Interview by: Juliet Shaw
This week’s guest mix from Roberto Rodriguez will lull you into a false sense of mellow security, before picking you up with some classic disco and then shaking you around with full-on techno. Despite its laid back opening, it’s not one for the faint hearted and if it doesn’t get you in the mood for the weekend you might as well just go to bed now and stay there until Monday.
With his first track recorded at the tender age of 13 and his first release ten years later in 1997, Roberto has 35 original recordings under his belt. His remixes and edits are in constant demand, with 25 edits in the last year alone for the likes of Yoko Ono and Crazy P.
This eclectic masterpiece is typical of Finnish Roberto’s style, and his childhood soundtrack spanning 70s boogie and flamenco classics from his Spanish father and Finnish mother set the tone for his open-minded policy on music – anything goes, as long as it’s good. His mixes are as likely to feature Salsoul classics as they are old school acid, but the one thing they all have in common is quality – this guy oozes it.
Your guest mix is very eclectic. It moves seamlessly from mellow to cosmic to classic disco to squelchy techno. It’s even got some Kylie in there. Do you ever play straight-up 70s New York disco?
Yes that’s kind of like how I see music. I´ve never been that narrow minded regarding genres, especially when we are talking about dance music. I love to go all over the place, as long as the music works; it’s all about reading the crowd. So 70´s New York disco is there for sure, comfortably sitting next to a modern house or disco tune.
A lot of disco DJs are very purist – do you restrict yourself in the genres you’ll play?
I spent a big part of my youth and early adulthood in the late 80s and early 90s going to parties where you could have all the different genres co-existing under the same roof, sometimes even sharing the same stage. That was the time when all these new genres started popping up and by that time many of those genres didn´t even have names yet, it was all just this cool house or techno music. I think that has somehow stuck with me all these years. So in a sense one could say I’m an anti purist. The only thing I’m really purist about is quality. Quality tracks that make people dance and have a great time.
If you could play any genre of music to a full room all night, knowing the crowd loved that genre, what would it be?
As it’s been a quite long time since I played an old-school acid house all-nighter, I guess that would be it .
Despite its eclectic nature, your mixing is technically perfect. What do you use to record mixes?
I played this mix with a Traktor Pro 2 + controller setup with a few tracks from vinyl. Basically it’s just two “decks” and a mixer.
What equipment do you prefer to use when you play live?
When I play as with the Acid Kings guys, we prefer 2 x 303´s, 1 x 101 and 707,808 or 909. But for my solo stuff it’s all Ableton Live with a controller. For DJing I mostly use Traktor Pro 2 + EKS Otus combo.
You live in Finland, what’s the disco scene like over there?
It’s a small but very nice scene here. The quality among producers, DJs and promoters is very high.
Your mother is Finnish and your father Spanish, what sort of soundtrack did that produce at home while you were growing up?
Surely I did listen to quite a lot of flamenco as a kid! But at the same time my father was working in a famous night club here in Helsinki and he knew all the DJs, so he always brought some c-tapes home, that these DJs gave him. So I guess it helped me a bit to hear some underground disco and boogie as a kid during the late 70s and early 80s.
Your first original recording was back in 1997 – what prompted you to move from playing records to making them?
I actually started making music ten years earlier way back in 1987 in the middle of the acid house explosion. And that was a few years before I started playing records.
How old were you back then, you must have been pretty young?
Well in 1987 I was very young, only 13, but already then I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It took 10 years to gather the experience and the knowhow to finally release the first real physical release. Now 24 years later I´m pretty happy that it took so long for the first release to happen.
2009 was your most productive year recording-wise, what other things have you been concentrating on since then?
2010 was a bit slower on the release side due to the funny fact that I made around 25 remixes that year. So that didn´t leave much time to produce new originals. I also spent a good half of 2010 planning my label Serenades which is now doing quite well and its already in its 3rd release in 2011.
The same trend has continued for me this year. Haven´t had too many releases. A few remixes and just that one EP on Fina. Quality over quantity! That doesn´t mean I haven´t been working. It’s just that most of the music I’ve made this year is going to my forthcoming album which is due to be released early 2012
You’ve recently remixed a Yoko Ono track – did you find her or did she find you?
Yeah that was back in 2009 when Yoko´s people were planning a remix compilation of some of her older stuff. Her manager liked my music and wanted me to participate in it. The compilation turned out to be a quite successful one, it even reached the top spot on Billboard Dance chart.
Your tour dates read like the Eurovision Song Contest scoreboard. Which crowds do you find most responsive?
The best crowds are always in the parties where there are open minded music loving people. There are many great places in the world where you can experience this, but I think during the last years the best parties I´ve had were all in St. Petersburg.
Do you find different countries have a preference for different styles?
Sure thing. Germany = Techno, UK = Bass, OZ = Slow House, Russia = Disco and so on. Of course these are rough generalisations!
In which country do you feel most at home musically, in terms of the crowds whose tastes most closely resemble your own?
That’s a tough one. I think it’s mainly more about the individual parties and clubs rather than specific countries. But if I had to pick some countries, I´d say Russia and Greece
Do you have any plans to come back to the UK soon?
There are many open plans to come to UK at some point. Hopefully I will get there soon!
We hope so too!
01. Move D – Computer Flop [Workshop] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
02. Ron Basejam – Get Closer [Redux] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
03. Joseph Terruel – Slave To The Rhythm [Bust A Dub] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
04. Duff Disco – Slow [Duff Disco]
05. Good Guy Mikesh & Filburt – Gold Snake [The Exquisite Pain] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
06. Andy Hart – Tell Her You Know [Melbourne Deepcast] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
07. Marcus Marr – Pleasure Moon feat. Helena Hertfordshire [New Finger
08. James Johnston - Give Me A Shock [Dikso] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
09. Billy Bogus – Terror Island [Nang] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
10. Patrick Alavi – Ace [Patrickalavicom] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
11. La Royale – Riders On The Storm [Electrique] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)
12. Roberto Rodriguez – Venus [Eskimo] Buy at Juno Download (Mp3/WAV)