Who’s Digital Rockit?
I admit when I started doing research on this unique and forward pushing dance music group, I had no idea the level of complexity and musical philosophy that the three man crew had behind their name.
I had the change to chat with the guys before their next performance at this year’s GrietFest 2017:
Richard Chemaly and Digital Rockit:
Richard Chemaly [RC]: Hi there guys, well, you’re an interesting bunch, aren’t you? There’s three of you: G-Force, Fabio and Dogstarr, and you’ve come together to create this smooth rthymic amalgam of beats and rhythm. I enjoyed your long form Rocket vs Robot (Listening to it as I write), but what I want to know from you guys, what is Digital Rockit, it’s not the traditional music crew?
Digital Rockit [DR]: Hi there, glad you enjoyed that set. Well, we started this “crew” if you want to call it that, many years ago, while playing festivals together, and we back then used to link up 3 ableton machines, also incorporating visuals. I’m not sure what is considered a traditional music crew. But we just good mates who like to play long sets, generally at Festivals where we can push the boundaries of what many consider to be party music.
RC: What kind of relationship do you guys have with Toy Toy, for our readers at home, how do you and the whole Toy Toy gang fit into each other? It’s like you’ve all got your own projects on the go.
DR: Fabio, G-force and myself started TOYTOY in 2008. Back then it was a sporadic party we did every few months. Only in 2011 did we begin TOYTOY as a weekly night. We invited our friends Sound Sensible to join us in this endeavour, in creating a space for proper nightclubbing. We all have our own sounds but when we come together, we just seem to slot in… Don’t know how this happens, but it always seems to just work. I think it has to do with each of our relationships with music, which is the common theme with us.
We all have our own sounds but when we come together…
RC: When it comes to electro, house or any form of digitally developed music, the common misconception is that: “anyone with a computer can do that”, we know that’s not true, but how have you guys managed to keep your music and style relevant in an industry that changes styles and themes so quickly?
DR: Anyone can do it, but not everyone can do it well. We don’t subscribe to trends or themes. We play music we love and have always played it, even when it wasn’t popular… It wasn’t popular and there was nowhere to play it, so we started TOYTOY, to remedy that inadequacy.
RC: Speaking of technology, do you think as new tech is developed it makes it easier for amateurs to come into the scene and almost flood it? What’s your thinking around the development and adoption of new tech in your space?
DR: Yes it very easy for anyone to begin djing, that has pros and cons like anything in life. It cost a lot of money to do so 15-20 years ago. You had to buy the equipment two turntables and a mixer… but other than that music was hard to come by. That is all that makes you able to play out. You have to have a music collection, regardless of equipment.
That you can borrow from friends. But music collection that defines who you are is the be all and end all. And that was very difficult and took many years to grow. Which means you cannot just buy a shit load of tunes off a website and go play that very night. you started off with only 5 records which cost you R800 and only in 6 months to a year did you have enough music to play a reasonable 2 hour set, by that time you have spent many hours behind the turnables playing the same tunes over and over and over again, to your mates, in your dads lounge while they are away. Which do wonders for your skills.
you cannot just buy a shit load of tunes off a website…
RC: Everyone’s got their own style, but from you, would you guys prefer an intimate social gig or a massive stage with thousands? This is a preference, I personally would love to jam in front of thousands! (if I could jam)
DR: We prefer intimate social gigs, Big festivals are great, but usually the sets are really short.. . and you are also so disconnected from the people because you all the way up there on a stage.
RC: With the upcoming GrietFest 2017, I’m sure your fans would love to know what they can expect this year, so what’s new, anything they should get amped for that’s our of the ordinary vain?
DR: Get ready for some fucked up party music.
Get ready for some fucked up party music!
Richard Chemaly [RC]: Do you think Dubstep should make a comeback?
Digital Rockit [DR]: If we talking about the real dubstep, then definitely yes.
RC: So, we’ve all been there, the music is blaring, the bodies are jiving, but when it all comes down to it, if you had to sacrifice an animal to the gods of digital jams, would it be a pink kitten or a penguin?
DR: Penguin… I’m a fan of cats ;P
RC: What’s the favourite part of what you do? What gets you out of bed every morning?
DR: I love the creative process of all what we do, from AND Club to TOYTOY, to the one off events we do.
If you had to give one piece of advice to my friend Juan, also getting into the digital music space, what would you tell him? He’s also 18.
“Digital music space?” – Digital Rockit
Digital Rockit History:
Digital Rockit is a collective made up of three different musical personalities who were brought together by a mutual love of fucked up party music.
Way back in the mid-2000’s GForce was pioneering early warehouse raves and later became a partner at House Afrika records, one of Johannesburg’s premier record stores, and Fabio and
Dogstarr would come in and snap up anything twisted and disco. Soon the trio realised that if G wasn’t secretly keeping a record for himself, he was selling it to the other two, and all three of them were playing these twisted tracks at the legendary Rustler’s Valley. And so, in 2005, the idea for Digital Rockit was conceived. Initially, the project began as
a way to move away from vinyl with all three performers using digital set ups consisting of midi controllers and synced Ableton Live platforms. However, in the last few years the group has swung back to playing on a straight CDJ setup. One thing that hasn’t changed however is the sound. The trio says that they saw festivals as a platform for
them to move beyond the confines of nightclub walls, and as the space opened up, so did the music. This means that people on the floor are hearing the combination of three different musical tastes coming together to create a sound that’s underground, hedonistic and unmistakably Digital Rockit.