The dance music world is a rich tapestry of culture, gender, sexuality, race, creed and age, all sewn together by its forefathers of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Even whilst many of these veterans still spin their trade today, it’s easy to get swept up in the latest fad, the latest EDM hairspray queen, and forget who’s really responsible for laying such solid foundations.
DJ Sneak emerged in the mid 90’s as a prolific house producer, stirring up a Chicago house revival - adapting the sound of Trax, and merging it with disco. Alongside DJ’s Derrick Carter and Cajmere (AKA Green Velvet), Sneak popularised labels such as Henry St, Cajual and Relief, creating a whole new fan-base in Europe and stoking a new scene in London; Like many of his peers he never went away, his sound stays true to its essence, undulating under the shifting trends; electroclash, indieronica, nudisco, 2step, garage…whatever the flavour-of-the-day is, these guys just do their thing, impervious to the carousel of genres that come-and-go.
And today, the scene has spun full circle; the deep house blueprint rehashed for the kids; a 20 year cycle spinning the spotlight back on its originators, with many youngsters blissfully unaware of the historic regurgitation.
I first came her 20 years ago; needless to say it was very different. I used to play 7 nights a week, but nowadays there are a lot of restrictions with exclusivity...We spoke to house legend Sneak ahead of his performance at Carl Cox's Revolution Closing party at Space.
Hey Sneak, what’s up?
All good, apologies for not being able to talk yesterday - I had my kids going nuts in the supermarket.
Kids - you’re travelling heavy?
Yeah man, I bring my family over for the whole season. I have a two and four year old. I’m a full on family guy now - its part of who am - the partying days are over. I still love DJing and producing - it’s just a balancing act nowadays!
So how long have you been based on the island?
I arrived in June and have stayed the whole season until closing. I do this every year. I live in Toronto for the other 6 months, and then bounce back to Ibiza.
In many ways it’s an island for rich people, the VIP thing; the tables, the fancy shit. You can spend a 1000 euros in a night, it’s ridiculous...How has the island changed since you first came?
I first came her 20 years ago; needless to say it was very different. I used to play 7 nights a week, but nowadays there are a lot of restrictions with exclusivity - I wish I could play more. That said, I’ve done a lot of decent parties this year: Marco Carola’s Music On, ANTS, Vagabundos, Hard Times, Creamfields festival and the Carl Cox parties.
What do you think of the commercialisation of Ibiza and the VIP culture?
I mean, I knew it was coming. I tell people; it’s not what’s happened so far, it’s how much is gonna happen in the next 10 to 20 years - you'll see a real incredible change. There’s huge development in San Antonio, Ibiza Town and all the tourist spots. In many ways it’s an island for rich people, the VIP thing; the tables, the fancy shit. You can spend a 1000 euros in a night, it’s ridiculous; entrance, drinks, 3 table maids, taxi…it all adds up.
I know many people are heading elsewhere, Croatia for example, where there are decent parties and it’s more affordable. Still, what I will say is, there's a lot of good stuff going on outside the commercial areas in Ibiza - still untouched places with true essence, free parties etc. As long as they stay out of these areas, it ok!
Tell us about the Carl Cox Revolution Closing party at Space on 22 Sept?
I gotta be honest with you man, this is the most exciting party of the year for me. I’ve played for Carl four times this year and I love it, they just let me do my thing. I love the venue - the Space Terrace is one of my favourite floors to play. And the Float Your Boat pre party should be great too - I’m playing with Jason Bye and Carl Cox. The island always looks great from the water.
These days what I bring is a combo built from 30 years of Djing, jumping up, down, left, right, old and new. I throw in a classic here and there, especially as the old DJ Sneak sound is now the new sound...And what kinds of style are playing at these gigs?
These days what I bring is a combo built from 30 years of Djing, jumping up, down, left, right, old and new. I throw in a classic here and there, especially as the old DJ Sneak sound is now the new sound. I’ve heard a lot of my old music being played in clubs recently - tracks that are almost 20 years old - the scene’s gone full circle.
Be great to hear some of that old Relief and Cajual material again. Those tracks were raw and basic - there was something in the simplicity. Do you think today’s music is over produced and over processed?
Absolutely man. Most of the kids are too preoccupied with making tracks too loud, over compressing, over elaborating. There’s a bunch of half-arsed producers out there - I don’t rate many producers these days to be honest. Shit has got too easy, people have lost the thread.
I tell you something - many of these guys cannot even mix - give them two turntables and a bag of vinyl and they wouldn’t know what to do - none of them can fucking mix! This extends to the studio - kids aren’t putting the hours in - the whole process is too easy. Us older guys just know how a record should sound like - it comes with experience of sitting in the studio. We’ve got a specific ear to make a record sound big, but simple - it’s what works.
So who are the up and coming artists you rate?
I’ve signed up many new artists to my I'm A House Gangster and Magnetic label which I’ve just relaunched. Young producers have been sending demos through Soundcloud and I’ve found some decent stuff that fits with the vibe of the label. Guys like: Ramon Tapia, Tripmastaz and Jesse Perez.
it’s a fun thing; we’re not advocating violence in any way. It was originally a slogan to tell all those detractors saying house music was dead, that it’s still alive and well...The I'm A House Gangster label is well stylised - great imagery and story.
Yeah, it’s a fun thing; we’re not advocating violence in any way. It was originally a slogan to tell all those detractors saying house music was dead, that it’s still alive and well - and sure enough it came back with force.
Now it’s flipped into a lifestyle/culture thing, Latin American influenced life, you know, tattoos, Hot Mama’s, Daddy’s dressed up like Chulo's - musically we’ve put a sound track to it.
Are you still touring hectically?
My calendar gets pretty much filled up at the start of the year. I play a lot of festivals and back-to-back gigs. A lot of festivals suck, the 30 - 45 min times slots are a rip off for artists and fans. I’m sick of that shit. But there are some decent ones, especially in Europe, which cater more toward proper artists rather than three or four EDM stars that will just sell tickets.
I played at 51 First State Festival ( www.51ststatefestival.com ) in London about 3 weeks ago - it had a dream house line up for house-heads: Karizma, Derrick Carter, Toddy Terry, Dennis Ferrer and Master At Work headlining. The whole place was going crazy for the whole day - no fancy shit - no blasting sound system, no confetti, no phoney shit - just proper house music with a group of DJ's that know how to friggin play. With our originality we’re reaching back to those kids that are hungry to learn about house music. There’s still hope!
Catch Sneak Next Tuesday in Ibiza
Carl Cox Music Is Revolution - The Next Phase Closing Party
Float Your Boat - Carl Cox Official Boat Party San Antonio Closing Party
Mantis Kane: www.zantidote.com