London had a lot to do with Hector Murillo’s break in music. After moving from Mexico to the capital he landed a job at Phonica Records, where getting to know Loco Dice and Anja Schneider helped him land releases on mobilee and Desolat. He was also a part of the famous T-Bar venue during Shoreditch’s early-2000s heyday, frequently playing alongside guys like Jamie Jones before they’d broken through.
T-Bar has long since vanished from East London’s party circuit, and Hector’s profile now extends far beyond the capital too. A big part of this success has been Vatos Locos, the party and record label he runs from his Barcelona home base.
This summer he brought the party across Europe, including a residency at one of Ibiza’s most revered small venues, Underground. Hector also lands in Farringdon alongside key crew members Chad Andrew, David Gtronic and Randall M on 13th October, so we asked Hector for a mix and interview ahead of their appearance. For his mix he dropped a selection of on-point house cuts, before explaining that the most important part of the party is the sense of family tying each of the artists together.
Did you have much experience of electronic music before moving to London?
I didn’t actually have that much experience – one of the main reasons I moved there in 2000 was because I wanted to find out more. In Mexico it was very restricted, so we only knew about people like Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and Daft Punk. These guys were getting played on MTV and the radio.
How did you land a job at Phonica Records?
I met Simon when he was working at Koobla Records in Soho, then when he opened Phonica Records these were my only two options for buying vinyl. Not long after he came to Ibiza and we became good friends. While we were there my records were stolen, and Simon was one of the people that helped me get them back. After spending the summer in Ibiza, when I returned to London he offered me a job which turned into a full-time position.
Do you feel like your job there shaped your tastes in a big way?
Thanks to Phonica I got to know about every single genre, as well as record labels and pressing plants. I learned a lot about the industry. Every day we had a ton of records – from disco to dub, techno and hip-hop. I was the person in charge of listening to everything, so I could properly sell vinyl to people. It was challenging but good, and it shaped my vinyl collection.
Was it at the shop that you met Anja Schneider and Loco Dice? There must have been a lot of DJs passing through there.
I met both Anja and Dice at Phonica. I met many others, including Richie Hawtin, Luciano, Francois K and Daddy G from Massive Attack. They were all regulars, so I got to know some of them. I made friends with Craig Richards and Terry Francis too. Everyone used to come there. It’s one of the best record shops in the world, and it’s still going strong.
How would you describe T-Bar and its atmosphere for anyone who didn’t experience it at the time?
For me, it was where I really started to dedicate all my time to DJing. Derren Smart, the man who ran the parties, invited me, Jamie Jones and Dyed Soundorom to play there. We had our own night called Sonic, with Dyed, Derren and myself behind it. There was also the party Dig Your Own Rave on a Sunday, which I did with Jamie Jones, Matthew Styles and Luke Solomon. We used to invite whoever was playing at fabric to come down after – Ricardo, Dice, Tobi Neumann all used to come down and play with us. It was the best time!
Do you remember your first experience of fabric?
The first time I went was to see The Chemical Brothers play a DJ set, and I was blown away. Sasha was also one of the first people I saw. It was incredible, I used to listen to the fabric compilations and for me to see the actual club was unreal. Coming from Mexico, it was my first experience of a “super club” like this. I remember I got lost the first time, it was so much fun. For me it was also the first time I’d seen DJs playing vinyl.
When did you move from working for labels to committing full-time to DJing?
It was around the time I started at T-Bar, in 2005 or 2006.
What’s the main concept behind Vatos Locos?
We have a line-up with no egos. We don’t have a headliner, so it means it’s like a brotherhood. Everyone is the same, no one is better than anyone in the crew and everyone needs to be treated like this. This is how I get to see how all the boys play. We produce music together and we are a family.
Is there a special meaning behind the name?
It’s actually taken from a movie called Blood In Blood Out, and the name comes from there. The film is about Mexican brotherhood, they all get together and basically become family by helping each other out along the way. We love this movie and the message of brotherhood.
Were you initially starting as a label or party series?
We started as a party and a year after it became a label. For the first release, we did a compilation including each member of the crew, and we’ve since released 5 EPs, 2 samplers, and a number of remixes. There’s also more on the way, including another sampler, a double EP from Javier Carballo and my EP with Nicole Moudaber. It’s all BOMB.
How has it been to play at more intimate spots like Ibiza Underground more regularly?
It’s one of my favourite places in Ibiza to play. It took us a long time to decide on a spot – everything on the island is changing. I’m not down with most of the VIP stuff. It’s great the island still has places like Underground, it still has the outdoor vibe a policy based on quality music. The owner knows a lot about music. He doesn’t want anything but good music and the crowd there knows that’s exactly what they’ll get when they go.
How did you meet the artists you’ve signed? Can you tell us more about Chad, David and Randall?
I met them all in Ibiza but before that I was checking out their music. Music was the first connection for all of us. I finally contacted them by Facebook and we got to meet for the first time in Ibiza. Most of the connections to the label happened in Ibiza, for example Javier Caballo and Hanfry Martinez. We played, we clicked and became good friends. They’re really cool people and I am happy to play with them. We have become family and I know their brothers and sisters. It goes deeper than just playing together and it’s very special for me to see that. We share the same interests, and hang out with each other. Having a family like this is more important than anything else to me.
What are you up to once the Ibiza season comes to an end?
We never stop, we carry on. The next thing for us is fabric. It’s huge to have the honour of bringing Vatos Locos to the club, and I thank all the team for making it happen!