With the exception of Kaskade and, on occasion, Diplo, how many American house DJs can you name? A phenomenon that started on this side of the pond, then migrated to Europe, and is now back here, house music is now catching back on. But, it’s not just a complement to pop music. Several U.S. DJs are taking up the sound, and one of those is Aleksus Sanchez.
From Texas, Sanchez has been a regular at the Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival over the past few years. Starting with vinyl in 1997, Sanchez produced on his own at home, until winning a prominent DJing competition in 2005. Since that point, he has appeared on the bill with artists ranging from Carl Cox to the Chemical Brothers to the Black Eyed Peas and is presently signed to Trauman Recordings, Agnosia Records, and Soniquarium Muzika. In addition to performing at Ultra in 2012 and doing other live appearances, Sanchez has been putting together progressive, nu disco, and techno tracks. Recently, Crossfadr spoke over email with Sanchez.
Your biography says you started mixing vinyl in the late 1990s. How have your equipment and mixing methods changed over this time?
Aleksus Sanchez: This is a great question. When I first started, I can remember going to the record store and this in itself was a grand and gratifying experience. Walking in, maneuvering through that week’s newest imports and domestics. In a sad way, the industry’s technological upgrades have antiquated this process, and the 12-inch record for that matter. I nonetheless have had to adapt to the quickly-changing avenues the industry has been leaping through these last few years. So after trying a few midi controllers and not really getting the feeling I desire as a performer, as of now, I currently find my comfort level reside in mixing CDs without the use of a computer, and programming and beat matching come from my heart and soul, not from the auto-sync button.
What changes has your career gone through since winning a DJing competition in 2005?
Aleksus Sanchez: Well, before 2005, I was pretty much a bedroom DJ that never played publicly or never stepped foot into a studio, either. Coming back home from my contest win and UMF in 2005, I was blessed with a great opportunity to have an investor and a team of like-minded individuals who wanted to start throwing events. So since then, I’ve worn many different hats from promoting local, state, national events to playing those events to now producing music for other DJs to play. Present day, I am happy with my current arrangement: working in the studio as hard as I can in order to get the booking schedule I desire.
You’ve been at the Winter Music Conference for a number of years. How has the event changed in the years you have attended?
Aleksus Sanchez: Wow, what can I say about the monster otherwise known as the Winter Music Conference? At first it was, believe it or not, smaller than now. With the EDM sound gaining radio popularity in recent years, I’ve noticed a definite boom in attendance for WMC. Along with more attendance comes more over the top parties, promotions, and pretty much exploitation of the music in every regard you can possibly imagine. But in a weird way, I really want to see how big it can get! UMF was clocking in 50,000 people when I first came on in 2005; this year’s attendance was at 165,000 people. The types of promotions you see also provide a great learning experience. If you are a serious promoter just starting out, I would recommend going to WMC at least one time to soak in the industry’s best for that year. It’s worked out great for me in this regard.
Over the past few years, the Ultra Music Festival has split from WMC. What’s your perspective on this?
Aleksus Sanchez: Well on this particular issue I didn’t care to see the split happen. I personally felt as if both UMF and WMC were having a standoff of sorts, and to be honest nobody won in this situation. So that being said, I am very happy to see how they are trying to patch things up and move forward together in positive direction.
How was your most recent experience playing at Ultra?
Aleksus Sanchez: My most recent experience was amazing – nothing short of spectacular. Being part of the UMF Family, every year I strive to head into Miami armed with my best studio efforts and walk away cataloging another dream in my personal archive! There’s a lot to be said about just walking around back stage at UMF, the people you run into and situation’s you remember. For example, one year UMF was rained out and I was trapped in the press tent with Donald Glaude and Ferry Corsten waiting for the rain to let up for everyone to make it to their assigned set-times. Another year, I was walking back stage trying to find a bathroom and ran into Robert Smith of The Cure exiting his trailer. I was so star struck, I completely froze and missed my chance to get a picture with him (still kicking myself for that one). There are many moments I can go on and on, but I’ll leave you with one more memory that, IMO, speak volumes on the place of EDM on its place on the entire musical sound spectrum.
About four years ago, I saw these two guys just show up out of nowhere, and the personnel at UMF were scrambling, running around like crazy to accommodate them. A majority of the artist had no idea who these two guys were. So then the two perform and they get off stage, and we then we were told those two guys were Motown’s Legendary Super Producer Barry Gordy’s two sons, and they are called LMFAO. Right there and then I knew EDM has achieved a special place. Here we have the next generation set to succeed and take the reins from Barry, and his two sons choose to pursue an EDM sound instead of hip hop/R&B! I was floored by this and still am. I personally feel it pin points exactly how far EDM has come.
Last year, you signed to multiple labels. Should listeners soon expect any new recordings from you? If so, what should they expect and from which label?
Aleksus Sanchez: Yes, indeed. My goal was to get set up with a handful of labels in different markets around the world. Now that goal has been realized and I can concentrate on putting my brand sound together for clubbers to get familiar with and enjoy. I really don’t want to pigeonhole myself on a particular sound or genre, but I am gravitating towards a lot of progressive house, some electro anthems, and a lot of remix work coming from a wide range of talented individuals as well! They can log into www.aleksussanchez.com for all of my latest updates for charts, upcoming and past releases, mixes, and upcoming shows as well as free downloads!
How do you think being signed to multiple labels will change your career?
Aleksus Sanchez: Well there is no exact formula that is a sure ticket to success in the music industry, that being said. My personal agenda on marketing on a global scale is based on how many small market labels I can release with, located in different countries. I feel that just because a grass rooted record label in another country is small, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, that’s still a small market label still looking out for your best interest IN ANOTHER COUNTRY. In the dj culture the goal is to sew up as many countries and you can in your career as a Dj/Producer and that’s exactly what I intend to do!! With the internet age we live in, I find this method is quickly becoming an amazing tool in my personal success.
How has the recent shift to EDM in the U.S. affected your career and production?
Aleksus Sanchez: My production, I find myself walking a tight rope on. I feel I have to maintain underground integrity and that my tracks must conform to certain style of guideline when writing them. As the marketplace for more hip-hop oriented sounding EDM is flourishing, I am still looking for my comfort zone and middle ground thrive in myself. Growing up in the golden age of hip-hop in the early ‘90s is some influence in what I’m drawing from on my current production.
Do you have any live appearances coming up soon, and if so, where?
Aleksus Sanchez: I have an out-of-state gig opening up for Noel Sanger coming up in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 18th at Barfly’s. Anyone in the area interested in attending, please contact local venue for tickets details in regard with Hijax Productions and MNEnergy.com.
Out of all artists you could remix, who would you like to remix?
Aleksus Sanchez: There are several I’d love the chance to work with, but to remix, it would be great to work with Coldplay, NiN, Radiohead, or Pink Floyd to start with are some of the names cascading in my head right now!