HECTOR’S NEW LABEL CELEBRATES HIS PHONICA DAYS WITH ALL THINGS EXPERIMENTAL
When I caught up with Hector from his home in Barcelona on a Friday afternoon, he’d just returned from Romanian festival Sunwaves, where he played a mammoth 42-hour back-to-back set with the Vatos Locos crew. “We weren’t planning to play that much, but it just happened—the room was absolutely packed,” he says. “People were dancing on the beach, inside the tent, so we were just like fuck it, let’s do it.”
It was the longest set he says he’s ever played. Thankfully, his Vatos Locos “brothers” David Gtronic, Chad Andrew, Mahony Randall M and Javier Carballo were by his side (as was Guti), keeping the music flowing through house, minimal, techno and beyond, and tapping in for one another as everyone ate, showered and rested. “Everyone is destroyed now,” he says with a chuckle, his baby squeaking away in the background.
Originally from Mexico, Hector left his home country to pursue his dream of DJing nearly 20 years ago. He wound up living in London, working as a clerk at famed record shop Phonica before blowing up internationally as a DJ and producer, and now owner of three record labels. “Back in my Phonica days, I used to sell all these weird records to Craig Richards or Marcel Dettmann or Ben Klock,” he says. Hunting down oddball selections for longtime fabric resident Richards was a near-weekly challenge. But those formative days are now the inspiration for his newest imprint VLack (pronounced like “black,” not “v-lack”), which will see Hector push himself to produce and release “completely different styles” to what he’s doing on his other Vatos Locos imprints.
Case in point, the label’s first release is a collaboration between Hector and Nicole Moudaber, whose styles could hardly be further apart. Hector is known for his deep and dubby minimal house cuts, while Nicole usually trades in rib-cage rattling, festival-friendly techno. “That was the challenge,” Hector says. Though it’s not without precedent. In 2015, Hector remixed the Nicole Moudaber & Skin track “You Like This,” and the MOOD boss has been asking Hector for music ever since.
“I’ve known her for a long time,” he says. “Our friendship goes way back.” Hector actually met Nicole through veteran British DJ Smokin’ Jo, who he met when he first came to London. “She was a resident of Ministry of Sound,” he says of Jo, who remains the only woman to be voted to the number one spot on the DJ Mag Top 100 poll. “She used to be one of my favourite DJs. I saw her in Ibiza many times. We became good friends. Then she introduced me to Nicole, and it was just easy hanging out with her.”
Hector says he’d love to work with more DJs who don’t share his style in the future. Though like his crew and label, the connection would have to be based on friendship as well as music, as it also was with Nicole. “Something really special can come out of this, that’s why I never keep my doors closed to work with other people.” Adam Beyer and Joseph Capriati are the first to spring to Hector’s mind. “That could be fun. They play completely different, but in the studio, anything goes.”
If Hector sees VLack as a continuation of his days as Phonica, in some sense, returning to Mexico to headline festivals there is like coming full circle. “Coming back there is always very exciting. Especially now with the Vatos Locos brand. Everyone from Mexico feels very identified with the brand. It means a lot—the name, the concept—and actually the beginning was at BPM.”
Despite the tragic end to The BPM Festival in Mexico, Hector feels certain that festivals like the upcoming RHA Festival are once again shining a light on his home country as an international festival destination. Taking place at a luxurious coastal retreat in Nayarit near his home city of Guadalajara, Hector is “really excited to see what’s going to happen” there next month. “The most famous area near there is Puerto Vallarta. Then you have Punta Mita an hour away, so all that part of the coast is really special, kind of jungle area,” he says. “I’m happy and excited to support, that for me is very important.”
RHA Festival takes place on May 24th and 25th in Riviera Nayarit. Get tickets here.