Maceo Plex: The Deep House Dark Horse of Beyond Wonderland
After falling in love with electro in his native Miami, Eric Estornel began deejaying in the early 90s. Like most EDM enthusiasts he later got into techno and began making house beats in 1996. He moved his family to Dallas where he made a name for himself as a local DJ, but it wasn't until he fled to the European dance music scene that things started to take off for him four years ago. He released an LP on the infamous Crosstown Rebels label and his appeal has since skyrocketed. Tonight, going by his DJ moniker Maceo Plex, the soulful, underground producer is headlining the official Insomniac Beyond Wonderland pre-party alongside Maya Jane Coles at Exchange LA and playing the Crosstown Rebels Rave stage at Beyond Wonderland Saturday only to make his way back to Miami for his Ultra Music Festival debut on Sunday!
The rising star devoted 12 years to a darker techno sound as Maetrik and Mariel Ito and made releases on labels such as Dumb Unit, Cocoon and Modern Love. The down tempo, deep house God wasn't born until his move to Valencia, Spain where he now resides. Here he created his sexy, soulful sound which has now been played all over the world from Glastonbury Festival to the notorious Fabric Nightclub in London. "Mainly my background and where I live is my biggest influence, but Crosstown is a great big part of me," Estornel says. "A lot of different artists have released music on Crosstown Rebels and that's what makes the label great because it's always moving forward and getting better." After his full length album titled Life Index was released, Maceo proved his notoriety as a producer and innovator with singles like "Vibe Your Love" which pleased the diehard dance crowds.
Today, he relishes in the fact that a sound which wasn't popular in the states is being played at festivals as big as Beyond Wonderland and Ultra. "People that listen to commercial music eventually acquire a taste for the underground style," he says. "Whenever festivals start incorporating more underground acts its makes it better for the fans because they may have gone to see David Guetta but can find something new like what I do." But don't expect him to be pigeonholed to just a darker, deep house sound. "When u are known for playing bangers u can't get deep, but I can sometimes play massive stuff and they will appreciate it as well," he says. "The people welcome the slightly more energetic music at a festival but I can also play my usual deep tracks."
This commercial surge of dance music in the states is a good thing for underground selectors like Maceo. In a way they influence each other as it's a necessary way for people to get into electronic dance music in the first place. But why relocated all the way to Europe? "I can't say that the states are behind with trends because there's a lot of people from here and Canada making great music," he says. "But it has to make its rounds in Europe and by the time it's big here we've already moved on to something else." While this deep underground sound is finally getting heard at big clubs like Exchange in LA, he's already thinking futuristic sounds we haven't heard -- like his newest project Jupiter Jazz with Danny Daze which incorporates sci-fi sounds and beats with electro and techno.
With this forward thinking also comes taking his young record label Ellum to the next level and more responsibilities. Estorel is bringing together that deep, sexy house sound with these dark futuristic elements which you can get a glimpse of on his current DJ-Kicks mix album out April 30th. By doubling his roster at Ellum, producing as Jupiter Jazz as well as a new EP for Danny Daze, and touring, he sure has his hands full. "It's a blessing to have so many request to play all over the world, but if you have family at home like I do you want to be with them," Maceo says. "You have to pick and choose where to go on the road and what makes sense strategically. Like Ibiza politics, if you play one club you can't play another club." Yet headaches aside, he will continue to play an even bigger part in inspiring tastemakers all over the world and hopefully bringing this new futuristic take on house music stateside more often.