Rolando – THE RANSOM NOTE MIX
Rolando is a good guy. After we spent all week office-raving to his recently unearthed 90s era mixtape, we thought we'd try and chase him down for a quick chat. A couple of emails later, and Rolando's instantly setting aside time to answer our stoopid questions about how techno he is, who he wants to remove from existence and what it's like to be the real deal in a world of EDM newbies. Then he just ups and records us a killer of an exclusive mixtape. There it is embedded on the page, chock full of bangers. Press play.
Or the download here…
As we said; a good guy.
He's just launched a new label – Rocha – primarily to release productions from his R3 Roland persona. JUU EP, the label's first release, is already getting a whole lot of love. We don't think we can put it better than Ken Ishii – "R3 is making an awesome kick-off with this EP, showing his creativity – something only he can make and something that makes you feel where he comes from at the same time. Simply great."
Here's what the man had to say about the new label, life in general, and Jamie Oliver's over-sized tongue –
Why the new label now?
I think a lot of people would think the underground scene is different from commercial labels- it’s not. Most of the same problems exist. As an artist you can’t put the music out anyway you want to, when you want to. You don’t have a say over context or artwork, and often you don’t get paid. You’re at the mercy of somebody else’s vision for their label. So, I guess after nearly 30 years as a DJ and music producer in “the digital age” it’s much easier and much more attractive to run a label and now be able to take control of my own destiny. It’s fun.
What have you got planned for future releases?
At the moment we’ve got 5 releases planned this year, each different but each EP is contextualised and harmonious. We may in the future put out other Artists music but it really depends on what we discover; for the time being I really want to focus on developing the R3’s character which is an organic process. It’s very much “all hands on deck” experience for me and for R3’s manager Mrs. Rolando (Margaret Neizer-Rocha) …and yes! We do plan to release vinyl in the future with specialised projects that are indulgent of the vinyl enthusiast. I of course still include vinyl in my sets.
Are you going to be releasing artists other than yourself? What will define the sound?
As I said, depending on what we get I think for me it will be no different to what inspires me as a DJ. It’s going to need the same level of appeal as any track that I would want to play out in one of my DJ sets so yes, it’s very much the case that I will know it when I hear it…although there is some amazing ambient abstract electronic music out there. I’m a huge fan of Jean Luc Ponty so my ears are open to all beautiful music. I think its part of my own Hispanic musical culture and my Detroit techno background that I’m always looking out for more funky, jazzy and visceral music. Detroit techno practically has a pulse!
As someone who's grown up with the dance scene in America, what do you think of the current scene in the States?
The scene I left behind was fantastic, it was blossoming, it was small and underground. Everybody knew everybody. I think that’s still pretty much the same; it hasn’t grown in the same way as EDM but it has grown with annual festivals like Movement in Detroit drawing international visitors and artists to the city. That’s a big deal. I haven’t lived in the US for ten years now but I still do dates in the US, so there’s still a scene, with educated larger clubs like Output in Brooklyn putting up quality line ups and similarly loyal underground promoters such as Renegade Rhythms in Portland to name a couple. However, there’s room for all. I am not inclined towards EDM bashing. The EDM scene is different; its principles are different, generated from the pop industry in my opinion.
Do you get recognition from the younger generation of EDM ravers? Or the mainstream?
Going back to what i just said i think there’s a lot of EDM bashing and i suspect that what you describe as “EDM ravers” like anyone else, like what they like. It’s a question of exposure; or so I would like to think! There is a particularly contentious EDM version of my track “Jaguar “floating around by “Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike vs. Ummet Ozcan”. I can’t say it’s my personal favourite but it’s a translation for that scene, it’s a bit like discovering Florence and the machine didn’t write “Your Love”, Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle did! Hopefully that translates – hopefully the EDM fans will make the real discovery in the same way we all did as kids listening to chart hits that were actually original Motown classics. Every generation will think its sacrilege! but that is the music learning curve – we can only hope! I don’t know…maybe that is something that is lost because no one is looking through their parents’ record collection.
As for mainstream, I don’t know anybody who’s been able to straddle both scenes without heavy criticism.
We really enjoyed the mixtape you posted on soundcloud the other day -any chance of a tracklist?!
There is no chance of a track list. The fanatics out there can do their homework! Besides, my brother and sister are storing a bunch of these records for me in Detroit.
Listening back to it, how do you think your sound has progressed over the last two decades?
I don’t know that this mix ever exemplified my style; it was recorded at a house party. The tempo was much slower than I would normally play in a club.
I have never felt the desire to be “unfaithful” to Techno, I think my technical style is the same; my DJ skills are second nature, like riding a bike. I started as a vinyl DJ it’s only in the last few years I had to succumb to using CDJ’s and USB’s because a lot of music is now only produced digitally but it hasn’t changed my style. As for musically ? What I like is what I like. I can decide within a matter of seconds skipping through a track whether it’s for me or not. I couldn’t tell you what makes it a yay or a nay. It just is or isn’t.
Have you had a big change in the kit you use, or your writing process?
I tweak my kit, I upgrade it, obviously. There are no significant changes. The more I learn the more I can experiment, I think it’s a continual process and experience.
And some dumb stuff to finish –
What's the most techno thing you've ever done?
..I did a remix for Kraftwerk!
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
AC/DC at Plus 11
What was the first and last record you bought?
1st: “Play at Your Own Risk” by Planet Patrol when i was 13.
Last ( just the other day!) : “Reflection” by Ben Sims
You can remove one person from history forever, you don't have to kill them or anything, they're just gone. Who's it to be?
I can’t choose between Jamie Oliver and his ridiculously oversized tongue or Alfie Moon (Eastenders) and his hideous shirts.
So both please…
Keep up to date with Rolando via his artist page on Facebook.
You can also catch him playing at the forthcoming Secretsundaze at Studio 338 on May 4th – more info here