We caught up with Congorock for a quick chat about life on the road. He's touring right now in support of his “Ivory” remix package EP. It was release via Ultra last month and features a top notch list of remixers: Laidback Luke, The Bloody Beetroots, Mumbai Science and NT89.
Are there any cities or club nights you’re looking forward to playing most on this trip?
There are a few cities that I've never been to before like Orlando and Victoria, so I'm pretty excited about it. I'm really looking forward to the show at Wavehouse in San Diego too; it's such a great summer spot, right on the beach. The vibe is definitely different from anywhere else because of the location. I already know Los Angeles and Miami will be cool too, every time I play I feel like it's something special.
Travel probably takes up more of your time than it does the common man. Do you have any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom that the average person might enjoy reading?
Travel is fun and a great source of troubles too! I remember this show in Canada around Christmas with Steve Aoki and MSTRKRFT. I was in Italy visiting my parents for Christmas so I had this long intercontinental flight. I spent one day at Rome Airport just waiting to get on a new flight, hoping that I wouldn't miss the gig. Eventually I made it to the club an hour late for my set, Steve Aoki replaced my slot in the show and when he saw me on stage he invited me to get in the booth and share the time set together. This other time I left for a 2 weeks tour in Europe and I had this crazy bad idea of doing something I had never done before—putting my CD wallet into my checked bag. First day of the tour my bag gets lost at the airport. So I had no records to play with. I had only two hours to ask the promoter go look for blank CDs, figure out what I was going to play, and actually burn them. It was very stressful dealing with this, not knowing where the hell my bag was and when I was going to see it again. For a few days, the bag followed me city to city with a day delay, so it made it to the hotel once I already checked out. Living without my own clothes, bags and the rest of the stuff for a week was a big challenge, but I made it.
What is the most colorful/memorable incident you have involving a fan or fan relations?
There's a girl I've never met personally, but I assume she comes to my shows all the times I play in her area, and for a while she was tweeting pictures of a self-made book with photoshopped photos of me and her together with a dinosaurs—I don't know why. Very weird but in a funny way.
Do you have any pets? What do they do while you’re on the road?
Back at my house in Italy I have 10 cats, they live wildly around the house and the garden and my family takes care of them. I'd like to get a dog in Los Angeles but I'm never home and I would never take such a big responsibility knowing I can't take care of it.
Do you have any pre-gig routines or green room rituals?
I can tell what the pre-gig routines have been during the last tour in Japan: SoCo shots like there was no tomorrow. I am not a big drinker but in Japan the vibe at shows is so positive that I've found myself having shots with a bunch of people I don't know backstage.
Is being on the road conducive to your creative process?
Not really. I get inspired seeing other people play, so I collect ideas and type them down on my phone, like "try and make this and work it like that" or record cool things I hear live here and there, but when it comes to the creative process, it’s really hard for me to be productive on the road. The day after the show my ears are saturated from hearing the same kind of sound over and over again. Being a lover of all kind of music, I feel like my brain asks for something else, maybe more quiet. When I am home I try to rearrange the ideas I've collected and work on them, and I really like my home to work on music, probably cause I feel more concentrated and in my own environment. I hate writing music when people are around, but I admire those who can.
How much of your set changes from gig to gig?
It depends on the crowd. I know I can play more experimental in Paris or Lisbon, I know how people in Miami like sexy bass music, I know how California ravers like heavy stuff, so I try to please everybody. I can't lie, I find that it’s more exciting when my audience has fun rather than being 100% about myself, and I can play a lil bit of this and that, so I mess with different genres of music, from electro to progressive to moombahton according to the vibe of the night.
Do you travel with anyone specific? Do you have an entourage?
When in California I often bring my friends from LA along. I just came back from a tour in Japan with my art director / photographer Giorgio Di Salvo. He wasn't a tour manager, he's one of the people I like to have around, we get inspired by the same art, music and people so it's a pleasure to have someone around that indirectly influences what I do with my music too.
What’s on your Rider?
The kind of drinks you would expect from a DJ. But I have a funny story to say. When I got signed to my agency in the USA, I wasn't really used to playing around and I didn't care about the rider form my booker asked me to fill out. I mean in Italy it always worked like you get whatever you want on the night of the gig. So I said to my agent that I didn't know what I wanted in my rider and he could do it for me. So for a couple years he has set up the rider for me.
If you were the biggest musician in the world, what would be on your Rider?
A Harley Davidson on stage
Do you have a favorite airline?
Emirates, I like their logo. A fan did a Congorock logo with their same fonts
What’s your drink of choice?
First class or coach?
I don't have problems flying coach, but for the last intercontinental flights I got upgrades because I was very busy with my schedule and I needed to be fresh and rested upon arrival. People in the coach section are more interesting than old businessmen in first class. I've met more interesting people flying economy.
What items do you always take with you on the road?
iPad for books, Canon G12 Camera, iPhone for music, iMac 15", 2 external HDs for music and samples and sometimes a PsVita now.
What’s the most memorable time you’ve had on the road outside of the club?
Those three days off in Bali with A-Trak. We went on tour in Asia together and saved a little bit of time in Bali for a break. Best choice ever; Bali is like a paradise, amazing beaches, jungle, mountains, Hindu temples and the people are great too. We played a show at the end of our stay and going back to the decks felt a lil bit weird. It was like my mind went somewhere else for three days and I became another person during that time.
What the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check Twitter on my phone.
What the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Check Twitter on my phone.
You probably shake a lot of hands on the road, if people were really to listen after you shook their hand for the first time, what would you say to them?
Describe your sound as a scent, what would it be called?
How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?
Elephants charging into a construction site.
Describe a moment of what may or may not have been “paranoia” in your life. In the end, what was “true?”
I don't like other people listening to my music when I am in the creative process so when I write at home I'm always quiet trying not to be heard.
Talk about the most hectic conflict that you’ve been involved in.
Never been into a fight, thank god!
Do you read books on the road? What are you reading right now?
I read books on my iPad, now I am reading about WWII war strategies. I like history books.
Do you have an adventurous palette?
I've drank tequila out of a can with a snake in it in Tijuana
What do you look forward to most when the tour is over?
Write more music and get ready for another big European tour!
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
I was six playing piano in front of my elementary school. I was so nervous before, but after that day I became the coolest kid in school.
North American tour dates:
Thu June 7th at Yost Theater – Santa Ana, CA
Fri June 8th at Avalon – Hollywood, CA
Sat June 9th at Auditorio Las Americas – Mexico City
Thu June 14th at Ultra Lit Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Fri June 15th at Vain Nightclub – Orlando, FL
Sat June 16th at SET – Miami, FL
Sun June 17th at Wavehouse – San Diego, CA
Thu June 21st – Beta – Denver, CO
Fri June 22nd – Kingdom – Austin, TX
Sat June 23rd – The Great Saltair – Magna, UT