One of the US’s best kept talents resides in NYC, which is virtually the only city in America where you can hide such a massive talent like Rockman of Formation Records. Recently signing exclusively with the label, the Colombian native is set to release his first solo EP called ‘The Snow Walk’ that has drum and bass heads talking around the globe. We recently caught up with Rockman to talk more about signing with this power house recording company headed up by DJ SS as well as his past endeavors with Virgin Records and his unique 8bit sound.
You’re originally from Bogota Colombia, what brought you to the US?
I will always love Colombia and it will always be my home. I used to throw parties there and that was my full-time gig. But at a certain point I started to feel that if I wanted to take my music to the next level I would have to branch out and see the world. I started to play shows in Miami, NYC and L.A. (I also had a friend in NYC that had been telling me to move there to see how I like it). and finally one day I just put all my shit in storage, hopped on a plane, and decided to try it out. It’s definitely different here than back home, but I love it.
You’ve lived in many places while here in the states, what ultimately lead you to NYC?
I came straight from Bogota to NYC. Been all around the world and USA playing shows ever since(All those cities and countries you see listed in my Bio are just places where rockman has played) , but this is and has definitely been home base since moving to the U.S. Speaking of New York, I have an album release party for Snow Walk EP in the heart of Times Square in NYC on Halloween!
Recently you were signed exclusively to Formation Records, how did you get linked up with DJ SS and the guys?
As I mentioned I used to throw lots of parties back in Bogota, Colombia. Not to sound like a hot-shot, but they were a pretty big hit. Eventually I started bringing in DJ’s from all around the world. On one of the occassions, DJ SS came to play and it was a really fun show. We connected pretty much right away, and had a deep respect for each others music. We kept in touch ever since, he invited me to play World of Drum and Bass, annual show. This is my 4th year playing He’s been with me through it all and I guess after a certain point my music was finally at the level and he said “hey, we gotta sign this guy”. The rest is… ughh, I hate cliches
I hear you were signed to Virgin Records. Was this for drum and bass or for a different style of music?
That was a really cool gig actually, but was really just a publishing deal for some IMAX show. They used two tracks from my first album, Search and Destroy EP.
We generally do not see Rockman playing out a ton in NYC or in the USA even. Are you just busy in the studio or are you mainly a producer and not a dj?
I will always love DJ’ing. It’s so much fun to feel the energy of the crowd and lift people up. It’s also a great chance to test out tracks that are polished but not finished. There is something about playing them live that helps you get a really good feel for what works and what doesn’t. Part of that is getting to feel the crowds reaction to the tracks, and the other half is simply an energy, a feeling inside…I have so much fun doing it, but yeah man you guessed it. Over the years I’ve found myself DJ’ing less and spending much more time producing in the studio tightening up my sound. After a while you just get into a flow and before you know it a few years have gone by, and you got all these tracks. It’s really powerful. Drum and Bass is my passion but I also like to make dubstep, house, trap, drumstep, and rock. Actually I have a lot of non-drum and bass music out there and I also play non 100% dnb shows occasionally.
The Snow Walk EP on Formation is coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit more about it? What else do you have in store in the future on the label?
Believe it or not, Snow Walk was what I was working on last winter. Sometimes it takes a while to get things together as far as logistics go. It’s basically an album I wrote while I was hibernating in the basement depths of Brooklyn in 2014. A while Before Snow walk, I was signed to FIXT. During that time (2012-2013) my music was all over the place. I was experimenting with a lot of different styles.
My first release on FIXT “search and destroy” was a mostly dubstep album. I would write melodic intros and then tear it all apart in the drop. It was really noisey stuff. I used a lot of plug-ins at that time and was trying to get the grimiest basses I could. If a song started to sound too melodic, I would tear it apart.
My next releases, Past sound, future noise vol 1 and vol 2 were a lot more melodic and sometimes overly poppy, but also had lots of darker tracks as well. I feel like those releases were definitely the teenage stage of my music. I was starting to achieve a bigger sound and was constantly learning and implementing new tricks to make the mixes sound bigger, punchier, and more clean. In the end though I felt like it was all too much.
Through that process I became interested in the idea that less can be more. You don’t need a ton of elements to make a really good track. My mixdowns got cleaner, bigger, and I had a good set of production tricks under my belt by this time. I was pretty happy with how my music was sounding. Snow Walk ep is basically the result of the last four years of refining my music and trying to discover my current sound. It’s a lot more minimal in some ways and I feel like this process ultimately brought me back to my Drum and Bass roots.
So, I’ve seen a bunch of photos of you DJ’ing using a Gameboy. What’s up with that?
Oh yeah man! It is a huge element of my project and for a wile was even my main tool to make full tracks and albums also youtube tutorials and street performances; sometimes i still include this 8″bit” or chip tune” elements on my full studio songs;
Back in 2006 i was doing research in how to make my old-school video game music project more portable (cause at that time i carried huge drum machines and lots of old school video game consoles) so i started using the original gameboy DMG as my main computer for programing, sequencing and compose my own original music using a music program inside the video game cartridge instead of the regular .dmg game file.
The softwareIt is called LSDJ invented by Johan Kotlinski.
The idea for me in this low fi project is to work with limitation of tools and make music as complex and full sounding possible using just one gameboy via headphones output in a just four channels kind of mini DAW software.
Btw. We just finish one of this 1game boy collaboration songs a few days ago with my good friend and great chip tune artist L-Tron.
Do you have any final words for the fans out there?
Thanks for the support, and for keepin’ it cool. Stay tuned. RCKMN.COM