As a member of the new generation of Latin social dancers, I have come to rely upon Facebook as an information platform for upcoming events, socials and workshops for dancing. And as a college student, scrolling through Facebook is a conscious act of procrastination and rebellion that may be detrimental. But one night of laziness and a wandering eye from my studies proved instead, to be provide an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
My excitement couldn’t be contained when I saw that one of my favorite DJ’s would be playing at a local club in Long Beach.
David Rodriguez, better known by his stage name, DJ Soltrix, is becoming a well-loved artist in the international bachata scene for his modern, catchy, and fun bachata remixes.
After a few Facebook messages, I was able to arrange for a very last minute interview with the man behind my favorite bachata remixes of popular radio hits, such as Disclosure and Sam Smith’s “Latch,” Magic’s “Rude,” and Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful.”
Dressed in a red dress shirt and back vest, I found the twenty-nine-year old Floridian easy to talk to, with his warm and energetic demeanor.
And, although I had a list of hurriedly scribbled questions written down, I would find that the formal interview would fade, and turn into an interesting conversation instead.
Soltrix: “I actually started by accident.
My father was a radio announcer back in the day, so he had his own little mini studio at his house and I would always be in there as a kid, just trying to mess with the music and edit down things, and see what I could do: create a beat—you know, just have fun with it. And DJ-ing came kind of easy for me; surprisingly, I felt like it was there, waiting for me. And from there, I started getting more serious about it, about money for college and going to school for digital production.
I went to International Academy of Design and Technology and that’s where I learned some of the production skills I know. Back in the day, I was only into dance music [EDM, house, techno]; I didn’t know too much about Latin.
I got invited to do a quince, and I’m like ‘Um, okay yeah, I have Spanish background but, uh, you sure you want to hire me? I mean, because all I know how to do is dance and techno music. But then I decided, ‘Okay, I’ll try it.’ Back then I literally only had two Spanish songs: Joe Arroyo’s ‘Rebellion’ and Los Hermanos Rosarios’ La Dueña del Swing.
So I did the party; everyone had fun. It just kind of blossomed from there, and I became known in my community locally for mixing music—Latin—and then I went into production and got more involved in it.”
What was your first club experience like?
Soltrix: “Well, it was Latin surprisingly—that was about a year after the quince. I got booked at this little small bar in Tampa. It was called Black Beans, and it was mostly known for salsa dancing. Bachata wasn’t that big back then, but [there was] a lot of salsa, merengue, reggaeton. It was quite an experience because all of my family went out there, and they were there to cheer me on, and it was kind of magical for me [chuckles]. I always remember that night; it was great to see everyone there supporting me.”
Like many others, Soltrix was introduced to Latin music through his family and their cultural practices. He also danced at home, but now is taking formal dance classes for more learning and practice. Soltrix believes that this formal training is a valuable, giving him another perspective of his music.
What is your favorite dance style?
Soltrix: “Bachata, over salsa. It’s weird because I’m Cuban, and the Cuban culture has a very strong salsa background, so it’s kind of like, ‘You don’t know how to dance salsa and you’re Cuban?!’ [laughs] But bachata is definitely my favorite.”
The majority of the music that Soltrix works with is bachata, but also includes salsa, reggaeton and dance music. His music-making process that often combines bachata with non-Latin genres of music, such as EDM and house, is often inspired by the strong vocal tacks present in the electronic-non-Latin-dance music.
What is your favorite remix you’ve produced?
Soltrix revealed that his favorite track is the remix of “Faded” by ZHU that he had produced in December of 2014. This track has special value for him because of its arrangement, absent of a dominant vocal track.
Soltrix: “It’s literally just instrumentation with very few lyrics, which is what I like about it…sometimes it’s not about the words and singing–it‘s about the feel of the music. It has a very nice sexy feel to it for the dancers too. That has to be my all-time favorite.”
Soltrix mixes his music using present-day technology, during which computer software can mimic and arrange all the instruments and components of music that would otherwise require multiple people, a band of instruments and a recording studio. It is an amazing process that takes about 12 hours to complete, behind-the-scenes, and before dancers arrive on the floor. Although he does know how to play a few musical instruments, such as the keyboard and guitar, Soltrix’s work is concerned with arranging different and diverse components of music into one, cohesive whole that all dancers and club-goers alike, can enjoy.
With this type of knowledge in mind, I asked him if he created his work with more of a musical, or dancing perspective.
Soltrix: “I try to consider both: my musical knowledge—without it, I couldn’t do it [mix music]—but at the same time, I think of the dancers, because honestly, these remixes are bigger in the social dance scene, versus the night club. At least with the social dancing you can mix it up and add English to it, which is what motivated me to do that.
New and potential dancers can easily admit that the social dance scene is intimidating. The sight of a packed dance floor of people spinning and moving as if they know exactly what they are doing, can be a daunting sight—even for more experienced dancers.
However, Soltrix’s music creates a sort of meeting ground for experienced and beginning dancers alike.
This is due to one of the most unique aspects of Soltrix’s music: how it features English artists. An appeal of his music is the familiarity of the tunes, as non-dancers and those outside of the social dance scene can recognize the songs he works with, and feel connected to them. This was certainly a reason why his music was personally attractive to me, and I mentioned this to him.
Soltrix: “A lot of the dancers in the social scene, they don’t speak Spanish, they’ll speak anything—you know, bachata is world-wide now: Italy, Spain, Australia, Japan. It’s all over the place now. Not everyone knows Spanish, but English is also a big language, so this is my contribution to the bachata scene to do remixes of English songs for people, songs they may like, popular radio stuff, and at the same time, EDM.
So it’s interesting that you say that, because that was my idea for doing these—to cater towards the English crowd.”
Soltrix’s music continues to inspire and draw people to the bachata scene, allowing him to travel about once a month to play at the next festival or event. He is living his dream as a DJ, and expressed his personal sentiment towards the international appeal and power of bachata,
Soltrix: “It’s so amazing to see, just thousands of people out there dancing bachata. Just goes to show you how big it’s becoming.”
As I concluded the interview, I opened the floor for questions—concerns that I thought would be primarily logistical, as to when the interview would be published, and so forth.
Instead, in an act of humility and kindness, Soltrix asked for constructive criticism. His openness to learn from and hear the voice of college student was stunning, and thoroughly appreciated. Fifteen minutes passed, and then we hurried downstairs so he could start playing his music. And of course, I got to dance the night away!
The next day, I would open my iTunes and click shuffle, then press play. Soltrix’s rendition. Of Tiesto’s “Red Lights” hummed out of my speakers. I opened my textbooks and fished a few papers out of some folders. Intuitively, I began to tap out the bachata bass beat with my pen, and then realized that my head was bopping to the bongos. I smiled. As I turned the page, I was thankful to have the Latin social dance scene, and DJ Soltrix, help the long, but fleeting college days and nights pass by.
David & I after a night of music & dancing at PCH Club in Long Beach.