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Written by Sonny Lopez

DJ, songwriter, producer, and remixer Ray Roc has reason to celebrate - he's the only American DJ representing Pacha Futura clubs and events worldwide. As a songwriter he is signed to BMG Publishing, and as a producer/artist he is signed to Sony EU/Illustrious U.K., Tommy Boy U.S. under the moniker "The Roc Project". Their alternative meets Pop/Dance singles "Never" and "Deja Vu" (deep soulful beats and killer melodies with infectious vocals) are currently playing Top 40 radio all across the US. Not to mention winning the Winter Music Conference 2004 Best Dance Group Award, along with nominations for two Dance Star Awards including single of the year for "Never". It's been quite a year and there is more to come! We were able to catch up with Ray Roc in his hometown of New York during his hectic touring schedule for this interview.

How did you get started in the music business?

As a young kid my older cousins were Dj's (Cisco Kid, DJ Ed, and DJ Jose) they all had decks and my family was huge. There was a House we called the "BIG House" because 4 of my mother's siblings lived there. The basement apartment to the attic, that's were we had our family gatherings. There were a lot of kids (my cousins), and I was the youngest. When we got together on the weekends it was party central! The old folks would hang on the first floor and the kids were always in the basement apt. My cousin had a system set up and we danced while he spun. Back in the late 70's the streets were hot with block parties and outdoor festivals. My cousins were spinning at a lot of those events. When I reached 11 years old I started playing around with the decks, and of course I would have to do it behind Cisco's back because I wasn't allowed to touch the gear. One day I asked Cisco to let me spin at one of our basement Jams. He put me on and that's how I became a DJ. I believe I was 12 or 13. That Christmas all I wanted was a pair of turntables, no toys. Fast forward to the age of 16, I was already popular around my neighborhood and high school. With the help of my cousins Cisco and DJ Ed I was doing sweet sixteen's and weddings. Fast fwd to age 18 and I was already in the mega mix game doing master remixes of the hits and pressing up 12 inches, they were called Nights At The Edit Block, Techno Babes and House Without A Home. I had two partners and we went under the name Bladerunners. We were known for editing and we managed to do work on some major hits in the late 80 to the 90's. I was given the opportunity to work as an assistant engineer at a studio called Mirror Image were we did most of our editing work, and that's were I learned how to produce. Writing has always been in me, that's something you either have or you don't.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming up?

My world is a mix, from the 70's masters Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Whitehead & Mcfaddin, Gamble and Huff, The Police, kraftwork, James Brown, Chic (to the 80's) Prince, Michael Jackson, Baby Face, Jimmy Jam and Terry Louis, Arthur Baker, Jon Rocca, Chris Barbosa, Grand Master Flash, RUN DMC, Rick Ruben, and the list goes on.

Who does The Roc Project consist of?

The Roc Project is a concept I created to cross over from the underground using all my influences growing up and playing around the world from doing the smallest club to the biggest festivals. As a songwriter I lean more to the commercial side and as a producer I lean to the underground side so I wanted a middle point and that became the Roc project. Since I'm not a singer or a looker (laughing), I wanted to have a featured artist for the album, but the end result was signing Tina Novak to complete the Project so there could be one real artist behind the album. So The Roc Project is Ray Roc and Tina Novak as the featured Singer.

How did the deal with Tommy Boy come about?

The Original hit song "Never" was signed to Sony in the UK & Europe. It Featured Tina Arena who is a huge Australian Singer (like Kylie Minogue but mirroring more of a Celine Dion sound). When Sony signed the deal Tina Arena was a Sony artist so it was an easy fit. She cut the single for my album and she would use it on her album as well. The song picked up momentum in the states right away via Miami's party 93 station and we had no deal in the US for the album. Tommy Boy came into the project at that point and was willing to do the album deal but since I only did a one off with Tina Arena I brought in Tina Novak to Re-Cut "Never" and sing the rest of the album to give Tommy boy an artist they can work with aside from me (as a DJ) for the states.

You are also a DJ - do your sets mirror the stuff you are producing?

Depends, I'm neither a big genre DJ nor producer. I play what I like... I can throw down a house set as well as a good hip hop or Electro/Breaks set.... I Make house music and I do play House music but I also go out and play under the name Roc Project (DJ Set) and I play a mix of Dance Music and Electro/Brakes.... I'm just a music junkie..... My personal choice of sound is every Kind of "House" from Tech and Tribal to Deep and Funky.....

What would you say is the biggest difference in the dance music scene now as opposed to in your past?

When I was growing up in the 70's there was Funk, Disco and Rap. Urban music was Funky and Up tempo. In the 80's House Music was born. Back then everything was fresh and new, there were a lot of new sounds like Punk Rock, New Wave, Techno and Hip Hop. Today it's just a derivative of what was then.

What are you presently working on?

Just finished a remix on Janet Jackson and Starting the New Brandy Remix. I'm also producing a few new acts and getting my Ray Roc Presents album ready for next year. Nothing like The Roc Project. This will reflect the club world more then the commercial dance world, although there will be some crossover potential in its true form. I'm also on Sirius Satellite radio every Thursday nights at 10pm. Log on to sirius.com and check the "Remix 62" pages.

What advice can you give new producers and DJs who want to break in to the business?

Stay true to what you like and push the music your into. Never take no for an answer and always find the person that will say yes to your work. Don't think you need to make records if you're a DJ and don't think you need to be a DJ if you make records. Stay true to what you do best. You're better off finding a partner that can DJ or make music if you're not good at it. If you do both and you're a born natural then promote yourself to death. It's a long road to success and you can achieve it with dedication and love for the art! LAST BUT THE MOST important: don't forget to get a great lawyer, agent and manager!

For more Ray Roc go to http://www.mediaservicesnyc.com/rayroc.html





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