When Leo Trujillo was 21 years old, he went to New York City for the first time, came back with the desire to become a DJ and started hosting a show on KSYM called “House Nation.”
More than 23 years later, Leo is bringing House Nation to KRTU.
Leo hosts House Nation as DJ Rise and delves into different subgenres of uptempo house music. In recent years, house music has become more popular, but at the time of his show, however, Leo said there wasn’t really an outlet for this kind of music in the San Antonio scene. This led Leo to KSYM.
“It kind of inspired me to want to get into radio. Playing at parties was one thing, but I really wanted to broadcast this music that I had been exposed to, knowing that it hadn’t been even tapped here at all,” Leo said. “This is 1994–95 in San Antonio, where if you weren’t into metal, Tejano or hip hop and freestyle — those were really the big three meccas, at least exposed to me at the time — you were isolated from the mainstream avenue of attention.”
According to Leo, house music derives from disco and the gay and black community of Chicago post-disco era. It’s this aspect of the genre that intrigued Leo.
“It was soulful. It was energetic. It was gay. It was black. It was everything that encompassed a minority of people that kind of spearheaded a whole movement of dance culture that would get splintered off into to many different subgenres and would inspire all different forms and facets that we know now,” Leo said.
Because of the genre’s saturated history, there are many subgenres and variances of it, and Leo looks forward to continuing to explore the genre as a whole on his weekly hour with KRTU. To Leo, house music is all about the experience, so he intends to focus more on the music itself rather than the historical background of it.
“It’s good to let loose and have a party and not necessarily dive into the academia of it. There’s a lot of good stuff, but it’s nice to just experience it or to relive it if it’s a song you haven’t heard in a long time,” Leo said. “As of right now, i want to see what this is going to become. I want to see how it can be received by a younger artists, and hopefully explore other things musically that maybe I didn't have the chance to explore back then.”
Leo looks forward to his move to KRTU but refuses to let the switch throw him off his game.
“I’ve gotten older and a bit more seasoned in DJing music for different types of crowds and parties, it’s hard not to want to tap on everything,” Leo said. “The show’s only an hour right now, and because I’m kind of switching things up coming to KRTU from KSYM, I want to keep the flow of creativity I got going.”
When asked if he was still a frequenter of the scene, Leo laughed.
“Not much since my son was born. He’s almost 2 years old, and he’s been keeping me pretty busy,” Leo said.
But Leo doesn’t think the birth of his son, Luca Sol, was the main reason his presence in the party scene has lessened.
“The funny thing is that even before he was born, it was difficult for me to take care of my other part of my life,” Leo said. “I love going out as much as any other person, but as I’ve gotten older, I want to enjoy other things, like enjoying a quiet night at home with my wife, and now my son.”
According to Leo, he now sees going out as a way to accomplish work stuff, in addition to being for fun. Though it’s harder to go out casually, Leo is still involved with the scene and does gigs when he can, including DJing between sets at Pop Pistol’s upcoming 10-year anniversary show Nov. 21 at Limelight.
“Those are the kinds of things I want to get involved with. There’s a level of history, and you’re working with people who’ve done it for a long time. Going out so much gets difficult from a physical standpoint,” Leo said. “My son still wakes up at 5 o’clock, so I got to be on my A-game.”
While a lot has changed in his personal life, Leo noted that the changes in the local music scene are just as big.
Leo explained that when he was younger, he and his friends would have gigs at places off the beaten path and would hope enough friends would stop by and bring enough people in a way that would sort of resemble the scene now. In some ways, Leo said he is jealous of how much more active the scene has become.
“White Rabbit? That place was desolate not too long ago. It was dead. You guys are very lucky to have the opportunity to experience what seems to be a very healthy nightlife. Every nightlife has it shortcomings, its issues. You guys are really lucky to see and have the opportunity with lots of bands to come out and have somewhere to go,” Leo said. “That shit wasn’t around in my twenties, not even in my early thirties.”
Leo is acutely aware of how much the scene has changed, but he’s looking forward to how it will continue to grow and hopes people continue to be active within it, supporting local artists and musicians.
“To the person who feels like there’s nothing going on in San Antonio, put some perspective on things. That’s been the age-old argument since my late teens, early twenties — there’s always been that consensus of like, ‘Oh, this sucks,’ or whatever,” Leo said. “There has been so much growth, not just in the city but in the scene. This city has changed so quickly and so fast in the past ten years, I don’t even recognize it when I do go out.”
Tune in to hear Leo on House Nation, Fridays from 10–11 p.m.