(Interview by RB Contributor Melissa Gasia)
House music DJ and producer, Roberto “Robbie” Louis Rivera, is no stranger to the clubbing community. The Puerto Rican born and raised DJ was self-taught from the age of 13. His tuff, tribal house music and Latin-influenced beats bring a distinctive style that draws fans from all over the world. Rivera does not stop as a performer but is one to do it big. In 1998, Rivera launched his own record label, Juicy Music, along with his wife Monica Olabarrieta. Two years later, Rivera rose to fame with his well-known track “Bang” which hit No. 1 on the United Kingdom dance chart and garnered international attention when it was featured at the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic games. In 2005, he released his first studio album “Do You Want More?” off of Ultra records, which kicked off a string of diverse albums. Later on, Rivera got his own radio show, Juicy Show, which aired weekly on XM Satellite Radio in the U.S. and Canada. The Juicy Show gradually expanded internationally to reach radio stations in several different countries including Spain, France, Brazil, Norway and Argentina. “We live for the Music” released in 2009 became a huge hit with more than two million views on YouTube. Rivera is known for his Juicy-themed shows especially Juicy Beach which is held at Nikki Beach Club in Miami, the city where he and his wife now reside. He is currently busy touring on his Get Juicy tour and is officially releasing his latest track “Sexy Anytime” featuring Billy W on Dec. 29 through Juicy Music on Beatport. Check out “Sexy Anytime” and the full interview below.
Rabbits Black: You started to DJ at 13. That is such a young age. What inspired you to start producing music, and when did you know you wanted to continue this as a career?
Robbie: I was inspired to become a DJ when I went to my sister’s senior prom and saw a DJ mix two songs flawlessly. After attending various school events, I became a DJ at age 13 and eventually I was playing all over my hometown until I left to college in 1992. When I was 15, I began to sequence beats with a Roland drum machine. I also played live drums in my bedroom and edited music with a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Everything was self-taught.
Rabbits Black: Growing up in Puerto Rico, what’s the electronic music like? Is there a lot of opportunity for young aspiring DJs domestically or is the goal to make it elsewhere?
Robbie: In Puerto Rico, the music played on the radio was more European than in the U.S. There, I was introduced to different genres of pop music. I grew up listening to new wave bands such as Depeche Mode, New Order and The Cure. I, however, would also listen to a lot of reggae and Latin sounds. When I started pursuing DJing and music production as a full time career, “superstar” DJs were few and far between. In order to become a superstar DJ, you would have to produce music and have a club hit. There was no social media at the time to keep up. You basically needed a good label to pick up your track and the important DJs to play it. The formula today is the same, but you need to add the variables of social media followers and a radio hit. Unfortunately, the dance music industry has turned into a ” smoke and mirrors” type of industry. I left Puerto Rico in 1992 to study music production and business administration. All the while, I was producing music and establishing my record label. My advice to those kids aspiring to become a DJ: stay in school, graduate, attend college and educate yourself while honing your talent. This industry is very tough and the powers that be will have you for breakfast if you are not prepared.
Rabbits Black: Tell us a little bit about your new single “Sexy Anytime”? It’s pretty darn sexy.
Robbie: I wanted to create a big room tribal house monster with a sexy vibe. I used many of my old tribal house drums and percussion, so the result was exactly what I wanted. The vocals and horn sound make it a peak time anthem, so I think this will do well when it’s released.
Rabbits Black: What has been the favorite part of your Get Juicy tour so far? Is there anything special that separates this tour from any in your past?
Robbie: The tour has been great. Old fans and new fans have been loving the return of the Juicy sound. I am receiving a lot of positive feedback for the music selection in my sets. They are fresh and original and not the same tracks most DJs play! It’s all about house music.
Rabbits Black: It’s often difficult – and unwise – to classify electronic music by specific genres, and we definitely want to get yours right. How do you describe your sound?
Robbie: “Tuff, sexy, house music”
Rabbits Black: What have been some of your favorite festivals in the past few years? What made them so memorable?
Robbie: Electric Zoo in NY was awesome. Juicy Beach in Miami in 2013 was crazy. I played a street party in Montreal this summer… that was wild! Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas in 2011 was a lot of fun as well. Festivals are memorable because of the large crowds, but I like dark clubs like the new Space Ibiza in NYC.
Rabbits Black: Your Latin influences and rhythms give you such a unique sound that it seems great for collaborations. Is there a particular producer you have yet to work with that has caught your eye and you can see yourself collaborating with?
Robbie: I would like to work on a Latin track with Louie Vega. He is such a talented artist. I don’t do many collaborations but I would love to work on a tribal house track with Marc Anthony.
Rabbits Black: If there will be a movie made about you, what would you call it?
Robbie: I AM A DJ
Rabbits Black: This question is from a fan on Twitter: Do you and Monica aka #thedjwife watch any chick flick movies together? Do tell!
Robbie: Yes, we do but not so many. We like to watch a lot of comedies such as “Neighbors” or “This Is 40.” We also like investigative drama and suspense. In the past years, television has surpassed movies in quality and content. Monica and I record a lot of TV shows and watch them after dinner. We don’t have kids so we have a lot of spare time to relax at night and watch shows and movies.
Rabbits Black: What can fans expect from Robbie Rivera after “Sexy Anytime” and the Get Juicy dates?
Robbie: More music and more shows. My label and brand will take over 2015. 🙂
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