armHello and welcome to One on One in 10, where we pick the brains of some of the most talented Indie artists in the Tri state area with 10 questions. It’s your girl Mai Mazzi reporting live on the scene, bringing you the real with todays’ movers and shakers and allowing you to meet them, one on one.

For the month of December, Sagittarius season which is my season, and for our second interview for 1 on One, I have the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Anthony Rodriguez, Christian  musician, writer, and motivational speaker, straight from Northern New Jersey.


 Mazzi: Thank you for taking the time out to meet up with me for this interview.

A.Rodriguez: Thank you for having me!

Mazzi: Not a problem at all. We want the people to get to know you.  Now to kick this off, what made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

A.Rodriguez: Well my parents were involved in a Christian band and church, I would say between the 80s and the 90s, and I always had to go to the rehearsals.  Being at the rehearsals there were so many influences around, you know. One day they had played a song that caught my attention, and as a kid you know, you’re always running around and playing around, it just caught my attention and I had to stop and sit down and just observe what was going on. So from that day forward I was always, always on top of them, you know, and getting in trouble for being around adults too {laughs}. But it was a great introduction to my music career. I will never forget that.

Mazzi: That’s what’s up. About how old were you during this time?

A.Rodriguez: I was 9.

Mazzi: Ok. So your introduction to music was relatively early.

A.Rodriguez: Yes it was

Mazzi: Ok. How would you describe your music for the public audience if they have never heard you before?

A.Rodriguez: Well my music is Caribbean mixed with Jazz and Latin. I have recently re-released a record that was done in 2009 with a record company that , you know, we clashed , so I never bothered to pursue that album, but after a while we peaced it out and they gave me some lea weigh to mess around with that record, so I was able to bring it back out in 2013. The record made the best sellers list on Amazon, so that was a very good achievement for an old record.

Mazzi: Most definitely. That had to be a wonderful feeling. And it’s awesome because that story fits the mold to a ‘t’ for the saying that sometimes things happen for a reason!

A.Rodriguez:  Yes. Maybe I will have another Caribbean Jazz album coming out pretty soon. Let’s see what happens!

Mazzi: Wonderful! Now when you do your music are you by yourself or do you have a band with you?

A.Rodriguez: Well with todays’ trends you have to adapt to what’s going on, so everyone has a production set up in their house, unless it’s something  very important that we all have to be together, for the most part the guys I work with know how I work and vice versa. It’s pretty much all drop box, emails, mp3s, video chats, etc. It is less meeting together physically and more remote kind of work.

Mazzi: The remote life is a big movement in the music industry.

A.Rodriguez: Yes it sure is.

Mazzi: If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?

A.Rodriguez: That’s a very good question because in a record that I did, called “Keys to the Kingdom”, it’s religious songs, I just changed it up instrumently and with the style of Caribbean Jazz. So I don’t know if it should be inspirational Caribbean Jazz or just Caribbean/Latin Jazz. It’s very hard to categorize because even when you put it on Amazon or iTunes there are so many genres that it can fit in, so I just stick with Latin Jazz, which happens to be the most popular category that fits closely with my sound.

Mazzi: That’s very cool. How does your style or flow differ from other artists within the same musical genre if you were to classify yourself with Latin jazz?

A.Rodriguez: Well, this is a very interesting question because I was mentored by a Cuban pianist. He actually plays with Marc Anthony, his name is Juan Gonzalez. When it comes to being a piano player, it’s like the clothing trends. When people go for that designer, everyone goes for that designer. There’s always that one person that goes for that one designer that no one else goes for, you know who nobody likes. My teacher is a very unique pianist when it comes to Latin music. His fundamentals are plain its extremely different from what the 99% piano players like to play. I had the privilege of being mentored by him and that has bought me a lot of curses and a lot of blessings all at the same time because the 99 percenters look at me as the black sheep. At the same time being in that 1% allows me to outstand everyone else. Once you hear my music you can actually separate from everyone else. Being an independent musician its very cool because you have all these major artist that are big and they all pretty much sound the same. When it comes to independent music, Im pretty happy where I am because you can actually separate me from everyone else.

Mazzi: Do you feel you have more freedom being an independent artist?

A.Rodriguez: More freedom definitely. It gives me more opportunity and lea weigh to do what I have to do without having strings attached. So you know it’s a good thing. It’s a rough road but the love for music makes me go hard.

Mazzi : Yeah the passion, I think, makes it a bigger struggle and it makes your opportunities and your goals more worth getting, and even more so because you are in that indie/independent realm. Many people lose their passion when they strive to be more commercial. That’s why the Indie scene is cool.

A.Rodriguez: Its very cool. And we [Indie artist] have to be very persistent.

Mazzi: Yup. Now I know you’ve heard of the term starving artist before. How do you cope with major obstacles?

A.Rodriguez: Being independent isn’t easy at all, but being signed isn’t easy as well. Because being an independent artist or musician, you have freedom to do whatever you want, you are your own boss, you’re your own company. The only flaws to that is the distrubution, the marketing, because I think those are the two top things that make an artist. The distribution gets you everywhere in all stores, all digitially to retail stores. Marketing gets you to the billboards, you know you’re driving down the highway and you see your picture there or you turn on the television and their announcing your concert and those are the top two things that independent artists don’t have and in order to have them you have to have funds, you have to have money. Now being signed you get all that good stuff, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to sell records. A company can sign you and give you everything that you need; at the end of the day if you don’t supply sells rate, you’re dropped. It doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how good you dance, how good you sing, if you don’t provide these executives a good sales report at the end of the year, quarterly, whatever, you’re dropped. Both sides have their pros and cons.

Mazzi: They really do. It all boils down to what you want, how much you put in, and not putting your expectations too high in the music game! What do you think your biggest break or greatest opportunity has been so far in your musical career?

A.Rodriguez: The biggest opportunity for me was to have the opportunity to do what I love. I used to work a 9-5 many years ago, because you know I wanted to get married, so while I was engaged I was still into music, but the music wasn’t paying the bills. In 2004, I was working in a warehouse and I was very in love and at the same time it was cool because my job was very flexible and laid back. I would be on my phone all day and not get in trouble! After a while I started to question myself, like what am I going to do with my life. Year after year my heart was just pumping; I worked there for four years. I stayed focused on working until one day one of my co workers ratted me out because I didn’t do something I was supposed to do. My manager sat me down and told me I wasn’t happy there and that I have to pursue my music. He extended me some benefits and I was able to collect unemployment and at the same time begin doing something with music so I started to enroll students and calling people who wanted to take classes with me. Today I teach 20 plus students a week, and after this interview I have to go teach! So in 2008, I was back in the game, I recorded two records, I started teaching, I opened up a private school, which is considered one of the best private piano schools in New Jersey.

Mazzi: And what is the name of the school and where is it located?

A.Rodriguez: It is located in Jersey City and is called Anthony Rodriguez Piano Workshop. My company is Anthony Rodriguez Music Group. So with that I also provide musical arrangements for independent artists and mostly in the Christian scene, because you know I am Christian, and I did play in the Christian industry. So I was able to experience touring with some of the top Latin Christian artists. But I don’t want to be that type of musician, I want to be the musician that runs a company. When I’m 60 years old I don’t want to have to carry a piano on my back. I want to be able to relax and even hire some teachers down the line. I also have a best selling book, all independent, no publishing company. So yeah, my biggest opportunity was the one given when I was able to produce an income off of my music.

Mazzi: That all sounds very exciting and motivational. What is the name of your book?

A.Rodriguez: It is called , “The Musician”.

Mazzi: Ok. I will put that on my book list. What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this image for your music?

A.Rodriguez: I didn’t really choose it, you know the Latin thing, it was pretty much all my surroundings. I didn’t grow up listening to R&B, I didn’t grow up listening to rap, I didn’t grow up listening to Mexican music; it was all Spanish ballads and salsa music. So that became part of me as I grew up. What interested me the most was the Cuban style music, my mentor was Cuban, so I was pretty much in the right place. I was always the person that wanted to do something else. So I hope I answered that question.

Mazzi: You did {laughing}. Everything you mentioned encompasses all that you give off as an artist. You started from the bottom and have branched and bloomed in all different directions, all stemming from your passion for music. Now art and music has an impact on both the young and old. Everyone admires a celebrity and look up to them in some shape or form. What advice do you have for the youth of today, based on your accomplishments?

A.Rodriguez: The youth of today, the resources are there for free. And just know that nothing is easy, sacrifice is crucial. It’s not going to be wake up one day and you’re rich. You have to make wise decisions when you’re working with people, you have to feel secure with you is your right and left hands. It’s very important as a musician or singer to know who to trust with what you are trying to build. You have tohave a spirit of persistence and stay relevant. Work harder than the guy next to you. Everyone has to grind hard, even the ones who have made it. If a platinum artist doesn’t grind hard, they will be coming out with a reality show.

Mazzi: Yes! That is a very good analogy!

A.Rodriguez: Adapt to the changes and never give up.  That’s my advice.

Mazzi: Awesome words of advice. What are your immediate career goals, like 1 to 3 years from now?

A.Rodriguez: You know what, I don’t have any final goals. I strive to be successful in everything that I do. I just want to grow. Everything that I am doing and will do I need it to compliment where I’ve grown into. I’m also doing motivational speaking to accompany my book.

Mazzi: Wow a man of many hats.

 A.Rodriguez: Yes I just build, build, build. And again it’s all independent. I am hooking up with some non profits to get me opportunities to speak to different groups about doing what you love and not giving up, fulfilling your fullest potential, and doing what you have to do. I think society tells you you have to be  doctor or you have to be a cop, you gotta do this you gotta do that, but they never stop and ask what you want to do. And I believe in living for you and pursue life.

Mazzi: You are dropping a lot of jewels today. I cant wait to get you on New Music NJ, get you in front of the camera! Now, outside of what we’ve spoken about thus far, what do you like to do with your time away from the music?

A.Rodriguez: Now this is funny. Last year I started getting into football. I am a Patriots fan.

Mazzi: Say word. Me too! Hi five to that {laughing}.

A.Rodriguez: So what I did last year was start googling the scores and I found out that we [Patriots] win a lot. I have been teaching myself the football lingo and I vowed to watch every game. Now with this interview everyone will now that football knowledge is my weakness and I am a rookie {laughing}.

 Mazzi: They sure will {laughing}. Now what can the readers be on the lookout for from Mr. Anthony Rodriguez?

A.Rodriguez: Aside from book promotion & freelancing,  I am enrolling new piano students for the AR Piano WorkShop and working on a record for a young singer named Ashley Gil (fresh artist). We will be releasing the famous Shackles song, one of Mary Mary’s hit songs, in Salsa. We are working with ease to release this record as I want to make sure Ashley releases her fullest potential in this record.

Mazzi: That’s whats up! It has been my pleasure interviewing you. Your style is different and I’m glad you decided to sit down and polly with me. I learned a lot within this 30 minute conversation.

A.Rodriguez: Thank you thank you.

And to you, the readers, thank you for tuning in. Make sure you stay tuned for more NMNJ One on One in 10!


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