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
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
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
Who does The Roc Project consist
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
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
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
For more Ray Roc go to http://www.mediaservicesnyc.com/rayroc.html