Part producer and DJ, part entrepreneur and purist, Wally Callerio has kept true to his house music roots since immersing himself in the West Coast scene of the early ’90s. Since then, the Los Angeles-based artist has gone on to internationally release more than 100 original tracks and remixes; launch his critically acclaimed Dufflebag Records imprint; and develop the burgeoning digital distribution site, digibag.com.
While Callerio first started mixing records at age 14, his foray in underground house dates back to Doc Martin’s “Unlock the House” sessions in the early ’90s. One-off gigs at house parties and short stints at local clubs help the young artist evolve his sound, which would feature melodic vocals paired with funk-jazz influences and deep, chunky basslines.
In 1997, Callerio took stock in his own sound and created the self-styled imprint, Dufflebag Records. His first two original EPs, “Déjà vu/Whispers” and “In Your Arms/Thisgo,” received critical fanfare from artists and audiences alike. The success led to slew of collaborations with other global house artists including DJ Sneak, Doc Martin, Natural Rhythm and Vibezelect, to name a few.
Dufflebag Records’ success followed Callerio into the new decade, earning him studio time for some of the industry’s most respected labels. In addition to releasing original tracks on imprints such as 5.1 Surround (L.A.), Shaboom (U.K.) Classic Recordings (U.K.) and Alluv Recordings, Doc Martin—Callerio’s original influence—began licensing them for his label and making creativity come full circle.
In 2010, Dufflebag Records has gone on to release more than 75 tracks on 26 pieces of vinyl.
Now as a new decade and new era in house music begin, Callerio is repositioning his sound and label. The past few years have been marked by the artist’s collective mindset, which has focused him on developing and stockpiling music for his forthcoming digital distribution site, digibag.com. But the time for reflection is over, he says.
“I obviously can’t hold back anymore. I have a ton of good music I want to unleash on people right now—good ole fashion, soulful, funky, dirty house,” he says.
Callerio jump-started his game in 2009 by releasing 15 original tracks and remixes on labels such as Phil Weeks’ Robsoul, DJ Sneak’s Oomph and Magnetic, Chuck Daniels’ Private Parts, 1200 Warriors’ 1200 Traxx and San Francisco’s own Motion Music. The December 2009 relaunch of Callerio’s Dufflebag Records also marks the release of 11 new original tracks, along with fellow artist including, Amp fiddler, Parris Bennet, Myka 9, Allensworth, Nadine Loren, Lili De La mora and Josh One.
What’s behind his ever-evolving vibe? As always, it’s all about the vocals.
“I am trying more musical, crossover house while trying to keep that underground feel,” he says. “I want people to walk away whistling a melody or singing a vocal that sticks with them.”