No one could really see it happening, until it happened. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted all aspects of life including the entertainment industry. Robert Rangel, known as DJ inferno to the greater Los Angeles, was caught off guard. He too had a rough time figuring out what to do next. Clubs were closed and social gatherings were limited to nonexistent. Unlike other DJ’s he wasn’t into streaming on Instagram or Twitch. He was dead set on sticking to his traditional in-person live party set.
“There’s nothing like that organic interaction with people,” Inferno said. “I really missed being in an environment, not only clubs or festivals but even meetings or just seeing people and having face-to-face conversation.”
With no one around to dance to his mixes, Inferno was compelled to seek out new opportunities to satisfy his creative urge. He started working with Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s lingerie and cosmetics brands respectively, where he set the musical tone for models as photo shoots.
Inferno also mentioned he has set his sights on being a producer. His desire to do so drove him to launch a production company, The Amethyst, alongside producer Mickey Low. Through his new production company, Inferno has been working around the clock to sonically create a “catalog of different sounds through different instrumentals with an eclectic collection of artist collaborations,” he shared.
DJing and producing is something he takes seriously and often warns artists shouldn’t pander or try to create something that doesn’t come from the soul.
Before The Runway
Inferno, a self-proclaimed music nerd, always knew that he would become a disc jockey since he started dabbling on the ones and twos in high school. His passion for DJing eventually landed him a slot as one of Power 106’s on air mixers.
He attributes DJ greats — Jazzy Jeff, DJ AM and Vice as inspiring his career into DJing. In fact, Inferno was his high school homecoming dance DJ and always the life of the party. Even when on the verge of being broke, he still bought records to keep his hustle going. Practically 15 years in the game, he’s a rising star.
“People didn’t initially support my vision and my craft in doing music. I just pushed through it. There were a lot of times where it was rough, like only having a few dollars in my pocket to buy either food or a record. I would spend that last five or six bucks on a record,” Inferno reminisced.
Ready For 2022
Entering a new phase in his career, Inferno is presently preparing to embark on a European tour at the top of 2022. By hitting the road, Inferno said he gets to continue to do what he loves in front of energizing crowds. He was mum regarding what cities he’d be hitting or who he’d be touring alongside, however, he did say he was excited to work with an impressive roster of talented artists. But best of all he looked forward to waking up in a different city everyday.
And though touring is at the top of his “to-do”, he also pointed out, through The Amethyst and his collective of producer colleagues, he has the ability to create his own lane through musical instrumentations that also foster opportunities in the commercial space. When undertaking commercial or radio gigs, he keeps in mind the target demographic. Much like when performing at a wedding or quinceanera, he knows that he has to make a wide group of people with different ages and tastes all happy at the same time.
“When Pusha T made that ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ jingle for McDonald’s, he basically looked at the demographic: family, kids, the whole world; you have to make something that’s universal. Pusha killed that shit! You’re not only going to remember the jingle but it’s going to brainwash you into loving McDonald’s,” joked Inferno.
He approaches commercial and event work with an open mind and emphasizes the need to carefully read the audience. After about 20 minutes of careful room reading and DJing, he can fall back on his decade-and-a-half experience and go on autopilot to deliver a world class performance so that everyone can have fun.
The Social Weed Smoker
It’s no secret, Inferno is a social cannabis smoker. When in the studio with artists smoking weed, he’ll take a hit to match their vibe and to unlock a deeper creativity within, but that’s as far as it goes. Cannabis, he shared, gives him a creative edge that inspires risk-taking and experimentation that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. But when performing in front of a live crowd, “puff, puff, pass,” is not an option for him, ever.
“I got love for everybody that’s contributing to the DJ art,” says Inferno. “Everyone was unsure of what was going to happen to DJs after COVID hit and I just wanna shout out all the DJs for still being there doing their thing, still killing the clubs, killing Twitch, whatever it is that they’re doing to push the culture forward.”