DJ/Producers, Ralphi Rosario, and Craig J Snider talk about upcoming projects, sense of style and much more
Ralphi Rosario: When Hot Mix 5 was formed in 1981 on radio station WBMX (now WVAZ), Rosario, the youngest member of the group, was still in high school. The Hot Mix 5 went on to become one of the leading forces in the early Chicago house music scene.
Like other members of the group, Rosario eventually branched out into music production and remixing. His first release, made in collaboration with Vince Lawrence, was “Sample That!” in 1986 under the name Bang Orchestra. In 1987, his collaboration with Xaviera Gold, “You Used to Hold Me”, became a big hit for Rosario that was subsequently remixed and re-released several times.
Rosario continues to work as a DJ and remixer and has released several full-length albums. He has remixed tracks by artists including INXS, the Shamen, Jomanda, Culture Beat, Gloria Estefan, Deee-Lite, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Giorgio Moroder, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Pussycat Dolls, Goldfrapp, Rihanna, Taio Cruz, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé. On December 1, 2011, it was announced that Rosario, with producing partner Abel Aguilera, received a 2012 Grammy nomination for the Rosabel Club Mix of the Rihanna track “Only Girl (In the World)”.
Craig J Snider: A true traveling minstrel that floats between Chicago-New York-Los Angeles. This Composer, Producer, Remixer, Songwriter, Label Owner, and Multi-instrumentalist best known for 30+ Billboard Dance Chart #1 hits, including songs by Beyonce, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, and Madonna.
Craig also scores for film and TV. He was the composer and music supervisor of Amazon Prime’s new feature romantic comedy Surprise Me! Snider has scored a number of documentaries including the short Hot Water and the award-winning Head Games by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Abacus-Small Enough to Jail.).
Snider’s compositions for television include work on Madam Secretary, Corporate, American Greed, Dance Moms, and Sex and the City. Craig recently produced and arranged the music for A&E’s documentary David Cassidy: The Last Session, airing on June 11, 2018. Craig also has broad experience as a composer of original music for advertising and television including work for Core Power, McDonald’s, Nissan, ESPN, Blue Cross, Gatorade, Burger King just to name a few.
A Boston native, Snider studied at New England Conservatory and Berklee College of Music. Craig received his BA in piano and composition from Northwestern University’s School of Music.
When did you first discover your love for music?
Ralphi Rosario – It was during the ’70s as a kid growing up – In our house we used to listen to Classic R&B to Early Disco, to even some Pop/rock. I was a product of listening to all kinds of music.
Craig J Snider – My mother took a picture of me at 2 years old attempting to play the piano. Piano Lessons started at 5 followed by many other instruments (Guitar, Trumpet, Voice, Drums)… I was always in it.
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Ralphi Rosario – Being exposed to so much great music growing up; I was curious as to HOW it was all made/put together. My curiosity leads me to hang out with DJs at a young age, and I became a fast learner. Once I saw how music not only moved me, I knew I wanted to create music.
Craig J Snider – There was no other choice for me. It was what I was born to do. As Miles Davis famously said, “Music is an addiction.”
When did you know that you were going to make music a career?
Ralphi Rosario – In high school around 1984 – With the saturation of electronic synths and drum machines taking over, my curiosity once again took over and I began hanging out with local recording engineers & and music programmers.
Craig J Snider – Whenever I heard great music it made me realize there was nothing else for me to do. Its a curse as well as a blessing. From Baroque to Jazz to Funk, to Rock To disco To House to Punk to Rap to Folk.. didn’t matter I’ve always just wanted to be a part of it… all of it.
Tell us a little bit about your styles and to what do you accredit your sense of style?
Ralphi Rosario – For me, mostly Classic 70’s R&B and the craze of Soul Disco & Pop Disco – The soul mixed with the recording trickery always got my interest. I think Craig & I share that same love for not only the soul of making music but the recording engineering/technical side of things.
Craig J Snider – For me music is a language and within that language, there are multiple dialects. I take pride in having performed, produced and played in many.
What I love about where I am now, is I have found a collaborator in the impresario Ralphi Rosario where we strive to be our best every time we create. To strive for growth for me is the key. It’s the journey I savor the most, and we have fun! The most important element of all!
Would you prefer to be independent or signed to a major?
Ralphi Rosario – Both are good, but nothing like today – being able to create your OWN music and control where and how it goes. I prefer an Indy label any day!
Craig J Snider – I have been blessed to have been a part of both experiences they both have their pros and cons. To me it’s about the people I get to work with and that there are trust and mutual respect. Without that you have nothing.
How do you feel about the present state of the music industry?
Ralphi Rosario – I feel there’s an oversaturation of stuff, & that it’s REALLY hard to get to the REAL talented folks out there. I think a lot of new artists are short-lived because of this. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, but not EVERYONE can make a tasty dish…
Great talents are always overlooked! But the ones with a Marketing quality who are talentless, take precedent with most record companies. This makes me sad about the state of the music business.
Craig J Snider – A lot of content, not necessarily a lot of quality. Hard to separate the wheat from the chafe at times. But…that being said I do love the esprit de corps of aspiring artists who are fearless and striking out on their own to express themselves as they see fit. I came up in an era with a lot of gatekeepers which have prevented many promising careers.
What musical influences did you listen to growing up that helped to mold you into the artist you are today?
Ralphi Rosario – Donna Summer; Giorgio Moroder; Trevor Horne; Gamble & Huff were some of mine.
Craig J Snider – Oh man too many lists for me. As Quincy Jones Once said “I like all music. The only music I don’t like is bad music.” So many great artists in all genres touched and influenced me.
What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?
Ralphi Rosario – My first recording: the classic ‘You Used to Hold Me’ in 1987 – I had no faith in the song, but everyone else begged to differ.
Craig J Snider – Just out of Music School at Northwestern University in Chicago, the day I got a call from a producer that his piano player called in sick for a huge recording session and was I available to get there in the next few minutes.
I showed up terrified by far the youngest person there, looked at the 6-page chart, took a deep breath and nailed it. Launched my career as a session musician and I never looked back.
What are your greatest challenges as an artist, and what is your greatest attribute when it comes to your work ethic in the studio?
Ralphi Rosario – Great Challenge; Balancing my DJ & Recording studio life; Attribute; Once I start something I don’t put it down till it’s finished. I’m known NOT to slack.
Craig J Snider – The challenge is to create create, create, no matter what. Rain or shine, happy-sad, mad glad, rich-poor, etc, Just keep going never stop. Believe in the process Not the outcome. Do you finish something? That was YESTERDAY! What are you going to do today? My greatest attribute is a curiosity I love to learn and grow.
What do you feel distinguishes you “an artist’s” from just a musician?
Ralphi Rosario – Craig & I have worked tirelessly on many many projects together. We’ve pretty much remixed every major pop artist out there. I’ve always considered us not only as full-on producers but full-on Artists in our field. We’re constantly writing and producing even outside of the remix game. This artistry of it all is what keeps & makes us artists and NOT “just” musicians.
Craig J Snider – Just a musician seems derogatory. It takes tremendous sacrifice and time to get to be proficient on an instrument. That being said me artistry transcends instruments, equipment, style, genre or accolades. It’s the search to find your voice, to constantly grow and give back. To never EVER settle. Trust your gut, not fads or trends. To express your soul and touch others in doing so completely.
Today’s music seems to be about collaborations with the “hottest” artist out. How did you two find each other and decide to work together?
Ralphi Rosario – Craig was working with Mark Picchiotti for quite a while; I was doing my own thing, remixing and producing. When Mark introduced me to Craig, I bought him into my own remix game, and our chemistry was amazing, right from the start. It was definitely consistent and constantly growing and moving forward.
Craig J Snider – We were introduced by a fellow Producer Mark Picchiotti. The first day I showed up to work with Ralphi at his studio, I know he was special. We come from incredibly different back grounds, but we are totally the same in our passion for our art and our love of music.
Ralphi is the definition of a self-made man. He is truly an inspiration to me and countless others. I have learned a lot from him, he has from me as well. It’s always been effortless between us. We want to work with great like-minded Artists. Indie or Famous is not the criterion.
What impression would you like listeners to be left with after hearing your music? What will people be able to say about you as an artist?
Ralphi Rosario – As far as an impression; the complete and total musicality that is represented in this LP project. I want folks to be left with hearing the Chemistry that is VERY evident and to feel what we felt in putting this together. For what I’d like folks to say, is that musically; our chemistry in recording original music is quite strong & integrated.
Craig J Snider – That we touched them in some way (hopefully positive!). That we took them out of their everyday life and took them on a journey. We were the soundtrack for a special moment in their lives. Or we just kicked their ass in the club!
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry what would it be?
Ralphi Rosario – That selling music online wouldn’t be so accessible and vulnerable to piracy. It’s what is killing our business. Folks have no idea of the days; long hours; etc it took to record those recordings. Then someone just TAKES IT; Sends it around, and there is no commercial value. It is on rinse and repeats.
Craig J Snider – Streaming (Spotify, Apple, etc) needs to feed those that create the content, NOT their handlers! i.e.record Labels,Spotify, Apple Etc… Let’s get those royalties commensurate with any other royalty based profession such as SAG-AfTRA etc..
Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us? How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?
Ralphi Rosario – Currently, music is my life & my life’s work. Sure I’m a quick learner, but I always come back to music. A long drive, time with friends or working while traveling. Oh and sex.
Craig J Snider – I love to cook, read books (History and Thriller Fiction), Laughing my Ass Off with Ralphi, Tai Chi, Working out, Hiking, Biking, Skating, etc. Friends, Family, My sons Baseball Games, My Daughter’s Cheerleading, Tequila and Last but not least Hanging with Max my fabulous Bull Mastiff!
What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this type of image for your music?
Ralphi Rosario – Image? Longevity; staying power; and quality.
Craig J Snider – Pathos, Emotion, Joy, Happiness, Love of Life. There’s so much ugly in the world, I want to inspire and create some beauty and soul and make people move.
What projects do you have in the making currently and what are your plans for the near future? Tell us about working with Pepper Gomez and your coming release? What made you choose Wake Up! Music as your label?
Ralphi Rosario – Currently, we’re in the process of finishing off our LP for Wake Up! Music; I personally also have a few Ralphi Dance tracks that will be released alongside later this year. Pepper has been a long time friend to me and a few of my own friends.
So to me, it made sense to team up with her for the LP project Craig & I put together. This LP is a few years in the making, but I’m glad it took this long for it to be the ‘right fit’ for Wake Up! Music. Pepper believes in the music; the artistry & we gravitate toward that.
Craig J Snider – Ralphi surprised me one day saying he wanted to introduce me to a potential label collaborator. We all went out for dinner at Club Lucky in Chicago and Had a Blast! Pepper Gomez not only is a wonderful person with a generous spirit but has a Ph.D. in Psychology, as does my wife and father!
Needless to say, we got each other and I appreciated her artist’s first approach to her work ethic. After this release, there are many other songs and artists in the pipeline. It’s endless. I also score films and compose for Television. I’m hopeful Ralphi and I will be collaborating on our first film this summer.
You’ve been working on mixes for other artists on the Wake Up! Music label. How has that been for you?
Ralphi Rosario – It’s been a great experience! Being able to share out talents with the home base!!! Lending our remix chops to Wake Up! is awesome!
Craig J Snider – A Blast, Awesome. We always have fun and try and turn out the best product we can, and exceed all expectations!
What is your ultimate goal at the end of your career?
Ralphi Rosario – To be still working in my field, but graduating to bigger and greater things.
Craig J Snider – You mean when I’m dead? Even on the other side I will keep going 100%.
What suggestions do you have for other artists like yourself?
Ralphi Rosario – Keeping doing what you’re doing; never give up and be true to your craft.
Craig J Snider – Don’t worry about fame or fortune, worry about being the best you can be every hour of every single day. Protect your work, build your Brand, eventually your audience will find you and love you all the more for it.
Stand for something larger than yourself, give more than you receive, and love fearlessly, passionately and unequivocally. It’s never going to be smooth or perfect, sit back and savor the ride… Carpe Diem
How can potential fans find you?
Ralphi Rosario – Website | Facebook |Instagram
Craig J Snider – Website | Music | Facebook |Instagram
Wake Up Music – Website
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Ralphi Rosario – Craig; For being a wonderful friend and a true inspiration in many forms. Pepper for finally taking us on!!!!!!
Craig J Snider – Ralphi for being Ralphi my brother from a Puerto Rican mother and making all of this possible. The good Dr. Pepper for believing in us and investing. My family, friends, and Max for all their love and support. Shalom
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Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Muzique Magazine Alfred Munoz, is an American Army Veteran, Entrepreneur, and Real Estate Advisor with over 20 years of experience in the Music Industry, Leadership, Management, and Branding.