During the Ultra Music Festival 2012 we were fortunate enough to catch DJ Robbie Rivera in the middle of his busy scdudele and discuss the state of the scene. As EDM continues to become a driving force within our culture, we would like to share with you the thoughts of the men behind the music.
Sir Elite: Alright, I’m wondering: What DJs have had the biggest influence on your sound?
Robbie Rivera: Wow! Well I’ve been doing this for over ten years, so I’ll have to go way back. When I started making music I got input from Armand van Helden, Danny Chinaguia, Eric Morillo, Victor Morales, people like that.
Sir Elite: So we heard about your Juicy Beach event at Nicki Beach this past Thursday with Bob Sinclar, Tommy Trash, and Nervo. It looked pretty amazing! Could you tell me a bit about the event?
Robbie Rivera: This is the seventh time we’ve done it. We had a nice lineup; we had 3,000 people… Yesterday we had some pretty magical moments. Bob Sinclar ended his set with Bob Marley’s “Jammin”. Everyone went nuts. Then I started playing right after. After that Tommy Trash, R3hab, and Afrojack came through. Paris Hilton came as well. It was crazy!
Sir Elite: What’s your favorite Miami club venue to play?
Robbie Rivera: Mansion. Right now it’s Mansion. If you haven’t been to check out the new sound system and the new lighting, you need to make your way down.
Sir Elite: I was actually just there for Calvin Harris and Nicky Romero. I agree, it’s the best I’ve seen.
Robbie Rivera: Didn’t you think that lighting was amazing? I’ve been to so many venues and this one still made me go “Whoa!” There’s nothing like it. I played there four weeks ago and I was blown away.
Sir Elite: In light of the current Ultra Music Festival festivities, we have to ask, where do you a better experience as a DJ. At festivals, or in a club setting?
Robbie Rivera: In a club setting because it’s more intimate, you can get closer to the audience, and when you’re playing in a club you can get more creative as a DJ. You’re trying to make them have a special night. At a festival, you have 10-20,000+ people and you have to make all of them go nuts.
Sir Elite: You’ve been around in the DJ scene for a while. What do you think of EDM’s second transition into a mainstream genre? I say second because I know it gained mainstream popularity when you first started at as well.
Robbie Rivera: Well I think this second wave of dance music is great. I’ve never seen it this way before. I’m happy it’s blown up to massive proportions. You have all these festivals: EDC, Ultra, Electric Zoo… so many people are going to these festivals now. And us as DJs, we’ve been getting paid really well! It used to be that they’d get bands to play at clubs. Now they’re more likely to book a DJ. I’m really happy it’s gotten where it has.
Sir Elite: What originally got you into DJing?
Robbie Rivera: Wow! Good question. When I was in fourth grade, I had a tape recorder that was connected to a radio. I would record all the music playing on the radio onto a cassette and I would make my own edits just for fun. From that moment I found I really enjoyed mixing songs. I then found a neighbor who had instruments and a drum machine. So I started playing with their drum machine, making beats, it was so much fun. Eventually, at my sister’s prom, I heard a DJ mix two songs for the first time and said “Wow, I want to do that!”. From there it was just learning and practicing; no one taught me how to be a DJ.
Sir Elite: That’s an interesting way to start! I never thought about mixing with a tape recorder.
Robbie Rivera: Dude, my first gig was for a parent-teacher’s meeting… at a house. I was DJing with a cassette deck, one turntable with no pitch control, and one speaker. How ghetto is that? I got paid 60 bucks!
Sir Elite: Damn! Great compensation…
Robbie Rivera: That was a lot of money back then man!
Sir Elite: As a pretty notable DJ, do you ever find yourself going to shows to see other DJs? And if you do, who would be your ideal DJ to see?
Robbie Rivera: That’s an interesting question. Lately, I have not gone to see any DJs because I’m usually spinning at a club. When I’m off I want to stay home. There are a lot of DJs and producers I’d like to see right now though. Deadmau5 is one artist I’d like to see perform. I did have him at Juicy Beach three years ago, but his show was very different back then.