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DJ Interviews

Rocco Universal Interview

With a passion for Disco, Italo, Chicago house and Detroit techno Patrizio Cavaliere aka Rocco Universal has been collecting music for the last 2 decades and it’s these musical influences that have formed his raw, tripped out disco/house production sounds. ‘Tiny Islands’, his debut release for Leng, is a superb melting pot of amazingly rich melodies over a thick baseline and is a clear example of Rocco’s passion for the dancefloor. So a big thanks to Rocco for agreeing to do this interview, let’s get right to it…

What made you want to become a DJ?

Just a deep love of music.

What genre(s) of music do you play and how long have you been collecting this music?

I generally play a mixture of underground disco, nu-disco, house, Detroit techno and balearic music. My collection is very varied and I wouldn’t say I’m confined to a specific genre, it constantly evolves. I just collect all the music that moves me and try to choose the right records at the right time for the crowd I’m playing to.

Do you prefer using vinyl turntables, midi controllers or CDJ turntables when you do a gig?

I prefer vinyl if it’s a party gig and when I’m playing my absolute favourite music. I’m very happy to use cdjs though as often it’s more practical, for example if it’s a very long set, a bar gig, or a beach party etc.

Can you let us know the make and models of your current DJ set up? Any reason why you chose this setup?

I just have a pair of technics 1210s with a Vestax scratch mixer. Just because I started djing with vinyl and have had my decks for many years. I still enjoy mixing records at home, I’m not particularly attached to cdjs and I detest digital controllers so feel no need to invest in either.

Do you prefer a 2 channel or 4 channel mixer?

If I’m using vinyl and cdj then 4 channel, otherwise 2 is fine.

Why do a lot of DJs still prefer the sound of traditional analog records over digital? Are you one of these DJs?

To many vinyl collectors, you can’t beat the warmth in the low frequencies and the crunch in the high frequencies, and some love the crackles you get from old wax. I do love and prefer vinyl, but also because of the skill involved in mixing them and because I grew up with them, but there is definitely a place for digital music in my collection because it’s so very practical.

How long ago did you introduce digital music into your DJing?

I was very late accepting digital music into my life but now I’m at peace with it. I offloaded a shit ton of vinyl fillers about 3 or 4 times in my life. Now I only buy music that I consider to be special on wax, the rest is digital.

With regards to DJ headphones – Is the robustness or the audio quality of your DJ headphones more important to you and do you have a particular favourite set of DJ headphones that you can share with us?
I don’t have a favourite but currently I use a set of Urban Ears, they don’t sound amazing but they’re robust, quite well insulated (so you can hear them over the music that’s playing) and they’re very handsome. I use more sophisticated sounding headphones for studio and listening purposes.

Approximately how many headphones have you gone through in the last 5 years?

3 pairs.

What general advice would you give to someone starting out in deejaying?

I would say just follow your own path, whatever your style. Don’t spend time watching what other jocks do, just listen to as much music you can bear to sift through (as the vast, vast, vast majority of it will be poor or average) and build your own personal arsenal of sound. If you’re into commercial music it’s slightly different as you just have to play the hits. When playing out I guess, for me at least, the trick is to find the point where what the crowd wants to hear and what you want to play meets, and then weave in and around that line to varying degrees.

Thanks Patrizio! You can check out a selection of DJ Rocco International’s work on YouTube by following this link.

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