Rocco Rampino doesn’t spend more than four days in one city. The Italian producer’s jet-set schedule is so packed with parties from Australia to Thailand that he is virtually hardwired to rock. The Congorock moniker, born just four years ago, has caught on like wildfire since his summer banger “Babylon” and prominent inclusion in today’s electro-fied Rat Pack-like crew of international artists including Bloody Beetroots, Crookers and stylized hipster labels Fool’s Gold and Dim Mak. He’s produced songs for the video game Mortal Kombat; and he’s bringing his jungle antics to Haze’s In the House Fridays on Oct 7.
Following the 2010 release of your sound-defining track “Babylon”—present in nearly every headlining DJ’s set this year—is there pressure to create more catchy club-bangers?
There’s pressure from fans; they want something harder and harder. It’s actually hard to satisfy a young crowd. But harder is not better. In my album [due at the beginning of next year] there will be a lot of bangers, but I don’t want it to be predictable. A lot of people are expecting me to release another “Babylon,” but it’s too easy. I want to challenge myself with something else.
Which is admirable, because many people would take the quick and easy route. What is your inspiration for this new album?
I find inspiration in several different things: I travel a lot, so whenever I can, I try to explore different places and find out about their history. Sometimes I read stories, and I try to paint an image or picture in my mind; that really helps in creating music. I want my music to be like a visual. I try to get inspiration from all things around me, not just other people’s music.
You’re inspired by what you’ve personally experienced, not what others have.
If I’m not making it, I find it hard to listen to dance music. I get inspiration from other types of music. Sometimes dance music is too similar; you don’t get too much inspiration from other producers. These days I listen to Toro y Moi, some hip-hop; I like Nicki Minaj. I like this band Salem, who are electronic but really dark. I try to find inspiration in something completely different that can make my sound more unique.
Your tribal sound is very eclectic—it could be described as drum and bass, electro-house and dirty house. How did you get into that genre?
I got interested when I started collecting records. When I’d get vinyls, they’d be really obscure versions of African music and I was just curious about this kind of music. When I started to produce I wanted to keep these tribal or African sounds or Middle Eastern music. I always try to include it in my sound. That’s also why I have such a weird name.
Congorock is the perfect match to your vibe.
Yeah. I took my name off of a song called “Congo Rock” by Sound Dimension. It reflects what I play in my music because I have that tribal influence in my sound, my production and in my DJ set, so it was a good match.
Your name has also become a staple in the surge toward electronic music that for this generation is almost like a revolution.
It’s a revolution in so many ways. Not only the music, but everything related to music: style, the way that music is spread around, all the trends related. Ten years ago, DJs didn’t have shirts or merchandise and they didn’t care about sharing their life with other people or their fans. DJs were obscure figures—you didn’t know anything about them other than their records. Now you have Twitter, you have the blogs, you have your merchandise; DJs are sharing all of their lives with their fans. It’s more of a rock ’n’ roll way of marketing.
I think a lot of things have changed because of labels like Fool’s Gold and Dim Mak. They had a revolutionary vision about the way they were dealing with the label, and it totally worked. It was up to date with the way that things are changing. The way that listeners and the kids want to look around for music; things like that. It totally makes sense. It was just the right combination of multiple aspects that made all these things happen.