In my mind, local DJ and promoter Isaiah Rodriguez is a metal guy, partly because of a crazy drunken night when we first met and bonded over a mutual love of Celtic Frost. But I digress. Rodriquez's real work (as it were) has generally been in promotions through imprints such as Ornery Bull, Dead Dub Society and Electrovibe Events, the latter of which turns 15 years old this month.
Rodriguez is celebrating with a show and benefit for St. Elizabeth Shelter and Supportive Housing dubbed the Silver and Gold Masquerade Ball. I caught up with Rodriguez to talk about his last 15 years and what to expect from the show.
- Where’d you start out as a DJ?
Little Rock, Arkansas. I started off as a touring DJ—went by Forum, the Greek word for gathering—and started picking promoters' heads, knowing I wanted to [promote].
2. Why promoting?
Just a love of music. It's pretty simple.
3. When was your first show that you booked yourself?
December 2002 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It's kind of like this midpoint town an hour and a half north of Dallas and an hour and a half south of Oklahoma City. Everybody wanted to play there.
4. That year, 2002, was kind of the tail end of a certain type of rave scene.
It was. At least for what I knew it as. But I'd been in the scene since '95 and I've still seen it change a lot.
5. Was it weird being on the other side of shows—promoting instead of DJing?
Absolutely not. I mean, there was more stress, but everything was still familiar. If you DJ for awhile, you just know how things operate.
6. How long have you been in Santa Fe now?
Ten years in August. I came out for Santa Fe Music Fest [author's note: Santa Fe Music Fest was this big show a long time ago that probably not a whole lot of people remember] and booked a lot of the artists for that in the electronic genres. I was living in Dallas, came out to play, and ended up loving it and staying here.
7. But you didn't just stick with electronic acts when it came to promotion, right?
Naw. I've done country, rock, metal, dub, drum and bass … Electrovibe is just for the electronic kinds of music.
8. Do you still DJ yourself?
Oh yeah. I'll be playing at the show just as Isaiah.
9. What's your sound like these days?
Man, I'm not really genre-specific. I play with the format of parties. I never plan sets, I just bring in a bunch of stuff I think will work. For this specific party, I'm gearing more toward Chicago house, old-school house. You'll have your jazz elements. Some tribal house, which has African elements and beats. Tech-house, a fusion of techno and house.
10. So you do a lot. It's kind of most important for a DJ to read the room.
It's like a final step. You get your phrasing down, your engineering down, you read the crowd.
11. Like curating a feeling or a story?
I've noticed a lot of the heavy-hitters today just play floor-fillers; it's all bangers all night and in your face. I do want to be telling a story.
12. Do you think it's cool that almost anyone can be a DJ now?
I don't find it that cool at all. To me, it takes away the art of being a DJ when you're able to just open a laptop and press 'sync.' Literally anyone can do that.
13. When you started, was it with vinyl?
It was. It's important. I think if you want to be a DJ, as with learning any music, you want to know the roots of it. The turntable was your instrument, like playing the guitar. Being able to learn to read the vinyl, listen with your ear, alter your phrasing and beats. I don't have a problem with [DJing software], but I think it should be the last step of the process. If you can go through years learning—and it literally was years for me—and sucking for awhile. … If you can stick with that, go through that process, you graduate to different and better things.
14. Does that big 15 feel good? Does it feel shitty?
I'm surprised I've stuck with it for so long. There are times when you get frustrated, especially in Santa Fe. The support here is so hard to put your finger on—I've had shitty nights in the summertime and sold out in January. I come from Dallas where it didn't matter what day you threw a show, you were gonna be packed.
15. So then what'll your big 15th-year show be like?
It's a benefit for St. Elizabeth Shelter, the sixth I've done with them, and I encourage people to bring winter clothes, jackets, unwrapped toys. I have a soft spot for them, they're one of my favorite organizations in town. If I can do anything for the cause I will. We'll have Lea Luna from Denver doing a throwback set—like pop, but not bubblegum pop; Billiam, who does tech-house; Justin and Jonathan Ray doing a back-to-back house set; I'm DJing, plus this guy from Albuquerque called Otto-Matic, who was there at my first show in Oklahoma in 2002 doing a warm-up set. It'll be a house-heavy night.
Silver and Gold Masquerade Ball
8 pm Saturday Dec. 9. $18-$22.
1352 Rufina Circle,