Harry “Choo Choo” Romero has found success as a solo DJ with his infectious brand of get-the-party-started house music. But it’s his affiliation with Erick Morillo and Jose Nunez in the trio Sympho Nympho – and their label Subliminal Records – that will cement his legacy in dance-music history. Catch him solo Sunday, March 18 in the afternoon at the Viceroy Hotel, and then with his trio at the Tuesday, March 20 blowout party at Amnesia. He talks to Miami.com about Sympho Nympho’s new album “The Beginning,” featuring collaborations with top hip-hop artists, and the musical mission of the group.
What inspired you guys to join forces?
Well, we’ve been working together since the mid-’90s – we started the record label Subliminal in ’97, and we’ve had a lot of success with that. But we kind of went our separate ways, you know, Erick went out and DJed by himself, and I went and produced by myself, Jose the same thing. And we just felt like we were in a place where we wanted to get back in the studio together, because whenever we were in the studio back in the day was amazing. We had a lot of fun, and somehow we got music done. And we said, “It’s time to join forces again, time to do something and leave a legacy.” And this time we wanted to gear it more toward radio, something with a little more pop appeal.
So that explains the collaborations with Pitbull and Wyclef and artists like that?
Correct. And Sean Paul and Dizzee Rascal. We did the underground, and we can do the underground with our eyes closed, and we still do it, and it’s a lot of fun. But we wanted something with more substance, something with more radio appeal that could possibly be placed in a movie or an advert. Something more commercial. And for guys like us in the underground, “commercial” is Kryptonite. It’s like a bad word. But we’re at a point in our lives and our careers where we’re like, “What are we so afraid of – success?” We want to bring music to the masses.
When you perform live, how does it work?
Our whole M.O. for performing live is deconstructing what we do in the studio and presenting it in a different way to an audience. So we’ll skim out different parts of the production and exaggerate them to create more drama, and take that three-and-a-half minute radio record and turn it into a seven-minute monster. More reverb, tension and drama. So that’s our mission with our show, to present what we’re doing in the studio, but bring it to a different platform – the club.
Do you plan your sets differently depending on the venue?
The way I feel, and some people would argue – I’m not one of these people that puts my head down and plays whatever the hell I want. My job is to entertain people and give people an experience that will last a long time. So if I’m playing outside at the terrace at Space at 9 o’clock in the morning, it’s gonna sound totally different than if I’m playing at Nikki Beach at midnight. So it really all depends on the vibe, and to be honest with you, how messed up the people are [laughs].
You have an album coming out as Sympho Nympho, right?
Yeah, it’s called “The Beginning.” It’s a compilation album that we did in the studio, kind of like a small representation of our musical taste at that particular time. You know, these compilations, if we were to mix them today, it would sound totally different. That’s just kind of a snapshot of about a month ago – we had a lot of fun. It starts out kind of sexy then gets a little darker, edgy, more dramatic.
How did you get the nickname Choo Choo?
Choo Choo goes back to my childhood – I was obsessed with this little train hat. And I wish I had a better, sexier story about me in a hotel room with about five Brazilians, but no, it’s not that. It’s basically just a childhood nickname that my family still calls me to this day.
Do you think the conference could work as well anywhere else other than Miami?
I think that if you do a conference in Vegas, it’d be amazing. But there’s something about Miami and the Winter Music Conference – it’s just tradition. It’s like can you get New York pizza in Ohio? No, you can’t. It’s something about the vibe and the way the city is set up, and the culture of the people, the Latins and Europeans and Brazilians and Colombians and Puerto Ricans – it’s just dope, man. Every city has its own energy, its own tempo, and Miami just has that special groove.