He has been around in the New York dance scene for 15 years, and from day one he has drawn the attention from the world with his unique ways of promoting - this man is known as "Robbi - 5 Time Award Winning Best Promoter". Right in time for his birthday smash this friday we present you an exclusive interview with this truly unique personality.
Question: When and how did you become a promoter, had you been involved into the music scene before?
Answer: I have never been involved in the music scene on a business level prior to my becoming a promoter I have always been open to all types of music and back in 1988 my cousin Mark introduced me to the WBLS late night mixes, as a matter of fact the very first mixer I heard was Merlin Bobb and being used to hearing the way hip hop and reggae DJ's spin... I was literally blown away by Merlin's style of dj'ing and what he was playing... Anyway it was him playing some weeks and Timmy Regisford other weeks on WBLS... then it my cousin also put me on to others Bobby Konders, John Robinson (rip), Tony Humphries and others…..then he took me to a few of the "Wild Pitch" parties and the Shelter in 1992…
How I really started promoting came by accident... meaning I used to live with my aunt in a huge three story house that caught on fire and we lost everything... We all separated right after and I had virtually no place to live or go (this was in late 1995 by the way)... Then my cousin told me he heard the Shelter had reopened so I said let me go down there and at least listen to some good music while get my thoughts together. When I got to the door I was told the club wasn't Shelter but now called "Vinyl" and the "Undergorund Network" (a weekly Jam put together by Don Welch + Barbara Tucker with resident DJ "Little Louie" Vega). I got to the cashier and took the opportunity to ask him (of all people) if there's anything I could do to help out at the club. He was nice enough to go out of his way to pointing me out to Cedric (manager of the Underground Network) who kept it short and simple... Then gave me a stack of flyers and said go hand them out... Then from the point it was no turning back.
Question: You are "THE" house music promoter and got voted "Promoter of the Year" for the 5th time in a row. What does this award mean to you?
Answer: It means a great deal to me... In the same sense a Grammy means to a remixer... It threw my whole equilibrium in full gear meaning I have more confidence, self esteem and respect for myself while continuously putting it out there that I have 5 awards brings me more and more opportunities.
Question: Do you have a secret formula that makes things you promote a success, or is this simply the result of your hard work?
Answer: It's a little bit of both... Well let me say this... My formula shouldn't be a secret to anyone if you look at it... I draw attentions to me by the way I do things... The DJ's I work with... A I also have a tendency to put myself out there the same way I put DJ's parties or releases I promote... People are slowly starting to understand that's there's no real "face" behind house music.
Question: For way over a decade, you made yourself a name for promoting parties. But beside that, you also promote music, DJs and websites. Would you describe this evolvement as being a natural thing, or is there another reason?
Answer: I guess it comes natural when you put time, hard work and different ideas in.
Question: Did the rise of the internet change your work as promoter? Does it make things easier or more complicated?
Answer: Yes it sure did change my work it has made it way easier... Especially seeing I am a creative type of person, I would say at about an average of twice a month I come up with new ways, or a new area to promote through the internet.
Question: We are living in a digital world - does promoting a party still involve giving out flyers? And how important is it for you to be out on the street and in touch with the people?
Answer: Yes it still very much involves giving out flyers... In My opinion flyers will always continue to bring awareness to what's going on even though I'm not an overly social type of person I still think its very important for me to be out there, I still live by a rule "you don't get anything if you stay in".
Question: There is lots of young and fresh talent out there waiting to be discovered. What do they have to do for getting recognized and promoted?
Answer: It may be hard but ill advised them to figure out different ways of marketing themselves as opposed to the common way the millions of other folks are doing it.
Question: What are your thoughts about the sudden surge of new DJ's? Do you think this is just a phenomenon of our time?
Answer: I welcome it and I think it's a great thing for the scene but just to be real here a lot of them are straight up not going to prosper from it. Simply because dj'ing is an art form and it should be respected as that. But a lot of folks seem to do it as a gateway to show off and the ways they go about doing it are highly upsetting.
Question: As house music must be considered underground these days, how important is promoting its parties, music and DJ's? Would house music still be that big without the thorough promotion?
Answer: Nope, not at all. It'll go back to the exciting old days where a lot of parties went by word of mouth promotion. And one was totally left out unless you knew someone like LIL RAY who knew the ins and outs...
Question: There is an undeniable lack of support for house music these days, especially from radio stations. Would you consider house music becoming mainstream with lots of media coverage healthy or not?
Answer: Yes I would consider it really healthy on a business level, sure.
Question: You organized some of the hottest and memorable house music parties in and around New York and at the WMC in Miami in recent years. What can we expect next, could you think of expanding globally or of promoting things not related to house music?
Answer: Hah!! Well I launched a new monthly party called TWO NATIONS with resident DJ's Wayne Williams + Kenny Dope with different opening DJ's. Well I currently promote parties and music on a global tip if that's what you mean... But doing events globally? Yeah that's going to happen really soon...
Question: The dance music scene in New York has seen a couple of rises and falls since the legendary days of Studio 54, The Paradise Garage and the old Shelter. How would you describe the current situation, are things on the up or down?
Answer: I think things are up, I'm totally impressed with the way promoters roll with the changes in times and venues... I'm also impressed at the high amount of consistent parties in NYC so yes its definitely up and going smoothly.
Question: If you look back on how the WMC in Miami changed in recent years, would you - from a promoter's point of view - say it changed for the better, or did it loose its purpose? What things should be changed about it?
Answer: I think its harder to do parties in Miami than years before due to hard times I guess, but this is just another thing we have to roll with... Its no point sitting there and crying about it, we are the ones that have to step up and come up with ways to entertain folks. I'm just like everyone else who wishes venues to be I little more lenient of the pricing and the double booking.
Question: What are you feelings about the music scene becoming a digital world, does it help or harm the scene, especially the artists?
Answer: Ah man this is a tough question... I think it helps the scene on a popularity level but hurts it on a financial level...
Question: When do you consider a party or record you promote a success?
Answer: When the party is packed and everyone has a great time. When a record hits top 5 or even 10 on Traxsource it's a success. But mind you I've promoted and seen records never hit top 10 but they floated around in the top 100 for months that's a success to in my books.
Question: What is the most memorable moment in your career as promoter?
Answer: Actually they are two of them:
My Birthday smash at Shelter in uhh 2002 where Timmy Regisford spun and Louie Vega and Merlin Bobb and about 1600 or so people showed up that night...
And the other one was the Masters At Work Electronic Party at WMC sometime back that one was so much fun.
Question: Is there anybody you would like to work with if you would be given the opportunity?
Answer: Yeah I've worked with literally everyone but I would love to work with Phil Asher, Miguel Migs, Aaron Ross + Neil Pierce and Mike Weiss (Nervous CEO) - maybe a few more but I cant think of them right now but those are the main ones.
Question: Anything else you would like to share with us:
Answer: Yes I would like everyone especially in the deep underground scene to click on the below link and submit the names of your favs for the IDMA awards its really important for our community to be noticed:
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.