“Mario C. likes to keep it clean,” raps Mike D. on the Beastie Boys’ 1998 single “Intergalactic.” The Beasties have a delightful habit of name-checking their friend and go-to producer, Mario Caltado Jr., who’s mentioned on three of their studio albums.
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Born in Brazil and raised in L.A., Mario Caltado Jr., better known as Mario C., grew up listening to AM radio during music’s golden age in the ’60s and ’70s, which led him to start his own band: “It was a very exciting moment to be able to make our own music and impress our friends and family with the music that we created,” he says. The rush Mario experienced while playing live cemented his passion for performance, and he continued experimenting with different sounds and instruments. As Mario got older, he became interested in the technical side of music. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Welcome to The Conduit, a podcast featuring candid conversations with professional musicians who give listeners the unvarnished truth about being an artist in the music industry. In today’s episode, host and LA-based DJ, producer, and musician Dan Ubick (aka Constantine “Connie” Price) sits down with Mario Caldato to discuss the producer’s work with industry titans like Beck, Bjork, Cibo Matto, John Lee Hooker, Los Lobos, and Yoko Ono.
Mario is well known for his work with the Beasties, a collaboration that catapulted his career into the stratosphere. The producer formed a tight bond with the Beasties, becoming close friends while recording Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty. Mario is also known for his early work on Tone Loc and Young MC hit singles and albums. “[Recording] was an experimental learning process that we slowly figured out and improved,” says Mario, who owns and operates L.A.-based production facility MCJ Studios.
In today’s conversation, Dan and Mario talk about the producer’s incredible collection of tapes, how he set up a recording studio with very little capital, and the power of hip-hop to bring people and music genres together. He also shares his influences in engineering, what it’s like working with Money Mark (“he is still the same witty wise-guy”), and how he designed a sound studio for DJ Matt Dike of Delicious Vinyl. “It was a really beautiful beginning […] at the studio, which eventually became Delicious Vinyl,” he says. Mario also discusses his current roster of creative projects, so pop on your headphones to hear the details from a true music legend.