MUSIC: DJ Ruben Toro Makes His Mark on Internet and Beyond
So much to be grateful for this year, including the following exclusive interview with one of New York City’s legends of House _ DJ Ruben Toro of the famed Temple Movement parties. The “Latin Bull” discusses how his long-running Temple party got its start, life after the 98.7 KISS.FM radio show and conquering a new frontier online. Be sure to tune in to I Soul Radio.com tonight for a special holiday mix by Toro and enjoy Thanksgiving with friends, family and some infectious grooves.
NOTE: Catch DJ Ruben Toro’s Thanksgiving Special Mix at 10 p.m.-12 a.m. on i-soulradio.com and the “Fun House” every Saturday night from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (ET)
TFM: So, how are things going with the new Internet radio show? What led to the change after so many years as part of WBLS’ regular Saturday night programming?
RT: Things are great over at i-soulradio.com. I am currently hosting to 1,400 listeners near and far. So I’m basically syndicated now to the world I’ve got listeners in Japan, Greece, Ghana, Canada, Spain, etc. and, of course my hometown New York. Also, no commercials or Arbitron worries. After 13 years on 98.7 Kiss FM “Kiss Club Classics,” I still wanted to do radio but if I did … how can we change it? Meaning bigger and more exposure with all this technology: iPhones, iPads, iPods and Androids. That’s when former program director of Kiss FM, and now owner of http://www.i-soulradio.com, Jay Dixon reached out to me. He was always great to work with and I respected him so much that as soon as he presented the whole idea to me I jumped on it. Knowing it will sound great based on his expertise and experience. Currently, i-soulradio.com is the #2 most listened to station out of more than 3,000 stations on Live 365.
TFM: What did it take to get everything in place for your return to radio, including a successful online petition campaign? Is this the future of DJ culture, more money in streaming downloads versus live gigs at smaller venues?
RT: After figuring out how to be able to post the metadata for the songs being played on the station so as the music is being played, the player and Live 365 will collect all the data for royalties, etc. As for the future, gigs are and will always bring in the money. There is nothing like playing in front of a crowded room but with streaming online I get to reach out to so many more at the same time. People around the world can listen to me live which also helps with overseas gigs.
TFM: A lot of history behind your beloved Temple Movement party and the city’s underground dance scene. Walk me down memory lane a bit. What’s your impression of NYC nightlife now? Have we loss something irreplaceable along the way?
RT: I received a phone call about doing a party in Brooklyn back in 2004 by the owner of Langston’s. He had wanted to start up a House party on a Sunday evening called the Tea Party. For about the first two months we were averaging about 30 to 45 people. One weekend due to a heavy rain storm the club experienced power outage. We moved the party over to a friend of his that owned a small lounge just around the corner. We decided to make it a free party for all that one night and needless to say that was the birth of and the beginning of the Temple Party. Since that night back on 2004 we always held at a steady number of 300 and on special weekends we would do anywhere between 450 to 600 people. Eight years later and I’m proud to say we have never looked back and continue to grow. Unfortunately, now we don’t have places to actually party … all the big clubs are gone, reduced to lounges and the requests from the owners are ridiculous. This is why I have been doing loft parties _ for one, I have space to fit the crowd, and I don’t have to worry about politics and neither does my crowd.
TFM: How do you feel about all the chatter over EDM lately and trending fads in pop music incorporating more House but not reaching out to the real pioneers still going strong?
RT: My thoughts on this whole dance songs being put out now, it’s cool … I’m just glad the mainstream music is changing from the Hip Hop being played all the time. As for not reaching out to the pioneers and giving respect to those who paved the way for all of this, well, let’s just say I’m not surprised.
TFM: Looking at the popularity of today’s mega-DJs like David Guetta and Deadmau5, I wonder if the mainstream will ever see pass the hype. Do you think it’s possible to be a success financially and remain true to underground culture without sacrificing its essence?
RT: Our sound of House music is not for everyone. There are followers and there are leaders so long as you have the money to promote to the mainstream and get your records played on mainstream radio you will always have followers. The leaders are the ones who choose not to follow everyone, think for themselves and know what is real music. Songs with a meaning/message, soulful bass lines, deep kicks, etc. The kind that makes you close your eyes and get lost in the music. As for being financially successful and staying true to the music? Absolutely, the underground scene is very open-minded to all types of music so long that it has an infectious groove.
TFM: Do you remember first time you were introduced to House music? Do you think you’ll still be rocking the decks when you’re 70? And, why are the “Classics” so popular after all these years?
RT: The first time was 1991 working at the Club Shelter, which was my version of the Paradise Garage since it was my first introduction to the underground scene. Ever since then I never looked back. Spinning at the age of 70 lol … YES! Because it’s my passion, of course, as long as the people will still come out to listen _ lol. Classic’s are so popular because these are songs that have stood the test of time and everyone loves them no matter how old it is. People like what they know … simple.
DJ Ruben Toro: www.djrubentoro.com
I Soul Radio.com: http://www.i-soulradio.com/I_Soul_Radio/Home.html