Roger Sanchez on the future of dance music and how to make it as a DJ – The Sun

The house music pioneer continues to delight fans the world over. He has always stayed true to the sounds that he believes in, from the proper house music he is most famous for, to the darker, techier sounds of his S-Man alias. His experience and ability to identify emerging sounds and trends is invaluable to the ever evolving electronic music, club and festival scene.

Roger will be sharing and speaking about the business aspect of the industry at the debut DJ Growth Conference in Birmingham this weekend. The conference, curated by founder Danny Savage, provides the opportunity to learn from some of the finest thinkers within electronic music and serves as a networking platform to engage and connect with other aspiring artists aiming towards a career in the electronic music industry. Other speakers include Brandon Block who will be speaking about goal mapping and Data Transmission’s Grahame Farmer who will be talking about content creation and strategy.

We caught up with Roger Sanchez earlier this week to find out more about DJ Growth Conference, the future of house music, playing as part of SMen again alongside DJ Sneak and Junior Sanchez and what he has coming up.

Listen to an exclusive mix from Roger Sanchez HERE.

Can you tell us how you got involved with DJ Growth Conference which takes place in Birmingham this weekend?

Initially I got involved with Danny Savage (co-founder) doing an interview for his podcast and we did a webinar for his DJ Growth Lab. Danny then approached me to say he really appreciated the value of the content we produced and would I be interested in getting involved with DJ Growth Conference.

I know that it would be interesting for me to be involved on the production and DJing side of things but I liked the idea of approaching it from a mentor and business perspective. Even if people have the skills down already they may not have an idea on how to proceed with their career.

I started my career from zero and built it up to having a full management team and then re-scaled that team over the years, so there is a lot more control in my hands now. I’d like to be able to shed some light on how the industry actually works. There are so many people trying to do this now and I like sharing my experiences over the years especially with the new talent.

Do you feel a responsibility to educate the younger generation? How important is it for stars of electronic music to pass on their advice?

I think it’s very important, but more than a sense of responsibility to pass it on, it is extremely gratifying for me to be able to share across different levels. I’ve shared time and I’ve shared resources. When I started out there was no one to sit me down and talk me through it. No one mentored me through it until I started going on tour and I sat down and had a chat with Todd Terry on the very first UK tour that I ever did. He took a liking to me, was already a big figure and he gave a me a few tips on things that I should do telling me ‘X, Y and Z and you should be good kid!’ Todd is only a couple of years older than me so I was kind of laughing at the time but I really appreciated it.

What that experience really impressed upon me was the importance of sharing knowledge. You never know who you are sharing the knowledge with and whether they could turn out to be someone in the future that could have a really big impact and could even maybe help you in return.

Your experience in becoming a DJ and the hustle in your career is very different to today. What similarities can you draw between how you achieved your dream to how a young DJ might do the same today? Is there a blueprint to follow to achieve success?

The interesting thing is that there are strategies. I wouldn’t say there is a blue print. The blue print is really just hard work mate. You have to realise the differences between when I started out and now. The main thing is social media which is such a great communicational tool. A lot of what I am doing at the moment is working towards trying to harness that medium and draw out more visibility. In doing this you of course have to apply a lot more work. That’s the reality.

You have said there is no shortcut although it does seem that for some it is possible to fast track to success with a big hit to being booked for big festival stages? Is there longevity in that?

What’s funny is that people see a ‘new’ artist getting that big hit but what you don’t see is the work that it took to get to that big hit. It’s rare that an artist just stumbles into a studio, puts their fingers on a keyboard and voila! There is always a grind and a hustle. You have to understand the work that goes behind it, there is no such thing as a shortcut path or a happy accident although there are those people that luck into finding something that resonates.

I like operating on two levels, one is just doing your own thing and not necessarily reaching the huge audiences but loving what you do, that’s the grind work. You have to love the grind. The other one is that if you luck into something that resonates with people but then have to figure out how you take that to a much broader scale. It's important though to realise that no matter what you are doing there are no real short cuts but that you can find within the goals of what you are doing something that resonates with more people, more quickly. It’s about having the tools to maximise that.

Can we talk about the music a little? There’s been a big resurgence in disco influenced sounds in house music led by parties such as Glitterbox and Defected Records who you have strong relationships with. You have said that the next trend might be bass and grime sounds influencing the house floors. Has this prophecy come to pass yet?

It’s started to come through in different pockets I’ve found. Everything is cyclical so it is interesting that in the 90s you had this big explosion of the disco house thing followed by speed garage and then the grime movement. It is basically following a similar pattern. I like to look at emerging patterns and see what is about to resonate.

What you have now is a new generation of DJs, producers, kids and fans basically re-exploring what has gone before. What’s interesting about the current crop is that their parents were there in the 90s and they have been exposed to club culture in a way that my generation was not, this generation has grown up in a club culture environment.

The nostalgia boom is electronic music is big business right now. It’s great to see parents and their kids on the same dance floor.

What’s interesting about that is the generation that we grew up with in the 90s was so entrenched in club culture and that culture has now become the mainstay of popularised entertainment therefore you are going to see the two generations clicking. My generation and my father’s generation didn’t do that but there is real common ground now between the generations. The younger generations experiences seem to be more festivals and raves that came directly out of the 90s rave scene. It really bridges the gap.

It never used to be cool to do that!

‘Dad’ listens house music that sounds a lot like the music the kids are listening to now because that’s where the roots are! ‘Dad’ is a hell of lot cooler than they thought he was and he is listening to tracks that you have been loving and your mates have been playing that either uses samples or is a re-creation of a track that ‘Dad’ was raving to in the 90s. So there is a different conversation that is being had now and it’s an interesting and positive one. Not only is the music cyclical but the scene is cyclical.

You went back to the future and have been playing alongside DJ Sneak and Junior Sanchez this year as S-Men. How has it been playing with your old pals again and can we expect more from S-Men next year?

Yes, definitely. We first got together in the studio to come up with new material and that’s where it first came from when we toured as the S-Men and it was a lot of fun. We got back together played at Southport Weekender which was a great show and then we have just been deciding how we want to develop the show moving forward. We have been working on new music and there is a lot of new music coming first. I think it’s very important to get the music done first as it lays the groundwork of what we are doing. We are looking forward to doing more gigs together, it’s great getting together with the boys, we just have a laugh. Everybody has their skill set that they bring to the fore as we play together. From a fan perspective it’s great to see!

What have you got going up in terms of productions and releases?

I’ve done a collaboration with Ki Creighton, I’ve just finished something with Saliva Commandos… There is a lot of material coming up! Probably going to schedule those for early next year. We are working on the next S-Men single and a whole lot more new material coming!

Great to speak to you Roger!

Thanks and great to speak to you too.

Catch Roger Sanchez at DJ Growth Conference in Birmingham this weekend. For tickets head HERE.


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