Roger Sanchez Talks Past And Future of DJing

With a career spanning over two decades, Roger Sanchez has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific and pioneering producers of our time. He comes from an era when names such as Masters At Work, Todd Terry, Josh Wink and DJ Sneak were starting to emerge. As a DJ, Sanchez’s technical ability is second to none. An early introduction to the hip-hop scene in New York in the 80s led to the purchase of his first set of decks- a pair of “belt driven Technics 100s and a Gemini mixer- I had to save up for months to buy those”.

From those early beginnings in New York to regular spots playing in some of Ibiza’s most famous clubs- Space, Pacha, and Amnesia- Sanchez has become one of the most loved and most dedicated DJ’s around today. His commitment to his art is apparent in all his productions. A tireless crate-digger who’s always on the hunt for unusual samples to weave into his live sets.

Today, he has amassed a monumental back catalogue of music that includes over two thousand original productions and mixes, released under a variety of monikers. His first 12 inch, Dreamworld, was released 1990 under the name Egotrip. From here, he’s gone on to produce records that have become firmly embedded in our musical minds, and remixed for some of the world’s greatest artists including; Michael Jackson, The Police, Diana Ross, and Jamiroquai. He’s also won several awards for his contribution to music. In 2003 he won a coveted Grammy award for Best Remixed Recording for his version of No Doubt’s Hella Good, and in 2007 he was awarded the Best Podcast Award at the International Dance Music Awards- the first one of its kind might we add- a podcast that is still going strong today.

Strictly Roger Sanchez, released on the Strictly Rhythm imprint, is a compendium of his most memorable productions. Traxsource caught up with the man himself to chat about his illustrious career and the future of DJ’ing.

You’re known for being a very skilled and technical DJ- how have you developed these skills over the years?

Practice! I can’t stress enough how dedicating many hours to practising [my] mixing technique on turntables and studying music meant to the development of my skill set. There is no replacement for hard work.

What do you think sets you apart from other DJ’s?

I like to deconstruct and remix tracks on the fly as part of my performance. I organise and set up loops, acapellas, FX and tracks on my USB’s in such a way that all the elements are readily accessible. I’ve learned over the years how to read a crowd and construct a set that can change according to…the vibe.

You’ve made quite a name for yourself with your marathon sets. Which one’s been your most memorable to date?

That’s a hard one as there have been so many memorable sets, but one that always remains in my mind was a 14 hour set at Space, Miami. Man, that is one of the most amazing crowds to play for. They hang on every track and soak up every nuance of the vibe and sound until the very end!

Is there anyone around now that you look up to in terms of technical ability? What is it that gives them ‘the edge’?

Carl Cox and Jeff Mills are two of the most technically gifted DJ’s I have ever heard. We all started from vinyl so their ability to layer tracks and change the vibe of the room to suit their mood is phenomenal….Another DJ who influenced me was Timmy Regisford- his method of creeping vocals into the mix and filtering frequencies laid the groundwork for my interpretation of that style.

There’s so much new technology at the finger tips of DJ’s today. Do you think it adds to DJ’ing? Where do you see the art going?

That all depends on the DJ. You can choose to allow new technology to enhance your performance or you can become totally reliant on it and not know what to do when your favourite toys aren’t available. A true DJ masters the art in every format he embraces, but start at the basic level- knowing how to programme and mix. If you can’t do that, then you aren’t a real DJ.

We’re huge fans of classic record shopping at TS. Do you think the role of the classic crate digger has played out now that DJ’ing and production have become more tightly knit?

I don’t think that role has played out. You need to know your musical history if you want to know where to take it, and crate digging is an integral part of that. I still go crate digging to this day whenever I can.

This latest release is a collection of your most memorable productions. A very respectable collection, we might add. Is there anything that you are extremely proud of?

I’m proud that I have been blessed to do what I love for a living and am still able to find new inspiration to do it. Looking back, the very first time I actually got into a studio to create something of my own still fills me with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.

Where do you think the house music industry stands at the moment?

Music and tastes change over time and there were periods of time when house music wasn’t very popular…..I have always loved house music and although I embrace different sounds and ideas, I have always remained true to who I am and what I make and play. In dance music one thing has shown to be consistently true, it always comes back to house.

In the modern world of DJ’ing it’s refreshing to find a producer that still remains so dedicated to his art and one who is so humble. A DJ who strips it back down to its original form, and is still willing to get his hands dirty reaching into countless dusty crates, searching for hidden, waxy gems. As fellow vinyl lovers, we salute you Roger Sanchez.

As huge fans of Roger Sanchez, we were beyond excited to spend some time with him. Check out the Strictly Roger Sanchez compilation HERE.

Official Strictly Rhythm Website
Official Roger Sanchez Website
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