Rocco Rampino, better known as his house music producing, crowd dominating, DJ alter ego Congorock is a name that no one could avoid in 2010. Swedish House Mafia blew up on the scene last year and we all watched it happen, and in every set they played ‘One.’ But every single time they dropped perhaps the most popular song of the huse music decade, they mixed it into Rocco’s altered, heavier, and drum kit filled version, the ‘Congorock Remix’ of ‘One.’ If this isn’t a testament to Congorock’s ability to create dance floor hits, then lets bring up Babylon. Another Mafia supported track, but this one saw all sorts of support, Fools Gold Records certainly hit the Jackpot singing Rocco with this as his first single because saying the track blew up is an understatement of all sorts. Isobe and I got to see Congorock open up for Italian brother Benny Benassi at Pacha NYC in October of 2010, and we will admit the aforementioned two tracks, as well as his new (at the time) remix of Mark Ronson’s ‘Somebody To Love Me’ were about all we knew. But with that set we realized this was a DJ to watch if there ever was one. Effortless live bootlegging, incredible effect driven buildups, and a selection of unidentifiable (ID) tracks that we simply hoped one day we would come to learn filled the night, and needless to say just over one year later I was excited to see what Rocco had in store.
It is pretty evident that over the past year Congorock took the popularity that he earned with his first year of big hits, and honed his craft even harder. Once again we were met with many unidentifiable bangers, but this time it made more sense since in my interview with Rocco he said that he has a new album coming out soon and he wanted to test out a lot of new material, so even with no proof, take my word for it, you want this album. In one show Rocco proved to me he is not about to sit back and let his popularity ride out, the man is clearly hard at work on creating tracks even bigger than his known remixes and Babylon. One new track we did recognize was the first single off his new untitled album which was actually released today called ‘Ivory.’ As you will see in the interview, Congorock wanted to make a track bigger than Babylon, and I think he outdid himself on this one, replicating the sounds of elephants, check it out below and BUY IT ON BEATPORT TODAY! The single includes a Bloody Beetroots remix, and its clear the Italian brothers love working together since Congorock just put out a remix of their new single ‘The Church Of Noise’ which I featured on the Drop last week.
Besides promoting his own new material, Congorock promoted his own DJ skills, seriously this guy is a DJ, flawlessly utilizing every inch of his 2xCDJ setup it is so refreshing to hear a DJ drop tracks like ‘Awooga’ and ‘Space Junk’ but make them sound good, not simply rely on their popularity to get the crowd going. If you have the chance to see Rocco do his thing live, do it, and if you have some time to check out his music, do it, and if you don’t already have his Babylon single and One remixes, you live under a rock.
I was very lucky to talk to Rocco before the show and along with my good friend Andrew of AJR Photography and the people at Sack magazine, we have a dope interview and a serious album of photos of the event to share for all those who couldn’t make it. (Speaking of serious, we also love his track Sirius, something we featured a while ago). Enjoy, and a P.S. thank you to Nick Catchdubs of Fools Gold Records for keeping me company backstage as well as Alex English of Girls & Boys NYC for helping make it all happen!
To make this interview easy to read, I am the R which stands for my twittername @RoeCuervo, not the C since Cuervo and Congorock… both start with C.
RoeCuervo (Sack Magazine and The Drop Media): First off I just want to say thank you for meeting up with The Drop Media and Sack Magazine Big Big Fans, before we get started, we’d just like to hear a little bit about where you’re from, how you got started DJing and your career history?
Congorock: I’m Congorock, I’m from Italy and this is my fourth time playing at Webster Hall. The first time was 4 years ago and it was my first big US gig. All 4 years I’ve been doing production for Fools Gold as well as Ultra Records. I’ve been touring the US and Europe so many times the last three or four years and I’m excited to be here.
R: Its great to have you back in New York, I got to see you last year opening up for Benny Benassi, an Italian brother of yours, over at Pacha. That set was crazy, that was about a year ago and I’m excited to see what you’ve changed in your set. I know you’ve had a lot of great productions over the past year between Sirius and this new song with the Bloody Beetroots, you’ve got Ivory coming up, what other projects can we look forward to from Congorock?
C: I’m working on a lot of new stuff I have an album coming out in 2012 tonight I’m gonna try some of my new tracks of course ill play my last single Sirius as well as my next single Ivory and so many other tracks I want to try I want to experiment a lot of things tonight.
R: Coming to NYC is a good time to try new stuff test it in front of a Big crowd.
C: Yea this is Webster Hall, New York is such an exciting place, so it’s an important test for me.
R: Of course, you representing Fools Gold, I’m a huge Fools Gold Record fan, we all love Fools Gold, speaking of Fools Gold, we can hear your track in the background right now “Babylon” is obviously one of the major success songs of last year, I couldn’t see a show without hearing “Babylon” you had Swedish House Mafia playing “Bablyon” in every single set. How does it feel when you release a track and it is that well received?
C: When I write a track I always hope that everyone is going to like it and other DJs are going to play it, like this DJ is doing, even if I’m not playing. It means a lot and I hope my next tracks are as good as this one.
R: Of all the remixes of “One” the most popular track of the past 5 years, SHM decided to make your remix the one they played in every set, that’s so cool, personally I think your version might even be better than the original, your remix really took it to that next level.
C: Thank you that’s what I tried to do with “One” it was already very good, you know I tried to add my own vibe, that Congorock Vibe.
R: You have a very distinct, sound, you’re King of the snare drum, you love your drum Kits and I know you also get some influences from Video Games you know *** that Fools Gold EP has so many video game sounds, so what are your video game influences and where does that come from?
C: I grew up playing video games and listen to a lot of video game music and I probably listened to video game music more than actual music when I was in HS because I was spending so much time in front of the TV screen playing video games. So video game music was the biggest influence when I first started making music and as Congorock I try to keep this influence in everything I do when I search for new sounds I try to bring that world, the video game into something else
R: That’s how electronic noise, I know you worked on the Mortal Kombat project along with some big names: Skrillex had a single on that, yours was a great addition to that soundtrack that must have been a dream come true project, you were the sound of the game
C: As a video game fan it was great to be apart of that project and I’ve never been so inspired as when I wrote that song because I felt like I could do anything I wanted so it was exciting for me to be apart of that.
R: Are you a big Mortal Kombat player? (Yes) So you took what you’d want to hear when you were playing, so that’s cool a fan writing music for the fans. That’s a cool concept.
C: I feel like I didn’t have to write 100% dance tracks, I just got to write whatever I had in mind.
R: With a lot of your tracks and a lot of the drops in your tracks, I’m assuming the answer to this question will bring us right back to Babylon, but I ask everyone our blog is called The Drop Media and Sack Magazine is interested as well, we’re called The Drop for a reason we love the biggest drop so we ask everyone what do you think are your BIGGEST drops? So I’m assuming you’re going to say “Babylon,” maybe you have a different opinion, which of your songs hits the hardest on that drop.
C: I think my next single “Ivory” has the biggest drop
R: You think Ivory is going to be the next “Babylon?”
C: I hope so
R: Of course, coming from you I’d expect nothing less
C: This new track, I’ve brought a new sound and it was inspired by elephants so I used a sound kit that reminded me of elephants so there’s its still very loud and has a big kick kind of unheard of before and very unique, that’s something very important nowadays to be unique and original because anybody can make a hit record with sound and technology from computers. You make a difference when you make something unheard before.
R: You speak of being original but I know you probably take a great influence from the people you’ve toured with as well as had an opportunity to work with, taking it back to Fools Gold, you toured in Asia with A-Trak and I’ve spoken to other DJs who have spoken about him as a kind of father figure as someone who can share a lot of helpful insights. Do you and him have a brotherly connection in your music and talk about your music and productions together, as well as other DJs that you really appreciate and are influenced by?
C: I owe a lot to A-Trak because he was the one who found me on Myspace 3 years ago when I signed to Fools Gold and he believed so much in my music before anyone else, I didn’t have any releases out so he was definitely the first person to help me come here and still when I write music he’s one of the first person I send a track to for feedback. He has such a good ear and good taste, he’s a taste maker so I definitely care about his opinion.
R: Of course, and this Italian family of DJs, I saw you open for Benny Benassi I know you’ve done collaborations with and worked with Bob Rifo of the Bloody Beetroots, do you all help each other, the Italian family? Do you influence each other’s work?
C: We all started from the same scene, we kind of built the scene together in Italy because there were other scenes before us, so when the scene exploded, I was like I want to be apart of that, Crookers, Bloody Beetroots. Benny was kind of the father of everything and he has exposure all over the world, but for most of us we always had great feedback abroad and then afterwards in Italy. Benny when he had his worldwide success it was a worldwide thing and then it became famous in Italy.
R: The Bloody Beetroots and the Crookers are huge names in America; I saw both of them at E-Zoo this past summer, some crazy sets. It’s cool that you all work together and is fond of each other.
C: We’ve collaborated on several things; I’ve done a track with the Crookers. Bob Rifo told me to do real production and produce tracks, we came from the same scene and now we’re travelling all over the world so when we meet it’s a big deal, we always try to hangout because we’re always in different places. Crookers right now are in Australia and Bloody Beetroots are in Europe.
R: Everyone now has this global success but coming back to you, you’ve played at Webster Hall and I saw you at Pacha and about a month ago you played at Lavo and that’s clearly a ritzier scene. Do you like that scene just as much do you prefer the nicer clubs?
C: I think every club is a challenge, its fun to try and experience different situations. I don’t have a favorite kind of situation sometimes I like to play Vegas and sometimes I like to play here at Webster Hall and I’m excited to play in Italy to play at my favorite bar where I first started DJing, four years ago.
R: That’s cool that you go back to your old roots, I know when I saw you at Pacha I heard some very technical buildups and some very cool EFX being added before drops, so I ask what is your standard setup, do you use 2 channels, 4 CDJs, how do you do it?
C: I play with CDJs and I do some work before sets doing edits and cutting tracks to make sure they work the way I want it
R: As for your production setup is there a preferred program you use?
C: I use Logic, I’m really quick with that, but every software is good. I would say to anybody just starting to produce, any software is really good and the best software is the one you feel most comfortable using. Now I’m really quick and comfortable with Logic so I go for it.
R: Speaking of younger DJs, I see DJs that already have an established name really keeping an eye out for some of these younger artists since EDM is really becoming a movement. Is there a younger DJ that you’ve been keeping up with or looking at?
C: Yes there’s a producer from Italy called NT89, he plays techno, he’s a great producer and he just signed to Fools Gold. I’ve been following him since he was 17, now hes 21 and I’m a big supporter of this guy I really believe in him. We haven’t worked on anything together so far, but I look forward to collaborating.
R: We’re excited to hear that, that’s about all we’ve got but on behalf of The Drop Media and Sack Magazine we really cant thank you enough for taking the time to talk to us.