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Mike Riviera & DJ Rocca: Exclusive Interview And The Making of “Night Jamz” EP.

Kono Vidovic May 25, 2024 75 3 5


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Hello, everyone! Today, I am thrilled to share an exclusive interview with two phenomenal artists who have been instrumental in shaping the house and disco scenes: Mike Riviera and DJ Rocca, who we have interviewed before. Both have carved out distinctive paths in the music industry, blending influences from a wide array of genres to create truly unique sounds. Mike, with his deep roots in funk and house, and DJ Rocca, transitioning from drum & bass to house and disco, have continuously pushed the boundaries of dance music. Their latest project, the “Night Jamz” EP, is a testament to their incredible talent and unique musical journeys. This collaboration not only showcases their individual artistry but also their seamless synergy. As you read on, you’ll discover how their backgrounds and collaborations have influenced their sound, the creative process behind “Night Jamz,” and what makes their latest release so special. Dive in and get ready to be inspired by their passion and innovation in the world of music.

Background and influences.

1. Mike, your music is deeply inspired by funk, disco, and house. How did these genres influence your early musical journey and production style?

Mike: That’s the music I listened to and played as a DJ and naturally I started taking elements from those genres and putting them into my own productions to create a hybrid sound. Basically I tried to copy some stuff that I liked, I failed but in the end the result was something original!

2. DJ Rocca, you started with drum & bass and breakbeat before transitioning to house and disco. What inspired this shift in your musical direction?

Rocca: Frankly I reckon everything is connected. If you think that drum & bass DJs like Fabio or Grooverider used to play house in the late 80s, you understand why dance music genres are all connected. I am a great lover of jazz music, and in the 70s Disco was basically played by jazz musicians, and the harmonic solutions are evident…then House took from Disco, and later Jamaican influence inserted the bass culture in dance music just to arrive to breakbeat and drum & bass. So, at the end of the story, there is no personal transition from one genre to another, but only curiosity to explore different rhythms and timbral styles in dancefloor music.

3. Both of you have had extensive careers collaborating with notable artists. How have these collaborations shaped your individual sounds and approaches to music production?

Mike: Any collaboration brings with it an enrichment, which can be in terms of production, writing or creative approach in general. And these things stay with you and become part of your creative arsenal.

Rocca: Coming from the jazz scene, I believe that collaborations are a stimulus to be able to grow and create music that you can’t do alone. I collaborated with artists from completely different backgrounds, from Zed Bias for UK garage and Broken Beat, to Daniele Baldelli for cosmic progression, up to Dimitri From Paris who helped me have another vision of music. This openness has allowed me to now have a much richer and more eclectic approach to my solo projects.

4. Mike, can you share more about your time with The Heels of Love and how it influenced your evolution as a DJ and producer?

Mike: Luca Saponaro, my partner in crime in The Heels of Love was a studio wizard, in the studio with him I started to understand the importance of a “live” approach in music production and I also learned a lot of crazy tricks! Except how to use a Patch Bay 😉

5. DJ Rocca, you’ve worked on various projects with Dimitri From Paris and Daniele Baldelli. What have been some of the most memorable moments from these collaborations?

Rocca: As I said above, they are both two giants of dance music, and with each of them there have been fantastic moments, like with Daniele Baldelli, when he makes me listen to his brilliant combinations between one song and another in the Cosmic DJ set on cassette. Perhaps between an African tune and an electronic one played at the wrong speed, and from these unlikely ensembles new rhythmic intersections were born, essentially the greatest source of ideas for our repertoire. Or with Dimitri, when he extrapolates the most captivating core from one of my flute solos and creates the main riff that you never get out of your head.

Current project: Night Jamz EP.

6. Can you tell us about the creative process behind your latest release, the “Night Jamz” EP? How did you both approach this project? 

Mike: the idea was to do something that had a “classic” House feel but at the same time sounded contemporary. Somehow I think we succeeded.

Rocca: Mike and I hadn’t done anything together in a few years, so as soon as he suggested putting something of my own on his amazing old school house tracks, I jumped at the chance.

7. What themes or messages are you trying to convey through the tracks on “Night Jamz”?

Mike: Get lost in music, get lost in the dance
Rocca: Good music for the head and for the feets

8. How did the collaboration between you two come about for the “Night Jamz” EP? What was it like working together on this project?

Mike: Actually this is not the first time that we have worked together. Years ago we released a couple of EPs and some remixes under the name Jadoo (it was the two of us plus  the multi-instrumentalist Gabriele Rampi) so it was very easy to work together on this project. Basically I sent Luca some stuff, he added his ideas then we arranged the tracks and that was it.
We understand each other very quickly.

Rocca: We have known each other for a long time, and there has always been esteem and respect between us, two elements that must not be missing in a solid collaboration. For this EP in particular, I managed the material that Mike sent me with attention and discretion, precisely because I didn’t want to overpower too much with my stylistic imprint that fantastic sensation that Mike gave off from his auditions: immediacy and groove, two ingredients that I wanted to remain intact, despite my paw.

9. The EP is described as having ‘raw and snappy warehouse grooves.’ How do you achieve this particular sound in your production?

We used analog machines: 808, 909, Prophet 5, Arp Odyssey, Juno 6 with all their noises and imperfections and some breakbeats to add some more rawness and swing. 

10. What do you hope listeners take away from the “Night Jamz” EP?

As said before, our hope is that the listeners got lost in the music.
Our advice for a better experience is to listen to the record from midnight onwards.

Personal insights and future plans.

11. Mike, you’ve been based in Berlin since 2012. How has the Berlin music scene influenced your work?

Mike: Basically I got exposed to a lot of good music (not just techno) So I started digging even more for interesting records 😉

12. DJ Rocca, your DJ sets are known for their eclecticism. How do you curate your sets to maintain such diversity and keep the dance floors moving?

Rocca: It’s simply a question of nature…I am an omnivorous listener and collector of jazz, new wave, funk, electro, ambient, Italo Disco, Soundtracks, World music, Techno, Drum & Bass, Dub, House…all this is reflected in my way of doing things playing in DJ sets… if I stay too long in one genre I get bored, so I’m afraid of transmitting this feeling of boredom to the dancefloor, and for this reason I try to keep the tension on the track by mixing one genre with another.

13. What are some of the biggest challenges you face when producing music, and how do you overcome them?

Mike: I think I have a tendency to repeat myself, writing the same track over and over, so the challenge is to get rid of some material and focus on the stuff that’s really original.

Rocca: Every day I produce music, and the most difficult thing is to keep the inspiration high over the years, especially after so many productions like the ones I have done in my career. My unlimited source of ideas always remains the collection of records I have… over the course of the history of the last 100 years of music many things have been said, and listening to the records always comes out either a sample, or a drum beat, or chords , or atmospheres that push me to copy or reproduce them. This is a fantastic springboard for activating those brain buttons that trigger creative stimulation.

14. Can you share any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?

Mike: we are working on some new music together:
I have a solo release coming out later this year and I just finished an Ep with my friend Marco Ohboy.

Rocca: I have a lot of releases in the next few months. An electro house track (“The Box Above”) included in an upcoming release by Various Artists on the Italian label Flexi, then a new 4-track EP made with Daniele Baldelli, called Rolling Wave. Daniele and I also have an original song entitled ‘Pasta al Dente’ included in the upcoming Italo Mania 2 compilation by Toy Tonics, coming out after the summer. As for remixes, there will be one coming out for my friend Enzo Elia on his label Buttress, a couple more remixes for the Italian progressive jazz group Bright Magus on IRMA Records, and another remix for the French duo Palavas on Ravanelli Disco Club records from Marseille. I also have a couple of albums coming out before the end of the year, via IRMA Records, one with Balearic hero Chris Coco, and another with my jazz trio project called Triorox. I’m very proud of the latest one, it’s a fantastic project with amazing musicians, who we also bring live to festivals and clubs.

15. For aspiring DJs and producers looking up to you both, what advice would you give to help them carve out their own path in the music industry?

Mike: Productionwise my advice is to listen to some good music, not just dance music and learn to play an instrument, not just copy and paste come sound packs. Go out, make connections and most importantly have fun!Rocca: I agree with Mike, music must be first of all a pleasure, it’s not me who says it, but the greatest luminary of music of the last half century: Herbie Hancock. The second thing to clarify is that the goal must not be success, but the expression of something personal… In short, before producing music you need to be sure you really have something to say. 

Thank you!

Thank you so much to Mike Riviera and DJ Rocca for sharing their incredible insights and stories with us. Their passion for music and dedication to their craft is truly inspiring and a testament to their influential roles in the music industry. We hope you enjoyed this deep dive into their creative processes and unique musical journeys. Don’t forget to check out their latest release, “Night Jamz” EP, which is available now on all major platforms. Let the raw and snappy warehouse grooves transport you to a new musical dimension. Be sure to follow them for more groundbreaking music, and stay tuned for future releases that promise to keep the dance floors moving!


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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco
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Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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