by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Filipino American Disc Jockey (DJ) Rocky Aujero may not receive the same recognition as Apl.de.ap or the other headlining acts he performs with on stage but let it be known that he is just as important.
Aujero better known as “DJ Rocky Rock” in the music scene knows how to pump up the crowd. His keen selection of music and array of unique beats from juggling, scratching two turntables at the same time – makes him one of the top DJ’s in the US and in the Philippines.
At 27, Aujero has already accomplished more than he expected. Besides being Apl.de.ap’s personal DJ, he has opened and toured for rock bands such as Linkin Park, Korn and rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Aujero recently sat down with the Asian Journal to reflect on his success as a DJ and as an entrepreneur. He was born in Makati, Philippines and raised by a single mother in the San Jose Area.
“I worked hard to be where I am but this is truly a blessing,” said Aujero.
He started spinning records when he was 12 years old.
“Whenever I went to parties, I was always the guy who went straight to the radio or box [DJ booth] playing one cassette after the other,” he said. “But the moment I saw turntables, that was even fresher. I was like, ‘I want to try this out.’”
It began as a hobby and grew to be an obsession. He worked as a DJ throughout junior high school and high school. His mother, at first, was against his passion.
“She would be saying, ‘DJ, DJ – do your homework,’” he recalled with a smile. “She wasn’t really into that. She wanted me to be a nurse and follow my cousins in other healthcare professions.”
Of course, he didn’t follow her mother’s wishes and took DJ’ing more seriously.
“For a year, I didn’t go out,” he said. “I really just trained myself on how to be a DJ as if I was [Manny] Pacquiao preparing for a fight.”
He began to “battle” (common term for DJ competitions) in local record store competitions. He placed in the top three in most amateur competitions and won a few hundred dollars here and there. More importantly, as he continued to compete, he began to earn the respect of his peers.
His career began to flourish when he won a seat representing San Francisco to compete at the International Turntablist Federation Worldwide DJ Competition.
By 2002, Aujero continued to win more local and national DJ competitions that culminated when he placed first and won a 2002 Ford Focus at the first Guitar Center USA DJ Championships.
“After that, my Mom was like ‘wow, you won a car,’” recalled Aujero. “That’s when she knew that I took DJ’ing very seriously.”
Among his other awards were 2nd place at the World Vestax Extravaganza DJ Battle, 5th place at the DMC World DJ Championships, and the WMC/DMC DJ Spin-off in Miami the past two years. He also won $10,000 at a Los Angeles Cool Mix DJ competition. His work was also featured on the soundtrack of the NBA Ballers video game and most recently, in the movie “Surf’s Up.”
Aujero said his biggest accomplishment is the DJ school – Mind Music – he helped found in the Bay Area for underprivileged high school kids.
“During that time, I worked with a lot of high school kids in the Bay Area,” he said. “[The school] is about being positive, getting kids off drugs, [and] reaching out to the kids. I would pick these kids up and take them to my studio or teach them at their home.”
“I’m not a selfish guy,” he added. “I know there’s a lot of kids out there that want to do what I’m doing. I want to help them out. Reaching out to these kids inspires me to go on with my career.”
After his uncle’s sudden death from suicide in the Philippines, Aujero decided to do more.
“It made me realize that I needed to go back home to the Philippines,” he said. “My uncle helped raise me along with my Mom like a second Dad. I wanted to go back to the Philippines and do something good.”
In 2004, Aujero played a vital part in bringing the Black Eyed Peas to Manila. During that time, the greater Philippine population did not know the Black Eyed Peas and Filipino artist Allen Pineda Lindo despite their commercially successful album Elephunk being released a year before.
“Nobody there even knew that Apl.de.ap was Filipino,” he said. “Along with their manager, we came up with a marketing plan to make Apl big in the Philippines.”
Aujero along with the Black Eyed Peas started Island Flava, an event production company.
Apl.de.ap then asked Aujero to be part of his music label, Jeepney Records.
Most recently, Aujero’s other production company Bluefizz hosted the official Manny Pacquiao post fight party in Las Vegas, NV.
Now, back in Los Angeles, Aujero performs with Dirty Heads, a new band who recently signed with Warner. He continues to DJ and makes music with Apl.de.ap. He is also associated with a number of companies including Elite Media Marketing Co., and the Rocky Rock project. Among his sponsors are K-Swiss, Ecko, Mackie DJ equipment, and many more.
Despite his success, he continues to strive as a DJ and as a Filipino.
“I can’t take all this for granted,” he said. “This is something that’s going to be passed on. I want to give back to the Philippines and do what I can to help their economy. I’m more focused right now.”
“My Mom, she’s a prayer warrior, she told me, ‘good things are coming.’”