You remember that ‘white boy’ from high school that everyone was just cool with? Well, if you weren’t friends with him before, you better find him on Facebook right now! People like El Blanco Nino are setting the bar really high right now for producer-DJ’s this day in age. Starting in the heart of Harlem, playing sets in the rotunda of The City College of New York to headlining on bills after bills in other cities — there’s nothing Blanco can’t do!
Blanco has been in the game for a good amount of time now. He’s made connections with people in different scenes and built relationships just from his amicable personality. It was a pleasure for HangTime to interview Blanco because we’re able to share his thoughts about the industry. We were also able to get a feel of the Future Beats Records affiliate who has such a distinctive, yet diverse taste in music.
HangTime: What influenced you to learn how to DJ and produce? I know you previously attended The City College of New York, you were part of the radio station, WCCR 590AM, what made you join?
Blanco: At the time I was switching majors, cause I initially wanted to be a civil engineer and then I realized I didn’t like math. So communications was like the furthest thing away from mathematics at the time. When I switched to communications, I realized that they did have a radio station, and you know I kinda put two and two together. I was already a producer in high school. When I did those DJ mixes, I already had a copy of VirtualDJ at my house. I was really trying to impress people when I got to the station. Reason was there at the time, he was the head of the station, and he was basically like, ‘you don’t have to give me all these mixes. You can just intern.’ So yeah, that’s what got me interested in djing, impressing people at the station.
HT: You used to play a lot of Top 40, how did you get into future bass and how was the transition from doing pop to now?
Blanco: I feel like every 9 months, I was switching up something. Right now I’m in my footwork period because I’m being influenced by other musicians, and artists, that I bounce around with. Between Swisha, Kush Jones and the Juke Bounce Werk people I met at SXSW, it kinda just gave me the confidence to keep producing that genre. The transition comes with whatever I like at the time, and I feel like I always want to introduce something new. I don’t want to go back to Top 40, or the same stuff I used to do. I want to do something different, with my own twist on it.
HT: Who was your biggest influence?
Blanco: In terms of developing musical taste, had to be my father. He had a lot of records and he was always interested in the ones from like Blue Note Jazz Records and Latin Jazz Records. He would also listen to Prince. Also, my two uncles liked to listen to a lot of Motown and The Beatles. Everyone in my family had a good taste in music except for my mom. (laughs) Just developing all those different taste together had to be the biggest influence. So, if I didn’t have an ear for all those things, I wouldn’t be as open to other stuff.
HT: What was your most favorite gig?
Blanco: Bassbear and I did a joint set in Baltimore for HI$TO… he has this showcase called P$YCHED. We were there the week after the Baltimore riot, and we came and did the show — it was the most positive experience. It was really hectic, and a lot of people were saying ‘don’t go to Baltimore,’ ‘something might go down,’ or whatever. We went and saw Baltimore for ourselves and it was really cool to see everybody there — it was a very positive response to seeing everybody dancing and having a really good time. Just going there and doing that show just to get people’s minds off what was going on around the city at the time… it was probably the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, right now.
HT: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Blanco: Hopefully, with healthcare… that’d be cool. (laughs) I don’t have that right now! Musically, I would like to work behind the scenes more. The traveling DJ lifestyle is definitely for a younger audience. I have too many priorities at home with family and such. It’s difficult to travel right now. I definitely like to do more stuff at home and figure out more ways to push and sell my music in different avenues. I hope I have a dog. I hope people still listen to me in 5 years, that would be cool!
HT: How do you want your music to influence them?
Blanco: I don’t know… I sample a lot of older artists… I’m always looking for music that nobody has has ever heard of and I give like a modern take on it. I want people to be their own personal detectives and research the music that they’re listening to. Just researching how things started, or listening to a song and thinking, “where did this sound come from” or “how were they influenced?” I think that just opens up your musical palette more when you dive into the song itself. It pays more value than being played on the radio… I think people should do that more.
Photography by Ebony Anderson-Brown