Mixjunkies Exclusive Interview with Robbie Rivera – 4-27-2012
In our continuing efforts to bring you unique EDM content not found anywhere else, we here at Mixjunkies bring you an exclusive interview with Robbie Rivera. We were able to catch up with this house legend before his April 27th show at the famed Pacha NYC, one of the last stops on his Dance Or Die North American bus tour and he was kind enough to sit down and have a chat with us.
Q: You’ve got your new album, Dance or Die: The Album coming out on May 7 and you’ve been doing a North American bus tour to help promote the release. How’s the tour been?
Robbie Rivera: It’s been great. I left my home and got on a bus for thirty days and have been touring around North America. Luckily we get to sleep in hotels but still, sleeping in 28 different hotels is rough.
Q: You said 28 different hotels? Wow. What was your favorite hotel on this trip?
RR: My favorite was probably the W in San Diego.
Q: What can we expect with the new album?
RR: There’s going to be two albums, Dance or Die Part 2 and then we’re also doing a Deluxe Edition. The first will be more commercial with more vocals and the second is more underground. I like producing both styles and sometimes when I’m in the studio, I don’t know if I should add vocals or leave it instrumental. Some fans like it completely instrumental, some like a lot of vocals and if you want your track on radio, you need vocals on it.
So I figured, “why not do both and make two albums?”
Q: That’s great! We’re really excited for those to come out. Let’s rewind a little bit; how did you get into the EDM scene?
RR: Wow, back in the day when I was 13 or 14, my neighbor (who I went to school with) had a lot of musical instruments like drum machines and a drum set and keyboards so I would go over there and play with them.
I was already buying records and DJing when I was 13, so I started using his drum machine and starting making beats and loops and sequences and I just loved it.
Throughout high school and college – at The Art Institute – I studied music production and business. Throughout those six years I had a little studio in my apartment and started making music and then started shopping my music to labels.
Q: Do you find having that formal education to be advantageous?
RR: Yea it definitely helps.
Q: You have a unique sound; when we hear a track that you’ve done we know it’s you just by listening. Who are some of your influences?
RR: I do a lot of breakdowns and a lot of effects, so I definitely get a lot of influence from guys like Armand Van Helden and Da Beatz. Danny Tenaglia’s early stuff and hypnotic and tribal stuff influence me a lot, too and guys like Eric Morillo and DJ Sneak; a lot of people from NY, really.
Q: Who are you listening to now?
RR:I listen to a lot of other kinds of music like Coldplay, Nick and the Famous and Aeroplane, those types of guys.
Should be The Naked and the Famous
Q: Every year you throw the Juicy Beach party at Nikki Beach during WMC and every year it gets bigger and better. What attracts you the most to WMC and how do plan on topping this year’s blowout?
RR: That Juicy Beach party this year was huge! It was probably one of the best ones ever; it was sold out, the lineup was great and everything was brand new. It was crazy. I live in Miami so it’s great that WMC is right there. Unlike other DJs, I don’t go out to all of the parties. A lot of DJs go out every night or close to it, but I did all that, so now I just go out to my parties and that’s it.
Q: One look at your discography of full-length albums, EPs, singles, remixes and side projects and you can tell not only are you incredibly talented, but we think maybe you’re part robot. How do you find the time to make all of this great music, do your Juicy Beach radio show, tour and have some time to yourself? How do you balance work, play and your home life?
RR: [laughs] That’s a really good question; I don’t know, I mean I just do it, I guess. I try to work from 9:00am – 6:00pm or 7:00pm every day and I work fast, so that definitely helps. With this bus tour, I haven’t had time to make music and it’s been getting to me; it’s like my drug. Today I was trying to make a track on the bus and it was moving back and forth and it was just so annoying because all I wanted to do was make music. I have all this music I want to produce, so next week I’m going to do four or five tracks.
Q: Any funny stories from the tour?
RR: Actually, we were at this truck stop in the middle of Colorado and this older, scary-looking cowboy dude comes up to me and says, “My kids want to take a picture with you.” So I say, “Ok, cool.” Then he asks me to come with him to his car.
I’m looking at my bus driver and my wife and we’re all thinking, “No, no, no,” so I tell him to come over by the bus.
He brings over his kids and they’re about four or five years old, so now we’re all a bit confused and the guy is just standing there looking at me like, “Now what?” So I ask, “Do you want to take the picture?” and he says, “Yea, yea” and pulls out this old, crappy flip phone and takes a picture. Then he just stands there and doesn’t say a word, so I look down and I ask the kids if they wanted the picture and they said, “No.” We had no clue what that was about but we were in front of a Wendy’s, so we just went inside. It was just so weird.
Q: For someone who has been in this industry for over 15 years, what do you think of the current state of the EDM industry?
RR: In the States, right now, it’s really good for dance music. Songs get a lot of radio play and pop artists are really into dance music but some of them are getting a little bit cheesy. Major labels and radio need to play different people; they play the same three artists and that’s not good either.
I find some of the major dance producers are copying each other; this guy sounds like this guy, who sounds like this guy, you know? I don’t get it. It’s like everyone’s gotten lazy. It’s so easy now for people to make music, so everybody is making music. Everybody copies each other. That part of the industry I don’t like. People should be original.
Q: Do you have a favorite track right now?
RR: Do you know that track Alley Cat? I’ve been closing all of my sets with that.
Q: Are you going to close your set tonight with that?
RR: Probably. I find that track very unique and groovy and I love including it in my sets; it’s a really good track.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the remainder of 2012?
RR: I’ll continue touring in North and South America and I’ve got a few shows coming in Europe. I’m also doing the Juicy Ibiza parties at Space, which start in August and we’re going to be doing Juicy Beach in two other cities in the US that I haven’t announced yet, but you’ll probably find out soon.
Q: We don’t suppose we could convince you to leak that info a little early…?
RR: I can’t. I’m dying to, believe me. You’ll be happy though.
Q: What’s something fans might not know about you?
RR: I love watching The Big Bang Theory.
You turn on TBS and it’s there every day. I watch that show a lot. Also, people might think I go out partying a lot, but I really don’t; I like being home with my wife.
Q: Do you have a favorite non-EDM artist?
RR: I like Coldplay a lot. They’re amazing live and they put on a great show.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
RR: I’ve got to fly, either that or teleporting.
Q: Finally, what can we expect from you tonight; a lot of new stuff; tracks from the upcoming album?
RR: I’ve prepared a really cool set with a lot of new stuff. I have a new track that I got today from Laidback Luke that’s really good. I’m also going to mix in tracks from the new album and we’ll see where it goes from there.
In truth I only plan the first five or six tracks and then I just see where the flow takes me.
Q: Then probably end with Alley Cat?
RR: [laughs] Yea, probably.
We want to thank Robbie Rivera for taking the time to sit and chat with us at Mixjunkies before his show. We look forward to checking out his new album(s), Dance or Die: The Album and we can’t wait to hear where Juicy Beach is going next! Maybe NY? We hope so!