At a very early age, his older brother exposed Antonio to the music of Carlos Santana. “I was instantly hooked on his music and he has been a major musical influence in my life." In 1972, Antonio met a neighborhood DJ by the name of Rookie. "He basically took me under his wing and not only was he teaching me the art of mixing but also allowing me to play with him at parties. I was just a boy but I remember one day Grandmaster Flash walked into the bedroom, where Rookie had his setup, so that Rookie could show him how to mix. We also played music at public parks. This is a very important aspect of the underground music scene that is rarely mentioned, but it was an integral part of the movement.”
During his upbringing in the South Bronx, Antonio was exposed to several genres of music especially the old Latin Boleros, Latin Jazz, African rhythms (Yoruba religion/Santeria), Soul, Funk, Disco, Gospel and Rap. As a teenager, Antonio started to drift towards the disco/funk/soulful and jazz sound. He especially remembers getting into rap music as it was being developed right in the neighborhood he grew up in. "We would hang out in the project hallways and while we banged on the walls with our hands or whatever we had to make music, the fellas would just make up rhymes. In 1972, at age 12, I bought my first records, Chakachas and Jungle Fever. Despite us being very poor, I begged my mother for money to buy records. I have not stopped buying records since.”
Antonio is the proud owner of an extensive record collection which thoroughly covers: Latin, Latin Jazz, all eras of Jazz, Disco, Soul, Funk, Dance & World Sounds. "Today I am open minded to seeking all kinds of music. My main focus is how the music makes me feel. I listen to the message and the story the music presents, especially in instrumental songs. I don't believe a song has to have words to tell a story."
Around 1974-75, although under-age, he managed to get into many of the New York clubs (Bonds International, Latin Times, Starship Enterprise, Electric Circus, to name just a few). For the most part, he religiously went to The Loft, The Garage and The Funhouse weekly for many years. “I did not go to either one of those clubs to hang out with David Mancuso, Larry Levan or Jellybean Benitez. I went to listen to some dope music and dance. In 1974, when I first went to The Loft it cost $3.99. I practically grew up in The Loft and much of my dance/music roots & experiences are based there."
"I love to play jams that others, for whatever reason, do not play." Antonio credits his courage to present different music, although not popular or mainstream, to his love for music. "It takes courage not worry about clearing a floor. Yes, I play from the heart and truly believe that the music lover and dancer will connect and appreciate what I’m playing. I must say, If you want hear what everyone else is playing, I am not the one to come check out. I’m not going to play a jam just because everyone else is playing it. On the other hand, I welcome the music lover/dancer who knows their music and wants to hear all kinds of good, quality sounds and even get educated to some degree.”
In January of 1998, Antonio Ocasio developed his own label so not to compromise producing the music that was in his heart - hence Tribal Winds. In addition to his record label, his love and dedication to the music has given him the opportunity to DJ worldwide.
Antonio is the resident dj of WEPA NYC, a celebration based on his Afro-Latino roots, creating that "the way it was on the block” vibe that was experienced growing up as New York Latinos (Neoyorquinos) presented by Joann Jimenez.
The soundscape of ¡Wepa! incorporates the wide range of our culture’s musical wealth, blending Afro-Cuban, Latino Tribal, Orisha chants and straight up percussive rhythms mixed in with old salsa classics and other lovely sounds that live inside us… house music.
¡Wepa! pays homage to the music that influenced us as youngsters, and celebrates the newer music that echoes it. We incorporate the 'vieja escuela' traditions of a cigar roller, domino table, and tasty coquito. We carefully select and display a visceral experience including video clips of children playing under a ‘johnny pump’ on those hot summer nights, famous Latino musician jam sessions, and dance rituals of our ancestors.
Our interactive clothesline strung from the ceiling, live percussionists and all that Latino flavor invite your presence. Let us dance, laugh and drink the night away, the way it used to and ought to be!
Antonio Ocasio Discography
- 14 Remix
- 1 Vocals
- 49 Instruments & Performance
- 36 Writing & Arrangement
- 1 Featuring & Presenting
- 35 Production
- 12 Technical