DeeJay Mario B
Music is the ultimate globetrotter. Even if it originates in one specific place, it evolves and changes, learning from different cultures and languages until it finds a form that is new yet relatable. In the digital age, where online music is endlessly broken down and mashed up into new, eccentric forms, DeeJay Mario B works to find the newest combination that speaks to everyone listening.
A Salvadoran raised on Spanish rock, European house, American hip-hop and everything in between, Mario Figueroa came to Reno when he was 19. In El Salvador, he initially planned to attend medical school, but his passion for music—sparked by his brother—put him on a different path.
“I was into music since I was 12,” Figueroa said. His brother brought over a couple of speakers, a mixer and some CD players. That was in the ’90s.
“Seeing a CD player for us was a big deal,” he said. “It was, like, the beginning of CDs. We were listening to tapes.”
He learned the basics of mixing and wiring a sound system by volunteering at his school’s dances. Shortly after he moved to the U.S., he found himself in a familiar setting when he was asked to help with the music at a friend’s party.
“I was like, ’This is cool. This is what I wanted to do back in my country,’” said Figueroa. “I brought all my CDs from my country, and I started getting some new music—buying CDs, trying to download some new tracks and everything.”
In the time he spent DJing for his friends, Figueroa acquired the beginnings of his own sound system—including his first computer, turntables and a vinyl collection from his brother. He also invested in a projector for adding a visual component to his sets.
Before long, his knowledge of dance music and commitment to putting on a good show landed him a guest spot on “Brazilian night” at a local club and, in 2006, his first residency at the now-closed CocoBoom.
“I think that was one of the real Latino nightclubs,” said Figueroa. “They were playing salsa, merengue, Latin beats‚ a little bit of everything.”
“A little bit of everything” remains an accurate description of DeeJay Mario B’s style. He spent the last few years as a resident DJ at Latin nightclub Mambo’s, experimenting with whatever musical style it took to reach his end goal: keep people dancing.
“When I started DJing here, I started playing reggaeton, merengue and hip-hop, and that was heaven for me,” said Figueroa. “Those rhythms were really good to me. You can make people dance really easy. I noticed how Latinos like hip-hop and R&B. If you mix it with something different, like Latin flavor, or anything that can catch your attention, they like it.”
Mambo’s has closed its doors indefinitely. DeeJay Mario B will begin his new residency at Club Millennium in Sparks July 2. Listeners can expect to hear more of his genre-defying sets, and perhaps even a few originals as well.
“[I’m] trying to do my own music,” he said. “I play a lot of music from my record pools, a lot of tracks that are remade by other DJs. Maybe spend a little more time in the studio and see what I can become with making my own beats.”