Roger Sanchez 

Roger Sanchez Interview

added: 29 Aug 2012
interviewed by: Alasdair Byers

Roger Sanchez - Roger Sanchez Interview - Printable version
Global veteran Roger Sanchez has seen house music grow in the US and European scene since the 1980s. With consistent year-on-year appearances in the DJMag Top 100 list and collaborations with a long list of artists the US heavyweight weighed in with Music-News to talk on emerging scenes, his latest production plans and collaborations going forward.

1) Youíve been in the house music scene for a long time - how have you seen it develop over the years?

Its really grown a lot more international its taken on a lot of influences especially in the last couple of years. Its really become a lot more American focussed once again again following the earlier European explosion. Its also become a little bit younger, a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more electronic. At the same time you have the kind of alternate development where techno has gone where deep house was - thereís a very soulful movement thatís come back in in parallel, its almost like that element has come full circle. Its interesting for me because I see it changing, evolving but also drawing on the roots that were there when I started, so it makes sense to me. I love how the younger, current generationís kind of grasped onto those older influences, made them their own, not necessarily aware of the history but still drawing from it.

2) You took you a long time (almost 20 years) between establishing yourself as a name and actually making your first album. Thatís very different to DJing careers nowadays-

The way it started was, initially a DJ built up their core audience, built up their local following, then found their way into the studio - and not all of them did. That was before the internet - or what I call the Youtube / Facebook/ Twitter world. Now everythingís focussed on DJs becoming recognised as artists. Now its the converse - you get a lot more fame and popularity and recognition when you come out with a track that the audience is going to see you DJing as an artists live performance - the whole thingís been flipped it on its head

3) Do you think as a result the science of DJing is less important now?

I think its different in the sense that itís not necessary for you to gain recognition by the type of DJ you are and your technical ability in order to become relevant. Now It really is about your performance as an artist. You may not be the best DJ or perfomer in the world but if your records are big, youíll play your own records, thats going to work for your crowds. Itís interesting because I look at DJing from very technical old school perspective but I try to also look at it as a producer and an artist right now and fuse the two worlds.

4) There does seem to be a lot more cross genre-stuff, both in production and DJ sets happening now -

Interestingly enough that goes back to the old school when it was about just rocking a crowd, that, I believe, is where DJs have become a little bit more open minded. When I first started playing; it was breaks, funk, disco, soul, you mixed it all. As long as you made people dance, that was dance music. Then there developed all these different scenes where people identified their particular sound and everyone became very purist about it. But itís kind of back to people trying to rock a crowd. Youíre playing to more diverse audiences now and that gives you that opportunity to draw on different genres in sets. And if it works with you and your personality and your crowd and you understand how to do it it can become very effective.

5) Do you think that will become the norm?

It is if thats your vibe. I mean there are some DJs that are more for playing parties and there are some DJs that develop specific followings by just playing their own sound, so its about what works for you.

6) How does the European scene compare to the US scene dance music wise?

The US scene is very young, very dynamic, very much focussed on what they call EDM which is a bigger, more electro, more progressive kind of sound, whereas the European scene is kind of interesting because it takes on a lot more different aspects, it takes on tech house, house, techno, dubstep, breaks. Youíre seeing that in the states but that elementís always been a bit more underground compared to here. In America its very pushed in that particularly EDM genre right now.

7) Is playing a festival a different experience from playing a club?

I think its different because you realise when youíre playing a festival that youíre playing to a much broader audience. So for me it means I have to think of different things within my wider vibe that will reach out, especially because of the different types of DJs that will be playing. Whereas when youíre playing a club its a little bit more focussed on people coming to see you specifically and they know what your experience is gonna be based on your fanbase.

8) You travel a lot, youíre playing in a lot of emerging areas for music - do you think the future global powerhouses of music are going to be away from the Londons, Miamis Ibizas, Berlins of today?

Absolutely. I think whatís happening is as the world has become smaller because of the internet people can see whatís happening and here compared to whatís happening in different parts of the world - each local community develops their own take on existing genres and starts their own integrated scenes. Thereís a big scene happening in the Middle East, fortunately because I play internationally and I have a lot of strong connections with the Latin American and Middle Eastern market Iím seeing these guys come out of their own individual markets and develop their sound and their vibe. So I think now Americaís basically cracked it, and I think Brazil and South America as well as the Middle East are the ones to watch. I know it sounds weird but there are certain places in Egypt and Dubai, though there are still big differences in terms of culture out there, I think within their scope youíre gonna see big big developments.

9) What can we expect from you going forward?

Iím working on a lot of new music right now - Iíve been doing a lot of collaborations - Iíve actually just about finished a collaboration Iím working on between myself, Kaskade and Danny Jones from the Band McFly. Danny and I have been writing a lot of songs together, heís a really good mate and an amazing songwriter. Iím working on a very deep house / deep tech project called ĎArchitectureí which is something a little bit different: I started off studying architecture and now Iím doing an album based on my favourite architects, and each track is based on their style or a particular building and translating that into a particular sound. Iíve done one for Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando and Iím working on one for Frank Gary. So for example with Tadao Ando his focus is very much on Zen, so I did a track called Water Temple based on the water temples hes designed in Japan, they have a very deep, peaceful theme so Iíll have sounds that evoke that. If Iím looking at a building Iíll look at the colonnades and think ĎOk, thatís the beatí then Iíll see other areas and think ĎSo those are the hi-hatsí and so on. Itís odd because when I was studying architecture many years ago, I had one project which was to convert a piece of music into a building and now Iím doing the converse. Its something Iíve had in my head for about a year or so and now Iím just starting to put together the tracks. Its more for me - its not about creating a track that rocks the dance floor, Iím more about, Ďhow can I express this particular thought?í Some things may be ambient, some things may be Tech House, I have a track I made for Phillippe Starck which sounds like a Parisian 1920ís kind of vibe, it all depends on the individual architect. Thereís no real audience Iím trying to aim at, Its just about artistic expression. Iíve got 2 tracks done right now, Iíve started on a 3rd and Iíve got sketches done for about 3 more. Iím probably gonna have it ready for first quarter next year.

As well as that Iíve been working on these collaborations with Kaskade, Lyke Mike, Dimitri Vegas, Christina Milian. Danny Jones, Medina, Robbie Rivera, a lot of different artists Iím working with, a lot of younger ones, lot of producers. Thereís a lot of music going on right now!

10) What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

Since now its a bit of a different time its really about finding your own vibe musically. Itís very important to put out material now if you want to gain recognition. Find your own technical elements - take your time to master the basics and the technicalities behind them if you want to rock the crowd. Its not like it used to be - it used to be about how you played, what you played, now its about developing your sound, identifying yourself and then figure out the technical aspects of it.

Roger Sanchez architecture based experimental album is scheduled for release Spring 2013. Other collaborations TBA.

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