Brothers in Beat: How Calussa is Sweeping the Scene
Aug 11, 2023
11 min read
The Miami-based duo, Calussa comprises two brothers, Andrew, and Gino Gomez, who are exceptional artists wearing multiple hats as producers, DJs, label heads, and siblings. Calussa has quickly become a powerhouse, standing firmly at the forefront of the dance music scene with a sound that beautifully weaves together tech house with a captivating afro and Latin elements.
Their label, "Hurry Up Slowly" has achieved tremendous success, amassing a dedicated global following. It comes as no surprise, as their tracks consistently dominate charts worldwide. Calussa's unique style and international acclaim have firmly established them as rising stars in the electronic music landscape as they continue to dazzle audiences on their summer tour.
How are you guys doing and how's the tour going?
Gino: Everything is great. We're just here in Barcelona right now, taking a little break before our show in Ibiza next week. We had Exit Festival last week we're just here at our base in Barcelona, taking some days off and just working on some new music.
Can you take us to the early days? What brought you both to dance music?
Andrew Gomez: It came from Gino's side. He bought some turntables when he was maybe like 16, 17, and he started really blasting. I think it was the first time I ever heard dance music. And he started learning how to DJ. And it just kind of rubbed off on me.
I was more on the guitar and collectively we came together, and we were practicing everything that day. And I think when he was 17, 18, he played for a club in Miami called Mokai. And from there we collectively just started doing it together and we never looked back.
Gino: From traveling at a young age too, I think I was exposed to a lot of electronic music in Europe. Going to places in Greece and Ibiza at a young age and kind of just being exposed to electronic music and seeing some DJs play at an early age kind of just inspired me to get into that realm and that's kind of how we started soon after, got a small little DJ controller and kind of went from there.
And have you always wanted to work together? How did that happen?
Andrew: I feel like it was a very good synergy from the start. I come from a musician background, I play a lot of instruments and we've always collectively come together and just shared the tracks that we liked at the time, maybe talking about like 2008, 2009. So, it was always a good synergy.
Gino: It was always interesting because in Miami, the legal age to enter a club is like 21 and I started DJ'ing at like 18. At that time, he was 15 years old. So, he was almost way too young to even be in the club. But after like a year or two, he started getting very into it, and then, naturally we just started doing it together. And we both were in the same kind of musical realm or lane. And it just really gelled. We have a lot of synergy. And we contrasted a lot.
Andrew: I was always more focused when I was at that age, like 15, 16, I was more focused on music production and learning the logic program and just kind of like learning all that stuff while he was, you know, teaching all the nightclubs because obviously I was too young. So obviously when I got to an age where they would allow me to get into the nightclub, that's when the whole collaboration started.
Your music has heavy Afro and Latin elements. What influences your sound?
Gino: I think just being in Miami really and kind of our heritage or our background. Our dad is Cuban, and he was a drummer growing up and we were always raised around a lot of Latin music between our dad and our mom and then being in Miami as well.
We've always had that love for percussion and music that makes you dance and kind of reflected in the music that we started producing. Little by little, we just saw it was working and catching on and that it just worked on the dance floor and made the whole dance floor move.
Andrew: And it's also cool because Miami is like a melting pot of so many different cultures. So not only like Latin music but almost all genres and Middle Eastern sounds, Brazilian sounds and it's all derived from the same place, you know, it's all Afro and drums and stuff like that. So, it's cool. Like being from Miami, you can apply all the different formulas and recipes to your music.
What is the dynamic between you guys like in the studio?
Andrew: It's organic, honestly. When we sit down, we come together, we talk about the music that we're listening to and tracks that are inspiring us and we just kind of start with a clean slate and figure out what we want to make on that day.
Much of our music experimentation never sees the light of day. However, the beauty of our position is the privilege of touring. When we find an idea we all like, we test it on the road, tweaking its mix and mastering in various nightclubs. Together, we make dynamic and sonic adjustments to the tracks. By the end of our tours, we've collectively completed our tracks.
Gino: Yeah, and he was a guitar player from a young age when he was, I think like 10 years old, he got his first guitar, so he also plays the keyboard, so he'll kind of get an idea going in terms of melody or concept.
And then I'm very technical and good with percussion and using loops and creating different patterns and arrangements. So, we kind of both have our specialty, but we like to help each other through the whole process.
How do you usually start a track and how do you know when it's finished?
Andrew: I'm not sure if you ever know.
Gomez: Typically, it comes off as just a basic idea, it could be a sample or a melody. And usually, to know when it's finished, it's tough because there's like producer syndrome. You're never happy.
I don't think anybody's ever happy. I think it's more about when you're the most okay with it. And really from just testing it out and being able to have that ability to be able to test tracks out at shows and develop them and see what's missing and what's needed.
Then after a certain point, you feel happy with the response and how it sounds through other club speakers or other systems. And then you kind of make the call that it's time to move on. But I think that this is something that a lot of producers struggle with and kind of never being satisfied with your mix.
But I think it takes another level of discipline to finally be like, 'okay, I'm done with this track. Let me get started on the next.' I would say the best way to know is just really from playing it live and hearing how it sounds and seeing the response.
You just dropped a nostalgic new track, Fell in Love with Carlita via Diplo's Higher Ground imprint. Can you tell us how it all came to be?
Andrew: Absolutely. So, the song was a year in the making. We had an idea for a while and we were just kind of like sitting on the track, but when we were in Dubai, we met up with Carlita and we were just catching up and stuff.
I guess the track just came up in conversation. She asked us what we were working on. We showed her the concept, and she was in love with it. She's a very nineties girl like us, she loves the nineties and those nostalgic tracks that came from that era. We came together, and Diplo was a fan of the track, so he was cool enough to put it on higher ground and the response has been amazing.
Gino: It was an organic idea of a track and how it all kind of came together but really like we've always loved that ‘90s classic vibe and we wanted to bring a feeling of that and thank god Carlita has a very similar vibe and ear to us. And she was able to get on higher ground. They have an amazing team. We're grateful that we were able to work with such a great team on getting this out with them.
Could you tell us a little bit about how your label, ‘Hurry Up Slowly’ came to be?
Gino: We've been doing events in Miami now for almost four to five years and the brand started with the event series and event concept. And then more and more we felt like there should be a sound to what our events were and a sound that speaks to us. A couple of years into the events, our close friend Malone joined some of our events and played with us and then we started this label concept a few years ago, but it’s kind of just started with hearing tracks and demos that would get sent to us.
It just made sense to start our own sound or own label, especially if we were pushing something unique to Miami at that time. It’s kind of just started for fun and as a hobby and signing tracks that we liked and now it's grown into what it is today. We would never imagine that it would get to this point working with some of the artists on the label and some talented producers.
What has been your biggest lesson working as a duo?
Gino: Learning how to compromise for sure. You must compromise and come to an agreement. Sometimes you have different opinions, but at the end of the day, it's working as a team in the unit and really being able to see each other's points of view and opinions and kind of coming to like a middle ground sometimes. We can get into an argument and then be good the next day. We're brothers.
Andrew: Well, kind of like what he said earlier about, figuring out when the track can be done. Like he said, it does take a lot of discipline and I must credit him for that discipline because, for me, a track can go on forever trying to finish it or mix it more and more and more. And that's where compromise is so important and since we're a duo, your kind of like lift each other up and you think the track is done, okay, then it's done then.
What else have you got planned for the near future?
Andrew: We're about to finish our last gig in Europe for our Phase One Summer Tour. And then we go back to Miami in August, and we start our Phase Two. But we're very excited to be coming to Asia for the very first time. We're playing at Savaya Bali, this legendary venue in Bali. They curate some of the most amazing music and crowds. And just the space itself is amazing. We're excited to be doing that. We have some special releases coming up.
Gino: We're excited about August and September. Can't say too much, but big things are coming. We're excited to announce it when it's time. Even our biggest release to date and it's a collaboration with artists that's been really like an older brother to us and role model.
We're also getting to play in what we can say is like a dream venue for us. Bali is a place I've always wanted to go to personally and then also to play at the venue that we've always wanted to play in.
What would you like your legacy to represent in the years to come?
Gino: I mean, definitely leaving something that stands outside of just music itself and really just inspiring others to kind of do whatever it is that their passion is and do it for a living and then kind of really try to conquer what seems impossible.
I'm a cancer survivor. Before my journey or battle, I couldn't have imagined doing what we're doing now. I aim to inspire others, whether they're facing similar struggles, have overcome them, or are just chasing their dreams and goals. It's about inspiring beyond just the musical realm.