Progressive Pioneer Hernan Cattaneo Discusses Trends and Balance

The maestro of melodic music talks his new compilation and return to the Great White North (AKA Canada).

by Geoff Harricks
Nov 21 2014, 12:17am

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The Argentinian king of melodic music took to the decks last Friday to serenade the crowd with his deep vibes. Although the energy of the night seemed somewhat tranquil, it was an energy that is indefinitely his definitive style. Cattaneo's regal approach to electronic music enabled a serene energy to waft over the audience that night. His control on the decks was apparent and somewhat inevitable from such an influential and experienced producer.

But surprisingly, his polished progressive sounds have not always been appreciated in our great city. "I came to Toronto for the first time about ten years ago to play at the Guvernment. The club was super busy with great sound, but around 2008 or 2009 I started skipping Toronto [because] I got the feeling that my music was not as fast as people were expecting," he said. "I always play the same deep, melodic, groovy atmospheric music, but sometimes people expect you to play harder or faster and I am never in the mood for that."

But you can look at this in a positive light, too. Shifts in trends have played a large role in the expansion of music―as popularity dies in one area, a new one surfaces. Musical movements have these empowering abilities for artists. Cattaneo had the forsight to recognize the wave and has ridden it around the world and back again. "Luckily the world is very big, so when the wave goes one way there are always other places that will go deeper," he said. "About three years ago I started coming [around] again. In the last two years I have been doing some really good events so now I'm happy. Same thing in Montreal―I used to play the old Stereo, but there was a period when I wasn't doing a lot."

In the last few years, electronic music has undeniably grown in popularity within North America, and for that Cattaneo would like to thank 'EDM.'

"There is one good thing about EDM and it is that they made the scene much bigger in the last half decade. They introduced different kinds of electronic music to people, who have now left that scene and gone to more underground stuff," he said. "Now, all styles of electronic music are much more populated. I think in the future you're not going to be waiting for the trend to come back because there are always going to be people that will follow you regardless. In the past, once a trend left you, you stood alone waiting. Everything is strong enough to grow on its own now, and that is something that we need to thank EDM for. They brought millions of new kids into our music. They constructed a window."

'EDM' may act as an enabler for the underground, but this is a controversial subject for some. While Cattaneo and Babicz see it as progress, others may see it as a serious drawback.

Nevertheless Hernan's music―in comparison to pop electronic music today―is an acquired taste. "I try not to label my music because that confuses things. For me, EDM is poppy club music. I work for my [own] followers. I want to keep them happy and to do that I must be happy myself; otherwise, it wouldn't work for me," he explained. "I am not a crowd pleaser. I play music that people like and the two are not the same thing."

Although his sound is somewhat hard to define, it is consistently similar. This is something he wholeheartedly embraces as an artist. "I've done a number of compilations but when you listen to each, they sound more or less the same. It's newer music but the style is all very similar. You build a following and they follow you for a reason. Trends change every three years or so, but you cannot be changing your style."

On the basis of his integrity, Cattaneo created his own imprint, Sudbeat. "The main focus on the label is to push new artists and give them a platform. On my way here I got help from a lot of people and now it's good that I have that opportunity to give something back."

With both his label and his compilation albums Cattaneo has continuously supported upcoming progressive artists. With composed passion he explained to us that the Balance series was such a special project for him, that it almost ended up as a full album. "The approach was similar to the last Renaissance [release], I did one slower CD and one club CD, but with Renaissance you can do a few, Balance you can only do one, there is no Volume two, three, or four. It has to be something special, so I thought it was a good idea to make more of my own music. It ended up being half compilation, and half an artist album."

With Balance 026 now available on Beatport, two tours in Japan and Europe ahead, and another compilation on Sudbeat (Vol. III) early next year, it seems like Cattaneo is showing no signs of breaking. "Thank you for all these years of helping me share the music I love, we've built this super nice community of music lovers together."

You can follow Geoff on Twitter @gpharricks