Interview with DJ Cloak Dagger (Luke Rizzo)
In 2015, Ambient DJ Service was thrilled to welcome Luke Rizzo aka “DJ Cloak Dagger” to our roster of DJ music mixologists. When not appearing at trendy hotel bars in Manhattan, Luke is available for private events through Ambient DJs including weddings, corporate events and in-store appearances. Luke is not your average DJ – he is a seamless music mixer, he produces his own music, and even runs an ascending record label named “Noc Boots.” His music possesses a distinct vibe that touches musical souls. To experience the signature deep, soulful and sexy DJ Cloak Dagger sound, check out the mix found immediately after our interview questions.
We recently caught up with DJ Cloak Dagger to learn more about his background and musical approach.
When did you first become interested in music and the DJ craft? Were you always musically inclined?
Music has been an integral part of my being since birth. I grew up in a house surrounded by music and creativity. Being the youngest of four I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a vast array of genres from a young age. In the late 80’s and early 90’s my sister would pump a lot of New Wave, Brit Pop, Industrial, Disco and House music. My brothers were more into Metal, Hardcore, Hip Hop, Jazz, Fusion, Folk and Rock. My mother was a Belly Dance teacher. She utilized our living room as her dance studio and would let me drop the needle on these amazing sitar and tabla laced vinyls out of India for her students. Of course being the “baby” of the family nobody wanted to play with me. When my siblings would all go out with their friends, I would sneak into their rooms and sift through all of their cassettes making mix tapes of my own before they returned home. The art of digging, compiling music and recognizing what I thought sounded great together was no doubt my very first steps into what I do today.
Tell us the story of how you named yourself DJ Cloak Dagger. Do you DJ / produce under any other names?
Cloak Dagger was something I came up with back in 2009 as an artist moniker. Cloak AND Dagger means espionage. I thought removing the AND and just keeping it Cloak Dagger sounded interesting and enigmatic. I released an EP back in 2006 as Pony Boy Curtis and played a few DJ sets under that name opening for a lot of post New Wave and Indie bands at the time like Jupiter One, The Finals and Hello Eden. I also produce a cultural networking, art and live music exhibition entitled MAE that I founded back in 2008.
Tell us more about your artistic approach as both a DJ and Producer. Who are your musical influences?
I try not to limit myself. Neither as a DJ or a producer. I think my music and my catalog reflects that. I constantly keep an open mind. As a DJ I genuinely love playing to different crowds mixing an array of genres, being challenged and learning something new each time. Creating a positive energy for the room that we can share, celebrate and rejoice in is the ultimate goal. I approach the studio in the same way, only it’s more personal. As artists, we create in order to tap into a part of our souls that needs to be unleashed.
My influences run pretty deep, but it starts with Lonnie Liston Smith, George Benson, Fela Kuti, Pat Metheny, Hector Lavoe, Steve Tibbetts, Gregory Isaacs, Evelyn Champagne King…. spanning to A Tribe Called Quest, Ben Harper, Mos Def, Common, Mr. Fingers, Mark Farina, DJ Premier, J Dilla, Kenny Dope, DJ Muggs, Maxwell, Sade, El General, Bjork, Thievery Corporation and a lot of contemporaries like Kartell, FKJ, Vanilla, Andras Fox, HNNY, Robosonic, Sandy Rivera, Pomo, Oliver Nelson, Late Nite Tuff Guy…..I could go on and on….
Tell us the story of the Noc Boots record label.
Sure, I created the Noc Boots series in 2014 as platform for DJs, producers and fans within the underground rework, edit and bootleg recording world. The sound is deep, soulful and always sexy. Noc is short for Nocturnes (taken from a short lived Itunes podcast I had running) and Boots is abbreviated from bootleg recordings. It’s also a play on words from the 90’s phrase “Knocking Boots” which appropriately fits the Noc Boots sound. We just celebrated our 5th release. The series features releases from Ash Reynolds (UK), Rocco Raimundo (AUS), P SOL (NYC), Brother in Arms (SF), Basement Love (CAN), DJ Steef (FRA) to name a few – and you can find our releases at our official store at NocBoots.Bandcamp.com as well as Juno Download.
Where can fans catch your live sets?
You can catch me every Friday from 6-9 at my residency in the Living Room of the W Hotel in Times Square.
I heard that you recently DJ’d a Silent Disco Party. Tell us about that experience.
Incredible, 500 people singing, dancing and bouncing to 3 different DJs. We were on the rooftop of Stage 48 in Hell’s Kitchen and the floor was shaking beneath my feet. The energy was outrageous. With headphones on the crowd, they are totally tapped into the DJ – more so than maybe a traditional setting. No cell phones, little conversation, just music and dancing. It was great.
Is there any particular party that stands out in your career?
My favorite party to play in NYC is the TOCA parties at Cielo. It’s a tribal themed house party that’s truly indicative of old school NYC nightlife. Each party has a different motif, patrons come in costume, the energy is contagious and of course Cielo’s sound system and sunken dance floor makes it my favorite club to play in the big city!
Are you working on any new and interesting projects?
Yes, I have two overseas releases for my track “Ale’ Sofi” which got an amazing remix from my friend Captain Planet. It was recently selected by Buddha Bar founder Claude Challe to be released on his latest Select 9: Music For Our Friends series coming out in July out of France and it also just saw a release last week on Timewarp Music’s latest compilation Bamboola Boogie out of Greece.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love being with my wife and daughter. Spending sunny days in Central Park and always keeping my ear out for new exciting music and artists.
Is there any track that never leaves your record crate?
Man, Tough question, there are so many! Late Nite Tuff Guy’s edit of “The Man Who Loves You” is a strong candidate. It works over every crowd and is a great dance floor ice breaker. I’ve probably played it 1,000 times over the years.
Where can fans connect with you online?
Sure, I regularly post my appearance dates and music projects on Social Media. You can connect with me at:
Thanks for having me!
Thank you Cloak! For all of you interested in booking DJ Cloak Dagger for your private event, connect with us at www.ambientdj.com (note: Luke is highly versatile and DJs all musical genres, tailoring the music to fit your unique celebration).
Before concluding this article, we’d like to share our own personal favorite DJ Cloak Dagger mix. Skip the therapist’s couch and let go with this delightful one hour set!
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