Maceo Plex Talks Sexy Dancefloor Destruction

Last week we previewed the upcoming January 21 performance by Maceo Plex at the Electric Pickle.

The acclaimed American DJ-producer is Eric Estornel, who also goes by Maetrik and Mariel Ito -- it depends on whether he's feeling dark, sci-fi, or sexy. He's been rocking the decks since the early '90s, and the new decade has seen him relocate to Valencia, Spain, closer to the nonstop action at Europe's EDM capitals.

We caught up with the talented and multi-faceted Mr. Estornel to talk about his new album, his creative process, and keeping things sexy.

New Times: You started out DJing in your teens. How did you first transition to music production?

Maceo Plex: Well, after a couple of years of DJing, I quickly had some of my own ideas I wanted to add or subtract from the music I was playing. First started experimenting around with different pieces of cheap gear that I bought. I just became obsessed with it from there. I would finish entire tracks right off the bat. I sort of knew in order to develop my skills I needed to follow through and finish tracks whether my friends thought they were good or not.

How do you think the American EDM scene has changed since you were first playing out in the early '90s?

Lately, I've been saying that it was way better back in the early '90s, but in a way I'm starting to realize that things are still great, they're just different. Somehow the USA with all its incredibly conservative laws has found a way to keep making amazing music and coordinating incredible parties and festivals. Things are strong. The artists coming out of the US make me proud, especially now that house and techno seem more soulful then ever.

So what prompted you to move to Europe, and why Valencia specifically?

For years now I've been playing in Europe more than in the States and like most artists I wanted to get closer to the action. But I didn't want to move to Berlin like everyone else, perhaps to be able to concentrate on continuing to have my own sound. Since much of my

family is from Spain (also Cuba) as well as Spanish grandparents, it was legally the perfect place. And Valencia is a small but beautiful city that I really had a soft spot for after playing in the Observatori Festival there back in 2003.

How has living there shaped your work in the last year?

I've been happier lately. More lighthearted. Learned to let go and remember what it's like to party again. Back in the US, I was constantly in the studio trying to be the best I could be and looking at things with a very "technical producer" mentality. Almost a purist attitude. Now I'm just trying to "feel" the music again without worrying so much about being innovative. Now I'm just doing my thing again.

As Maetrik, Mariel Ito, and Maceo Plex, you're an artist that wears multiple stylistic masks. What does each project mean to you personally and what differentiates them?

Maetrik is for when I'm feeling a little darker and wanna write something a bit more technical as well. Mariel Ito, I use for my electro experimental music I like to write when I'm feeling really sci-fi. And Maceo Plex is how I've been feeling lately... which is sexy, smooth, and sleazy.

Can you describe your typical creative process from inspiration to completion of a track?

Yeah, I generally don't have a clear idea of what I wanna write, I just start with beats or a melody and go from there. But I do like to start beatboxing in the shower and brainstorming over basslines, beats, or hooks. Then of course I just start pulling on the production techniques I've learned over the years to make those ideas a reality.

"Vibe Your Love" marked a significant departure for you towards a more soulful house sound. What inspired this stylistic shift?

Love for my girl, family, friends. All of them. Wanted to write something special and what better lyrics are there to express that? I wrote the entire track using mostly piano, beats, and effects, before laying down Peter King's vocal. Worked out perfect!

What can you tell us about your upcoming full-length on Crosstown Rebels?

It really is the portrait of my life and all the influences from the music I love. There's Detroit techno, house, soul, futurism, everything on the album, without steering too far away from floor music. But most of all a lot of love and emotions in the music. Most of the tracks are meant for late-night affairs where people are feeling really open-minded and feeling a need to close their eyes and dance or freak to music. It's sexy but energetic at the same time.

What are your greatest influences and inspirations, music or otherwise?

Spending time with my girl, and playing amazing gigs that fill my mind with ideas. Those two things are what influence my music the most. Call me simple, I guess.

What else do you have in store for 2011?

Well, of course the album drops at the end of January. Then later perhaps in March my track "Your Style" will be re-released with a super hot remix by Maya Jane Coles. After that, I have an EP coming out on Guy Gerber's Supplement Facts label. Also, a Maetrik EP on Cocoon, and countless remixes I've done lately as Maetrik for Mandy vs. Booka Shade, Timo Maas, Adam Beyer, and many others. I'm hoping after the release of the album and EP on Supplement I'll be able to get busy on some remixes under my Maceo Plex project, which I've been hungry to get going in full effect.

What can Miami expect during your performance at Electric Pickle? Will there be a combination of material from your different projects?

Definitely a lot from both projects. Plenty of new Maceo Plex material as well as album music, as well as a healthy dose of Maetrik dark vibes. I've also got quite a lot of amazing promo music lately which I'm eager to drop as well. A lot of sexy dancefloor destruction in

other words!

Maceo Plex. Friday, January 21. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave.,

Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit

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Sean Levisman