When it comes to electronic dance music, few artists have the influence and legacy of house music DJ and producer Roger Sanchez. And after years at the top of his game, Roger is once again looking back to where his musical journey started.
I don’t want to say it’s a backlash against the more commercial sound, but basically they’ve rediscovered what we already started back in the day.
“When I first was coming up, the sound that first came up through the underground was deep house, a lot more soulful vibe. Then you had the introduction of techno and trance, which basically took it to a much bigger, broader audience. That’s when it became a lot harder, a lot faster,” Roger Sanchez says, taking us through the journey that has mirrored the evolution of electronic dance music.
“People like myself and a lot of, you know, pioneers, guys that were coming up after, what I call, the second wave, Masters at Work and DJ Sneak, people like that that are now looked at more by some of the new kids getting into the scene that are relating to a more underground sound. I don’t want to say it’s a backlash against the more commercial sound, but basically they’ve rediscovered what we already started back in the day. And have transitioned it to a much more current sound, techno and deep house is taking over what house music was. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve kind of gone back a lot more to my underground roots.
It’s crazy to think that once upon time Sanchez was at the Pratt Institute in New York working towards a degree in architecture. Only to have his Dominican dad, of all people, advise him on taking a break from his studies to see if this DJ thing has legs to it. As one of New York City’s most popular club DJs of the ‘90s, Sanchez ascending up the ranks of dance music till he was spinning by night and producing by day.
I was comfortable in that world, mentally. But it definitely doesn’t reflect where my soul is at.
“Records that I had initially started off, they started off in the underground. I had several records which crossed the barrier from underground to crossover. I had a record called “Luv Dancin',” which is one of my earliest, what I called underground hits that had a real big impact. That was the early ‘90s,” Sanchez says, adding. “Fast forward to 2001, and I had a major crossover record which started off to me as an underground track called “Another Chance.” Now that one went number one in the UK and top 10 across all of Europe. Back then had it been now, it would’ve been a massive radio record in America, but back then America wasn’t really supporting dance music the way it is now. That marked what I call the second transition for me into a much more mainstream name. And I was comfortable in that world, mentally. But it definitely doesn’t reflect where my soul is at.”
A certain sensuality comes with the music that I play and that I make…It’s a reflection of my life, this is what I’ve experienced and these are the stories I tell.
After a decade with one foot in the mainstream, and having enjoyed the fruits of commercial success, plus the worldwide club fame he’s garnered as a regularly headlining DJ, Sanchez is ready to venture into his unresolved inspirations. This summer, Sanchez prepares to release an upcoming album that brings his journey full circle, to be titled Roots. As the head of his own label, Stealth Records, Sanchez is free to not only experiment with new sounds but revisit, re-ignite, and re-invent the sounds he was just getting started before getting drawn into “the game.”
“One of the things that I realized from a business stand point is very early on in my career, you know, everybody gets ripped off. I’ve had horror stories of managers and labels and so on and so forth I wanted to create my own entity where I can control my music, control my own destiny,” Sanchez explains. “I’m working on a project called, an album called Roots, it features a track I’ve just put out called ‘Troubleman.’ For me, it’s about going back into my underground roots, everything from deep house to a little bit of tribal. Modernizing it.”
“A certain sensuality comes with the music that I play and that I make. This all derives from not only from the Latin heritage but also being in New York, being exposed to everything from hip-hop, which affects my DJing technique, um, to my production technique,” Sanchez says. “And all these influences have really come together, when I play and when I make music. It’s a reflection of my life, this is what I’ve experienced and this is, what I’ve, these are the stories I tell.”