Meet DJ Choco (aka G-Dubs) and Junior Rivero (aka DJ Rivero), a highly impressive duo from Washington Heights, New York that call themselves the 1200 Warriors (website, label, facebook, myspace, discogs, youtube). Their music has a funkier edge than your typical jacking House track and with more than enough soul to bring you full circle. I got a chance to first hear them play when they opened at 5 Mag’s party last year at Boom Boom Room with Miguel Migs. I had never felt so much energy and intensity in a room: their sound is powerful and never laid back.
Choco has gained notoriety as chief engineer for Wu-Tang Clan and the Rza, along with House tracks such as “New Day” on 4th Floor Records and 95 South’s “Sunday Shouting” b-boy remix on Defected. His partner Rivero had been a local DJ and longtime friend, and eventually they linked up to form the 1200 Warriors.
Your music is so completely different from any other artist I’ve heard come out of New York City! Do you get that a lot?
Yes we do, especially since we come from NYC. We’re expected to have a certain sound. We don’t mix it up with any of the New York guys (not to say that we haven’t tried) but our sound is so in-your-face and different that those dudes seem to fall back and look at us different.
Your friendship has spanned over 15 years and I find it’s always interesting to see two or more artists work together under the same name.
Each project starts with a vision, whomever has the vision for a particular project is who takes the lead on it. It works out fine at the end.
Who are some of the producers that you look up to and get your influences from?
Bob James, Quincy Jones, the early Todd Terry, Marly Marl, Arthur Baker, Cajmere, Adonis… There’s many more but these guys stand out. Their sound has so much passion and life to it – you can tell in every note.
Junior, do you also come from a Hip-hop background? What brought the 2 of you together and decide to form a House group?
I don’t have a background in Hip-hop like Choco does, but I guess you can say I’m a b-boy at heart. Coming from New York City and growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, it was part of our culture and lifestyle. House Music definitely played a part in us meeting because very few were playing it back in 1987. That’s when one of our mutual friends said we needed to meet because we were doing some of the same things like editing on reel tapes, mixing records that didn’t normally go together and playing House Music that a lot of the DJs weren’t playing – especially what was coming out of Chicago from the underground scene. Around 2003 we made it official, so here we are.
What do you enjoy more ultimately? Producing music or going out and touring?
Getting out there and performing our music. Anyone that has caught a set of ours knows we just don’t mix two tracks and do the regular thing. Producing is always a passion of ours but feeling an audience and the energy they give back is a whole different thing.
What are some of the more notable gigs you’ve played in the last few years and where can you be seen when in New York?
Must be the first time we played in Europe. It bugged us out how they knew almost our entire catalogue and requested a lot of the B-side tracks we’ve done. They do their homework out there! We don’t play as often as we should here in New York , but sometimes when we show up at spots they ask us to and we end up doing a little 15-30 minute teaser.
Choco, given your background working with some of Hip-hop’s biggest artists, do you intend to incorporate more Hip-hop artists into your House productions to maybe expand the reach of House Music?
Not really. Hip-hop and House are two different lanes and mixing them up can be very toxic. But the b-boy spirit is what brings us and the genres together. I’ll tell you this: our House Music is done with the same energy and aggression as Hip-hop. I haven’t come across a Hip-hop dude that dislikes our music yet!
Tell us more about 1200 Traxx.
1200 Traxx was basically a label for us to do our thing and now it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s definitely helped us create our niche and a fanbase for ourselves as artists that we always had envisioned. Going forward, you’re going to see artists that share our same vision as well as style. And not the normal Jackin’ and House tracks that everyone else is releasing. Now we’ve got a solid team of players behind us and some hefty releases lined up. We are very happy with the direction we are going.
How did you first hook up with Sneak and start working with him?
[Choco:] Sneak and I have crossed paths in the past but never really linked up. One year down at WMC in Miami I bumped into him and played him some tracks we had just finished. So when Sneak heard the music, he was just amazed and played them all that same night. I gave him some of the insight on what we wanted to do and soon after that we signed some tracks to his label. Things were good for a while and we tried to do more business together but now we have gone our separate ways due to some things we’d rather not discuss. We have our own path to pave.
What do you think of the current trends in House veering towards minimal, tech and electro?
Labels are bad and good, music stands out no matter what the name. We listen to and play everything but it’s gotta be dope, original and challenging to the ear.
You say 2010 is the year of the Warrior. What can we look forward to?
We needed to re-group and refocus and set a road map for ourselves. For one, it’s our album Live From NY: we finally get to release the damn thing! After bidding with labels and others dropping the ball during negotiations, we just decided it needed to come back home for us to release, especially now that we have 1200 Traxx. It’s a real treat for the heads. Besides the album, we’ve got tons of music that we are going to release and give away via our website. It’s time to hit the road more and get out of the studio. We are ready take things to the next level!