From bellboy to DJ wonder, Erok’s story is one full of hard work and natural talent in a city where dreams can come true. He came onto the Miami scene during the rise of Hip Hop in Florida and quickly became known for the way he balances the new tunes with old school sounds. Throughout his career Erok has proudly served as an ambassador of the Miami sound around the world. We recently caught up with Erok to discuss his highly mobile career, his work on the clothing line Yaga, and what he thinks of new Miami talent.
You’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling recently (Sao Paulo, Abu Dhabi) and are slated to do shows in Austria and Germany in early 2011. While racking up your frequent flier miles abroad, what club memories of Miami keep you coming back to spin here?
What club memories don’t keep me coming back?!?! Miami has quite a special club scene. It is one of the few cities that on any day of the week at either a mega club or just a lounge, you can have a night that feels like a special event, holiday, or turns into a full-blown concert! Partygoers around the world always want you to bring a piece of Miami to them, and that alone says a lot for the city.
How has the DJ world changed since you started in 1997?
Wow, that alone is a whole story itself. Most importantly, technology has allowed DJs to travel the world more aggressively. We don’t have to pick a handful of records to carry with us, and to later be limited by that selection. Whether you are using CDs, computer-based, or other digital forms of music, you can do a posh wedding in the Caribbean one night, shoot straight to Europe for a corporate event, then jet off to Asia for an insane club night all without coming home to switch music. Furthermore, you can stay on top of all the new music being released while on the road. Subsequently, the same advances in technology have allowed so many more newbies, celebrities, and creatives to DJ as well. This gives venues and clients several new options when hiring talent, but it is also a reason to stay sharp and on top of your game.
Being the first artist to be signed by DJ Irie to his ArtistRelated label, did you ever imagine that your career would take off the way it has?
DJ Irie has always been on top of the industry and a great friend/mentor, so when I teamed up with him and ArtistRelated, I was confident it was going to lead to a great future. I was born in a small town, but thanks to my parents and their travels, I always had an eye on the rest of the world along with a strong desire to see it firsthand. I always knew that DJ-ing could fulfill a lot of my dreams, but when I slow down to absorb my progress and weigh in how much is left to pursue, it is quite humbling.
How do you find time to balance your career in music with your creative work with the classic clothing line Yaga? How did that partnership begin?
Actually, my father is the founder of Yaga, and it has been a huge part of not only my life, but my family’s as well. It has been a balance learned from a young age. My brother and mother are also just as involved, so I naturally kept up with the business.
The Miami sound has been steadily evolving as new artists gain notoriety in almost every genre. What artist do you see at the forefront of the Miami music scene?
Clearly, Pitbull, Flo Rida, and Rick Ross have blown the doors open for Miami. These guys have put Miami in the spotlight, especially internationally. There have been several occasions when these guys are playing right next door to my venue in Monaco, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, etc. Let's not forget the legends either. Luke (Luther Campbell) still defines Miami's sound, and always gets lots of love no matter when and where you play some of the classics. As a DJ, my favorite remains DJ Craze; he is still king. He continues to amaze me and innovate Miami's sound. I have always been a huge fan of the Spam All-Stars as well, and always look forward to their releases.
Do you have your eye on any new Miami DJ talent?
I'll be honest - I don’t have my eye on too many of the new talents. There are so many new guys getting lost in the blur nowadays. The talents that have built the scene into what it is today are more my speed. Guys like Irie, Mr. Mauricio, Ross One, Affect, Radamas, Mark Leventhal, Tom LaRoc, and Danny Daze, especially with his live group Señor Stereo, are the ones to still pay attention to.
Check out more about Erok online at djerok.com, on Twitter (twitter.com/erok) and on Facebook.