Hey Mr. DJ: 10 Questions for Mr. Mauricio
“I’ve seen the right people do the wrong things,” Mr. Mauricio says of his experience working with music’s biggest names as one of the nation’s top DJs. “One day I say I’m gonna write a book and that’s what I’ll retire on.” Celebrities can breathe easy though because the Miami mixer isn’t about to spill his secrets just yet. He’s more concerned with making crowds groove at bourgeois establishments like South Beach’s LIV and Hollywood’s Playhouse.
While most record spinners these days opt to use Serato, Mauricio comes from an era of lugging crates filled with vinyl. But the tattooed DJ, who cites DJ AM, Mark Ronson, and Kid Capri as influences, has always adapted to the change in the music climate. However, his foundation lies in two turntables and records. Tune in to Southern Florida’s Power 96 to get a taste of his fluid mixes on the wheels of steel, as he holds listeners down on the afternoon drive during his Traffic Jam mixshow. From hip-hop to house, this music industry veteran runs through classics to new cuts.
As a member of the elite DJ management company S.K.A.M. Artist, Mr. Mauricio has taken his party rocking skills worldwide. He’s the reason songs get ingrained into clubgoers’ psyche and never leave. The same artists he mixes in his sets are those he drops some words of wisdom on, from Rick Ross to Rihanna to Calvin Harris. The trendsetter also lets loose on Page Six mentions and the value in production. Check out his story.
1. How long have you been a DJ?
Seventeen years, since I was 16.
2. What are you currently working on?
In Miami, I have residencies at LIV and Wall on Fridays, Thursdays at Arkadia, I do Pangea on Saturdays at the Hard Rock Casino. And when I’m in New York I’ll do Greenhouse on Tuesdays and 1OAK on Fridays once a month. When I’m in L.A., I’ll do Drai’s on Friday and Playhouse on Thursdays.
I’m back on the radio. I did the radio for eight years at The Beat [103.5] and now I signed a deal at Power 96. I’m there doing the Traffic Jam from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
3. How did you get your first big break?
I was working the door at Liquid, like back in ’96 or ’97. My roommate at the time was best friends with the owner. It was a big club owned by Chris Paciello and Madonna and some big promoters at the time. The resident DJ at the time was DJ Radamus, who was a big hip-hop DJ on the beach in those days, and he was sick and they needed someone at the last minute to fill in. My roommate knew that I DJ’d, so he told the owners. I kinda was dumped in there and ended up DJing with Radamus’ records. I played well enough that they ended up giving me Friday nights at Liquid when I was 17. And that being the biggest club at the time, then every other club that opened up wanted me [to work] there.
4. Moment when you knew you had made it?
I’ve done so many crazy events where things have happened in the club. To me, one of the first times when I was like, “Sh*t, I fu**in’ made it,” was when I was 20, I was DJing at Opium Garden and Christina Aguilera had just come out with “Genie in a Bottle”—she was a big deal. I did an event, she came in the booth. The next day I woke up and I had a call from her and her manager. They flew me to L.A. to do like her birthday at her house and two clubs in Hollywood. It happened so fast that I realized the bracket of fame and money that was being put around me.
5. Favorite artists right now?
I’ll roll with someone like Rick Ross. It’s funny because if you would’ve asked that in 2007, I would’ve said the same thing. He’s like that dude. Me personally, I’ve seen him come from nothing to something. He weathered that shit with 50 Cent. In the last year, who’s bigger than him? He’s up there with Lil Wayne and Jay-Z and Kanye. And being from Miami, I’m one of those people I hold down anyone from here—he stayed true to his hustle. And I also like someone like Calvin Harris; his sound is what I really like.
6. Artists to look out for in 2012?
I think that dance music is turning that corner again. It lost its steam a few years ago. Dance music in the last year has been coming back. People like Calvin Harris are gonna be humungous in 2012. Swedish House Mafia will break out more commercially. In 2012, you’re gonna see more big artists do uptempo dance stuff. I think for so many years there have been big DJs that have produced in dance music but in hip-hop people go, “Oh, that’s DJ Premier, that’s Khaled.” The Rihanna record is really Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna, not Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris. With David Guetta, it’s David Guetta featuring Kid Cudi, it’s David Getta featuring Nicki Minaj, so that [“We Found Love”] record was so backwards to me. Calvin Harris has like two, three records now that will be huge on radio.
7. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I think my biggest accomplishment is being able to have flexibility in my life and I don’t have set boundaries. DJing opened the door for everything. Since I was 17, I haven’t had to answer to anybody and have been fortunate enough not to have a 9 to 5. Every time I complain about, I just realize if I want to go to Paris today, I can go to the airport and get on a plane and pretty much hustle a gig out there. I get the luxury of getting to go to the best places in the world and work and hang out at the same time. The money is good, it comes and goes—I’ve had more money than I’ve ever thought I would have by 25. I sit here on a Sunday and I’m like I was in L.A., New York, then this place while the average person plans one vacation a year.
8. Future goals?
Well, I’m back on the radio now and traveling is kinda heavy but the production thing is always in the back of my head. It comes from the biggest artists to the smallest artists, like, “Why don’t you work on production? Why don’t you work on an album?” And for like 10 years I’ve been saying I’m gonna do it and it just fizzled out. But my biggest thing is to focus on production for the next year. I’ve worked all the facets of being a DJ and the other branch is doing production. That’s the way I want to go, where I can see some turn around on iTunes and get some credit for it.
9. What record always gets the party started?
I think a record you can always play is probably like Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See,” where you just hear the drums and then the verse comes in, and it’s for white people, Spanish people, black people. Then something really current that’s big is Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and you hear the keyboard come in and everybody knows it.
10. What’s your advice to aspiring DJs?
Don’t do it for the money, don’t do it for the quick fame. With the invention of Serato it kinda cheapened and water down the whole profession of doing it. I always tell people if the day came again where you had to lug around five or six boxes [of records] there would literally be 80 percent less DJs in this world. My advice is stay true to your craft and do it ’cause you love it, not ’cause you wanna pick up girls or get a Page Six shout-out or something like that. At the end of the day, the DJs who do it for that are see-through, you can tell ’cause they’re not knowledgeable to the music.
“F**k It, Just Dance!” Mix