Beyond The Booth 021: Hernan Cattaneo pays it forward
Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.
Maintaining a fruitful career in the music industry is a feat only a small percentage achieve successfully, but Hernan Cattaneo has done so for three decades. Inspired by Chicago house and moved by the burgeoning club scene of his home scene in Argentina, the artist knew from a young age that his place in life was to guide a party into ecstasy. That he did, cutting his teeth in Buenos Aires and earning respect in the local circles before making it as a resident in the city’s Pacha night club. It wouldn’t be long before Paul Oakenfold had taken a liking to him and later began booking Hernan to tour internationally beside him.
Through his long years in the industry, Cattaneo has been a pioneer in progressive house, proliferating the sound all over the globe and helping to make South America perhaps the genre’s biggest home base. It makes sense as to why he’s become one of the rare DJs to reach a veritable level of celebrity in Argentina and beyond. What keeps him on top, of course, is his talent. Ever the connoisseur on a mission to unearth the world’s best music and better improve in the process, fans are assured a near-flawless performance with bespoke curation for each setting he plays in. This phenomenon remains preserved in his Resident radio show, and his prominent Sudbeat imprint.
More recently, the artist landed on Balance for a brand new Sunsetstrip compilation. It centers on the part of the day implied by its title, offering a sensuous, slow-burning journey through brand new music made for the golden hours. To mark this occasion, we nabbed Hernan for the latest Beyond The Booth.
The magnanimous selector dives into a love in his life as big as his music: community building. A family man himself with three daughters, he’s taken a particular interest in paying his success forward to children’s health and the environment. These longterm causes are key in ensuring a sustainable future and longevity for humanity, after all. Hernan expounds on charities he’s involved with, causes he supports, and more—capped off of course with a bit on his latest longplayer on Balance.
You’re known for having a large platform in your home of Argentina. Aside from charitable contributions, what other ways do you use your platform to promote your causes and bring good to the world?
I think because I’ve been DJing for many, many years I have a big following in my country and I’m kind of well-known in the scene around. So it’s good to use that popularity to other things like give more visibility to charity actions, new producers or any other thing that needs a push.
One of your most visible partnerships has been with the Asociación Civil Alegría Intensiva, which uses laughter and clown art for bringing joy to sick children. Can you talk about how your relation began with this brand and why laughter is such a crucial medicine?
I know them through my wife and always wanted to give a hand to the amazing work they do, but I was in doubt at first because for many years the electronic scene didn’t have a good name in the country and I was afraid I’d do more harm than good by putting an electronic DJ near their work. The media always used to associate this music with drugs and that was not the idea for a NGO for kids in hospitals.
Luckily in the past 2 years we’ve been working successfully on changing the way people see what we do. We did 4 huge symphonic concerts at our Opera House to present our music in a different way and they went incredibly great, so much that I’ve even been knighted for outstanding contribution to Argentina’s culture. Then, we all realized it was a good timing to go in full with Alegria Intensiva and show their work to all my followers. The project went amazing and they got a lot of support from my fanbase.
I’ve been with them at the waiting area in the hospitals and you see how instantly they transform the faces of those little kids—not to mention, being a father of three I feel that it could be me any day waiting for the doctor with any of my daughters.
How has being a father/family man impacted your own interests & what’s important to you outside of music?
Family is number one and it changes all, of course—the amount of infinite love fills your life like never before and make you happy at whole new levels. You have a different perspective of things and a new table of priorities that come along.
Having a wife & three daughters plus a full-on global dj career, plus a weekly podcast, label, and production work doesn’t allow me time to any other things. So outside that is friends, food, Netflix, watch football and do some yoga. But honestly, I never feel that I’m missing anything and every day I’m totally aware of the lucky man I am and would never complain about not being able to do other things.
Can you tell us a story about how you saw a direct positive impact from something you’ve been involved in outside music? Ie, making a child’s dream come true, helping provide education to others through school funding, etc?
Yes I always try to help…recently the Alegría Intensiva project was really important because now a lot of new people know about their wonderful work and may support including state government agents who also saw my Instagram and went to help them a lot.
Last year with Nick Warren we did a charity show in Macedonia and with all the moneys they build two kid parks at Orevche beach. I also go to artist schools to give talks about music & career and encourage young kids to follow their passion.
What do you do personally to reduce your carbon footprint, or offset the carbon cost of world touring?
I pay the optional fee on flights. I know it’s not enough but it’s something.
Have you ever thrown a benefit concert before? Tell us about it if so and what issue you were supporting
We did that with Nick Warren in Macedonia and we did a free symphonic concert in Buenos Aires for 40,000 people last year
We’re curious about your involvement with political issues as well —do you think as an artist with a large platform that it’s necessary to voice your political views and try to guide people in the right direction if it concerns topics like human rights, gender equality, etc? Or do you think this responsibility should be left only with public servants and that we should leave politics out of music?
I think it’s very personal and each one should decide. I openly support many causes in my country like legal abortion & women rights for example and some others prefer to keep them to myself.
Okay, we can now shift to some music questions. You’re up for the next Balance compilation instalment in Sunset Strip. Can you explain in your own words what this album means to you and how it came together?
I’ve been doing these late afternoon shows for years and really wanted to have an album about what’s going on at them we talked to Tom at balance and he liked the idea so I went to talk to my favorite producers and friends to work on exclusive stuff.
Sunset disc is slow and very mantric and strip disc is my night club side of things. It went to #1 on Beatport charts on the release week, so couldn’t be happier with the acceptance of this new project.
What is the key to mixing a perfect sunset set/mix?
Patience. Never hurry, sun goes down slow and so should be your mix. Hypnotic stuff works the best
Who are some producers on this album that you think are underrated and deserve more attention from the community?
Many of them should—Sentre, Subandrio, Navar, Mike, Kevin, … ALL of them! I hope this album will push them a bit to the recognition they deserve.
Can you speak to Balance’s importance as a hub for modern progressive house?
Balance been super consistent all over this years and build a great reputation about quality. Never followed trends but interesting stuff and that’s why they are so respected and trusted from that James Holden album to this date.
You’ve released several of these compilation albums in the past; have you ever thought about producing a full studio album of entirely your own tracks? Why or why not?
Yes, someday it will come but takes a lot of time and that’s something I don’t have at the moment.
What else is coming up for you for the rest of the year?
Touring the album with great gigs coming including some special ones. Burning Man, US & Canada dates, then Warung, Colombia, then Cordoba in october with Nick Warren will be massive (20000 tickets sold) then the two ADE shows , La Feria in Chile, Australia, Japan , Mexico and a few great things still cooking!
Photo credit: Esteban Salino Tarditti Photography