Roque Ybarra is a DJ and producer from West Michigan and a part of So Vague duo from Detroit.
We had the chance to talk with Roque about his new EP, ‘Lock Down’ released via PITS label.
Electronic Groove: Hi Roque, thanks for chatting with us. Can you let us know how you got involved with dance music? How did all start?
Roque Ybarra: Thanks for inviting me. My involvement with dance music has been an evolution of my musical experiences. When I was a kid my father made me take piano lessons, then I started playing guitar, and later I met friends that inspired me to make beats and start DJing. My first introduction to dance music and club culture was back in 2009 while attending Michigan State University. At that time I was regularly attending a dance party called Neon Tuesday at Mac’s Bar. This is where I learned to Dj, held my first residency, and met a few fellows who I would later create an artist collective with called LEAK, the Lansing Electronic Artists Kollective. Our mission was to refresh the club scene with music other than top 40. I started exploring music production around the same time and knew shortly thereafter that I wanted to do this secondary to whatever pays the bills.
Electronic Groove: You are based in Detroit. What was your impression of last weeks of Movement Festival and its satellite parties?
Roque Ybarra: Movement was yet again an amazing time in Detroit. This year was really special for me because I had the opportunity to volunteer my time to the event’s production. I’ve attended Movement since 2011 so it was really cool to see another side of it, to learn from those who have been involved for many years. The after parties are always unreal. I think it’s great to experience the city and clubs in a new way. The heightened production is usually reserved for Movement weekend so it’s a real treat when you get to see your favorite artists performing in a familiar place that’s been transformed. I feel fortunate that this festival is dedicated to keeping Detroit at the forefront of techno music.
Electronic Groove: Have you seen any change in the local scene over the past few years?
Roque Ybarra: I think the local scene is constantly changing and evolving. From my seat, I always notice when there are new Djs in the scene and when the more senior ones make moves putting out music or playing big events. There are great changes like the creation of the PITS label. John has given several artists from Detroit an avenue to put out proper releases. I also think there has been a change in the way we experience the music. A couple of years ago there was an abundance of after-hours parties that fueled the scene and provided a space for a lot of Djs. However, lately, afters are pretty limited.
Electronic Groove: What are your favorite local clubs?
Roque Ybarra: My favorite clubs are Temple Bar, TV Lounge, The Works, The Whiskey Disco, and Marble Bar. I’ve been co-hosting a party with BeatLoaf at Temple Bar for a couple years and we love the staff, the crowd, and the booth.
Electronic Groove: You recently released ‘Lock Down’ EP, what can you tell us about the production behind it?
Roque Ybarra: The tunes on ‘Lock Down’ were written and sequenced using Reason. The Korg Minilogue’s step sequencer was used for the basslines and that synth was also heavily used for the other leads and effects. The percussion tracks were inspired by the sound of the Roland TR-909. Also, most of the music I play has some sort of vocal element so I always try to work in a funky sample. In the case of ‘Clink Clink’, spoken word. After that track was finished I thought it’d be good material for the PITS label which pushed me to write similar material which is when ‘Workin’ came around.
Electronic Groove: The sounds are very chunky and bouncy. What inspiration was behind it? What were you looking for?
Roque Ybarra: I’m pretty much always looking for tunes with bouncy, funky basslines, but my productions usually come out sounding more like indie-dance or deep house. These tracks have a really rowdy energy to them that was inspired by a couple things going on in my life at the time. A time when I really wanted to clear the drawing board, get back to the basics, and write some jackin house.
Electronic Groove: Do you have any other releases on the pipeline for the rest of the year?
Roque Ybarra: I’m always working on new music and I’ve got a couple more tracks that are shaping up but nothing close to release as of now.
Electronic Groove: What artists have inspired you lately?
Roque Ybarra: Lately I’m really inspired by other Detroit artists like Chuck Daniels, ADMN, Pontchartrain, DJ Holographic, BeatLoaf, Shaun J. Wright, and John Joseph. Tiga, Maceo Plex, Jackmaster, Seth Troxler and Jimmy Edgar are some other heavy influences.
Electronic Groove: Can you share with 3 of your favorite tracks on rotation?
Roque Ybarra: Sure they are
– Chuck Daniels – Freaky Shit
– Project Pablo – Less and Less
– Detroit In Effect – Like No Other
Roque Ybarra’s ‘Lock Down’ EP is available now. Grab your copy here.
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