"A listen to the producer, not the DJ"
In the upper level wood-floored apartment, the aura of college housing with a mix of walking into a new record store fills the air. Harris Rosado has decorated the walls in his apartment with banners and posters of The Who, Bob Marley, Uncle Luke, Ice Cube and vinyls that anyone born after '93 would be oblivious to.
"You want a beer?" Rosado casually offers.
While he's laid back off the stage, his passion for music fuels his high-energy performances and his lofty artistic ambitions. Rosado, a senior sociology major, aims to be a top-tier producer.
The casual Rosado who appeared in the lofty apartment differs from the hype DJ who opened Fall Fest in front of 7,400 students earlier this semester.
According to Rosado, everything was all good leading up to the opening set, but nerves started setting in while he walked up the steps to the stage.
"I was pretty confident up until I walked on stage and was like, 'Oh, this is really going down right now,'" Rosado admits.
The opportunity presented itself when SA Entertainment Talent Coordinator Cory Riskin randomly texted Rosado a week before classes began and asked him if he wanted to open for Fall Fest - an offer he accepted without question.
Although he held down Fall Fest, being labeled as a DJ is not how Rosado would truly like to be identified. He has nine years of experience under his belt as a DJ, but he can do more than match the speed of a song. Everything is improvised when he's on the turntables. Even though Rosado possesses all of these above-average talents, he'd like to be known as a producer, not a DJ, and for people to recognize the difference.
"It kills me everyday that people and girls are screaming like, 'Oh my God, a DJ's here.' I'm like, 'shut the f*** up'," Rosado joked. "[My producer name] is just Rosado. That's it. It's just my last name ... and I also don't want to give off the illusion that I'm trying to be something I'm not."
The Buffalo community identifies Rosado as a DJ because of his regular sets at the Main Street bar, Northside, which is conveniently down a flight of stairs and few paces to the left of his home. The popular bar is where Rosado got his start.
"Freshman year was the first time I ever got paid to play music for people ... and I still hold down [Northside] just to pay homage to them," Rosado said. "It still blows my mind. People paid to get into where I got paid to go. I'll still probably never get over that."
That first time at Northside turned into a weekly gig on Thursdays, which led to performing on Saturdays downtown on Chippewa Street at Bayou.
He is a fan of music and is more interested in the sound of a song rather than the song as a whole. Rosado's main interests lie in breaking every element of a song down and building it up into something new.
His improvisational method was what he implemented during his Fall Fest set; it wasn't something that was pre-mixed. Doing so was easy, given his keen sense of hearing and ability to pick out notes in a song. The similarities in notes are what make the transition flow smoothly.
"If the key is B flat ... I can only jump from a B to an A ... so that's [what] I generally follow," Rosado said. "When [I] do it like this, everything perfectly mashes. It sounds like one song the whole time."
Rosado has taught himself to play the guitar, drums and piano to the point where it wouldn't be a problem for him to comfortably play in front of a crowd. Rosado's goal is to be able to play every instrument - a skill that some of today's most talented producers possess. This display of dedication is what sets Rosado apart from others in the business.
Phil Weisbord, senior communication major, is Rosado's roommate, manager and friend of seven years. He has spent an ample amount of time with Rosado to recognize his talent and dedication.
"Harris' work ethic is great," Weisbord said. "When he has something in his head, he will go out of his way to get it down. The kid is one of a kind."
His hard work has inspired others to pick up the trade of learning how to become a producer or DJ in a world that is so heavily influenced by music.
Greg Needle, a senior economics major, is something like Rosado's prot?(c)g?(c) of. Drawn in by Rosado's work and passion, Needle plays the role as student and constantly continues to learn so he'll be able to eventually have his own opportunity.
"I approached [Rosado] at [Northside] and said I was very interested in the same thing he was doing," Needle said. "From there, he's kind of acted as a mentor to me. He's very good at dumbing down complex topics within music production ... and does a very good job at teaching relevant topics."
Rosado's top list for producers - David Guetta, Skrillex and Porter Robinson - are the ones who influence him and mirror his whole mindset and style. They are normally categorized in the genres of electronic, dub step and house - the genres he mainly focuses on.
According to Needle, Rosado successfully takes qualities from his influencers and merges them with his own style. He doesn't copy, but he enhances, his own music through different qualities of different types of music.
Rosado refuses to block off other forms of music; his open-mindedness to different musical styles is what sets him apart as a producer. He dabbles in nearly every genre.
"Musical taste is supposed to be everywhere," Rosado said. "People try to find that taste that everyone else likes or what they want people to think. I don't care if Beethoven made it, if I f*** with a song, I f*** with a song. People worry too much about what other people think."
Early in his career, Rosado used to take three months to make a song. The producer has now improved to the point where it takes him a week to create a track and even less time when he's motivated.
Inspiration is the beginning of the process and finding that inspiration is easy for Rosado.
"A lot of live stuff inspires me," Rosado said. "I'll come home from a concert and have one of my most productive days. When I see people making music, it makes me want to make music. I can take inspiration from anywhere and anything. I'm constantly inspired."
Rosado plans to attend an audio engineering school to gain experience after graduating from UB this year. As a one-year plan, Rosado has a college tour in his sights and has a set goal to be a 3 p.m. slot at festivals. Songs are constantly updated to his Soundcloud account under his producer name, Rosado, and his work is also available for free on iTunes. His ultimate goal is to perform at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Fla.
But for now, he's laid back on his couch with the television on and music off, deep in thought about the future.
"You gotta make your own way," Rosado said. "I want to be all about it. You gotta [put in] hours."
With his passion for music, it seems Rosado won't have too much trouble putting in time to perfect his craft and close in on that goal.