RAD Spotlight: Rocky G Interview

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Born in Lisbon, raised on an African Island and having lived just about everywhere in between, Rocky G is someone you will never forget

The Amsterdam based artist and mother of six turned her musical dreams into a reality and is sharing her inspiring experience with the world. Playing for millions of partygoers in over 50 countries and producing multiple viral videos and remixes, Rocky G has done it all. 

We had a chance to catch up with Rocky G and discuss everything from her bustling personal life to musical inspirations, international success and more. 

RAD: You started your career in Portugal over a decade ago. Since then, what has been your proudest achievement in your career so far?

Rocky G: My biggest achievement is this year. I believe it’s what I’ve been doing now with what’s going on with the changes in the electronic music scene; so it’s not yet an achievement but it’s something that I’m working with. Also, with my story, I’ve brought a lot of people who are not from the dance scene to try out my music.

What is it about techno that made you want to fully commit yourself to the genre compared to other styles of music? 

I think it’s a bit like this: you can have good music or bad music; you can have good music in all styles and you can have bad music in all styles. Techno is much more about the energy that you create with a track. It’s all about that energy and not about the periods or the memory you have with your best friend with main stream music. You can extract each part of a track and variate or remix it live to give it another feeling. I feel much more creative playing techno and creating techno than ever before!

Do you think you’ll ever move on from the techno or have you found your place in the scene with this style of music?

Techno from 10 years ago or 20 years ago was so different to what it is now. I like to say I’m into techno but it’s more of having a techno mentality. Everything is evolution. I’m a totally different DJ than I was 10 years ago; and that is going to progress. Even tomorrow, it’s going to keep changing and I don’t know what techno will be in 10 years. I feel that the main connection to the pure kind of energy of techno music will still be there. 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations? 

This is going to be a surprise for you probably. I grew up in Africa and I grew up int he middle of the 80’s with a father who did radio and a lot of Cuban friends. So there is a huge crazy mix of influences! I had African music, salsa and 80’s style. I feel that, in effect, I drink from all those glasses. I’ve enjoyed music flowing always and it helps me put it into my work. I think my inspirations are all good music; it’s about cycles of music in general. 

Understanding how dance music started or rock music started or the creation of new genres – I’m observing this more to understand for myself. That’s my inspiration always. In the end, music makes your body move, your hips move, and I can drink from all glasses; so it’s not a specific technique or a DJ, it’s more about the stuff I have in my background.

If you could collaborate with any artist in the world, who would it be and why?

I have this strong belief that you can learn with everyone. so, it would be with any old school artists who have spent more time in the industry than me. But I would love to work as well with this new generation of electronic music, because it’s much easier to do it that way. They all have a different type of knowledge of music creation. I want to work to create music to play in a logical way, not just make it up. So probably, if I could work with an amazing guitar player or an amazing person from the 80’s to bring that soul to digital music, I would love to do that. 

Your music has brought you all over the world and you’ve been able to play in over 50 different countries. If you had to pick one, which country do you love playing in the most and why?

Oh this is so unfair to pick just one! I’m going to say that the love that I did get when I went to the Philippines for the first time. The way that those people’s lives are much different to the normal city people’s lives, they go to watch you there with so much devotion and their movement is so much higher than the normal crowd in Europe for example. For now, and until now, I miss that; but as well, I need to say that the devotion that my followers have when they watch me when I live stream is something that touches my heart. 

What is your favourite type of crowd to play for? Do you prefer intimate club shows and parties or would you like to play more big music festivals and mainstream events?

I would say that myself with big sounds, I like big. But I believe that you see a good DJ when they have a smaller crowd that’s not so full. When you have five thousand or ten thousand people in a crowd and you look at a crowd like that every day, it’s either everyone is happy or everyone is upset. They are there to have fun and when people are in front of you like in Tomorrowland, it’s such a different expectation of you.

When you have a small group of people, it’s much easier to get everyone’s attention while you play and it makes you more proud. You’re trying your best and devoting yourself to finding the right tracks to play in the right moment with the right crowd. I remember one time I played at a venue with five thousand capacity and for some reason it was not full but not empty; like one thousand people I think? Psychologically, that time was really representative of the good years of my life. I would start to play and you see people stay there until the end. At that moment, that tells you that you’re amazing. 

You obviously have a very busy schedule, being a mum of six as well as a full time DJ. How are you able to find the balance between your personal and professional life? 

You don’t. You understand that life is going to be in seasons. Sometimes I’m busy focusing on may kids. I try to, when I’m with them, spend a higher quality of time with them – no phone, just us there. When I’m playing, I sleep six hours a day so there’s that as well. But understand as well that it can maybe not be that hard. This is a choice; I chose this and I know these are the rules of my game, so I try to balance it as much as possible.

At the moment I would say it’s not balanced. My kids are not very small but my youngest is three years old. It’s hard but life is never balanced. The only thing is when you do decide to do something and you take that decision, you don’t have the option to not do it. For example, if you go running, it’s not an option to lose, you choose to win. I don’t put the option not to do it, I wanted to do both things so that’s how I plan to do it. 

Being an international touring DJ can become quite overwhelming sometimes, do you have any routines to prevent you from burning out while on tour? 

I have a few rules, I don’t touch my phone as soon as I wake up and I try to meditate at least a few minutes a day. I try to set up 70% of the intention of my actions; meaning, I go to this meeting – what is my intention? I’m doing that to not lose time. So for example, if I’m going out with my husband, I will decide what we’re doing and it’s worth it. Also, I do not drink or take drugs. If you want to, you can, but it’s not possible for me. Many times, I come home and I bring my kids to school straight away.  Always try to drink water and the thing that really helps is trying to balance my sugar. 

How did it feel to see your online success skyrocket with your remix of Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’ reaching over 1.5 million streams?

I felt really good and really bad at the same time. It was in the moment that I was changing my style and deciding this is not what I want. Again, I still like to dance and have fun and be bubbly. I grew with the salsa and  you know with this track, it was just me having fun with no intention. At the same time, it was when I wanted to quit doing EDM and mainstream music. Then I get a huge amount of people listening to this remix and I was like oh okay, how do I explain this now. But yes, it’s part of my story. I can do it, but I don’t want to keep doing it. 

What are your goals and aspirations for 2019? Do you have any big or exciting plans for this year?

I’m really focused. I’ve heard from so many fans around the world; I would really love to focus myself on changing the way people pursue electronic dance music. I want to take the live performance more on my course, and to have the opportunity to play live and let people connect in a unitive way all at the same time from different parts of the world. 

When I play live, not just from my studio but on different occasions, I bring the story from the place with visuals. On February 23, I will be doing this amazing live stream from the waters of Amsterdam in the canals on a boat. People will be watching my set and my music and in combination, discovering the city with me. This is what I want to show – different places; different and crazy ideas that show my personality. I love to learn, travel and meet other people, and sharing that through my music with millions of people. Of course, also music production. We are also shooting a documentary about all of this over the next two years; to create some sort of legacy. 

Where do you see yourself a year from now? 

I see myself with this crazy, out-of-the-box live performance, touring and speaking; because I have a lot of people asking me to speak at events. My story is that I’m a teenage mum, a girl that lost her mum at the age of ten. I grew up in Africa in a country having nothing (not because we had no money); but because we live on an island where not much is happening there. Having so many kids, I’m totally the underdog. I have a story that you don’t expect; but I want to change my narrative. I want to bring awareness about my name and my experience and connect with more people with my music.

Music is the universal language; all of us can feel, listen and understand the expression of someone’s music; not just with our mind but also our bodies. I want to be an ambassador for that connection. But also, I’ve never been to Australia! Maybe, I can do a show one time in a beautiful place in Australia or New Zealand. Imagine playing live in like a desert! It can be any place that you’re not expecting. 

Keep up to date with Rocky G on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Katarina Cvetko

Katarina is an international journalist and photographer from Sydney, Australia with a strong passion for music festivals. Since her first solo adventure in 2015, Katarina has travelled to over 30 countries in 5 continents and has attended over 100 music festivals worldwide. After conquering a bucket list journey of 52 music festivals in 52 weeks in 2018, Katarina continues to live a digital nomad lifestyle, travelling to festivals in a different country every week and sharing her experiences on social media.

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