MUSIC: Dreaming Big with Inti J. Rodriguez
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A with INTI J. RODRIGUEZ, CREATOR of 1200DREAMS.COM
A child’s dreams can come true, if given the right tools and motivation along the way. Entrepreneur and music aficionado Inti J. Rodriguez is living proof and now shares that mantra as a proud parent of two. The Bronx native created 1200Dreams.com, an ambitious online nightlife network and magazine designed (as he sums up succinctly on his site) “to give voice to and bring together in a new way all those who dance to the beat of a different drum. Those who go to church on dance floors, those who feel the bass reverberating through their bones, those who rise up by getting down.” After a hiatus from DJing, Rodriguez talks about his return to the turntables and other big dreams in an exclusive with Tania Fuentez Media.
NOTE: Photo courtesy of Inti J. Rodriguez
TFM: When did the creative bug bite and what are your earliest memories of wanting to write. Did you also come from a musical household?
Inti: Wow, we’ll, I’ve always been creative in some way, though honestly, I doubted that of myself for a long time. It all stems from when I was a toddler and my aunt, may she rest in peace, would try to teach me guitar but I always wanted to play instead. So I grew up with this underlying feeling that I wasn’t really creative ‘cuz I never learned to play an instrument, except the turntables of course, which I picked up in my early teens.
Those doubts are more or less gone now, but still there are always remnants left behind. In fact, I just read this article recently that helped clean up some of those remnants. It touched on something called paracosms, which are these elaborate worlds that young kids create to expand on their favorite books or TV shows, you know fan fiction, or in my case, toys. When I read it I instantly related. I was like, “Hey, I’ve done that, twice!”
First time I was between the ages of 7 and 12, give or take. I split all my toys into two armies, created these complicated back stories for the key characters, drew world maps … Ha, yeah it was awesome. This article states that kids who do that are more likely to be creative adults.
The second elaborate world I created is where I actually discovered my love of writing. And it began with mix tapes. Like many kids back then I would stay up all night recording mixes from the radio. I would then edit them down the best I could, name them, create cool covers, and set an actual “release” date. Afterwards, I would log them in a book, along with the songs they contained, keeping tabs on how often a DJ was behind the decks and how often a song and artist would appear. At the end of the year, I would present the winners with an award in my own “award show.” I actually created a magazine with interviews, pictures and everything. There’s more but I think I’ve more than answered the question. And as for those pesky lil’ negative thoughts. yeah, I think I have them beat.
TFM: What eventually led to the launch of 1200Dreams.com and what do you hope it accomplishes in the long run?
Inti: I guess you can say it began with my very first experience with the Internet which was writing for a Web site. I was introduced to someone just as he was creating one. He didn’t know it but he needed a writer. I helped him realize that. Fast forward a few years the first dot-com boom catapulted us to the big leagues when our site caught the attention of the late George Jackson, one time president of Motown, executive producer and director behind flicks such as “Krush Groove,” “House Party 2,” “New Jack City” and more. After the bubble burst, I started all over helping yet another friend with his site. Eventually, I decided it was finally time to do my own thing. And really, if you go based on what I shared earlier, I think it was destined to happen.
1200Dreams is a continuation of that company I formed in my bedroom as a teenager mixed with my love for writing, of DJing and dance culture, and finally, the Internet. I launched 1200Dreams as a concept in November 2007. Had a site up within a weekend but then spent a year learning the ropes and getting played by a shady programmer until I took the reins myself and launched wholeheartedly in January 2009. It’s been a nonstop hustle ever since.
As for what I hope it accomplishes? I want 1200Dreams to be the ultimate online network for all things dance music and DJ culture, providing not just connectivity and business tools to industry vets and some cool features for fans and of course, the latest nightlife news for all but, also to be a repository of sorts that captures the true heart and soul of all the forms of dance music from all over the world. Dance music isn’t only House music and EDM from America. Or the results of its influence in Europe and elsewhere. Dance music really began at the beginning of human history, it is deeply engrained in the story of humanity itself and it needs to be told once and for all. Wait, does that sound too grand? Well, it’s not really, in fact, I think it’s necessary at this point and much past due if you ask me but, for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say I would like 1200Dreams to be LinkedIn meets Rolling Stone magazine with the cultural significance of MoMA. And if that’s still too grand, well, what can I say, I dream big.
TFM: Significant life lessons that still keep you grounded? How does that influence your creative and business endeavors?
Inti: I’ve learned a lot over the years, to be humble, to be open-minded, to not be resistant to change, that at the end of the day people only respond to hard work but for me the real answer to this question is my children. They keep me grounded and provide the energy and motivation that I need. It is now the soil from which everything else springs forth.
TFM: Who do you relate to most: DJ, writer, entrepreneur or all the above? How do you balance so many hats and what advice would you offer those interested in making a lasting difference in the music industry and, ultimately, society as a whole?
Inti: Who do I relate to? All of the above. As for balancing it all, that’s a job in itself. I think my saving grace is my own built-in ability to be able to pull away. Whether listening to music, dancing, reading, I have this keen ability to just clear my mind and allow the answers to whatever question or issue I am facing come to me, or I sleep. And lady, I can sleep. Advice? You need to have thick skin to work in the music business, in any business really. To leave that lasting impact all you can do is your best, the rest is up to forces beyond our comprehension and control.
TFM: Where are some of the city’s under-the-radar hot spots right now? Any reflection on the future of NYC nightlife?
Inti: I think right now if you want real, deep parties you need to search outside of the neighborhoods you think the hot parties are in, and I don’t just mean Brooklyn. I mean, of course there are plenty of clubs in Midtown and downtown Manhattan but, Harlem and Washington Heights now have some hopping spots worth checking out such as the Hudson River Cafe. And, Queens is also great for some House and Trance. Two spots that I can remember right off the head are Ravel rooftop and Cavo lounge. Not mega clubs by a long shot but, trendy, cool and good music.
As for the future of our nightlife, well, that’s a whole other story. It seems that despite this being the biggest city in the world, the ones who have historically run this town have an issue with people dancing. Not many people know but Cabaret laws are still strong here, and though they are not as strictly enforced as they were back when “Gooliani” (former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani) was in charge, it still affects us.
Opening a club, much less keeping it open is extremely difficult. I don’t know what the future is but, I’m sure about one thing, the best parties will most likely be the underground, jump off parties. They might last a while but eventually the people will move on to something else. We need to understand our culture is underground and embrace that and sadly, that means when it comes to our scene there will be no long-standing institutions like Radio City Music Hall or the Met. It is what it is.
TFM: What’s making you smile these days? New hobbies or projects? Favorite tunes or places to visit with friends and family?
Inti: Easy, my lil’ man and lil’ princess. No matter what happens from now on, I have them. If I do right by them I’ll consider myself successful. As for hobbies, well, after a long absence I’m DJing again, so strengthening those skills keeps me entertained on that front. Favorite places to visit? You mean besides a good dance floor? Well, my parents house in Florida, note, I didn’t say Florida, just their house. And we’ve been going to Ocean City, Maryland, for a few years now. I really like it, a relatively close get away and not much to do. Awesome.
1200 Dreams: http://www.1200dreams.com