f: How did you first get into making music?
Angelica de No: I think my love for creating stems back to childhood. I was always dancing and singing, making up my own little songs, but I first started writing poetry when I was 8 years old and then my first actual song when I was 13. At that point my parents were already divorced and my mother thought my musicality was a distraction from more important things. With the absence of my father, It was my high school chorus teacher who encouraged my musical curiosity and helped to develop my craft further. At the same time, I was singing in a rock band with some of my class mates and doing covers of old classics like Steve Miller Band’s The Joker, in my own soulful style. When I was 15 I went to my first club, Palladium in NYC, and that’s when I really felt like dance music was where my heart and soul was. With further exposure to the scene and nights dancing at Tunnel, Twilo and Limelight, I felt the courage to answer an advertisement in the village voice newspaper for a reference track singer. I landed my first job at 17. I would take studio work here and there to learn how to record and at 19 was when I really started writing melodies and lyrics non stop. I’ve been at it ever since.
f: What was the first dance record you bought?
Angelica de No: I didn’t exactly buy my first dance record, I recorded it off the radio because I was too young to purchase it. I was 10 and it was ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ by Dee-Lite. I waited for hours and hours for it to come on the radio so I could get it on my mix tape. I know I am dating myself here, but it’s the truth.
f: Who were your musical influences growing up and do they have an impact on your music today?
Angelica de No: I have so many influences it’s hard to pin them all down. I have a very eclectic and expansive musical palette. I grew up listening to and singing Broadway, but I also loved Donna Summers, Diana Ross, Fleetwood Mac, Madonna, Depeche Mode, Air Supply, Journey, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, The Doors, and Led Zeppelin… the list goes on. I believe that good music is good music and a good song will stick no matter the genre. All the music I have listened to has inspired and influenced me in some capacity. It’s part of my musical journey and education. I take little pieces of each and spin them into something that’s uniquely my own.
f: Which of your own tracks was the biggest labour of love to create?
Angelica de No: Every single one of my songs. I put all of myself into everything I release from the melodies and lyrics I write, to the recording process and comping the best vocal, through multiple iterations between the producer and I, to selecting the best remixers and working through those iterations to shopping, signing and then all the promotion work I do to launch the project. I make sure any promotional material I use for my own content is within the branding guidelines of that label and that anything I put someone else’s name on is compatible with their own image. I keep our release teams informed of updates and personally motivate each artist I collaborated with to create an inclusive and welcoming community for the project. Everyone gets added to a team chat so nothing is lost or missed.
I believe in fully being present and equally dedicated to all of my work. They are different extensions of myself and equally as important.
You can get a real sense of this from all the recent releases I’ve had starting with my first collaboration with Tech Us Out called ‘Reborn’ on DIRIDIM records. With each release since, I’ve gotten more comfortable leading the way and having more of a presence in the process. I love how I work now and collaborating more closely with others.
f: Your new collaboration with Zonum, ‘All I Am’, has just dropped on QU3 Records, what can you tell us about the song?
Angelica de No: Yes, this track is gorgeous and it was a journey to create. It was inspired by two things, firstly the production from Zonum which had a sombre feel and sadness to it. It really spoke to me and was the perfect mood for me to tap into because I was feeling a little melancholy around that time. The second inspiration was personal. I had just met someone special and was getting to know them better, but they kept running hot and cold. We spent a bit talking about our past, hardships, and there was a profound sadness in them. It felt like they were afraid to truly love in the moment and to let go and heal the pain of their past all while worrying about the future. So I took to my spiritual teachings and Buddhist philosophy about being present and living with an open heart. It was completely organic and natural how it all came to me. I wrote the melody and lyrics in 30 mins. I recorded it a few days later and my friend Carlos Ruez helped us engineer the recording and it was ready for remixers.
f: The release also features mixes from MicFreak & DJ Spen, Alecs (US) and Tommy Myst. What did they bring to the table and are you pleased with how they sound?
Angelica de No: Yes, the remixers on this project are fantastic and bring something unique to their interpretation of the song. When Zonum and I first started thinking about remixers, we decided that we wanted to cater to markets we already had a presence in and work with artists we knew would be fun to work with. We carefully selected each one and are extremely happy with the results.
Alecs (US) was someone Zonum and I were already connected to through another project of mine and is an incredible talent from California. He fuses deep dark afro and Latin beats but with a more techy percussion based sound. He has been producing and djing for a substantial amount of time and was a Subliminal Records Alumni, like myself. He brought exactly the right flavor to his dub and found a gorgeous balance of sexy and sweet within a massive groove.
Tommy Myst is an incredible talent from the New York tri-state area who has been working as a DJ in the scene for decades. Although, Tommy has only been producing for little over a decade, with notable releases on Nervous, Magna and Boiler Underground, he’s got an incredible ear and passion for the music. He and I have very similar origins and we hear music similarly. We were introduced through his work on another project he remixed for me and I was so impressed by his dark, moody, grimy, deep sounds I knew this song would be something right up his alley. He did not disappoint. With Tommy’s remix garnering support from DJ Boris, Oscar G and the legend Danny Tenaglia – I think the remix hit exactly how he and I intended.
I first approached MicFreak for the remix based on his previous work with Crystal Waters, Aaron K Gray and Benjy Bradshaw. I love his ability to create something funky and groovy that makes you want to dance. He’s a real pianist and understands musical composition and includes his keys in a lot of his work which I personally love. Mic loved the project so much he didn’t just want to remix it – he wanted to sign it. That in itself is an incredible achievement for any artist but that was just the beginning, then DJ Spen jumped on. Having MicFreak and Spen both on the remix was like a dream come true. The fusion of both their musical brilliance is pure magic. The remix has groove, it bumps and then it has the perfect dramatic moment. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better – they did a surprise dub. Now when I say surprise – I mean I had no idea till MicFreak premiered it on twitch and I was so happy I started to cry. So all in all – yes I am sublimely happy with the entire package.
f: How did you and Zonum meet and will you be working on future tracks together?
Angelica de No: Zonum and I linked up after he did a remix of my track with Patricia Starr called, ‘Dreaming’, on S&S Records. We reached out through Instagram for promotion of the song and once we got to know each other on a business level, I asked if he would be open to collaborate on an original. Zonum is from Barcelona Spain and given parts of my own family still live in Madrid, I thought this a great way to get back to my roots and pay homage to my family. He sent me like 6 tracks to work with and out of those came ‘All I Am’, our up coming track ‘Life Is Better’ and 3 more to follow. So, yes, it’s safe to say I am collaborating with him on much more and this was a very fruitful connection we have made.
f: You’ve collaborated with the likes of Guido Osorio (DJ Guido of Razor and Guido), Antranig, Joeski, Erick Morillo, Patricia Starr, Exacta, Tech Us Out and David Morales, among others, who else would you like to work with?
Angelica de No: I mean there are so many producers and artists out there I want to work with that it would be a shame to not list them all but Black Coffee, Bob Sinclar, Carl Cox, Cevin Fisher, Danny Tenaglia, DJ Spen, Louie Vega, Nicole Moudaber are just a few of them. What I will say is that the sky is the limit and given my incredible work ethic and talent anything is possible.
f: Have you any plans for an album?
Angelica de No: That’s a great question. While I do have enough material for five albums, given the nature of our digital world, I think at this point it would be foolish to channel all my energy into an album. Music has a two week lifespan and in the age of mass digital consumption it’s far more important to keep up with the demand than it is to make an album; At least for underground dance musicians who are not yet as established as the Beyoncé’s and Drake’s of the world. A lot of great songs get overlooked on albums that could have been released as singles and would have made a huge impact. As it is, I am releasing almost every week, so I don’t think an album is as important to me as it once was.
f: How important are songs for the dance floor?
Angelica de No: That’s what this is all about. I think you must cater to your audience and dance music is about dancing. Yes, I like some down tempo songs and will write them time to time, but the whole point of being a dance musician is to get them dancing.
f: Any tips or advice for aspiring singer /songwriters looking to break through on the scene?
Angelica de No: The best advice given to me was by my late friend, Erick Morillo, before he signed Dangerous to Sondos. He told me “If you want this to be about business, then treat it like a business. If you’re just here for the party, then that’s all you’re ever going to achieve.” Wise words wouldn’t you say? Keep going and grow some thick skin. It took me 20 years to get to this point and I know now I am more comfortable and prepared for it than I was when I first started. Priorities change and perspectives change. If you’re looking for fame and an on going party you’re going to rise and decline quickly. If you’re interested in longevity then you need to take this seriously and seize every opportunity as long as it’s safe and comfortable for you.
f: Who are your top 3 current vocalists?
Angelica de No: I would have to say Ultra Nate, Inaya Day and Jem Cooke. That’s not to say I don’t like other vocalists, but they are three powerhouse artists and have made their own music their own way.
f: What else are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
Angelica de No: I have so many projects open at the moment, it’s like I am living my dream. It’s all I’ve ever wanted is to work and write consistently. I have some really amazing projects I just recorded with Zonum (Gomi as my vocal director), Horatio and Kamil van Dersen, MicFreak and Tommy Myst. I’m super excited about the upcoming releases I have with David Morales. I have a few top secret projects that are happening in the background that I can’t really talk about just yet, but I can say no two projects sound the same.
Angelica de No & Zonum ‘All I Am’ (incl. MicFreak & DJ Spen, Alecs (US) and Tommy Myst mixes) is out on QU3.