Uruguayan crowd pleasers Gabriel Rocha and Robertito Lewinger first joined forces as aspiring DJs with residencies at the famous Milenio club in the capital city of Montevideo. Having sharpened their formidable DJing skills in front of a passionate crowd of techno junkies, they rapidly morphed into tech-savvy producers — notching up credits and alliances with some of the greatest underground dance music labels including Leftroom, CR2, Great Stuff, Craft Records, Sci+Tec, Minimo and their own home-spun Pild Records.
Driven by an intense desire to take their deeper-than-deep rhythms around the world by hook or by crook, Rocha & Lewinger have been cunningly crafting dancefloor bombs and appealing to techno’s big wigs for the past three years.
We spoke to one half of the duo, Robertito Lewinger, to find the truth behind their ‘Into The Matrix’ mix…
Just for the record, which one are you?
“(laughs) I have no hair! In photos it’s better for me to be on the left with Gabriel on the right. The name Rocha is easier to remember and Lewinger is a little complicated.”
Where did you guys meet?
“My partner Gabriel had been DJing for around 15 years in the most famous club, Milenio in our hometown Montevideo. When I met him five years ago, I already liked techno — actually the first record I bought was by Kraftwerk. I have some knowledge of guitar and piano, and all my friends liked salsa. I used to play for weddings and parties until one day I was given the opportunity to play minimal techno in Milenio with Gabriel.”
When did you decide to produce as well as DJ?
“We are DJs first and foremost. The market here in Uruguay is very slow and there are just three million people. We said to ourselves, if we start to produce it’s the only way to get from here to the outside.
“We can see that it is as important to produce as it is to DJ. It’s obvious that sometimes, when a very good DJ makes four or five tracks that they can get more gigs than a DJ that doesn’t produce anything.”
So you’ve had a kind of masterplan?
“It was just three years ago that we started to produce. At first we didn’t move from the studio, working a minimum of eight to 10 hours a day. In the first year one of our tracks, called ‘Down Seq’ was massive with the techno DJs. Dubfire, Sven Vath, Anderson Noise and Marcelo Castelli started to play it. It was amazing! It was released through Leftroom, who gave it to CR2 and then finally they sold it to Great Stuff.”
You built your own studio?
“Yes, we made it in my house, extra soundproofed, so that no-one can hear us, or my wife would not be happy!
“Gabriel is a really good engineer, but we decide everything together. We make a very good team.”
How does it work when you play out together?
“We use Ableton Live and we have four CD decks. We have some kind of connection, I guess — we like the same music, and 50% of the tracks that we play are ours, so we always know what to play and when, because the tracks fit together so well.”
Describe your style…
“We started out making minimal tracks and now we are changing to tech-house, techno and some deep house too. We are learning more and every moment we are becoming more experienced, so our tracks are getting better.
“This year we plan to master everything on our Pild label. The scene here is not very big but the people have a very good understanding of electronic music. Personally I like all styles. house, minimal, techno, all kinds of music. You can enjoy a good house set with harmony. If the DJ is good you will enjoy it.”
Where do you get your inspiration?
“We are influenced a lot by Afro-American people. We use percussion and bongos, these kinds of sounds — it’s not exactly tribal but we like the feel and atmosphere it creates. We also try to use classic things like some minimal sounds. It’s underground music, but we have our own style, I’d say it’s a little techy. Ultimately the music we make is all for the dancefloor, it’s not to listen to. We always try to make something that will break the dancefloor! The people must dance otherwise there is no point.”
Tell us about your other label involvements…
“We were on the compilation ‘5 Years Of Great Stuff’, they’ve put out our tracks. We signed with Sci+Tec and also with Ministry Of Sound in 2008. Last year we appeared on 10 compilations. Steve Lawler picked one of our tracks for his last Essential Mix. Darren Emerson chose a track for his covermount CD with DJmag. We have also signed with Leftroom.
“Last month we made a track for Suara. From progressive to techno it seems that everyone’s playing our tracks.”
How did you connect with Sci+Tec?
“Dubfire had been playing our tracks. We were invited to play a Sci+Tec party with him last year for more than 5,000 people. Some people might try to be a star in that situation but we try to respect the person that comes after you. After this party we became part of his team.”
What is a creative time of the day for you?
“We both have kids, but our wives are very understanding. Rocha has two kids and one is just four-weeks-old. At the moment it is quite complicated. We try to work from 2pm to 1am. We have grown so fast. When we first started we didn’t move from the studio, we were addicted.
“It’s like everyday we had to do something new. In three years we made about 73 pieces, more than half of the DJs on the planet are playing our track ‘Shiitas’. Everybody is going crazy about that track. It’s really what we want, to make music like this and to play it out to the people.”
How do you feel about vinyl?
“We have already launched four or five 12s with other labels, but we want to release vinyl for our Pild label too. Yes, it’s unusual, but I think if you release the vinyl first then you can make more sales before the digital releases. It’s all about marketing.
“We still play it because now with Traktor and Ableton, we can use the technology as well as the vinyl, and make the mix as complete and exciting as possible.”
What’s next for Rocha & Lewinger?
“We have gigs lined up in South America, in Buenos Aires, Chile and Bolivia. And we are coming to Europe in September and October to play London, Spain, Switzerland and a few more places. We’re also taking some money from the label to improve it and working hard managing ourselves.”
TRACK BY TRACK
Rocha & Lewinger lead us through their ‘Into The Matrix’ covermount CD that’s brimming with infectious, bouncy tech grooves…
01. Intro ‘Cetaceos’
“The sound of whales intrigues us and we wanted to start our mix with something atmospheric.”
02. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Shiitas (Original Mix)’ Leftroom
“Coming out this month with hot remixes from Nic Fanciulli’s Skylark.”
03. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Judas (Original Mix)’ Suara
“This is our newest track released by our Spanish friend Ivan Coyu.”
04. Rocha & Lewinger feat JB ‘The Mummy (Original Mix)’ Unsigned
“Another new track from us — exactly the kind of techno we love.”
05. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Last Train To India (Original Mix)’ Unsigned
“We made this track after a gig in India where we missed the train. We can laugh about it now!”
06. Dich ‘Cuzco (Rocha & Lewinger Remix)’ Pild Records
“We’re very happy with the native vocals from Peru on this track.”
07. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Sweet (Original Mix)’ Minimo
“Marcelo Castelli is one of the best Uruguayan DJs and he released this on his label earlier this year.”
08. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Cochise (Original Mix)’ Craft Music
“Everybody loves this track, it’s just something you have to dance to.”
09. Tessa N Calveri ‘Poderoso Caballero (Rocha & Lewinger Remix)’ Cromate
“We wanted to do something quite hard for the Italians with this mix.”
10. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Down Seq (Rework Mix)’ Great Stuff
“A massive track at DC10 — we love what Rework has done with it.”
11. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Miles Davis (Rework Mix)’ Minimo
“One of our early tracks with a South American feel, now with a tougher work out.”
12. Rocha & Lewinger ‘The Game (Original Mix)’ Unsigned
“We take a lot of inspiration from the movies we watch. Saw gave us something to think about for this track...”
13. Rocha & Lewinger ‘Lost In Amazonia (Original Mix)’ 303 Lovers
“This is a beautiful tech house track coming out through this Italian label in August.”