Congrats to Danny from everyone at Markbass!
Here the interview (translated in English).
WHO IS DANNY ROJO AND WHAT HAS HIS MUSICAL PATH BEEN LIKE?
I was born in Santa Cruz del Norte, Cuba, to a musically-endowed family. My mother taught me how to play my first guitar chords, and also, hearing her sing at friends’ and family parties made me want to sing, too.
As a child, I was more inclined to practice sports; I participated in Olympic wrestling, judo, and baseball until the music that flowed through my veins engulfed me.
I studied the clarinet and the piano. But at the age of 14, I got tired of symphonic music, and sent it to hell, in exchange for rock-n-roll.
HOW HAS YOUR JOURNEY OF FINDING YOURSELF AS A SINGER AND MUSICIAN BEEN LIKE BY WAYS OF YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCES?
Music has given me everything I have and what I am today. It’s given me liberties, my family, it’s my job. It’s my everything! It’s been a difficult process, but it’s what entertains me and satisfies me most. The day it ceases to exist in my life, I will commit suicide! It’s been a difficult process, but justifiably so!
IF YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO TURN BACK TIME, WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING?
If I could turn back time, I’d compete as a wrestler in the Olympics. I still love sports as much as I did when I was a child.
HOW DO ROCK, METAL, AND THE MUSICIAN WHO PLAYS THE MUSIC OF HIS CUBAN ROOTS MESH?
I interpret many genres because I love to play…even by banging on a door. My nerves rattle me when I’ve gone two days without an instrument in my hands. I find myself banging on any surface, and singing on any street corner. I love music and I love playing. Rock and metal touch my heart; performing salsa, jazz, and Cuban music have been part of my professional life for the last three decades. My Cuban roots are part of my DNA. I’m from a coastal town on the North side of Cuba, from where we would listen to the radio frequencies of South Florida. This music influenced my love of rock.
WHAT INFLUENCES YOU? WHO ARE SOME OF THE MUSICIANS YOU ADMIRE?
My influences are numerous. The fact that I emerged myself among different genres forced me – from a very young age – to listen to and learn from the great interpreters of each style. From Bach to Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Beny More, Orquesta Aragon, Felix Chapotin, Irakere, Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Iron Maiden, Pantera…there are too many to name them all!
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE WHEN PERFORMING LIVE?
I use Warwick Streamer LXV and the Stage I; while in the studio, I oftentimes go “old school” with Fender Jazz Vintage 78 and Fender PG Fretless 71; to play Latin jazz, salsa, the Azola Vintage Baby Bass
Amplifiers: Markbass Little Mark 800 and Little Mark III
Speakers: Markbass Standard 104HR, Standard 115HR, and Traveler 102P
Pedals: Markbass Super Synth and Mini Distortion, Hotone Fuzz, Chorus, and Press Wah
Microphones: Audix 0m11 for voice; D4, D6, for the bass cabinets
Strings: DR Strings Pure Blues
TC Hellicon Vocal processor, Voice Live II EBS multi-compressor on the pedals, too
TALK TO US ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES IN PERFORMING WITH “MALA ENTRAÑA” AND PLAYING WITH A GROUP OF CARIBBEAN MUSICIANS IN NY BARS…
Performing with “Mala Entraña” and Cuban music is, the most fascinating experience I have ever lived. From an artistic point of view, not much changes, only the way you plan an instrument and the sound it produces, different tuning, instruments, dynamics, metrics, and agogics. But what really fascinates me is seeing these beautiful goddesses shaking their ass to the sound of the Son and Mambo at the New York bars. And, at the same time, watching the metal heads DESMADRARSE – CUTTING LOOSE with bleeding ribs and mouths as if it were a great battle. I find it truly contradictory, but at the same time, fascinating. I live this incredible intensity. It’s funny to gauge (whether I’m playing well or not) by those people who are shaking their booties, and those with two or three broken ribs.
WHAT IS YOU TAKE ON THE WORLD WE LIVE IN TODAY, AND WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE ARTS?
The world moves at the same speed as does technology. To secure the future for the Arts, we must adapt to modern times.
DO YOU BELIEVE THE BASS GUITAR IS UNDERVALUED? WHAT BASSISTS ARE MOST INFLUENTIAL TO YOU?
I don’t believe the bass is undervalued; it fulfills its task within part of the group, and serves as its spinal cord. As compared to food, it’s the salt. Without salt, food tastes like plastic. I also compare it to football, where those who attack are the ones who score. Those attackers can’t score without a good defense or midfield who devises the plays. The bass is the one who devises the plays in the band.
I’ve been influenced throughout my life by great bassists in all genres including Paul Chambers, Cachao, James Jamerson, John Entwistle, John Paul Joens, Juan Formell, Jaco Pastorius, Louis Johnson, Pino Palladino, Steve Harris, Nathan East, Les Claypool. Many!
WHAT HAPPENED WITH PORNOSON?
Pornoson was an amazing band; we had a lot of fun producing good music. The sexually-explicit lyrics were not apt for the Latin community, which is very antiquated, and a bit ignorant when it comes to this type of cultural manifestation. Nowadays, they say Reggaeton is sexual, explicit, dirty. The thing is, when compared to Pornoson, Reggaetoneros look like bread bakers in their interpretation of “explicit” songs. Next to Pornoson, Reggaeton resembles a first-grade drama class. Ultimately, we had to dissolve the band in 2012 because of the censorship, traps, and negative publicity, in addition to the producers and promoters didn’t offer to lend us a hand. But we still get together once or twice a year to perform a show or two.
HOW DO YOU FEEL BEING NOMINATED AS THE BEST BASSIST FOR THE SUBTERRANICA NYC 2018 AWARDS?
I feel very emotional. I wasn’t familiar with these awards until last year when I was performing with Mala Entraña, in Bogota, Colombia, and we won for Best Band USA. Wow, after reading up on the history of these awards, I understood their magnitude, not to mention the incredible artists and bands that have been linked to them. When I found out that I was being nominated for Best Bassist of the Year, I was drunk with emotions! I had sex with my girlfriend several times that day. This year, the awards will take place in NY; I know it’ll be a great success. If I win again, I will get drunk again. Even if I don’t win, I’ll get drunk.
The mere fact of being able to be part of the Subterranica Awards and rubbing shoulders with the best of the best in rock and pop of our continent, merits lots of alcohol and love on a global scale.
WHAT MUST ROCK TO RETURN TO THE PEOPLE?
I don’t think rock should return to the people, I think the people should return to rock.
Times change and with it so has society, fashion, and the music industry. Today, it doesn’t cost you anything to watch a band or a who on TV, as opposed to going to a live performance and supporting music.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE TO SAY?
Today’s musical scene has little variation; it’s very difficult to get ahead, more so that in the past. You have to perform as much as you can. You can no longer hold out for royalties from your record company or publishing house.
I learned so much from my time at Universal Music. All that extended into my personal life, granting me wisdom and comfort. Traveling to more than 30 countries and recording or collaborating on more than 300 albums with differing musical styles, gave me the maturity to understand people, allow their ideas to flow freely, thus giving me the opportunity to continue to inform myself, and to learn to play and sing on a daily basis. I hope to one day achieve that dream where there exist no barriers to stop the dream from becoming a reality.
A vast number of musicians and artists looks to take on the world every day; I think that’s fantastic! I love for people to engage in any type of musical contract, NOT PARTICULARLY MINE. To me, music is both God and the devil, however they choose to characterize it. Through music, I am constantly enjoying myself to the degree that no one can imagine. My singing voice pays for the rent, it provides food on the table, and love of my girlfriend. What else can I possibly ask for?
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