Dennis Cruz over the last couple years has been rising the charts across Beatport in the underground house and tech communities. With fresh sounds and solid beats he is never far from the top, and has loads of new singles and EPs that come out every year. With releases on labels such as Solid Grooves, Lemon-Aid, Snatch!, Stereo Productions, Toolroom, Relief, Saved, Suara, Deeperfect, Glasgow Underground and Suruba X, it is no wonder he has received awards and nominations for Beatport's 3rd Best Tech House Artist, Resident Advisor's 2nd Most Charted Artist of 2016 and Spanish Artist of the Year in 2016.
He has garnered support from Marco Carola, Erick Morillo, Joseph Capriati, Nicole Moudaber, Paco Osuna, Roger Sanchez, Umek, Nic Fanciulli, Stefano Noferini, Technasia, Los Suruba, Timo Maas, Yousef, Jamie Jones and Pan-Pot, among others. Cruz has played all over Europe, across the Americas and even made it out to Russia and Australia. His rise to the top has been through a combination of talent, skill and outright diligence.
Earlier this month, Dennis Cruz made an appearance at Bijou Nightclub in Boston where he played immaculately to an eager full house. Nothing was more rewarding than peeking into the booth and watching the DJ bounce to every beat with his hands moving at such a speed, I wasn't even sure what I was watching. Magnetic Mag took the opportunity that night to talk to Cruz about some of his past nominations, releases this past year and what he has in store for the new year!
Magnetic Mag: It's a pleasure to meet you. You're a huge name in tech-house music these days. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your history with music?
Dennis Cruz: So, I started DJ'ing in school. I helped one friend that was playing at home and that was when I discovered it and never looked back. I did a lot at first, I played at home, parties or even just a friend's house. I am 34 now and when I started, I was playing on vinyl, so it's almost been fifteen years since.
MM: I also read that you have a Sound Engineer Degree from Spain? Is that an equivalent to a college degree here?
DC: Yes, it was a 2-year program. I am not sure what the equivalent of an American degree is. However, it was like an in-between school and University.
MM: That is pretty great! Has that background knowledge in sound engineering helped in any way in regards to the way you produce? Has it been an influence?
DC: Yeah, I think it has influenced me a lot because I have been working for sound engineers in movies, television and for sports advertisements. I have worked with different types of music from rock bands to hip-hop. Also worked with some voice dubbing. Any kind of sound that you can work within a studio pretty much. Not necessarily always making the music - sometimes only recording or mix-mastering.
MM: What was your first real performance as a DJ?
DC: Oh, it was a contest in Madrid. It was run by this one good club at the time who was running a contest. I literally got there and played for maybe about 20 minutes for the round. I made it to the second round but never made it to the finals, though it was pretty good first experience playing for a live crowd. I remember that it was on vinyl and I was really nervous. It was so difficult to place the needle in time for the first beat!
MM: Did that lead to the beginning of your career? How did that start?
DC: It was a difficult build up because it was hard to get gigs and in the beginning, I was playing around Madrid mostly. I would always be fighting with promoters because they did not want to pay because our job was to bring a crowd to the club. Once I started studying sound engineering and I stopped playing for maybe two or three years. I won a contest abroad for music production. It required me to play abroad and that was when I resumed.
MM: It seems now, in 2018, you are living a life you may not have imagined having when you were 17. How does it feel - to be here today?
DC: There are a lot of things that I could have never imagined that are happening now - traveling a lot around the world and meeting a lot of people. I am very happy, sometimes the worst part is traveling - the planes, this and that. But, I am really happy now, I am living my dream, you know?
MM: You really are! I remember that 2016 was a big year for you! I mean, you were nominated for various awards, Best Tech-House DJ, Best Spanish Artist, Best Producer, Best DJ via Vicious & DMCWorld Awards. What has 2017 brought you?
DC: I think I grew a lot in 2017, but I think I am gonna grow more next year. I am going to play a lot more festivals so I believe that will give me a stronger push forward. But, I know there are the nominations and all these things about producing. Now it is not going to happen again because I do not have too much time to produce more. Three years ago, I had maybe one three or four gigs a month and now its tripled, so my tour schedule is crazy.
MM: Last I checked, you had almost 15 releases over the last two years! You're crazy! When do you have time to do anything?
DC: Every day, I was in the studio, working like crazy. And some of the tracks I released were old ones, but now I do not have too much new material. I was making music, but this year there will be, probably only five releases, no more. It's not like in the past when every month I had a new EP.
MM: You are a fine line between DJ and music-making machine! Speaking of releases, you have had two tracks come out on Stereo Productions and you have your annual release on Solid Grooves amidst your Ibiza residency. On top of having your own label, Lemon-Aid. Can you tell me a little more about Lemon-Aid?
DC: Well, if I start from the beginning Lemon-Aid was a way for me to manage my music. I could not release all my production on different labels so I decided to make my own label to release under. That's how it started. Today, just last month I released another EP. There was on a re-mastered track that was the first track that I released on the label that I was shopping for other labels, but nobody wanted it.
Now, I like to think that when you create a label it is important to release too much. With Lemon-Aid we are releasing about two per month. This year, we are planning to only release six for the year, but we are also starting to throw parties and get into that aspect. I have been working with Stefano Crabuzza, who is the A&R of Lemon-Aid and we work together on deciding which tracks to release. More of than not, he will call me, "Dennis, check the demos! Check the demos!" whenever I get wrapped up in my stuff.
MM: Too many things going on, you definitely needed a partner in crime. I know that you have worked with Chus & Ceballos a lot this past year. Your EP, 'Mad' and collab with them, 'Sun' were both released on Stereo Productions. What is it like to work with such an influential duo?
DC: For me, it is really good. I have been following them since I was a kid, you know? And now, we are like a family at Stereo. Friends and family. I was just playing with them in Chile earlier this month. It was an amazing time! I am so grateful for them and that they have been helping me a lot. I could not be happier.
MM: Do you feel the same working with Solid Grooves?
DC: Yeah, Stereo's my Spanish family. Solid Grooves are my English family. It is different - I think Solid Grooves is much wilder in everything and always fun, while Stereo is like the wise older sibling that take care of you. You know, "Don't do this, try this instead...." It is a great balance of support between the two.
MM: Talking about support, does your personal family support your unique career?
DC: My mom is my biggest fan. My family has always supported me since I was a child. They bought me my first mixer, my first speakers and are always there for me. Sometimes I go home after being on tour and my mom is listening to my music! I am like, "Hey, mom, please stop!" Haha, you get tired of your own music, but she is so proud of me and I am really happy about that!
MM: That is always awesome to hear! Do you have anything special you are working for 2018? Are you taking some time off from producing?
DC: I have a bunch of festivals I will be appearing at and I have some new releases coming on on labels such as Moon Harbour. Nothing I can formally announce, but great things are coming. And yeah, I will take time off when I am out of Madrid. When I am home in Madrid, I find that I do not know what to do with myself so, I just go back into the studio!