's first perception is going to be the look, your appearance and then everything falls into place.
J: When it comes to your production and your singles you want to mix, how do you go about picking that? Is it based on your personal preference or what's hot at the time and turning into something even better?
D: I think it's a combination of both factors but it's essentially keeping your eyes and ears in tune to society. You know the demographic of listeners, the people you're going to perform for, you have to know that in advance. You have to know your crowd and I think that's very essential. Not being so selfish. As a music curator, a music selector, a music maker, you have to be keen to what people's expectations are. In a way you have to be unselfish and selfish if that makes any sense. It's like a double standard. Selfish in the sense that you're going to put your own style into the curation and music making/production and then you want to test it out to see how the people react. If it doesn't work out. You know you always want to give people what they want with the sense and taste of what you like. It has to be a collective matter.
J: When it comes to your shows, have you ever come to a point where it didn't go how you thought it was going to go?
D: Of course. I've had times where I misread the crowd and I've played music that emptied out a dance floor.
J: That would be my worst fear in DJ'ing. Playing a song and all the people walking away.
D: I think you're right. I was like that in the beginning stages of my career but then you learn that you play what you like but you also play according to the crowd. When you have that sense of what keeps people reeled in, then it's all about instincts and your music knowledge from there and giving them that journey, that musical experience to feel familiar, give them something fresh and keep them connected at all times of the night.
"When it comes to DJ mixes, it's all about the season. You know fall, spring, all these seasons demand a certain sound."
J: When it comes to your mixes, how long does it normally take? Or is it like a process every time? Different time frames?
D: When it comes to DJ mixes, it's all about the season. You know fall, spring, all these seasons demand a certain sound. I think it's all about the seasons, and it's about the mood I feel. So how I feel and the seasons coincide with the output and citation of my music. It's the year as well, like what's in trend, I also see music as colors that tie into the season as well.
J: Would you consider yourself a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making mixes? If you were to make something that didn't turn out how you wanted it at first would you start from scratch and go back to the drawing board or would you take pieces that you like out of that?
D: I think there's a demand for that. When you want to evolve and be at your best, you have to ensure that you don't settle for less. I think a lot of that has to do with just building a threshold of excellence. It coincides with my profession. If I want to be respected, if I want to be consistent that involves being the best that you can be and if that involves perfection then nothing more and nothing less. I believe in doing the best to your ability. If my projects call for that then I'm going to do the best that I can to feel comfortable with the end result. If that end result is not satisfying then I go back to the drawing board and continue to push the threshold and be the best that I can be.
J: Going back to your personal style, do you think it's the same on and off the stage? When you're DJ'ing is it the same thing you would wear on the street?
D: I think that when you're DJ'ing, that job requires a few hours, it all depends on that job, but if you're going to be on your feet 2-3 or 5-6 hours, you want to be comfortable. You wanna look good and you want to be comfortable. I think the important part is being comfortable and then the second thing is being presentable, looking good and feeling right about your look so all that coincides but being comfortable is the first factor. That being said, I don't necessarily wear the attire I wear to DJ, on a regular basis (Laughter).
J: When it comes to DJ'ing is it mainly New York City or have you been all over?
D: I've traveled around the world when I DJ. Here in NYC, I've DJ'd in big clubs, lounges. It ranges from the Delancy to the Gansevoort. I was a resident DJ at the W in Times Square and at the Living Room. I've DJ'd in Sweden, Stockholm, Japan, LA, so I get to bounce around.
J: How would you go about judging the vibe of different crowds, cause I know in Japan, according to my good good girlfriend Beyonce (Laughter) they're very polite and they don't make a lot of noise.
D: Well in Japan they just passed a law where they can actually dance now.
J: So they couldn't dance before? You were playing to people standing there.
D: Before this law, the Japanese when they were clubbing, or out and about were not allowed to dance.
J: And all this time I wanted to go to Japan. (Laughter)
D: But now you can actually dance when you're in Japan (Laughter).
J: Good to know.
D: A New York City crowd, depending on the clientele and the venue, there's always an expectation and you have to play according to that expectation. That expectation usually meets the demands of the crowd. So if you're spinning at the Gansevoort, they expect something posh, trendy and catchy. As DJs we can do open format, where we can play all sorts of genres, ranging from classics like Michael Jackson to EDM to Future and Drake which I really like because Gansevoort is an example of a mixed crowd where as in the DL it's Latinos and African Americans and that venue demands HipHop, and more of an urban style of music. Let's say for example I fly out to LA and I'm doing a gig out there, LA people are really chill, so I can play some west coast urban music like DJ Mustard, Bay Area music to east coast music, trap, and they also like the classics so they appreciate a wide range. Sometimes they're a little posh/bougie about who they are and what they expect. I like LA vibes. Japan they're all about culture so you have to bring that NYC style.
J: What's next for you? What do you have coming up?
D: So I took a little hiatus and did a lot of ghost production in the music industry which led me to grow as a musician and helping me become a DJ and accept that role. Taking this hiatus has helped me develop my ear and my production ability to be a little more keen about that. I'm going back to my production and I'm working currently on an EP with a legendary DJ brand ambassador, his name is Peter Paul, he's NYC staple. Peter Paul is actually a partner of mine. I'm actually a part of his DJ collective, Super Journey DJs. We're working on this EP, which involves classic house/hip house, we're going back and bringing it back to NY and the globe. It's a forgotten genre and I'm focusing on that.
So that wraps up our exclusive BTS #HYPE feature. I hope you all had as good a time reading as I did interviewing.
- Later, Jomario
Danny Calderon / DJ, Producer
New York, NY
Yonkers, New York, born and raised soulful crooner, Anthony Flammia is carving his footprint into the music industry. From collaborating with the likes of Flatbush Zombies and Dave East to using the social media app, Vine, to connect with his strong following of dedicated fans. The young “Velvet Sky” hit maker blends his raspy vocals in serene elements while being acknowledged by the likes of MTV, HYPETRAK and Hot 97 to name a few. After performing around the world, FLAMM is ready to release his next anticipated project with the lead single, “So Real,” before heading on tour.
Next up, Anthony Flammia. Shuffling through paperwork, careful not to spill mimosa on my notes, in comes Anthony. A genuine ball of energy that can soften even the prickliest disposition.
J: What attracted you to the Sherman Preston brand? How did you get involved with the HYPE campaign?
A: I was found by Sherman and Preston around 2008 when they booked me for my first show ever. We both came up in college together. Yeah 2008-2009, that’s when I found my love for music and they found me. It was actually my first paid show in Boston. Through that I always admired the brand and I love how they carry themselves. They carry themselves with a certain decor, elegance, what’s the word? Je ne sais quois (Laughter). You definitely know what you're getting when you go to the Sherman|Preston brand. You know you're going to get a certain level of class and there’s a certain level of beauty that’s involved.
J: Describe your personal style, its evolution and how it has changed over the years.
A: I love to push myself as much as I can in any route. I’m an extremist you know. When I started working with Sherman and Preston, I had the wild style. One day I was wearing a big ass button down with shorts, boat shoes and a fedora. Then the next, I come to the shoot with some Timberlands on, a pair of cargos and a hoodie. It can go anywhere (Laughter). I’ve never been afraid to be the person to push that limit and see where I can take myself in terms of fashion. I love trying new things and I'm just a clean canvas for whatever I feel like wearing to express myself.
J: Because you are so fashion forward and you're willing to try anything, is there anything, looking back, that you would say is the worst outfit that you have ever worn?
A: I can’t call it the worst but it was the most interesting. In college, I had the tightest pants in the world. They were these black tight pants that I don't know … um … that was my thing (Laughter). Either the acid wash blacks or the light blue tight jeans. It would be those and these Aldo shoes. My two things that everybody knew was me. I would wear snow hats with the floppy ears no matter what time of the year, it was just my thing. I also had gloves and I would cut off the rockstar fingers, the I love you fingers, you know what I’m saying? *makes gesture* I would just walk around like this is me, with my shirt buttoned all the way to the top. I even had a messenger bag and I played ball. That was the thing, you would never guess I could hoop by the way I dressed (Laughter).
"It’s everything because it lets people know before you open your mouth your feel…your vibe. You can exude your energy to a person by how you present yourself"
J: Fast forwarding to career wise now and personal style, how important do you think personal style plays into the actual role as an artist?
A: It’s everything because it lets people know before you open your mouth your feel…your vibe. You can exude your energy to a person by how you present yourself. So it’s everything you know? It lets them know who you are and where you came from a little bit.
J: You could bring back the snow hats (laughter).
A: I could. You never know. It might happen (laughter).
J: If I ever see you in a snow hat, I’m never going to let that go (Laughter). When did you start singing? Was it something you started when you were little and kind of progressed?
A: Singing was always a part of my life. Growing up I didn’t have any free periods. My mother made sure I was always in something at all times whether it was sport, extracurriculars, community service, or singing. I sang at the Rockefeller center lighting when I was little, sang at the White House with choirs and all that. But I did it because there were girls in the class and it was fun (Laughter). I played ball my whole life and went to college, played for like half a year and found out I didn’t love basketball as much as I thought I did. My sophomore year I didn't know what to do with my fingers and I taught myself how to play the piano when I was like 18 by hearing videos of John Legend playing “Ordinary People”. I listened to that and learned. I brought my piano with me to college and that was a cheat code for girls (Laughter). Through just living my sophomore year, I fell in love for the first time and had my heart broken for the first time. It was right on time because I needed a creative outlet for all this energy I had from that experience. I wrote my first song that year and what made me fall in love with it was performing and seeing the impact it was leaving on other people. Seeing that I'm actually helping people now, making people’s lives better just from doing what I like to do. When you invest yourself in any industry, no matter what, you’re going to run into some form of bullshit. Like with basketball I ran into the bullshit and found out I didn’t really love basketball like that. With music, the energy that you get from being on stage, letting yourself go, giving yourself to people and having them receive you and reciprocating that energy, you can’t get that feeling from anywhere else. I fell in love with that. There’s nothing like performing, there’s nothing like, you know, putting a smile on people’s faces just by being who you are. Through that I don't care what bullshit comes. I’ve been doing this since 2009 and there’s been bullshit but it’s like, this is a part of it.
J: Very true, you have to take the good and the bad. Throughout your career what would you say would be the highest and the lowest part of it?
A: The “lowest” because it was an experience I learned the most from, I performed at St. John, I hadn’t put out my first album, barely had any music out. I just played the piano and had a band, which my brother played in as well, I was on the bill with 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Fred The Godson, Lloyd, all these huge names right? Everybody came for 2 Chainz because this was when “Riding Round and I’m Getting It” first came out. He was the man. There was a 30 minute break, it was Spring Fling, full of college kids and people were getting restless. I’m hearing the crowd chanting “2 Chainz, 2 Chainz” next thing I know they’re announcing “Are you guys ready for this next artist? Give it up for Anthony Flammia!” before I even start a note, two thousand people in unison “BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” I’m just like yo, WOW. Honestly it didn’t hurt and that’s like the worst fear for any artist but luckily I had my brother, Justin, on stage playing guitar and he just looked at me like “You ready?” and I was like “Hell yeah!” I sang my first song called “Round and Round” and the fellas always resonate with that one. There was a lot of love and anger behind it. So the fellas started catching on. Then I started on “My Kind Of Love” and I’m a Disney dude at heart; I make a lot of love songs so the ladies started catching on and by the end of the set they were fucking with me.
J: I would’ve ran after hearing all those boos. I would’ve told 2 Chainz he has to go out (laughter).
A: (Laughter) Some of the highest points, is seeing how people gather themselves and resonate to my latest song called “So Real” especially on Vine. It started out as a vine, on a 6 second loop, and what happened with that song and how people came together off of that song, it’s something you can't even pay for. It wound up having 6.5 million loops and people were making their own remix vines with the music in the background and dancing with their children or with their pets. People just coming together. It was everything I had been praying for. This is my purpose on this earth, bringing people together and doing what I love. So it happens and it’s happening still. My purpose is to have multiple songs being played throughout the whole world that has people dancing and smiling, I made one so far - I’m blessed and the next one is coming.
"I love people that aren’t scared to be themselves. Freddy Mercury was kind of a wild dude. He’s a beast and didn’t really care about nothing."
J: It’s funny you say that because my next question is about social media and how it adds to your career.
A: It changed my life. Vine alone changed my life. About a year ago, November, I went on tour independently by raising the money on indiegogo.com. I raised five thousand dollars and then I had another investor that helped me and I hit LA, Austin, Atlanta, D.C., London, was booked for Paris but then the bombings happened and they blocked off Paris so we couldn't get in, and Toronto. Just off of social media alone, LA was packed, full of people I didn’t know and that creeped me out. I was like “What the hell?”. People are asking me to sing songs off of my Soundcloud from mad years ago and I’m like “YOOOOOO, that’s awesome!”. In London I had two shows, I did the first show in the Chandos house, that was packed and I did it with my homegirl. The second show was at the library in central London, there was about four to five people in the motherfucker and I was like “aight”. So we went to the strip to see what kind of crowd we could generate performing in the street. So walking around central London, a girl stops me and goes “Bloody hell you’re Flammia eh?” I was on the other side of the pond and I’m from Yonkers, NY .... it blew my mind (Laughter) so I invited them to the show with front row seats.
J: You mentioned John Legend earlier and how his song helped you learn to play piano. Who would you say are your biggest influences?
A: So Stevie Wonders, Sade, Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jadakiss, X, HOV, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix , and Frank Sinatra, I grew up on all of that. My father was musician, and my mother was a dancer/singer so they made sure I was well rounded. Beyonce! She’s playing right now and you can never go wrong with Beyonce. I find inspiration from any where and anyone that sings and has the heart to do what they love.
J: On the same token, do you have any style icons? It can still be an artist you already mentioned but fashion wise.
A: I love people that aren’t scared to be themselves. Freddy Mercury was kind of a wild dude. He’s a beast and didn’t really care about nothing. Andre gets jiggy whenever he wants. Classic looks, I’d say David Beckham is that dude yo. Matthew McConaughey… every time I run I just think what would Matthew McConaughey be doing right now? he's running right now (Laughter). In terms of the Avant Garde, Erykah is the Queen. She’s just like whatever you know.
J: Going back to the point where you mentioned how important style was to your career, what do you feel is harder? Being judged by your style or by your artistry?
A: Honestly… either way judging is good because they're talking about you. The best way to be is to be yourself. Just know that you can live with whatever you’re doing and keep it up. Some people are going to love it and some people aren't and that's ok. As long as people are talking about you and you're in their hearts, minds and mouths, it’s good.
J: What’s next for you? What are you working on now? What’s in the future?
A: Finishing my next album, it doesn't have a name yet. I’m thinking of “Drinks On Flamm”. That’s me, I’m Flamm. We’ll see and just be on the look out for music that’ll make you feel good, make you smile, make you cry, make you dance, make you lay down go to sleep (laughter). By the end of my career, whenever that is, I want the whole world to feel like I’m their cousin, like they know me.
J: Don’t be surprised when your fans start calling you cousin like “Hey cousin!”
A: That’s fine because I have a big family I’m used to that (Laughter).
As we wrap up another interview for the HYPE campaign we learned two things. Anthony Flammia is not only a genuinely great guy, but he's an artistic force to be reckoned with.... and also, he's that cousin we never thought we had. Stay tuned for our next interview with the maestro Danny Calderon!
- J. Jakes
Anthony Flammia / Singer, Songwriter
Label: Sounds Music Group
New York based singer/songwriter, Marco Foster, is on top of the world. After signing with mega superstar Flo Rida’s IMG Strongarm imprint, the DC native has performed everywhere from ABC’s Good Morning America stage to stadiums around the world on tour with Flo Rida. While releasing his vibrant, end of summer hit, “Candyman,” produced by DJ Michael Brun, and collaborating with the likes of TastyTreat on “sideways,” Marco is preparing to move the world to his beat.
Sitting at the Sherman|Preston Fall/Winter lookbook shoot with my asssitant to my left and a cup full of mimosa to my right, I await our next interview. Enter Marco Foster, a delight to be around and a genuine calming energy. We talked on everything from style to music without skipping a beat. Let's take a second to get to know the man behind the soulful voice.
J: "Um… lets start with how you got involved with the whole Sherman|Preston campaign?
M: "I was first introduced through a friend of mine named Evan over at High Fashion Living. He heard of Sherman|Preston and immediately thought about me. He put me in touch. It just felt really good, a natural feeling, style wise. I like things that organically come together."
"Music is A powerful thing."