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We talk w/ Gordo: one of the most outstanding producers of the moment

We talked to Gordo about his new musical style, his latest track, the success of TARAKA and the opening of his second school in LATAM.

Known for years as one of dance music’s biggest names, Gordo is the mastermind behind the production of almost half of Drake’s ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ album, and the co-producer of the FIFA anthem ‘Tukoh Taka’. We spoke to the producer and DJ about his new musical style, his latest track ‘R U 4 Real’, the success of his TARAKA party, the opening of his second school in Latin America and much more.

At just over 30 years old, the life of Diamanté Anthony Blackmon, Gordo’s real name, is a lesson in achievement and success. The artist has been working tirelessly all his life, adapting to the latest trends and sounds in order to never fall behind. He started in the music world as Carnage, an acclaimed producer and DJ of trap and urban music that allowed him to collaborate with Migos, Lil Pump or Mac Miller, but it wasn’t until the pandemic when he changed his name to Gordo and his style moved to electronic music. From setting up his own travelling party TARAKA, to producing Drake’s latest album, the world cup song or setting up schools in LATAM, Gordo has a lot to tell us about his latest projects.

HIGHXTAR (H) –When did you first get in contact with music?

GORDO (G) – I started in FL studio over 15 years ago in Frederick, Maryland on a computer that honestly barely worked. I always had a knack for piano but I never was into the whole classical piano thing. When I started driving deeper into hip hop beats specifically I quickly learned the connections between the two. That led me into playing around with different synths and VSTs which eventually domino affected into creating the iconic Carnage/Trap/Dubstep/Hip Hop crossover sound.

(H) – You started with the alias Carnage in the music industry and now you call yourself Gordo. Why?

(G) – I always like to say ‘Carnage died so Gordo could live’. Everybody – artists and individuals alike – mature and develop over time. Carnage was such a big part of my life and forever will be. For over a decade I had the chance to live out my dream but at the end of the day I found myself not feeling fulfilled or happy when I went to bed at night. During the pandemic I finally had time to slow my life down and think about what it was that I needed to do to become happy again. I lost 100lbs. I moved to Hawaii with my grandma. I started making music that spoke to me. I need to follow my heart and get out of my comfort zone and take the leap into a whole new world, sound, scene and hope it all worked out.

(H) – And why this change from trap and urban music to tech house?

(G) – I just didn’t feel like I was ME anymore. I was evolving. Everything was different. I spent so many of my Summers in Europe exposing myself to the sound and the culture and community and every single time I took that leap of faith I felt a renewed sense of energy that came from this new essential sound. It just grew on me in a really organic way. 

(H) – When did you think it was possible to make a living from your passion?

(G) – I always knew music was what moved me. From a really young age I started DJing and producing. I started touring before I could even legally drink so for me there was no other way around it. When you know – you just know.

(H) – Born in Washington and raised in Guatemala with Nicaraguan heritage, how have your roots influenced your sound?

(G) – I am the most proud Nicaraguan blooded man to ever walk this planet. You can see it in my personality, which inevitably translates into my music. Since I made my transition to Gordo, I’ve brought more of that Hispanic heritage into my music, working with Latin artists like FEID, touring Latin America in a really extreme way, and opening Eficicio TARAKA, the third learning center I’ve helped build in Central America and so much more. I can’t get enough of it and I want nothing but it.

(H) – What do you think was the turning point where you became internationally known?

(G) – It didn’t happen all at once, but I think things really started to pick up internationally after my (CARNAGE) remix of Hardwell’s ‘Spaceman’. After that people started listening to my sound and started following me and fro there the rollercoaster began.

(H) – Why do you think there are few Latin producers making this genre of music?

(G) – I think it is because they haven’t felt welcomed in this genre, and that is something I’m trying to change with GORDO. 

(H) – How do you think the electronic music scene is right now?

(G) – It’s in this weird space right now which is a good thing and a bad thing. Genres are becoming much more fluid. Boundaries are starting to rip down. New artists are rising. However… There’s still just so much of the same thing everywhere I look. Artists (including myself) need to always be thinking about how to differentiate themselves from the group and make a real impact. Some artists are really doing a good job of that and some just aren’t.

(H) – You’ve been to festivals like Lollapalooza or Burning Man, and now you’ve set up your own TARAKA party. How did the idea come about?

(G) – TARAKA started off as a one off record that I put out in 2021. At the same time, I was talking with my team about what my live event series/party would be called alongside the look and feel of it. The overall goal was to think outside of the box in every way possible. I wanted to create something simple and minimal. I wanted to create a party for the underground community. TARAKA really is my baby. It means everything to me. It is an experience I want fans to talk about and crave for weeks after. A live in the moment party.

(H) – What would you say are the key points that differentiate your party from the rest?

(G) – The sense of community is the main differentiator from other events you might go to. It’s all about the combination of a good vibe and good music. Not major production. Not major venues. The vibe. The energy. 

(H) – You were contacted to produce the official song of the World Cup, what was the first thing you thought when they contacted you?

(G) – Definitely an honor, I’m a fan of the sport and the fact that they thought about me to produce this song also shows that my sound works. We actually released one of my biggest tracks ‘Hombres y Mujeres’ on the same day – a track together with FEID. Releasing this new house reggaetón sound and Tukoh Taka on the same day with Nicki Minaj, Maluma, & Myriam Fares was definitely a milestone in my career.

(H) – You also produced your friend Drake’s latest album Honestly, Nevermind’ how was the process?

(G) – Drake and I have been friends for years. We’ve always supported each other in the studio and out of the studio but this was the first time Drake and I got together with the intent to make music… and the funny part is it happened super naturally. While hanging in the studio night in and night out I would play him some of my new stuff and he would do the same and while they were different there were quite a few commonalities that as a producer I could bridge together. That’s why the songs we have together are honestly quite different (even though on the same album) because Massive and Sticky bring out that bounce/energy in you while tracks such as Currents and Flights booked are more laid back. 

(H) – Your latest release is called “R U 4 Real” Why this name?

(G) – Marina Maximillian, the featuring artist, sent me her vocal which featured the “R U 4REAL” lyric. We spoke about the storyline before she started writing and it all just made sense and fell into place. In the end the song is about disbelief, so that’s why it’s called R U4REAL

(H) – What was the creative process like, what was your inspiration?

(G) – I didn’t make this record for radio, nor for shows or for Spotify. I made this record for nothing other than my own integrity. With that said the creative process was super inspirational and felt like forever on going, which is a pro and con. Overall the record came out great.

(H) – What is a day in the studio with Gordo like?

(G) – It depends on where I am. I built a studio at home in Hawaii, where I mostly spend time by myself. That’s mostly where new music is born. I am also no stranger to popping into studios all over the world so I can finish my album or collaborate with another artist in the area. 

(H) – Off stage you are working on an educational project, can you explain a little more about this?

(G) –  I was born In Washington, DC, but shortly after I moved to Guatemala. Growing up in a country like that and seeing poverty and the difference between rich and poor made me who I am today. Seeing that really made me appreciate life, and gave me perspective on the difference between rich and poor and America vs not America. It’s something I think most DJs never really experience, so I think that puts me in a unique position to do something about it. Ultimately that’s what Edificio TARAKA is all about. Giving the underprivileged a chance to grow and improve. 

(H) – Do you think people with a lot of influence like you should contribute to improve the world?

(G) – Definitely! There are a lot of people who don’t want to put a lot of effort into helping their communities, but I believe it;s important to give back to a place that gave you so much growing up.

(H) – Where can we see you next?

(G) – My touring schedule is crazy! I’ve got a few shows in South America, after which I head back to the US for Coachella and my first TAO residency date at Marquee Las Vegas. After that I’m back to South America!

(H) – Future plans.

(G) – I’m working on an album actually! So aside from all the TARAKAs planned, I’ve got lots of music coming as well.

If you want to listen to all the news of the producer and DJ Gordo do not hesitate to do it here.

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