Make no mistake: Dee Montero is a lifer. He’s the Belfast-born house-head who went from listening to pirate radio shows and mix-tapes to digging in the crates and then made the giant leap to Ibiza long before social media became de rigeur on the island and in the world. He’s the former Café Mambo DJ resident who played alongside some of the greats before making the move to Hong Kong, where he booked some of the biggest and best DJs in the world, and then returned to the Balearics brighter, faster and stronger. And at the end of 2017, he received the biggest accolade yet: Pete Tong’s Essential Tune Of The Year on BBC Radio One for the string-fuelled, epic end-of-nighter ‘Halcyon’, originally released on Solomun’s acclaimed Diynamic imprint. And he’s been busy ever since: 2019’s ‘Sapphire’ was one for the Balearic books and the same year he also went Knee Deep In Sound with ‘Pangaea’ which pushed all the right buttons for Hot Since 82 and also solidified his sound for the London/Leeds imprint. He also released the scintillating ‘Headspace’ for the crew over at Anjuna. The word to use is versatile.
The other big decision Dee made after that initial Pete Tong support was to launch his own electronic platform for his own style of music – and this is where Futurescope was born. Despite the various trials and tribulations of the past two years, Dee has been very busy with his Futurescope brand, bringing in fellow musical alchemists Newman and Patrice Baumel for remix duties and reminding fans of both Dee and Patrice that these artists have more in common than you might have thought. Dee and Newman have been tight for some time, but it was particularly gratifying to see Futurescope do so well at Beatport. As ever with Dee, it’s been an attention to detail and a focus on quality rather than quantity that’s kept him on the right path. He knows what he’s good at and knows where his strengths lie. The next step will be an artist album released this coming summer 2022, which play to those deft melodic touches, twinkling synths and singular sky-scraping, positive peaks. There’s also a perfectly timed release called ‘Maya’ doing the rounds right now, and a remix from Rodriguez Jr which aims for even bigger, higher heights. And he just dropped a further release on Futurescope called ‘Satori’ which came equipped with a remix by the super-talented European producer Lauer, which nods to Italo disco while the original has a whisper of early Tensnake-style 80s inspiration but with a bold, bouncing production sound that’s as bang up to date and deft as ever. As well as forthcoming eps on Renaissance and Anjunadeep later this year Dee’s next serene new release ‘Farlight’ will continue the upward electronic pressure into summer 22.
Dee started making music of his own in 2000. “A friend of mine, Graeme Laverty aka Loew, was well known in Belfast as a great producer. I got back from a season in Ibiza and had lots of ideas for a track so we did our first record under the name Midtone. The next season I handed out 30 CDs of my first track ‘Pearl’ which instantly picked up support from PVD and Sasha even pressed his own acetate vinyl (this was the pre-CDJ era!). It was an unbelievable feeling - Sasha played it on the Space terrace, which was more or less open air back then and the reaction was just amazing. It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. The track was eventually signed to Duty Free and we did a remix of Oliver Lieb as a result. I was hungry to develop my sound further though and the name Montero was born: ‘Montero was more sexy and percussive, Space terrace stuff. We started doing that in 2002 and the first release was played by the likes of Lee Burridge which lead to signing to Renaissance.”
Up until 2005 Dee was in Ibiza every summer, learning and crafting his style and unique sound. He didn’t return until 2012 but during that time continued to produce and had a Beatport Number One with a track called ‘Captain Hook’. “I started getting offers in France, Serbia and Belarus and made a decision to leave Ibiza at that time. I played Paris quite a bit and I was doing a lot of Renaissance tours. I also played the legendary Cross in London regularly”. The biggest gig at this point? “It was actually a festival in Belgrade for 25,000 people. Still the biggest gig I’ve ever done. When I stood behind the decks it felt surreal, the space between the stage and the crowd was very different to a club but I got stuck in and banged it out, you can’t hold back!”
In the past few years, things have unquestionably gone in an upward direction for Dee. He’s performed at Burning Man on the Carl Cox stage (a career highlight if ever there was one) and also at Hï with Joris Voorn and Nic Fanciulli at In The Dark. These shows dovetailed with him going solo as a producer and critical releases such as ‘Full Body’ on Saved and the epic ‘Vedra’ on Knee Deep In Sound and ‘Fade Into Noir’ feat Aya on Selador. But the best was yet to come. At the end of 2017, Pete Tong bestowed Dee with ‘Essential Tune Of The Year’ for ‘Halcyon’, released on Solomun’s Diynamic label. “I very much believe that a good record is a good record so I try not to follow trends too much,” says Dee, in something that sounds very much like a musical manifesto. “I have quite an eclectic taste and like to blend between genres. I love a good breakbeat record, some electronica and the Balearic sounds from Tensnake and Gerd Janson but I also love a good driving Detroit techno track.” With so many sonic terrains still left to discover and that long-awaited artist album looking to drop on an unsuspecting world…
Where will Dee head to next we wonder?