Interview: Junior Sanchez
Growing up in the unassuming suburb of Belleville New Jersey, an 11-year-old boy named Junior Sanchez resorted to using hand-me-down records and two of his parents’ old stereo systems to create a makeshift DJ rig. By age 15, this prodigy was already DJing at some of the hottest underground clubs in NYC and perfecting his craft as a producer.
Over the course of his career, Junior has produced and remixed material for Madonna, Shakira, Katy Perry, Good Charlotte, CHVRCHES, Placebo, The Bravery, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Blaqk Audio, Hot Hot Heat, Roisin Murphy, Felix Da Housecat, The Faint, New Order, Emiliana Torrini, Jamiroquai, Giorgio Moroder, Moving Units, Les Rhythmes Digitales, and countless others. When he is not producing for some of the biggest artists in the industry, Junior focuses on his own massive tracks, recently releasing the game-changing “Salt” and “Without You” featuring the legendary CeCe Peniston. As a DJ, he has performed internationally in clubs and festivals throughout the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe and currently holds residencies in the USA and Ibiza.
When it comes to his career, Junior isn’t one for slowing down, with 2015 being no exception. The renowned DJ/producer recently finished working on new material with the likes of Chocolate Puma, Todd Terry, and Doorly, and will be debuting his newest alias IMIURU (Pronounced: I Am I, You Are You) with his introductory single coming out on Jesse Rose’s Label, Play It Down. These new sounds are set to pave new pathways inside the world of dance music.
In addition to producing and touring constantly, Junior’s own multimedia company BROBOT has recently turned 1 year old. The high level of artistic integrity BROBOT maintains is primarily why the label has enjoyed countless BBC Radio 1 looks, and not forgetting to mention the undeniable heavy support from fellow DJs on the club/radio circuit.
With years of history, and much more to come, we thought it was high time to sit down with Junior Sanchez and discuss the state of nightlife in his NYC home, corporate clubbing, IMIURU, and much more.
“I don’t think corporate America understands the essence of dance culture. They monetised it, raped it, and pillaged it.”
Can you describe your new project ‘IMIURU’? How does the sound and philosophy behind IMIURU compare to the sound and philosophy of Junior Sanchez?
The only reason I did IMIURU, which stands for I Am I You Are You, is because the climate is different than when I was mentored by people like Todd Terry, Kenny Dope or Armand van Helden. We never really had pseudos when we made music because it was accepted that creativity and making music was ok. For example, Lil Louis would make “I Called You” and “Blackout,” two totally different records but by the same person. Armand did “Witch Doctor” and “Flowers,” again, two totally different records but the same person.
Like Picasso, who had different periods, making music is about expressing yourself in different ways. One morning, I wake up and want to make a vocal record, and I will; or one night, if I am at DC10 and want to make something tracky, I will. At the end of the day, it is all house music, and that’s what it’s about. We are house music producers. No one understand this concept today: where a producer can be diverse. Diversity is somewhat lost now. Everyone is put in a box.
I was speaking with Jesse Rose, who loved the [IMIURU] tracks, who recommended I come up with a pseudo. He mentioned that everyone will know it’s me anyway, but this way there would be no pre conceived notions.
When you are releasing as IMIURU, do you want it to be known that this is your alias?
I do want the philosophy out there. I want kids to understand it’s ok to experiment and be different. I want them to understand it’s ok to not make music for your peers, or a certain demographic. I look at Cajmere the same. Cajmere was around way before Green Velvet.
I would love for the kids to be diverse and more creative; to curate more and do different things. I think everything is sterile these days. People are making house music by numbers. They are not making beats, just looping loops. It’s all so systematic. The art is gone.
That leads me into my next question: I saw one you did an interview with Insomniac, where a lot of the conversation related around the whole EDM thing and how the kids approach it. I didn’t want to dwell too much on that, but you did mention about the lost artistry in this new landscape. How do you define the artistry in electronic music?
It’s when you listen to something and find it unique, one-of-a-kind, or pushing buttons and boundaries. When I first heard Matthew Herbert I was like “wow,” you know this is special and different.
What happened with EDM culture is it became so exponentially huge. It bloated itself so rapidly that it became a blueprint for a generation of kids to make music in a certain way, and that’s not art. It’s not art when you are following, being sheep, making music in a systematic way without putting any mental creativity into it. Art is in the individual. When you first heard “Witch Doctor,” they may have not fallen in love with Armand because of it, but maybe they fell in love with him because of “Flowers”. That’s what art is. It’s an expression. I don’t think people are expressing themselves openly. There is a lot of heart missing from our culture.
Being from New York, how do you gauge the atmosphere there? Even with something of a resurgence in nightlife, it is undeniable that New York is victim to extensive corporate clubbing. In relation to the whole artistry conversation, how do you take this development of the corporate approach to something that started as quite the opposite.
It happened to Hip Hop so it was bound to happen to electronic music. It was inevitable. Hey, it happened to Disco too. Disco was a very underground culture with artists like Gamble & Huff, which was very Philly and very gay. Then it became commercial, and you have everyone from Barry Gibb to Donald Duck making Disco records. That’s when it got carried away and people became sick of it. It’s explosion brought on the demise of Disco, but the birth of House.
I don’t think corporate America understands the essence of dance culture. They monetised it, raped it, and pillaged it. What happens with anything that you don’t understand, you destroy. You see these companies reaping the rewards but also failing. I’ll use a company like SFX, for example. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I guarantee you by the time this interview comes out that company will either be sold for half of what they thought it would be worth because everything is inflated. The culture in America with dance music is: take, milk it, get what you want out of it, and throw it away. Some people benefited from it and some didn’t. We couldn’t have it any other way, though. It does create a good revolution and subculture. It’s the yin to the yang.