Singer, songwriter, executive, music video director, producer. Michael Rodriguez has worn many hats in the music industry, specializing in house, disco and electronic music.
Beginning his music career as a teenager in Miami in the 1990s, Rodriguez first explored freestyle music, opening for the era's most popular acts, including Noel, Corina, Stevie B, George Lamond, Lisette Melendez and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. By his 17th birthday, he had cut a few demos with now acclaimed DJ/producer Giuseppe D, marking a transition to house music and a relocation from Miami to the New York City area, where he became Michael M.
In the last 20-plus years, Rodriguez has moved back and forth from Miami to New York, releasing music and collaborating with many producers including Oba Frank Lords and more recently, Edwin James for the French house label, 96 Musique. Their collaboration on "The Kids Don't Know," a witty meditation upon club scenes past and present, earned more than 19,000 YouTube views and was featured on the compilation CD, "100 Dance 2015," by Universal France.
In 2015, Rodriguez launched his own record label and artist-development boutique, Gonna Be Music, recruiting Miami-based artists JEI, DROZE and Ceevox. The label's first release was "Never Stop," an EP produced by Italy's Danny G with lead vocalist DROZE. Rodriguez contributed as singer, co-writer and executive producer on that project, then co-wrote “When There Was House,” a track by Corrugated Tunnel featuring DROZE for Vision Collective.
SFGN caught up with Rodriguez as he's grooming new talent in New Jersey and overseeing new projects by JEI and DROZE in Miami. Here's what he had to say:
What motivated and inspired you to pursue a career in the music industry?
Growing up in Miami in the 80s, I got the bug from the local scene and radio stations like Power 96. They played a lot of freestyle music from artists like Expose, Company B, Erotic Exotic and Secret Society....all local groups. I guess I thought if they could do it, I could too -- especially after Power 96 did a contest for the school who sent the most 3x5 cards with the school name and station name [and they] would win a free concert with DJ Laz and Erotic Exotic. I started filling out the cards and got the school to participate. We won and from then on I would be connected in the local music biz scene. Funny enough, one of my longtime collaborators would be Oba Frank Lords of Secret Society.
How different is the Miami scene from New York/NewJersey, where you are currently and were once before?
I think New York has always been seen as avante garde and always the first to break out talent. But Miami is definitely giving New York a run for its money these days. A lot of the hottest DJs and artists are coming out of Miami like Oscar G, Ralph Falcon, Oba Frank Lords, Soulistk, JEI, Ceevox, Alan T, DROZE and A.D Cruze to name a few.
Have you always been interested in the same genre of music?
Dance music has always been my first love. Freestyle was big in the 80s and disco never really died in Miami in the 80s. Anything that gets me on the dancefloor.
What are your fondest memories of your time on the Miami music scene?
The Winter Music Conference in the 1990s until the early 2000s were always something to look forward to. This was before it became a Spring Break haven. Back then, you could really network and get to rub elbows with the best, not to mention a Madonna or Versace sitting in the mix.
Has the LGBT community been more embracing and supportive in Miami or New York?
After living in Miami for 20-plus years, I would have to say Miami. Give me time. New York will jump on board soon.
What do you look for in talent for your label, Gonna Be Music?
I can't explain it. Sometimes it might be that I hear a song and really dig the hook and the beat. Sometimes I might hear the person sing live and I get goose bumps and just get that feeling. Ambitious and don't-take-no-for-answer people also spark my interest.
Are you selective when choosing talent for your label?
Yes. I have to really believe in it, whether it's the song, artist or DJ. It's like dating. There has to be chemistry. After all, we're gonna create together.
Fill us in on what's next for Michael M and your Gonna Be roster.
[We're] working on a new JEI release; a new record called 'Running' by A.D. Cruze, featuring Eva with a hot remix by Miami local legends Soulistk and Oba Frank Lords. [There are] more remixes of 'No Time' by DROZE, as well as new music by him; and I'm developing a producer/vocalist called Catacombs out of Jersey City. He's someone to keep an ear open for in 2018.
For more information on Gonna Be Music, visit www.gonnabemusic.com or listen to music on www.soundcloud.com/gonnabemusic.