KXSC Interview - Congorock
From underground phenomenon to emerging star of the world's biggest dance floors: the hottest fresh face of international dance music hails from Italy: Congorock. In only two years, with the single Babylon, the remix of Somebody to Love (Boy George/Mark Ronson), and One (Swedish House Mafia), Rocco Rampino has earned the respect of the most famous names in the game. KXSC’s own DJ Ahmar had a chance to chat with Rocco on the first leg of his 2012 Summer Tour through North American.
How did you begin as a musician? Was this from an early age?
I started playing piano when I was 6. I grew up in a music environment because my dad was a music enthusiast who had all these keyboards and it was very natural for me to start playing piano. Then I followed some piano lessons and eventually started playing guitar in bands learning by myself. I wanted to play loud music because piano wasn’t loud enough for me. After bands, I decided to go on a solo project and try something by myself.
I understand punk music was one of your favorite genres. How did you have access to the music you were getting?
When I started listening to punk rock, there were no record stores in my village in Italy where you could get punk rock, so I bought many records from mail-order or through underground distributors. Back in that day, the internet wasn’t popular yet so I was placing my orders by phone or by mail.
I understand that your inspiration to begin producing music dance music came after first listening to the album “Rooty” by the Basement Jaxx
I think Basement Jaxx “Rooty” is the greatest dance album of all time. You know I love other artists like Daft Punk too, but looking at the whole album Rooty sounds like one great single after another. Also, I like the artwork and that album came out at the right time for me and reminds me of good memories.
What would you say was the turning point as a producer?
The Basement Jaxx album came out in 2001, but I also credit meeting Bob Rifo of the Bloody Beetroots many years later who showed me how to begin making dance music. Around 2007, a few months after I had met Bob who was teaching me how to produce dance music. I decided to make a song on my own and post it on a few music blogs like Discobelle. I got a message 2 days later from A-Trak who heard my song on Discobelle, wanting to sign me to Fool’s Gold Records.
You really seemed to reach a wide audience with your 2010 release “Babylon.” Was there a story behind making that song?
That track came out in a moment where I really was not inspired. For some reason at the time, it was the most experimental thing I had ever done. The day I wrote the song (a year before the actual release), the track was really experimental to me. I was trying to make tribal music sound aggressive. Maybe now it doesn’t seem so experimental because that sound became kind of popular, but at the time it sounded weird.
Not long ago you scored the Liu Kang theme for the recent Mortal Kombat game. What would you say are your favorite games to play?
Mass Effect is my favorite, but I also like The Elder Scrolls Skyrim and LA Noire
Any artists you’d like to collaborate with?
I’d really like to collaborate with Robyn. I’d also like to collaborate with Noah Lennox AKA Panda Bear from Animal Collective but I read somewhere he was working with Daft Punk so he’s probably taken :)
Would you ever be interested in collaborating with D.I.M. of Boys Noize records? It feels as if your sounds might work well together.
Yes, I really like the idea of working together with D.I.M., I think it would be interesting
Any new or upcoming artists you want to support?
I really believe NT89 is gonna be a DJ everybody is talking about. He’s young, has a great vision about his music and I think he’s gonna make great work in the next years.
With your latest release “Ivory” on Ultra Records, what can you tell us about the direction of your sound?
That’s another track I made without caring about any standard of club music. With Ivory, I did a track exactly the way I wanted and eventually it sounded very tribal, very percussive with a strong atmosphere and I really love the synth section. That seems to be my way, to make my songs sound a little bit exotic, but very loud and aggressive.
You’re starting on your North America tour this week with one of your first shows this Friday at the legendary Avalon in Hollywood for Control Fridays.
Yes, this is the first time I’ve done so many cities like this. This tour is exciting because I’m playing in so many cities I’ve never played before like Orlando, Mexico City and Victoria, BC.
Any cities you would love to play?
I hope to one day play in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I heard the shows there are real crazy. Hopefully I’ll get to play there, or maybe I’ll just make it there as a tourist.
What new projects can your fans expect coming out soon?
I’m doing a remix with Zedd, working on collaboration and finishing my album which should be coming out next fall.
We look forward to it, thank you!
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Congorock North American US Tour - Summer 2012
Thu June 7th – Yost Theater – Santa Ana, CA
Fri June 8th – Avalon – Hollywood, CA
Sat June 9th – Auditorio Las Americas – Mexico City
Sun June 10th - Upstairs Cabaret - Victoria, BC
Thu June 14th – Lit Ultra Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Fri June 15th – Vain Nightclub – Orlando, FL
Sat June 16th – SET – Miami, FL
Sun June 17th – Wavehouse – San Diego, CA
Thu June 21st – Beta – Denver, CO
Fri June 22nd – Kingdom – Austin, TX
Sat June 23rd – The Great Saltair – Magna, UT
Sun June 24th - Ocean Club - Quincy, MA
“The View From Nowhere” is a weekly show hosted by DJ Ahmar airing on KXSC Radio in Los Angeles