We caught up with Rocco Rodamaal, aka Rocco, to talk about his extensive DJing and production career. He recently celebrated the release of "L.Gee's Stories EP," on Art Feast Records and has been releasing his breed of soul infused house over the past two decades, initially cutting his teeth alongside the likes of DJ Deep and Laurent Garnier in the early French scene before being picked up by Ben Watt for Buzzin’ Fly, subsequently being remixed by Âme for the label and releasing further material on Freerange, Real Tone and many other household names in the underground scene.
Rocco joins the roster of Art Feast Records, home to music from the likes of Anaxander, Ortella, and Terrence Parker. Rocco also recently kicked off his own imprint, "Memories Records", with the "Someday EP."
Tell me about the new EP – where does the name L.Gee’s stories come from?
It comes from my personal life and I want to keep it private.
How did you come to meet the folks at Art Feast Records?
I met Romain, Guillaume & Miimo who together run Art Feast Records at a gig in Lyon where my friend Ortella was playing. I was already following the label because they had released some cool tracks from Ortella.
They are super nice, cool and passionate guys, and they are very active in Lyon. They are not afraid to give a chance to new talent and underground artists.
Did you have a particular in mind when you sat down to make this EP or did it just come together naturally?
It came out of a discussion I had with a few DJ friends of mine, about arriving in a club and hearing the DJ playing way too pumping, not reading the crowd and not telling the crowd a story.
So with this EP I’m trying to tell a story, this is what I’m actually always trying to do with my productions or remixes.
I really like the new EP – tell me about your studio setup and how this particular release was made.
Thank you. My studio setup is 100% software based these days, with an i-Mac and a Mac Book Pro connected to a Presonus soundcard and a pair of Yamaha Studio Monitors HS7 to do mixdowns.
Sometimes I use Maschine to work on drums and samples. The latest version of Reason is great, I love the sounds and the ease of use of the VST plug-ins, I have been using this software for a long time and I feel very confident using it.
Regarding the EP, I started with one track. I sent it to my friend Sebastien Grand who in return sent me back some sound loops, I then reedited the track, added some more sounds here and there, finished the production and mixed the track, it became “L.Gee’s Stories (Main Mix )”.
For the ‘Piano Mix’ of that track I asked my long time friend and keyboard player -François Aymonier - to add his magic touch. I finished the production just the way I did on the ‘Main Mix’.
On the other two tracks I worked alone. I started by an acapella sample which I twisted. I then worked on the drums, then added synths, sounds and textures and I finished by the bass line. I often finish a track by the bass line, which - I know - is a little unusual but that’s the way I like to produce tracks.
So you’ve been producing for nearly two decades now, over the years have you changed the way you produce a lot?
I started producing music using an Akaï S950 sampler, Cubase working on an Atari STE computer. I had a Korg DSS1 keyboard, a Roland RM8 drum machine and a Roland TB303. I was recording on a Tascam DAT recorder. Then I discovered Reason and I got fully hooked.
Fundamentally my way of producing has not really changed over the years. However, I am incorporating more and more instruments recorded live in my productions when I have the possibility of working with musicians.
Do you have any unusual traditions for producing?
I cannot start any music production without a cappuccino.
What about unusual bits of equipment that you use?
Over the years you’ve collaborated with a lot of people – do you like to collaborate or do you prefer having complete creative control working solo?
I love to collaborate with other artists, musicians or singers because of the energy coming from people working together in the same room.
However, I also like to collaborate with other musicians in a more modern way by exchanging files through the internet and then finalizing the track on my own in total control.
As someone who’s been on the scene for a while now, is there anything you dislike about how things have changed since you first started?
I was lucky enough to have attended and experienced the WMC in Miami in the late 90’s, it was fantastic to meet all the artists, DJs and producers in the sunshine of Miami. I miss the old WMC.
Conversely, are there things that you prefer now as compared with when you first started out?
Today we have the choice between digital and vinyl. I love vinyl, I love to touch them and play them. But digital gives us the possibility to access all kind of music.
Are there any producers in particular that you look up to?
Louie Vega, the master.
Kerri Chandler, he’s always been an inspiration for me.
DJ Koze, he’s such a versatile producer.
Black Coffee, he’s an example for us all.
Atjazz, he’s a genius.
Jimpster, his productions are so elegant.
Ortella, Manoo & Klement Bonelli, they are my friends, they are from Lyon and they are talented producers.
Hanna Haïs, someone to check.
You’ve performed a lot in South Africa over the years, tell me about the scene out there
The scene is huge in South Africa, just to give you an idea, I play stadiums there, I can do three gigs in one night and I am invited on TV shows.
So what’s next on the agenda for you in terms of releases?
I just started my own label, Memories Records, the first release is “Someday” (out now), then I will release a track from my friend Lea Lisa called “24”, Klement Bonelli has remixed my single “Be Quiet” which he will release on his new label Tinnit Music.
What about DJing – have you got a busy run up to the end of the year/start of 2018?
I will be going once a month to South Africa as this is the peak season there and I will also be playing in France, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Spain etc.
If you had to pick out five tracks from your DJ bag to smash any dancefloor, what would you go for?
Rocco – Only Drums (Atjazz Recordings)
Rocco – Be Quiet! (Tinnit Music)
Rocco - L.Gee’s Stories (Art Feast Records)
Moon Rocket & MoBlack - Gafara (MoBlack)
Radio Slave – Feel The Same (Floorplan Remix 2) (Rekids)