There are certain people who instantly light up their surroundings, their energy igniting the atmosphere so that you immediately feel a radiating warmth and joy from the first moment you meet them. This is what happened when I met Wally Lopez. With only a few moments to spare before his gig at Social No. 3 in Miami, we ducked down to the closed up shopping center below the venue for a quick interview, his bright smile and kind eyes dissolving my nervousness as I adapted to the strange environment. Soon I would find out that his energy not only made him a wonderful person to interview, but a powerful force for the music.
An undervalued quality of a DJ is the energy that they bring to their performance. There are many extremely talented DJs who are all seriousness behind the decks, but there is something special about the pure joy that spreads to the crowd when the DJ is smiling, dancing, clearly enjoying the music as much as he did the day he discovered it. You know that if there were no audience, no fans, no tours or residencies or careers, that he would be just as happy to be dancing by himself. That pure love for the music radiates. It expresses the essence of what makes dance music so uniquely powerful: its ability to force you to drop all of your worries about the past or anxieties about the future, and to be blissfully, joyfully, completely, in the moment. Wally Lopez transferred this all through his DJ set, reminding the crowd that life doesn’t have to be taken so seriously. Each moment is a chance to choose to smile, to dance, to let go, and to live.
Having been in the electronic music world for over half of his life, Wally knows what its like to maintain a successful career in the industry. From his residencies at legendary clubs like Space, Pacha, and Ministry of Sound, to his releases on renowned labels such as Defected, Yoshitoshi, and Subliminal, through each role he has spread his energy and carried within himself an endlessly deep passion for the music. His perspective on the business of electronic music is based on many years of hard work and ceaseless dedication, and the fact that he still has such a lighthearted approach to his career is evidence of his true love for what he does. It was wonderful to learn about all that he is doing, and to get his thoughts on all the changes that have happened in the last 20+ years.
What are you looking forward to right now?
Now I’m focusing on the Summer in Ibiza. I’ve been there the last 20 years. I have my place there, I used to be Space resident, now I have my own place at Heart. Always right after the music conference, it’s Ibiza time, so I’m ready.
So what are you focusing on in the music right now?
I’m producing again like crazy, I have releases coming out on Global Underground and Yoshitoshi, Flash Mob, great labels. I’ve been doing this more than half my life, so it’s up and down. Sometimes you want to do more music, sometimes you want to travel a lot, so now I am trying to be more focused on making music again.
So what about your alter ego? World Wide Citizen?
It’s still in my mind. For example today, on the flight back from New York I was listening to music about what I want to do for World Wide Citizen.
Did you just want to separate out a different sound?
I never separated out, so I think sometimes that was a problem, because you can get people confused. Like “Now this is the music you play!” I mean, I play Music. Why does it have to be one single kind of music? I love Music. But yeah, let’s try with a different perspective to see what happens. It’s just going to be me, but it’s for the people, to explain. So we’ll see what happens, but I’m really excited.
But it’s strange, I have so much different music in my mind and I want to do all of them. But people, they want to say “You are House,” or “You are Tech House.”… people say they know what I am, but I don’t know.
Is this the first time when you have felt a pressure to be defined?
Yeah. And it’s funny, people come up to me and ask “What type of music is it that you play?” and I say “I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t tell you a name, I play Music. Good Music”.
So is it kind of just for labels, and those type of people who want you to be defined?
Yeah, exactly. So, we’ll see.
What have been some of your favorite moments in your career?
I have so many favorite moments. For instance I always remember the opening and closing nights of Space Ibiza. And I used to play in a car park. It was like a festival, 7000 people. The car park was the best, it was only special for opening and closing.
Have you ever lost a drive to do what you do?
No, not really. It’s true that sometimes you get disappointed.
Now, for example, with the people who only want to listen to one kind of music. Like, “I just listen to Techno.” Really, you only want Techno for 24 hours 7 days a week? So sometimes it’s hard, so many new names, big names, changes in the business. But at the end I feel myself like the kid that began to do this. So I’m still having fun.
Yeah, having to do the business side is tough…
It’s hard, people just think it’s “party, party, party” and it’s not. You must be focused the whole day, thinking about the next, the next, the next, and now the next must be tomorrow. When I was younger, next was “in 6-months”. Now, next must be tomorrow. People consume the music and everything really quick. Before for example, with vinyl, you buy a vinyl and you love it and you can play it 3, 4 months, the same vinyls, and being so excited “I have this record!” Now, every two weeks, the music is old.
That’s true, and you have to be relevant, right then.
Yeah, I don’t like that much. I think we should enjoy more of the stuff we have. But, it is what it is. Millennials, huh?
Thank you Wally! For reminding me that music is all about having fun, no matter if you are in a crowd of 10 or 10,000 its power is still the same, and that what really matters is not how you define what you are listening to, but how it makes you feel. 🙂
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