2 min

Make some heat

Get me Afro-Cuban rhythms

SEXY VIBE. "I'm not afraid of failure if there is a possibility of success," says Cuban-born DJ César Murillo, who spins at Unity's fun outdoor pool party, Squirt, on Sat, Jun 28 and Bump 3 on Fri, Jul 4. Credit: Xtra files

As a
former circuit go-go dancer, César Murillo understands that the dancefloor is
for dancing. But as a trained industrial engineer he’s able to look for the
details in music that most people wouldn’t recognize in order to create his

Murillo grew up in Cuba on the border of a town and its ghetto that was
inhabited mostly by descendants of slaves. “As kids we used to hang out at the
el barrio and jam with pots and pans,” says Murillo. “There was a lot of Yoruba
[religious] influence but mainly it was just fun as we would just go with the
flow of the music that would shake your ass.” Murillo says he layers African
religious chants in many of his DJ sets and productions.

His sets differ from most DJs in the circuit scene because he has his own
modern re-interpretation of Afro-Cuban rhythms – sometimes subtle, sometimes
dominant- within his music.

Murillo’s programming is based on positive soulful rhythms that are carefully
layered with, what he calls, “horny galloping beats,” chants, re-interpreted
Cuban influences and soul-laden vocals. He is one of those rare DJs who can
keep people on the dancefloor – and away from the bathroom stalls doing drugs.
“My sound tends to be sexy and warm, groovy with cha-cha bass lines and
Afro-Cuban rhythms – all played by myself – to make it more of a tribal

“My engineering training made me a thinker, so I look for strategies to get the
most out the music usually by visualizing the ideas when I’m producing. While
DJing I just follow my heart, what feels right – sometimes it works and
sometimes it doesn’t. The crowd responds to it when you are trying and respects
you even when you don’t get it right but you try. I’m not afraid of failure if
there is a possibility of success.”

Murillo’s own productions are gaining more attention, as this is where he is
putting more of his time. “It’s an incredible feeling making music out of your
dreams. Sometimes I do dream of melodies and rhythms, then wake up and record
what I remembered,” says Murillo. His music is distributed under the name
Cubandog and is played by local and international DJs such as Mark Falco, Mark
Anthony, Eddie X and Thunderpuss. “Politics within the scene have accelerated
my production career as I need to express myself as an artist. As a DJ, I don’t
spin at certain clubs, but I do lots of events with the best promoters in the
city, which means I get the recognition from those with a vision, because the
party will always be about the music.

“And when you put politics before music you get a recipe for disaster… look
around, enough said.”

Like many of the clichés about Latin men, Murillo’s music exudes sex like no
other. His recent set at the Power Ball, the city’s biggest A-list gala party,
showcased his playful grooves that tend to be a vulnerable balance of sounds,
tones and rhythms. “This reflects my personality, as I like sexy music with
energy, music that puts the boys in the mood for shows in the dancefloor! Very
‘Work your silicone!'”

* César Murillo also closes the Bump 3 post-Pride party at the Opera House on
Fri, Jul 4.


$25. 1pm-8pm.

Sat, Jun 28.

The Docks. 11 Polson St.

(416) 469-5655.