A famed DJ and producer of electronic music, Miami native Robbie Rivera has been a stalwart in the years leading to and preceding the popularization of dance music. His relentless touring and recording schedule have made him a familiar face in the club circuit and has cemented the continued viability of Rivera’s personal imprint, Juicy Music. Rivera has used the Juicy brand to coordinate a series of successful parties as well as compilations, most notably, the Juicy Ibiza series. In addition to these accomplishments, Rivera has also expanded his reach to the airwaves, with his weekly “Juicy Music Show” broadcast on Sirius and XM Satellite radio. In anticipation of his upcoming gig at Miami Beach megaclub, Mansion, we sat down and spoke with Robbie about his many endeavors, including his new track entitled ‘Volantis,’ which features contributions from Italian DJ/producer David Jones.
Over the years you’ve spent toiling away, recording and producing prolifically, you’ve managed to branch out and command a schedule that keeps you traveling often and devoting your energy to more ambitious endeavors, including your Juicy imprint, as well as the signature Juicy events (Juicy Beach, Juicy New York). Casual fans tend to forget your ties to South Florida. How much of a role did the culture of Miami play a role in your development as an artist and how much has the musical landscape there changed?
Robbie Rivera: I moved to Fort Laudedale / Miami back in 1992. I was studying Music Production at The Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale and then Business Administration at NSU. Between studying, I would go out to all the nightclubs in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale to meet the DJs and of course party. The music played in the clubs here were different to what I was listening in Puerto RIco. It was more underground, deep, tribal. I would listen to djs like Murk, WIllie Morales, David Padilla, George Acosta. I remember the first time I heard Josh Wink “higher state of consciousness” when my friend Willie Morales played it at Rebar(1992). I also remember catching George Acosta at the Spot. The first DJ in Miami to play my track was David Waxman at Liquid. David is now the head of A&R at Ultra Records. Miami helped me define my underground tribal sound. Miami is one of the most important cities for a DJ to perform and also home to Winter Music Conference. I love living here.
Speaking of your Juicy events, you recently made the decision to take the party outside of Miami debuting Juicy New York. What was the impetus for taking the show on the road and do you hope to continue to work more in that direction in the future?
Robbie Rivera: We wanted to see if the Juicy branded party would work in the biggest city in the world. We are really happy with the success of the event and the amount of positive press we got. We will do it again in 2013! We also plan to do it in other cities in the near future, so be ready!
Was it always a goal of yours to make Juicy an endeavor that would encompass several mediums? You’ve got the events, your recordings and artists, as well as “The Juicy Show.”
RR: Yes I want it all! I won’t be happy till we do events for 20k plus people. Also sign more artists, specially the new young kids that keep coming up with new innovative sounds and styles.
You’ve always brought your A-game to Miami for Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week over the years. What do you have in store for this year’s festivities that fans can look forward to?
RR: I am already planning the lineup for next year’s Juicy Beach. It takes me sometime to figure who I want to book. I like booking new artists but also legendary artists like Bob Sinclar. I will also be doing a Saturday event that week but don’t know where yet.
Your latest release, “Volantis”, features some collaborative work by David Jones and sees you cranking up the synths to some truly epic proportions. Tell us a little about David and your work with him, and provide us with a little background about the track.
RR: David is from Italy and he is super talented. He does great music and we did a few tunes together that have worked well. I did the volantis melody and kept if for about 8 months cause I could not get the right vibe. I asked David to work on it and he delivered. We then added a dirty electro baseline and that’s it. Doing well so far! Top 10 at Beatport electro house chart.
As a producer, when you find yourself in the studio, working on new tracks, what sort of mindset do you try to put yourself in mentally? Do you work entirely from scratch, or oftentimes will you hear something that gets you going in a certain direction and serve as a template for what you’re trying to make?
RR: When I get in the studio I start from scratch but look at template of another tune I did that had a specific sound or mix down. This helps me find my direction for the new track. From that point I decide if I want to do a tribal house tune, a vocal proggy thing or an electro banger. Whatever mood I am that day. My music will always have big breakdowns and energy .
More and more on many of the commercial radio stations, not only in Miami, but elsewhere, we’re beginning to hear some major releases from some well-known artists that prominently feature house productions, which has brought the movement back from the underground. Do you think that now that there’s this renewed focus on electronic music that there will be some kind of paradigm shift in terms of the role of the DJ. Will all of the attention stifle innovation in dance music, or will it be a push in the right direction for finally ensuring its commercial longevity?
RR: I think dance music is now integrated with pop music so yes it will stay around for a long time in the commercial scene. Some tracks will be good some will suck but it is great that EDM is on radio more than ever. It’s unreal how popular djs are now in the USA.
Your performances are always rife with energy and passion. In what setting do you feel most comfortable performing in as far as having the freedom to implement that element of improvisation that gives the touch of artistry to your sets? Is it more about the crowd for you than the venue, or a combination of the two?
RR: For me it is more about the crowd. I have played crappy venues with bad sound systems but if the crowd is wild it does not matter where you are playing. Festivals agree amazing to play because the feeling you get playing to so many people is great.
Of all the venues, clubs and festivals you’ve played, which has been your favorite and why?
RR: I loved playing Juicy New York this year. It was the best vibe and feedback from fans this year so far.. Also XS in Las Vegas is great, Pacha NY, Amnesia Ibiza rocks, and of course Mansion! Too many!