DJ Ruby is the most prolific underground dance music artist that loomed from the party island of Malta, amassing a huge fan base that follows him unconditionally, as well as an established name throughout the global dance music industry, mainly in the progressive scene.
Renowned for delivering flawless journey sets and a positive party vibe, where ever he performs, DJ Ruby is considered a true pioneer of his caliber, a hard-working and modest person that has always matured with the scene. He now boasts over 20 years of experience that has obtained him countless achievements and acclaim, which are impossible to mention all in a few lines.
DJ Ruby is responsible for being a major force in starting and shaping Malta’s elite dance music scene into what it is today. For many years, he hosted countless events under the Pure Promotions imprint, setting trends for various clubbing concepts on the island and introducing multiple generations to electronic dance music.
Hello Ruby, let’s start with an easy one. How are you? How did you spend time in quarantine?
It’s my pleasure to talk with you guys, and thank you for the amazing work you do for the Progressive scene! I’m very well, when you consider what situation we are with this pandemic.
How did you spend time in quarantine?
In Malta we had a lockdown/quarantine period from March to Mid June. Then it was full partying for 6 weeks and suddenly, overnight, in the beginning of August clubs shut down again & mass events were banned. The first period was spent mostly editing and uploading video sets of past shows which I never had the time to edit before. I even started a live stream series called Behind Closed Doors.
In this second lockdown period I’ve been re-building my studio, were apart from music production, I will also have a club like DJ zone equipped with lights FX & fixed camera’s ready to stream a DJ set online whenever I want. What really stands out in this DJ zone, is my 4000+ vinyl collection, which I rescued from rotting in my garage. The process of sorting them out again and cleaning them, it took for ever! In both periods I was also compiling a lot of guest mixes, and doing music production.
Have you worked on new projects and what can we expect from you in the coming period?
In normal times I perform a lot. I have multiple residencies and I tour often, meaning a lot of my time goes into travelling, listening to music, preparing sets, doing re-edits and so on. I also do regular own events in Malta, so my promoter side takes up all my other time, leaving no time to produce music. Now, I finally had that time! In the past weeks I worked on multiple productions, collaborating with Paul Hamilton. He happens to live just 2 minutes away from me, so it was easy for us to go to each other’s studio. Together we finished 4 remixes for other artists and also just released an EP on Freegrant Music called ‘Lost In Space’. Apart from the work with Paul, I also just finished 2 own original tracks, which are already signed and going to be released soon. These are ‘Apollo’ for USA based label SLC 6 and ‘Parallel In Time’ for Aboriginal Records. Of course I’m working on on more music which is not ready as yet. Apart from music releases, expect also regular live video stream from my new studio.
How do you see the future of clubbing, will the reduced capacity perhaps bring back that real feeling because only people who really want to hear a certain performer will come to the events?
I think that a reduced capacity It could actually do more harm to the scene. From an avid clubber point of view maybe is better, as a DJ I love playing for a good intimate crowd, but for a promoter is not very good. The Progressive House scene is already small compared to other others, many of the people working in our scene, do it just for the passion, only a few make a living out of it. If we go smaller in terms of capacity, promoters will certainly won’t make enough money to book artists, many won’t be able to continue doing events if they start loosing money. Let’s stay hopeful this wont happen, and that we will be back bigger and stronger than before when this epidemic is over.
You worked on the radio for almost 15 years. Tell us about that experience?
I was actually the first DJ to host an underground dance music show on a mainstream radio station in Malta. The station is called 897Bay, and is still running to this day. Back then, all the country used to be tuned in to this radio station, it was so popular, that they even hosted the annual national music awards show and had their own mobile network. My show, which was titled Rubys Vital Grooves, was on every Saturday for 15 solid years, between 1998 up till 2013. The show was ultra popular, a must listen by clubbers before they go out. They were different days, there was no Spotify, no Soundcloud and no Youtube, live radio was the main source to reach out to the masses on a national level.
Do you think that radio stations are unfortunately a thing of the past and that podcasts and online audio distribution platforms are the future?
Yes for sure, it’s already the present and definitely is the future, as new online platforms are popping up regularly. With so much choice on the Internet these days, I don’t know how can a traditional live radio station survive.
Is it true that you are a self taught cinematographer and video editor? And do you work on all of your video promos, etc?
Yes, from the late 90s throughout all the 2000’s, I used to do very huge shows in Malta. Many of the events featured a big production including visuals which I used to produce. I started with simple visual loops, then I learned my way how to do proper do VJ sets and mix/sync visuals with audio. Come 2012, after more than a decade of non stop successful events, I took some business risks that unfortunately resulted into the end of the events promotion company I was running at the time. I decided that I would stop doing events, and just do DJ gigs. With no more visuals to create, i started to explore another art that has something in common with VJing, which is video editing. In a very short period, and by watching Youtube tutorials, I learned everything about video editing and cinematography.
Wasn’t long until I actually started my own media company. Given the experience I had in the scene, came as no surprise that my company was to go to place if you wanted a music film or after movies. In the 5 years I run this company I edited over 300 projects, but I wasn’t enjoying at any more as deep inside me i still wanted to go back 24/7 into music. Overnight I decided to stop, we were probably the busiest media house in Malta, but i didn’t care, I just wanted to restart doing parties. And yes these days I only do my promos, videos and also artwork, coz recently I also learned graphic design on my own.
In one of the interviews you said that you would rather DJ-ing in the jungle, under blaring sun or unplanned in someone’s back garden rather than at a big club. Why, does it mean that you prefer parties like that or for some other reason?
It is certainly the influence I have on me from Koh Phangan in Thailand. Every year In January I spend time and play on this magic Island, something that i’ve been doing for the past 10 years! This island is know for the full moon parties, but forget them… dig deeper in the jungle and you will find Guys Bar, Eden, Lost In Paradise, Seaboard and Lighthouse. Some of my most amazing gigs were at these venues, everything is raw, organic, the vibe is pure and the expats living there are special people.
You launched a concept called ”Secret Series” only for yours secret series members. Can you tell us something about your yearly event in partnership with Guy J?
Yes the concept started as small private events, but now they got so popular, that i actually started to shift the concept into a more public one called Ruby & friends. In fact they went big, when Guy J joined in with me to host an annual edition. He happens to be living on the island, so it easy to organise things together. These days is also a good friend.
There is a lot of talk about the vibe at your events and the energy you achieve during the performance. Can you tell us your secret recipe?
Performing and delivering emotions to the crowd with the music has always been a religion for me. I’m always super focused on what i’m doing, but I also dance a lot, interact with people & have a great time.
Can you single out someone who you think is pushing the progressive scene forward and who you particularly like in the last few years?
Can’t really single out, as so many are doing a great job in pushing the prog scene forward. Of course, I have big respect for Hernan Cattaneo & Nick Warren which are pioneers. They stayed honest to their sound, and still at it after all these years. Guy J, Cid Inc, Guy Mantzur and then comes a big list made of mostly of South Americans, and also a good bunch of great artists from India & Sri Lanka are doing an amazing job for our scene.
What can you tell us about the music scene in such a small place as Malta? Whether the scene stagnates or develops in a certain direction?
Right up till things went on halt due to the current pandemic, things were blooming in Malta! Yes for such a small country the dance music scene in general s very strong. Many local young people are into dance music, topped up with the thousands of expats that live, work and party here. Be it big or or be it small, there is a scene for all dance genres. Government actually supports dance music events, we have amazing venues and parties are happening constantly. From the early days of the scene right up till a few yeas ago, trends would change slowly, sometimes taking years to go into another direction. But now, it’s crazy, new things are happening all the time. I just hope things will be florescent again after this standstill.
Three things that adorn Malta next to you and Guy J?
The weather, the food and the kindness of the people.
Are you aware of the size of the Serbian community in Malta who loves your music and told us about your gigs?
Of course I am! I’d say that 30 to 40 % of the people that come to my events in Malta are Balkans, mostly Serbians. I have super respect for the Serbian community in Malta!
Have you had a chance to meet Serbian people?
Some of my closest friends, people who I call family, are Serbians! I do also have a downtempo/organic house alias called Organic Echoes which is together with a Serbian artist that resides in Malta called ‘The Interpreterr’.
We hope that this situation will end soon and that we will host you in Belgrade for the first time.
I get so much good & constant feedback from people up your way, surely, one of the places I want to play at right after this situation, is certainly Serbia!