E*Article written for Kesta Happening Magazine by The Incognito Latina*
To call yourself El Rompe Discoteca is a bold statement; you have to be ready and able to deliver. Luckily for us in the DMV, we’re able to get down to the beats of musicologist and mixmaster DJ Travieso El Rocmpe Discoteca. Being the only radio DJ that has been featured on live transmissions for El Zol for over three years running, DJ Travieso gives us some insight on everything from his beginnings in El Salvador to his crew El Combo Letal and updates us on what we can expect in the near future.
KH: What brought you to be a DJ? Do you remember your first gig?
T: Ever since I was a kid, I knew I had it in me. It’s always been a passion and a gift I was born with. I grew up a country boy back in El Salvador and when I was a kid, I used to sculpt turntables and speakers out of clay. Being a DJ has always been in my blood, my passion for music was what drove me to experiment with music and different genres. My first gig was a quinceañera. I was 17 years old.
KH: What makes you Travieso? How did you pick the name?
T: When I was a kid I could never stay still! I would always be on the lookout for things to do and ways to get in trouble. I wasn’t a bad kid, I was just curious. My mom used to always say “¡muchacho, no seas travieso!”. She used to say that a lot. The name stuck, my friends started calling me Travieso and also because my second name is Daniel, like Daniel El Travieso.
KH: Why are you El Rompe Discoteca?
T: I gave myself the nickname back in 1999 officially. I called myself El Rompe Discoteca because I’ve always had the ability to make people get on the dance floor, have fun and never sit down. I’m always very protective of keeping the dance floor busy. I’m a dance floor DJ. There are DJ’s that just play music for the sake of playing it but I consider myself a Dance Floor DJ because I pick and play good music and make sure that people have a good time on the floor.
KH: What music or artists have influenced most your sound?
T: My first influence was Michael Jackson. He was the primary one. When I was living here (in the United States) up and coming artist like NWA (Dr. Dre, Eazy E) and Biggie Smalls, really influenced me too. I was a fan of the West Coast sound. I arrived in California in 1983 from El Salvador and even before I arrived, I already had a liking to that sound, to that genre of music. The first Spanish language artist I remember and that influenced me the most has been Marco Antonio Solis.
KH: Which song in your collection is your biggest guilty pleasure?
T: (Chuckling) I think it would have to be 70’s music. Stuff like Funkytown and Ring My Bell. I think that one is the most embarrassing one to admit to.
KH: Tell me about your equipment. What are your must haves?
T: A must have? Pioneer. It’s the most professional equipment there is and being a professional DJ, you are aggressive. If you’re going to be aggressive, you need equipment that will be strong and responsive to your style. If you get equipment that’s good but not strong enough to adapt to your style, it’s pointless.
KH: What is your process for creating a mix both recorded and live?
T: I experiment with the crowds every night. Sometimes I’ll have something in mind that I want to play or have a pre-mix ready, but sometimes it doesn’t work. Every night you have an idea of what you are going to play for that type of crowd or club but everything always changes.
When I’m creating a mix the most important thing is to keep a constant rhythm. If I’m choosing a “happy” song, the next one has to be equal or better than the one before, it can’t be a slower or a “downer” song. It’s all about keeping the pace and theme consistently. The important thing is to listen to all of the music you want to include before mixing, study the beats and study how the mix from one song to the other is going to sound, listen to how well they sound together. Independently of the genre, the process is the same. When you are making a mix, it has to keep the same vibe.
KH: Tell me about El Combo Letal. What exactly is it? How did it get started?
T: El Combo Letal was created when I met DJ Joe El Especialista. We met at a venue we were both working at. For me the key to success is humbleness and that was what I liked most about Joe, his humbleness. I liked his personality, his craziness; he was a very joyful person. I had more experience than him djing in the clubs, but I liked his aggressiveness, I thought he had a lot of potential. He was really good at reading the crowd and we began working together from there on. We became friends and started Los Rompe Discotecas which was a DJ crew that only lasted a year. We went to play a show with Hector El Father but he already had his crew with that name so we had to change the name to El Combo Letal.
We added people to the crew by scouting out talent here in the DMV that have a solid reputation. To be a strong crew, there has to be talent and that’s what we’re looking for. We are always recruiting and still have a long way to go as a crew. There are lots of people out there that have talent but haven’t been yet discovered and our goal is to discover people with amazing talent.
KH: What led you to DJ’ing at El Zol?
T: I arrived at El Zol with the help of DJ Joe. El Zol had contacted me before but I had many conflicts and said no. At that time I was thinking on a small scale, I wasn’t thinking of the impact that being on the radio would have on my career. Ever since I started at El Zol the floodgates completely opened and now the sky is the limit.
KH: How can we get your mixes?
T: You can go to Soundcloud and search for DJ Traveso El Zol 107.9 FM, there are several mixes there and on YouTube too.
Rumbamix 12:00 p.m. Monday and Thursday
Morning Mix 9:00 a.m. Tuesday
Power Mix Saturday
Bachatamanía Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Live transmissions throughout the weekend from Galaxy, Umbertos and The Palace.
KH: What’s next for Travieso?
T: I want to be a broadcaster. My dream is to have a show on the radio. I want to communicate with people, communicate my life and communicate things that interest me. I’d like to create a fun show, lots of entertainment. Not so much blah blah blah, but entertainment and lots of good music, of course.
KH: What advice would you give aspiring DJ’s?
T: Never give up. Everything happens when it needs to so don’t rush things. Never stop playing and looking for the next opportunity, but if it doesn’t come, don’t give up. The most important thing is to have passion. You need to have passion in order to be successful. If you are doing this as a hobby, you might want to ask yourself if you want to do this as a career.