Nick is originally from the UK where he was involved with the London club scene as a promoter and DJ. He later moved to moved to NY to host Danny Tenaglia's legendary Be Yourself parties at club Arc. Nick founded Robots in 2004 to ignite the dance music scene and fuel his passion for electronic music.Dennis Rodgers is a producer and DJ from NY. He heads up Native Theory records alongside Hisham Samawi. He plays deep house, techno and minimal music and has releases such as "Through You" and a remix on Alphahouse records. Bill Patrick is a New Yorker but has DJed around the world, jet setting to clubs such as Fabric, the Cocoon Club, and Tresor. Or perhaps you've seen him hyping up the crowds in Ibiza for We Love at Space or Circo Loco at DC-10.
Dennis: We all liked music. Bill and I thought Nick's accent was cool, so now we play music together.
When did you first form Robots and what's the concept behind your events?
Nick: The first parties started in 2003 were really small. We were collecting a lot of great records and realized that no one was playing them out. I was limited in what DJs and music I could put on at the club, as the techno scene was small during that time in New York. Unfortunately, to fill the venue you had to put on the acts that people knew. It was frustrating. Robots started out of a need to get the music out and there and to get DJing. It made more sense to build up something from the ground up.
Bill: Nick and Dennis started the party while Arc was still open. However, due to my obligations to the residency I was unable to take part. As soon as Arc shut down we decided to all join forces and get this music out there. Looking back it was something I had my doubts about. At the time there was not a huge following for this music in NY and I was unsure if it would work. Our whole approach was to just play music and keep it simple. Eventually we were able to bring in guests that we believed were musically pushing forward, artists that didn't have much exposure in NY but were doing great things on their own. That helped gain recognition for the party and lay the foundation for where we wanted to take this.
Dennis: Nick and I just wanted to play records out together. It really started very modestly and when Arc closed then Bill came in and we were able to really focus on it.
I understand you had a weekly at Cafe Deville? What can you tell us about those events?
Nick: The venue just felt right the minute we went down there. It was really hidden and dark but with surprisingly good sound and a good set-up for DJing (which was rare in the smaller venues in NYC). It was really just a base for us, from which we could throw a party without too much stress. When people started to hear what was going on it just grew and got crazy really quickly. The vibe was amazing. It was great looking back at some of the artists we had play down there given the size of the place.
Bill: We no longer do our weekly but Cafe Deville was definitely a unique spot. It gave us the freedom to book lesser known artists that we wouldn't be able to bring to a larger venue. It had such a gritty underground vibe to it and only took around 30 people for it to get rocking. It held around 100 comfortably and there were a few parties that I could have sworn had 300 people in there. Sweat dripping from the walls and people going nuts. It was messy at times but those were the types of parties that helped to generate a great buzz about the party and music.
Dennis: It is a very fun room to play. The crowd is right in your face so you know if you are playing well or not. We had some great parties there and all our guests really seemed to enjoy it.
Tell us about some of your other upcoming events and what guest DJs you'll be bringing in.
Nick: Most recently we've had Trentemoller (read interview here ) and Matthew Dear play. At Christmas, Superpitcher then in early 2007, Troy Pierce, Marc Houle, Pier Bucci and Dandy Jack and the Junction SM. These guys have all played for us so it's nice to have them coming back.
Bill: The Trentemoller night was pretty insane. I don't think I've ever seen that many people in Cielo at once. The place was going off and it was a great vibe and experience. I'm really excited to have Dandy Jack play for us again in February. Not only is he one of the friendliest people you will meet but musically he is someone I have followed for years. He has a very distinct and original sound that keeps evolving. To have him, Sonja (Junction SM) and Pier Bucci on one bill is going to be very special.
Dennis: Marc Houle is gonna sound really good at Cielo!
Describe the venues you book for your parties like Cielo and the new Pacha.
Nick: Cielo is where we are based now for our residency. Honestly, I think it's the best venue in New York. The size is perfect, 400 people. The sound is amazing. The whole club is laid out in a way so that everyone is interacting and everyone can see each other. It creates the perfect vibe and is a great room to DJ in. We are really happy to be there. They are also dedicated to music and do a good job at running the place. Francois K has his night there on Mondays, which is always great.
For the big shows, I think Pacha is the best. I'm not one for the big clubs really. I find them uncomfortable. However, Pacha does the almost impossible task of making a huge space quite intimate. The sound is also great.
Bill: Yeah, Cielo is by far my favorite venue in NY. It's very intimate with a warm atmosphere. It always has a great vibe with a really nice setup to play on. The layout of the club really allows you to make a connection with the crowd and that always benefits the party. The sound is in a league of its own. They have really created a great thing over the years with the idea of "music first", which is hard to come by in NY. We are really happy to be able to do parties there and are excited for what lies ahead.
Like Nick, I am not a fan of big clubs but I must admit I do enjoy Pacha and what it offers. It's a big club without the attitude. The staff is respectful and courteous. Something that is all but lost in so many giant clubs around the world.
Dennis: Cielo rocks. We have never had a bad party there. It is the type of place the crowd wants to go to so it makes our job easy. The booth is great and everybody dances. It doesn't get much better than that. Pacha is the best big room in NY.
"We were talking about Robots and she said : Where would NY be without you guys ? "
People say things were pretty sleepy in the New York electronic music scene for awhile and credit the Robots for waking up the dance music community. Would you say that's true? What's the current dance music scene like there?
Nick: It's been great to be part of wave of cool things happening in the city. I think it's really all the artists and musicians out there that really deserve the credit. It was their music that was so inspiring for us.
I would say that the last few years have been good and now there's loads going on. However, the club scene has changed a lot since I was living there and a lot of the old NY spots were shut down. It was sad to see Arc go as that was kind of the last of the old NY club spots and one of the last big spaces that was just about the music and dancing. Now there are a lot of smaller parties happening that have kind of taken over the mantle. I recently witnessed some great parties in Brooklyn taking off and feel there's a great future for stuff to grow there.
Bill: I had a girl come up to me one night at a party. We were talking about Robots and she said, "Where would NY be without you guys ?" It was really nice to hear but something I never really thought about. There has always been amazing talent in NY. I feel like we are very fortunate to have been able to take this party to where it is and make an impact on the scene. Like Nick said, it's the musicians and artists that really make the difference. I'm very confident in what we're presenting to the public. At the end of the day I truly believe that if it's good music, people listen and will be drawn to it.
Dennis: We rule! Ha-ha, no we really came around at the right time. What really helped us is that we were embraced by the local techno community and in turn we were able to give a lot of those artists a place to play.
Can each of you talk about the sounds and styles of music you like to play?
Nick: Well for me I am really influenced by the old style techno and the early artificial intelligence stuff on warp. That was kind of the first electronic music that really got me going. It was very electronic sounding but had loads of feeling in it and its still sounds great today.
Bill: I was just talking about how much I hate this question. A friend of mine put it best: Listen to me DJ and then you tell me what style I play. I've had people describe the music I play from "pots and pans techno", "tribally tech-house" to "German trance". In a way those three probably sum up what I play perfectly. A mixture of druggy twisted techno mixed with percussive and melodic house. But it goes to show you that it's all relevant. Music is interpreted differently by each person. I know the types of music I am drawn to. I love the warmer more organic sounds, stuff that has soul and feeling to it. I grew up listening to a lot of older hip-hop, dub reggae, and punk music. So I definitely take influences from all of those.
Dennis: I feel like I try to achieve somewhat of a house-like flow when I play to a dance floor just with techno music. I try at least; I think your average house lover might disagree. I guess I am a bit funkier than your average minimal DJ.
Can you talk a bit about your new radio show? What can listeners expect to hear?
Nick: The radio show is an opportunity to really play everything that we like and that we don't get to play out. There is so much great music that doesn't work in a club setting. Plus, we get to go off on the mic and play jingles. I found the radio experience so refreshing and fun. I really respect what the guys at EvR are doing because it brings together so many people who are into music. It's a real community.
Bill: I love the radio show. We do it every Thursday from 6-8pm EST on www.eastvillageradio.com .
There are none of the pressures that come with playing at a club in front of a crowd. It's just you and a box of records playing music in a small studio set on the streets of East Village New York. It gives you the freedom to play tracks that you would never play or mix together in a set. It's a fun atmosphere to be around. On any given Thursday you could hear music from Afrika Bambatta to Thomas Brinkmann and Ol' Dirty Bastard to Pier Bucci.
Dennis: Getting to do the show is the coolest and just pure fun. We play records for two hours and make fun of each other's favorite sports teams. I hate my voice but my favorite part is talking salad on the mic and throwing shout outs!
What can you tell us about Evil Leader and the Underground Robot Alliance?
Nick: Only that the end of the world is coming soon and you better be part of the alliance....
Dennis: Nick is weird.
Who is .thejass. ?
Nick: Distributor of intelligence.
Bill: Our secret weapon.
Dennis: A dance floor igniter.
How did each of you first get involved with electronic music?
Nick: I was drawn in as a teenager going to clubs in the early-mid 90s in London. Don't really know what happened, but here I am over 12 years later.
Bill: Back in 1998 I was listening to a lot of punk music and going to shows here in NY and Long Island when I started dating a girl that was into dance music. She took me out to my first rave. I was hooked from that moment on. I went out to Borders Books and bought everything in the "electronica" section. It was the only place that sold this music in my town. I remember I was drawn to a lot of the Tresor and Global Underground albums that were out, Kelli Hand, Holy Ghost, Joey Beltram as well as Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and Digweed, quite an interesting selection to say the least. I bought turntables, figured out what style I was into and bought those records. I would go to Twilo religiously ever Friday and then hop over to see Danny Tenaglia at Vinyl. Those were the nights that shaped my understanding and true passion for this music.
Dennis: I was brought to the Tunnel in 1999 and thought the crazy club vibe was cool but hated the music the first week. Before long I was hooked and luckily upgraded to Vinyl and Danny Tenaglia. We started throwing after hours at my apartments and here we are.
What are your thoughts on Ibiza?
Nick: I love going there. It's a special place.
Bill: I've been going there since 2001 and have been very fortunate to play there since 2003. It is a special place to say the least. Playing at places like the terrace at DC-10 is an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life. It's something you can try and explain to people but unless you are there, experiencing it all and taking part then you just can't fully grasp it. It's nice to see the music shifting on the island. I remember a few years ago when people and the press were saying how the island is dead and the scene is soon to follow. I think the problem was that the music was stale and trite. Something new needed to emerge for people to grasp on to and I feel like Cocoon and the Circo Loco crew stepped up and took on that roll. They injected a new life onto the island and now it's stronger than ever.
Dennis: Sounds amazing.
How do you feel about the U.S. occupation in Iraq?
Nick: It's shit.
Bill: As an American it is very troubling for me to watch what's going on over there. I've had the chance to travel around the world DJing and get to meet many people who want to talk about the current situation. Many times it may be the first and only opportunity they get to hear an American's point of view. So I think it's important to sit and speak about this. However, I think it is very rare you come across someone in this scene who sees the American people and our Foreign Policy as one in the same. It is really not fair to generalize a whole nation based on their government's actions and agenda. It's a topic I can talk about for hours but must be done at the right time and place. For instance, bringing this up at an after hours while up for two days is a quick way to kill the vibe.
Dennis: I hope it ends soon.
Okay enough questions :)
Remember your Robots...
Jan 25/07 - Robots @ Cielo w/ Troy Pierce + Marc Houle Live (Minus Records) NY, New York
Feb 22/07 - Robots @ Cielo w/ Dandy Jack and the Junction SM (Perlon) vs Pier Bucci (Crosstown Rebels) NY, New York