Victor Simonelli holding razor in front of cassette tape

Victor Simonelli

Victor Simonelli is one of the early kings of NYC sampling In house music. The real deal – Victor danced at the legendary David Mancuso’s Loft sessions and developed a serious appreciation for good music. He interned for Arthur Baker at his renown Shakedown Studios (where Arthur worked with the iconic Afrika Bambaatta on the seminal dance floor ’Planet Rock’ track) and went on to release hugely influential releases on seminal NYC labels 4th Floor and Nu Groove. Victor’s music was championed by the celebrated iconic House Music DJ pioneers, Larry Levan and Tony Humphries at Paradise Garage & Zanzibar/WBLS/Kiss FM respectively and is still played out by leading DJs like Honey Dijon, Jayda G, Sam Divine. His disco-infused early house sound reflects the raw energy and buzz of the New York House scene and continues to influence and get people dancing. DMC grabs a world exclusive…


Welcome Victor Simonelli and where in the world are you joining us from today and what are you doing at the moment ?

I just finished up a DJ tour of Asia including Hong Kong, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and am now in Miami for Miami Music Week (MMW). This is first time for me back at Miami’s MMW since the end of the pandemic. I’ve attended all the Winter Music Conferences since 1987 until 2019 (except for one), and it’s so good to be back for this. My oldest son Immanuele Simonelli is with me out here and we both played at the Clevelander on Ocean Drive.

You’re about to release the super collectable double vinyl album series “BTG Presents Victor Simonelli: The Early Years Vol 1” with “Vol 2” scheduled to follow shortly and how proud of you to see your music acknowledged and played after 30 years?

I am very grateful that my music and tunes are being so well received. It’s not really something that could be predicted or pre-planned. I put my all into it and hope that can be heard and felt by listeners. I’m really a Music Fan first and this is so helpful when writing, producing and mixing.

Both vinyl albums contain some of your finest works and you’ve probably been asked this a zillion times but do you have a favourite track or two from the series and why are they so special to you?

I don’t have any favourites. As I mentioned, I do my best to put my all into every tune that I make but I find it fascinating how some can become more well known than others over time. They are all encapsulations of my emotions. Alex (from Behind The Groove) was very helpful with selecting the tunes from my catalogue, for these compilations. Each tune that I create is special for me and  has a story of its own.

One of the pioneers of the early New York House scene what was it like in the early 90’s in terms of the radio, the djs and shows, the clubs and the record stores? What were your personal highlights and did they inspire you to start producing music?

My appreciation for music starts in the 70’s with some amazing Radio stations, DJs, Clubs and Record Stores at that time in New York. My record collecting began at that time…thanks very much to my Dad and Mom. My Dad has a large record collection of all types of music, and this is where discovering and listening to music began for me. Listening to each record was a personal highlight for me. As my Dad would play each record, he would often act out as if it was being performed live. After listening to each song, he would ask me what I liked about the song that I just heard. What instruments did I hear, what did I think about the lyrics, would I change anything about it, what I didn’t like about it, how did it make me feel, etc. This not only got me into really listening to music from an young age but fully experiencing it too.

The first record store where I bought my first 12’ singles at was J & R Music world in downtown Manhattan. They had a Disco Room upstairs that I will never forget. Radio stations that I was locked into night and day around that time were 92 WKTU, 107.5 WBLS and 99X WXLO (which later became 98.7 WRKS, Kiss FM NYC). These were the best FM Radio stations in New York (for me) at the time and brought the clubs& disco’s onto the New York airwaves. I still have so many cassettes that I recorded at that time from Radio and I was even giving them personal catalogue numbers at the time, for reference, lol..:-) In the 80’s and 90’s, I became more active as a DJ and Producer/Song Writer/Mixer, and doing it from a  fan point of view. In other words, from a dance floor/listener/collector point of view. I know what I like(d) hearing and how the tunes are/were played, how the tunes are/were written/produced/performed/arranged, how they make/made me feel, and which sections sound better than others. Understanding this in the DJ booth and Studio when creating/playing tunes is so important.  Sharing feelings and communicating through music is Beautiful.

In early 1987 I graduated from the Center For Media Arts. I learned much about life in the recording studio there and most importantly about Editing (on Tape). Inspiration comes in so many ways. In the early 90’s it was much more hands-on music making for me.

Dubbed “New York’s finest”,  your career reflects an on going love affair with the city and I understand you partied at David Mancuso’s legendary Loft parties and also interned for Arthur Baker at Shakedown Studios and can you tell us something about those times and what influenced you the most from being around them?

Being on Dave Mancuso’s dance floor felt like flyingHis selections were amazing and he would play every song from the very beginning until the very end with no mixing. Everyone that was there was there for the music and it would happen in his home, a Loft in Manhattan. At the door you would leave a donation and you could only attend if you were personally invited or if you knew someone who was a member. After entering you could see his bed in the corner, his kitchen, the speakers and where he set up his turntables and mixer. It was like a family gathering, all there for the Love of Music, all invited into his home. The music sounded very clear and not too loud. There were many balloons above our heads. Sometimes he would play nature effects like the sound of rain or wind in between songs. We would all clap and cheer with so much enthusiasm after each song. It was such a warm welcoming atmosphere.

In late 1987 I was hired at Shakedown Sound, the recording studio owned by Arthur Baker, and this is where I really got to work in the studio. After interning for so long, I eventually became the Studio In- house Editor editing & arranging songs for artists such as Quincy Jones Featuring Ray Charles and Chaka Kahn, Talking Heads, Gypsy Kings, Blondie, Will Downing and many more. Editing at the time involved listening through numerous takes of one song (numerous reels of tapes) and noting what parts are there to work with. Taking these notes took time. Utilising various pieces from different takes, I would put together & arrange the best choice parts, and in the end, come out with one final version, often released as a “Club”or “Dub Mix” or “Radio Mix”. To share all the detail involved with editing, we would be here all day, lol..So to get a good idea of tape editing, listen to Bootleg releases (which I did not do), such as Bits and Pieces, Big Apple Mixes and Hollywood Mixes. In these you can get a good idea of what tape editing sounds like. Through editing & arranging, I eventually started producing, writing, and mixing. Minimal and Criminal Records were Arthur’s labels at the time, and are among the first independent labels that I released material on.  Arthur was so busy doing project after project (and including me in many). Listening & watching him was such a learning experience. I was at Shakedown until they closed.

By the early 90’s I was actively releasing tunes that I produced on various labels around New York such a Nu Groove, Vendetta, Maxi and One Records amongst others. Being immersed in such a creative environment is a continuous influence. Going back to my neighbourhood in Brooklyn, even that was such an influence early on. As I would be recording radio mix shows at home, cars would pass by playing the same radio stations that I was recording. On the Streets and stoops there were so many great tunes playing from their boxes. Talk about boxes, they were so large and loud lol:-) On the beach from one end to the other everyone would all be tuned into the same great radio station. Block parties would be happening all over, frequently. In the late 70’s/early 80’s not only were there so many clubs to pick and choose from in New York, including in the neighborhood, but great music was being played everywhere. The clubs totally influenced the airwaves, and the airwaves covered the entire city.  Hugely influential and it fanned out around the world through mix tapes, records and word of mouth.

With the new generation still playing your classic tracks, how does it feel to see your championed by DJs like Jayda G, Honey Dijon, and Sam Divine? Do you get lots of requests from DJs for your tunes? 

I’m very thankful that my tunes are getting positive responses as it’s awesome to share and enjoy music together. Yes, I also often get requests from DJs to remix my tunes and I’m always glad to share.

As a producer and DJ, who are the artists and producers that have inspired you the most throughout your life and how so? 

My Dad is not a Producer, but he has been very musically inspiring to me. He has always been very passionate about music and from him I learned how to completely experience music. He would arrange parties just for the love of it, and from an early age I got to see what that sounded/looked/felt like.  It would be difficult to name all the artists and producers that have inspired me most throughout my life as life is a continuous learning and inspiring experience.  Producers such as Patrick Adams, Giorgio Moroder, Cerrone, Tom Moulton, Gamble and Huff, Vince Montana, Arthur Baker, John Robie, Boyd Jarvis and Winston Jones are some of the  great people who were inspiring to me when getting started.  Why… just listen to their music and you can hear why.

Somewhat of a producer legend, what drives you to create music and who have been your key supporters across the years?

I Love Music…it’s really this simple. With music you can say so much more than just words. Many supporters across the years and others who feel the same way. Music is really a universal language and brings us all together. It’s such a beautiful thing, and I thank God that I am able to do it.

What else can we expect in the coming months for Victor Simonelli in terms of gigs, releases etc?

I will be in Europe and the UK for DJ gigs from April 29th until the end of September 2023. I have an In-Store on Saturday April 29th at Love Vinyl, 5 Pearson St, Dalston, E2 between 2pm-6.30pm alongside Behind The Groove label head, Alex Rose, where I will be DJ-ing and signing copies of the vinyl records of “The Early Years Vols 1 & 2”.

On Sunday April 30th I’ll be playing the Hitchin Dance All Dayer with Joe Smooth, Graham Gold (Peach), Lisa Loud, Jumpin Jack Frost, Nookie with MC Conrad, Atomic Hooligan, 2 Bad Mice & more.

Saturday May 6th:  Back 2 Love 10th Birthday All Dayer, Jolly Anglers, Kennet Side, Reading, RG1 3EA. 2pm-late

May 26th: Wortley Hall Festival, Leeds

June 16 &17: House Is The Feeling, Hooton Lodge Farm, Hooton Roberts, S65 4TE

I have a new release I’m working on with D-Train, which will include a Tom Moulton Mix., and I’m always releasing stuff on my different labels…

Bassline Rec

Big Big Trax

West Side Rec

Stellar Rec

Unkwn Rec

Brooklyn Trax

Good Groove (My Son, Immanuele Simonelli ,  Label)


BTG presents “Victor Simonelli: The Early Years Vol 1” is a collectors edition double Vinyl release, and released on May 12th 2023. “Vol 2” follows on May 26th 2023 . These releases are the most comprehensive collection of rare Victor Simonelli cuts that firmly establish his esteemed role in 90s House Music and introduces new fans to his carefree sound. Victor Simonelli is also DJ-ing and signing copies of the albums at an In Store event at Love Vinyl, 5 Pearson St, Dalston, E2 between 2pm-6.30pm on Saturday April 29th 2023 alongside Behind The Groove label head, Alex Rose.

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