A treasure trove of ideas and a jaw dropping sound technician/engineering supremo from a very young age led this legend of the underground to quickly rise in the ranks of dance music and appear in many chart-topping achievements. I’m only talking about Rick Pier O’Neil who started out as a DJ of a French club when he was at the tender age of 14.
By the time he was 16 he had already created his very first studio producing his first titles such as Sequential “Chocho Loco”, “Tribal Nation”, “In De Ghetto”, which led him to work with such major labels as Sony Music, Universal, Motown, Polygram as remixer for Kool and the Gang, Stevie Wonder to name some.
With the emerging house music movement, he set foot overseas and became part and parcel of the US musical stories. Creator of a massive dark Progressive and Underground labels RPO Records and Garbage, he has travelled extensively across Europe and now is based out Mexico leaving a legacy of original and remix works that’s hard to put away. He is busy having re-opened Display Recordings a sub-label under RPO Records plus remixes coming out from Perspectives Digital, A Must Have, Massive Harmony, JOOF Recordings, Modern Agenda and then add to all this a bunch of originals and you know you are looking at a musician who means business.
His 30-years long career in the studio or behind the turntables is the proof if needed that the passion for music fuels Rick Pier O’Neil’s life.
Hi there thank you for taking time out to do this with us at Decoded. First things first, tell us about your earliest musical leanings, how did it all begin?
Hello. I’ve been in the music industry and club scene from the time I was 12 years old. My parents owned a club. I became a Resident DJ at age 15. I’ve watched music history unfold from the time of disco and funk until now with electronic music.
Did you get formal training in music and were you always interested in making a career in dance?
In the beginning, I wanted to be a sound engineer. I would lock myself up for days in the studio doing collaborations with other sound engineers. I mixed for major labels and superstar voices. Later on, I started producing my own music. I’ve never had formal training, so I can’t say; it was something I started with as a vision so to speak.
You had a stint with being a sound engineer back in the day, can you tell us about those days and how you went about to make a name in the DJ circuit?
I was a sound engineer and a DJ at the same time in my life but it wasn’t like the two professions were linked, one to the other. It was when I started producing that I chose to use the same name for my producer name. Those were good times to do something like this and I carried it forward.
From making a name in France to your subsequent move to EU, do you think that was a defining decision?
It’s interesting I don’t really know. My exposure in France wasn’t really an important phase if you ask me. I created different styles of music for each country that I visited actually and it depended on my feelings at that point and what my life was as an echo back to the music that I presented for that time.
What were your first professional gigs like, and understandably would you say there’s a difference to the sounds you played back then different to what you adhere to currently?
Yes, you could say there is a big difference. I started mixing in the 80s. I played funk music. Nowadays, I play underground music. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my passion to make people dance. I don’t think that part will ever change, no matter what a DJ plays throughout the years. It’s why we do what we do. It’s essential to say the least.
Do you realise that there’s no one really who makes sounds that you have to come to be known with? Is this something that you consciously steer with?
I love to create, it is my passion. I don’t think about what others are doing so maybe that is why my sound is unique? Maybe it is because I produce what I feel at the time.
When did you decide and what were the thoughts that went in to forming RPO Records, and how’s that going, any plans for 2018 that you’d like to share with your readers?
RPO Records was established in the time of vinyl. I wanted to be more creative and artistic in my musical choices and artists. The label brought this freedom. Now, I continue to produce my sound for the label but also other artists are part of the label journey too. For 2018, I plan to continue to showcase good music, continuing in my typical way, without much planning and with how I feel at the time. I am a man of the moment.
And what’s the stance and difference of your other imprint Garbage Records?
Ahhh, Garbage Records! That label has no limit for me. It’s where I put my most abstract creations, stuff that I like running away with. I don’t ask questions with this label. In other words, it’s MY label.
Does RPO have other pursuits aside from music?
Honestly, I’ve always worked in music. I own a Bed and Breakfast but I’m over it. I do like to garden a bit though, work on a little decor and all.
Can you give is a low down on your current studio setup?
My studio is very basic, actually. With modern technology, you don’t need a lot of gear. One good sound treated room and a good computer is a smart way to be. For the old school I have a Genelec 1031 A and Focals, NS10s, a mini Moog TB303 Nordlead3. That’s how I make my sound.
Here’s a fan question, how do you make the kick and bass sound separate from each other in dynamics to the rest of the groove, it’s always so well-spaced out, any tips you can give an aspiring producer?
There are no real secrets, actually. You have to find the right compression with EQ, and the right frequencies. Once you get the result you’re looking for you need specific compressor and EQ. Each mix needs something different, no two are alike. It all depends on the track.
You’ve pretty much got your name on countless number of remix work for fellow artists, do you enjoy reworking as much as making your own and would you say the process of doing so is similar to when you sit with your own productions?
Yes, I’ve done a lot of remixes throughout my career. For the work itself, I take a part I like from the track and work around that, be it the vocal, a synth, or the melody. For creating my own music, I have a rough idea and build around that, just like when I remix. When I have neither of the above, I make what comes out of me.
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
To put it simply, I continue making music and I’m breathing new life into some of my sub-labels like RPO Records, Frekency, Display Recording and Vesta Records. I’m also impatiently waiting for a solution to all this free downloading that’s going on so that people in music start getting paid properly again.
You’ve provided us an exclusive mix, what vibe and tracks can we expect?
I played my new tracks and my most recent remixes for those who don’t know my work to have an idea of what I’m all about. Thanks for this nice chat! I do tend to create a vibe and convey my feelings through the music I showcase. Hope listeners enjoy it.
01. Mondkrater – stellar Depth – RPO Remix – Proton
02. Rise & Fall- Wasted – RPO Remix – Bonzai Progressive
03. Oscar Vazquez & Pablo Muniz – Walking Over The Line – RPO Remix – Walking
04. Rick Pier O neil – Abandoned Planet – Rpo Records
05. Rick Pier O neil – Arcadia – Rpo Records
06. Rick Pier O neil & Chris Gavi – India – Bonzai Progressive
07. Day By Day – Koifish – RPO Remix – Slidways
08. Anthony G – I can show you – RPO Remix – Display Recordings
09. Joy Marquez – Stranger Things – RPO Remix – RPO Records
10. Rick Pier O neil – Earth Mover – Proton
11. Nipun Divecha – Pretenders (RPO Remix) A Must Have