Sishi Rosch: A man who means business
Sishi Rosch hails from Guatemala, but currently resides in Barcelona where he has positioned himself at the forefront of the new house music wave. A self-confessed workaholic, Sishi is the product of a business-savvy family geared towards hard work and success which has paid dividends as far as his career is concerned. Though he was initially on course to become a professional football player, he is now the owner of two successful record labels and travels the world as a DJ – but the work never stops, as he told me during a recent trip to London..
So, you’re from Guatemala – how did you end up in Barcelona?
First of all I went to Miami for a year and chilled there for a while. Then I lived in Arizona, where I did three years of college, but I didn’t end up liking it. I was there for five years and I needed a change so I came to Barcelona. I always liked the city, I decided, “I really need to go to Europe”. I finished my university degree, I graduated in Marketing & International Business. As soon as I graduated I opened up Digital Delight with Diego [Moreno] and Sultry Vibes as well.
It seems like you were quite focused on your education in your early years, where did the interest in music come from?
I’ve always loved music from a very early age, but I was an athlete back then – I played professional soccer back in Guatemala. I actually had a scholarship offer from the University of Virginia which, back then, had one of the best soccer programs in the country. But in my senior year of High School I blew out my knee, I had a really bad injury and because of that I couldn’t play anymore and I lost three or four scholarship offers. I got so depressed, I realised that I was never going to become a soccer player and that’s when I really started to get into music. I bought my first vinyl turntables back in 2000, and started DJing. I started learning by myself and that’s how I got into it.
What position did you play?
Centre-mid. I always thought I would end up as a soccer player… but things happen for a reason, you know. I’m here now, so it’s all good.
And who did you support?
I’m more into international soccer, I’m a big supporter of Italy. Juventus is my all-time favourite team.
As a youngster did you have much musical influence in terms of your family background?
I come from a very very business-savvy family, all my family are workaholics. My mum is a workholic, she’s almost 60 years old and she works Monday to Sunday, waking up every day at 5am and going to bed at 8pm, just working.. I don’t have any musical background per se from my family. I think I got my business side from them though. I’m such a workaholic, there’s not one day where I’m not at home making music or doing something work-wise, in fact I’m opening a third record label soon with Jesse Perez, so you know.. !
What was it like growing up in Guatemala?
It was pretty cool. There wasn’t as much corruption and violence as there is today. It’s such a beautiful country, man. I went to an American school there, so I learned English from an early age… I don’t have anything negative to say about it, it was a great time and I had really good friends. I was just really focused on soccer, from the age of about 8.
So, when did music start to filter into your life?
When I moved to the States I was a big fan of hip-hop, I was just starting to get into house – back in 2000. That whole electronic music culture did not exist in Guatemala, it’s just starting to happen now. When I moved to the States, I lived with my two older brothers and I was going out clubbing with them – I think the first time I saw DJs playing it was Paul Oakenfold, Steve Lawler… big cats like that. I just got mesmerized, I was like, “Wow, what is this?!”. I got so captivated by the music, I bought my decks a month later and fell completely in love with it.
In some respects your brothers got you into it then?
Yeah, they showed me that lifestyle. They weren’t huge fans of it but they liked house music and they definitely opened up the door to it, for me.
What kind of hip-hop were you into?
I’m a really big fan of old school West Coast hip-hop. I’m a big fan of Eazy-E, Snoop, I love Jaydilla, stuff like that. Only old school stuff, I think new hip-hop is shit. Most of it at least anyway. Dre is definitely an inspiration.
So, you moved over to Barcelona from the States, how did you go about getting your label set up?
When I finished uni in Barcelona, a few people knew I was a DJ and a couple of friends hooked me up a set at a bar. They were like, “They can’t pay you, but at least you get to play your music”. So, I was like, “ Yeah, let’s do it!”. It was a tiny bar in Barcelona, really tiny and I played there for the first time… at the end of the night they said it was really, really good and offered me a residency for 50 Euros a week. They asked me to come up with a name for the night and I had a friend (who lives in Germany now) who came up with the name Digital Delight. The night started growing and growing, it got pretty big to the point where Diego was like, “Mate, let’s start a label.” I was just starting to produce – Diego, Miguel and Damian had been producing for a while – so I learned through them. Once Diego suggested turning it into a label, we did it.
How did you hook up with Diego?
Well Diego’s from Guatemala too, but I didn’t know him until we were in Barcelona. After I DJ’d at the bar, we’d always go back to my place for after-parties and Guatemala’s such a small country that Diego heard about me and he came down to the bar, we ended up going back to my house and we hit it off, and we started hanging out every week after that.
What kind of music were you playing when you first started to DJ?
I was playing funky house, that Mark Farina, Miguel Migs kind of house. Very west coast, all these guys who were playing really funky house, that was the popular sound in Arizona, on the west side at least. I started buying records from Ohm Records and all these labels that were putting out that style. That was my first love, funky house.
How did you start developing the sound that you push now?
I’ve been DJing for 12 years now and [over the years] I discovered many different genres. I remember the first time I heard Steve Lawler I was like, “Oh my God, this is ridculous!”. It was that dark, tribal house. As soon as I heard Lawler play, the funky house thing died and I started getting into the whole underground sound. Production-wise, it’s just evolution. I’ve been producing for about five years, the first few years it was tribal/tech-house… me and Miguel [Puente] we really like hip-hop, so as soon as we started our project together we started putting lots of hip-hop influences into the music and, if I remember correctly it was Claude VonStroke… do you know the story about Serious Compassion?
It was the first track Miguel and I ever made – it was signed by No.19 and came out on Soul Clap’s Social Experiment mix CD. I think Tanner Ross was playing it way before it came out and he was playing it at some party in San Francisco. Claude VonStroke was standing next to him with his arms crossed, and he went up to Tanner and was like, “Yo, what is this?!”. So Tanner told him, “It’s these kids from Barcelona, Puente and Rosch”. And, apparently, the one thing Claude VonStroke said was, “That’s gangster man.” [Laughs] That’s how the whole ‘gangster house’ thing started I guess.
I can’t really define my sound, it’s just my sound – recently I’ve definitely been influenced by Jesse [Perez] towards that housier/bassy sound. I wouldn’t even know how to categorize it.
How did you hook up with Miguel?
Same story, we also met through a mutual friend at one of my infamous after-parties. He showed up to one of those parties and gave me a CD of his. I listened to it the next day and it was off the hook! So I called him up and told him, “Dude, I heard your CD and it’s fucking amazing! Let’s hook up.” We immediately had a magic together, but it wasn’t until not last Sonar but the Sonar before when we started getting noticed. We were making loads of tracks and it was a completely different sound – back then there wasn’t much else like it. People were loving it, it was our first time playing at an Off Sonar party and it went off. After that gig we got so many bookings.
What are you guys up to now, is Puente & Rosch still an on-going project?
We still have it going on, but it’s been difficult over the last two months because I’ve been touring like crazy and Miguel has, too. We haven’t been able to carry it on, but we have so many unreleased tracks we were working on getting our own label together. From what I hear Miguel might be moving back to Mexico, so we’ll see how it all works out… it’s in the pipeline, we just don’t know when.. But I also have my label coming with Jesse, we’re gonna call that Bump & Grind.
Back when you injured your knee, could you ever have imagined that you’d end up where you are now?
Being honest, I really didn’t. I never thought I would be doing, it’s funny how life is – you never know what’s gonna happen. I think it happened for a reason, soccer wasn’t my calling. I’m so happy and feel so blessed to know people I know and to be where I am in this industry. I’m so so hungry for this, I’M so focused I can see it. I know if I put enough work into this I can go far.
What was your original plan for when you finished college in Barcelona?
I worked at a PR firm for a little while, I’ve always liked marketing – it’s really interesting to me. But I didn’t know if I wanted to do that long-term, I had the music thing as hobby and I thought if the music thing didn’t happen at least I had something to fall back on and I could work somewhere else. Everything started happening as soon as I got to Europe, all the cards starting falling in the right place and I was like, “Alright fuck it, I don’t care about marketing anymore!” But it helps so much with my label, you have labels that don’t know anything and it shocks me.
Thinking back over your life, who would you cite as your key inspirations?
I definitely have to mention Diego Moreno, Miguel Puente and Damian Uzabiaga – I learned to produce through those guys so they’ve been a big, big help with my career. Jesse as well has been an inspiration for me, I’ve been following this kid for two years and we’re like best friends now. Those four dudes have definitely set a pathway in my career. They are my best friends and I’m so happy to see them getting recognised and showing what they’re about. They’re so humble and they make fucking ridiculous music, I’m so proud of them.
What’s your ultimate ambition? If you could click your fingers now, where would you want to be?
I want to marry my girl, Claudia. I want to have a family with her. As far as music, the sky’s the limit – I want to go big. I’m not in this for the fame or the money, obviously it is important but I just love playing music. I just want to keep showing everybody what I’m about, I don’t know where I would like to reach but I know I want to do this for a long while.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life so far?
Just keep following your dream. At the beginning of my career I had so many people telling me, “This is a joke, you don’t have any talent, it’s a waste of time blah blah blah…” But if you really work hard at something, really focus all your energy on it, you’re gonna reach your goal. I’ve fallen down in my life a lot, I’ve had a lot of negative stuff but I haven’t quit. The most important lesson I’ve learnt is anyone can fail in life, but it takes a real man to get up and start over again. And if you fail again, keep trying. Nobody can tell what you’re capable of, no one can tell you what you can do, it’s all up to you.
And what are your own personal rules that govern your life?
The most important aspect of my life is to always be as humble as I can. I consider myself a humble person, sometimes too humble – I’ve been screwed over a lot. I try to treat people as good as I can, I’m a big believer in Karma, what you put out will come back to you. I try to be as honest as possible as I can with people. I keep my family in first place always, that comes before music. I just try to be a good person, always.
What do your family think about what you’re doing?
They haven’t been big fans of me wanting to be a professional DJ, just because I come from a very old school Italian way of thinking. They just want the best for me and they know this lifestyle is hectic and it’s crazy, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s easy to get lost in this, so you need to have strong morals. Now they’re starting to see my accomplishments and the love and passion I have for this, they’re starting to say nice things. Actually my mum, for the first time in my life, a little while ago she told me on the phone, “I’m really proud of you, you’re following your dream even though everybody told you you couldn’t do it and I’m really proud of you”. I broke down in tears man, those were the words I’ve been waiting for my whole life.Digital Delight, Sishi Rosch, Sultry Vibes
Recent Posts on Arts
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Neapolitan Novels, by Elena Ferrante
- Friday Book Design Blog: Man Booker Prize Shortlist Special 2014
- Indian art auction gets Delhi's depressed elite to splash out and buy
- Friday Book Design Blog: Collector's Edition, by Stuart Tolley
- Interview with Maybeshewill: “We’re not relying on guitars as much as we used too”
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter