Julio Santo Domingo is respected NYC DJ and producer known by his work under alias Julio, Julio Santo Domingo, DJ Neiro and Fong + Julio as well as being a label boss at Sheik ‘N’ Beik imprint he continues to gather loyal followers in the Big Apple and more.
We had the chance to speak with Julio about his new Rechulski moniker and his debut EP and got to know him a little bit better.
Hello Julio, first of all thank you for your time! How are you? What’s new?
Today I woke up with 3 new white hairs on my head, more like what’s old! I have to say I feel great though, especially since I didn’t party this weekend. Like James Brown said: “I feel good!”
Can you tell us something about yourself for a start? What has shaped you as an artist and as a person?
I have to say I never considered myself an artist, just someone who really loves music and wants to share that passion with the world. The more I immersed myself into all the different aspects of electronic music, the more I started finding my voice, whether it was DJing or studio time with various artists quietly contributing to various productions. I must say I was always looking for strange music, the kind of music that ignites your curiosity by being singular or mind-expanding. A little bit about myself, my first mixing skills came about when I was 6 or 7 years old. I used to have a cassette player in my room. These tapes / player had the ability to record straight from the radio. I used to record music from the radio and cut out the adverts, these were my first mix tapes! I then went on to host a weekly reggae show in my high school radio station in Switzerland where I grew up, these were my first DJ experiences. I always listened to all kinds of music, artists like Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley were very big influences, also Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and anything that was played on the radio in the 90’s like Corona and Nightcrawlers! I was also very big into aliens and paranormal activity, I’ve always considered myself to be the biggest X-Files fan ever!
What can you tell me about your first steps into electronic music scene? How did you get into production and what was the hardest decision for at the time?
I’ve always listened to electronic music from a young age, buying cd’s and compilations here and there throughout the 90’s. I particularly remember listening to a lot of Global Underground mixes, also one of my favorites was Deep Dish’s Renaissance Ibiza compilation. This lead me to discovering Luciano and his live @ Weetamix compilation, a club in my home town, as well as Richie Hawtin’s DE9 mix series, Kompakt compilations, Cocoon in the mix series and early DC-10 compilations brought back from Ibiza by some older friend. All that amazing music was being played in Ibiza and I had never seen any of these DJ’s who’s compilations I worshiped so when I was in university in Boston, I went to Ibiza for the summer and saw it all, this was the first taste of blood! I was hooked ever after. After Sept 11 2001, the scene in the US really sucked and it was difficult to motivate people to go find good music in NY and Boston area and most gigs had 15-20 people. The only good promoter in NY at the time was Nick AC who threw the Robots NYC parties. There was a lot of room for anyone to come along and throw good parties. When I left university in 2007, I knew I had to do something about my passion and so I started DJing and inviting friends to my own parties Sheik ’N’ Beik in 2008. I was the only DJ at SNB for a while so I had lots of time to experiment and practice before I started booking bigger DJ’s and getting a few more residents in the family. I started getting more into production and acquainted with the studio in 2010. I had my friend Memek who was the resident DJ of the Minimoo parties in NY who told me about School of Audio Engineering so I went there and learned the basics of recording. The rest was an accumulation of gear thru the years to build my own studio. I am still learning everyday and I think I still have a very long way to go compared to some of the genius producers that are out there! To answer your question, the hardest decision still hasn’t come, everything always felt so natural and meant to be. The hardest decision would be to drop everything and leave this beloved electronic music world!
What had the most influence on your music? Who were your role models and who are your favorites now?
I have to say some of my role models were always Ken Ishi, Laurent Garnier, John Digweed, Sven Vath, Loco Dice, Michael Mayer and Damian Lazarus as DJ’s and Mathew Jonson, Luciano, Alex Under and too many more to name as role model producers.
Some of my current favorites are Voiski, Hermans, Terrence Dixon, Lauer, Oni Ayhun, rRoxymore and many many more.
How would you describe your style and sound you make? What would be the details you use in your production that could represent your signature?
My DJ style is wildly eclectic, changing the mood from light to darkness and back, but always mental!
Production wise, I try to keep things industrial and stripped down with arpeggiated melodies, the main idea is Psychedelic. Lose yourself in repetitiveness until you start floating! Always wear a seatbelt.
You are singing your next EP for Sheik ‘N’ Beik under new alias, so what makes Rechulski different?
I’ve always DJed as Julio ever since I started and when I’ve produced under Julio, was mostly housier edits for friends.
Rechulski is a little more mature and techno orientated. I always saw techno as a mysterious art form and wanted to make sure I kept things interesting, perhaps to keep surprising whoever is listening out there. Rechulski was born for that colder more distant persona, not always on the front line but in the dark undercurrents of electronic music.
What can you tell us about your upcoming release ‘’Ü’’? What is the main idea and inspiration behind it?
I can’t say I had a particular idea in my head when I started producing these tracks. I just started by making a beat, then adding layers of various synths and other instruments, trial and error until things just click into place, all of a sudden you’re sitting behind the speakers and you are nodding your head and say “hey, this sounds good”! I’ve listened to so much techno and other music too, it’s all influenced me in some way or another, I guess my sound is my own interpretation of frequential experimentation.
‘’Ü’’ EP is a three tracker, so are you maybe having a favorite?
I don’t have a favorite, just three different tracks for three different moods! Perhaps the one I will play the most will probably be “Müller”.
Sheik ‘N’ Beik is more than a record label, it’s a collective and there are also your events so how are you satisfied with its work and mission and what are your plans considering it? Are there any upcoming releases that you would like to mention that we shouldn’t miss?
After having experienced the night life aspect with the collective and the events side of things, I am pleased with the way the label is heading, with that said, there is still lots of work ahead. I’m a workaholic so I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Everyday brings new opportunities, but the main key here is the art of converting these opportunities into meaningful experiences that allow the label, collective and events to grow simultaneously. As one part compliments the other, it’s key to get everything aligned properly to allow for a faster growth. As of now, everyone at SNB is working diligently to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves and most importantly, make sure that details aren’t neglected, as they say, “the devil is in the detail!”.
Our next release after mine will be our first LP with Simone Gatto. This will be an experimental album where the sound is mixed in 4-D. This album will have a combination of visual art coinciding with audio, with collaboration with “the29nov films”. This album is meant to be a museum piece, made for a gallery, not so much for a dance floor. Simone is the owner of Out-Er, an Italian dub-techno label. Also stay on the look out for EPs from our residents, Ray Rose and more!
What is you criteria when your choosing a release for your label?
I chose music that I personally like and connect with, in general it’s music that transports you out of your current element. Isn’t that what all music should be?
Releases from the label are supported and charted by great artists, what does all this means to you and how do you look at it?
It makes me very happy to see a lot of artists that I’ve admired over the years support what we do at SNB. At the same time, this is just a small step of the way but every little bit counts just as much as everything else. As long as we can make people happy, we will continue to do what we do. As I’m always glad to get real reviews, I’m also aware that just because a famous artist downloads your promo, doesn’t mean he actually listened to it or that he is the one downloading it so it’s important to stay grounded and keep doing what we do without getting over-excited about it.
How would you describe today’s techno scene? What is it like being a techno DJ in a city as NYC?
Well, we all know that today everyone’s a DJ, and everyone’s a promoter. All I can say is that’s it’s great to know that on any given night in NYC, there’s more than 10 options to go out and have a good night out. Considering where the scene was inexistent 10 years ago with perhaps 80 people in a dark basement, it’s perhaps a major turnaround and I can only be proud to be a small part of it.
I think that being a DJ today requires more than just DJ skills to navigate in this overcrowded world. In the end, talent can only get you this far, for the rest you need negotiation skills that will keep you from getting tossed around like a novice. It’s important to surround yourself with people you trust and people who want the best for you, there’s too much work to be done and you need reliable people that will help you get to the top, if not you’ll just end up being the hired help for an event.
What do you do in your spare time? How do you look at the evolution of your sound?
I like to spend time with my wife and my dog whenever I can. It’s important to keep a balanced life especially in this crazy world we live in. When I have spare time which is not so often, I like to be a normal boring person. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will look like sound wise but I try my best to enjoy it while I do it.
What are you preparing for the future?
What i’m really excited for is the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival in Florida the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th of March 2016. I have the chance to be booking a whole stage in a jungle and also part of the more relaxed beach stage. We have a variety of techno and house music acts lined-up, most or our artists will be announced on November 17th so stay tuned.
A great thing about Okeechobee is that it’s an environmentally aware and community-focused festival. There will be music for everyone so not just electronic but many current and some older bands, where people can learn from listening to acts they’ve never heard expanding their musical horizons with a wide variety of genres. For more info, visit www.okeechobeefest.com / www.sheiknbeik.com.