SAAND is not just your typical house music DJ, he is someone who has transformed himself in the past few years and that transformation fuels this next step his music is taking in 2017.
Over the past year he has gotten in touch with his body and his health. This has made him a happier person and brought a transcendental lightness to the new tracks which will be released over the course of this year. I met SAAND at a Wine and Cheese party thrown by a few Desert Hearts dwellers who just couldn’t wait for the next event. Last spring at Desert hearts they had shared wine and cheese with those still on the dance floor early in the afternoon. This has become an annual occasion in an intimate LA lounge downtown.
I arrived while SAAND was spinning and was instantly captured into the trance. He curated the energy perfectly for the event. After his set he walked through the crowd introducing himself and acting as a host to make sure everyone was in a good space and having a great time. Even then he said, “Just wait until you hear my new music” — and after one taste I cannot wait for more. His music lifts you up and allows for those introspective conversations you have with yourself biking around the playa at Burning Man in your own apartment or on a dance floor in a crowded bar in Los Angeles or South America. Here is what he had to say about creating music and meaning in his life.
“A lot of artists they have slumps, life is ebb and flow you know?”
You’ve created music under a variety of pseudonyms over the last few years, what inspired you to reinvent yourself as SAAND? What message were you called to share through this sort of music?
I needed to reinvent my brand because I was working on other projects. I needed to start a new project and I wanted to do something different, by myself, to express myself. Before I had been working on collab projections and other things and this was an opportunity for me to really have 100% over everything and put something out that was entirely mine.
You’re most recent EP is entitled Mysterious Power, how did that collection of music come to you?
Well that came out in January, very early in the year. I went to Sabo, the label owner and I said, “This is the type of music I would like to play.” He listened to it and he thanked me which inspired me to make the music because it made me want be a part of something. I wanted to just contribute what I thought would be good and it worked out really well. I got two of my favorite artists to remix my EP… actually three of my favorite artists. It all worked out really well and I was really happy because I got these amazing remixes and two tracks. The funny thing about this EP is that I don’t actually like one of the songs, Mysterious Power, the title track— and I made, but I don’t really play it. We put it out because Powell put out a remix, he is one of my favorite producers and he made the most amazing remix ever. Then I knew I had to put this out. I like it now again because Marquees Wyatt plays it all the time and I saw him play it. I saw the crowd going crazy when he played it and I thought “Woah!” I got chills. I never played it. I never liked it. And he made me like my own song. I thought that was really really cool because I never experienced that. It made the whole EP really special, one of the more special ones I’ve ever put out.
What then was the EP with the darker sounds on it you were playing me just before?
All that was everything else, not necessarily an EP. Everything over the last couple of years has been a little darker, emotive, moody — I mean good, but different.
Right, then you described that in the past year you’ve developed a healthier lifestyle and that’s changed your sound, and the music to be expected from you in 2017 is a lot brighter sounding. Can you elaborate on how that shifted for you mentality wise and then effected the music?
It made things sound different. I’m happy, now. I was having music slumps. I wasn’t making a lot of music. That was hard because I was trying to be the best artist I could be. I wanted to create. A lot of artists they have slumps, life is ebb and flow you know? You’re questioning yourself. You keep making songs but it’s never something you like. I think a lot of it has to do with yourself and liking yourself first. I was having a lot of thoughts in my head, doubts, and I realized what I needed to do which was that I needed to take care of myself. So, I started taking care of myself because being productive helps you be more productive.
What are some of those healthy habits?
What do I do now? I wake up every morning at 6am and I workout for two hours. Right after I exercise I eat all whole foods, vegan proteins, and make a huge green juice. Then I come to the studio— sometimes I have a Yerba Maté if I’m tired— but, I’ll work for 6 hours straight. I create tasks and lists and do the same things every. The less you do the less you wanna do whereas the more you do the more you wanna do. Before it was like I woke up and I thought, “Oh I wanna make music…” Now I wake up every day and I make music. It’s about routine, now that’s not for everyone, you can’t tell anyone what to do. A+b=c and for every person the variables are gonna be different, at the end you just want your equation to work. For me, when I impose health, routine, exercise, and do the same things I treat my temple right the mind works properly. Then it’s easier to connect and let out what is inside of you.
You are a Burner and feature you’re 2016 Burning Man set on your Soundcloud. How has being a member of this community inspired you as an artist and beyond?
Burning Man is amazing. People always ask me what Burning Man is like and I always describe it as being in love for the first time. When you meet somebody you love and you walk around holding hands and skipping. That is the feeling you get when you are there and there is so much love. If you can take that and use that anywhere everything will come to you. I’m not sure it really inspired me musically this year. I know it inspired me to be a better person. I don’t think of Burning Man as a music festival so I don’t really take my music from there. For me, it more about the fulfilling of yourself. Get the soul and the mind working and everything else will finally be able to come out. This year I went to Burning Man differently. I was sober everyday but one day. I didn’t party or drink or do any drugs. It was a really different experience. It was amazing. Then this year when I came back I was really on point. Unlike, other years when I came back and was in bed watching Game of Thrones for six days straight. This year I left with the most heart. It’s a lot of fun there, but there is a lot learn from that place.
The soundscape you curate is highly psychedelic in nature, allowing the listener to truly transcend reality. I heard that in the set you played at the Wine and Cheese party in downtown LA. When making a new track or playing a set how do you find that transcendental energy within yourself? Do you meditate?
I actually just started meditating. I am trying to be better for myself so I can be better for others. I am just getting to fifteen minutes now. I started with five, then I went to ten, and fifteen is hard. Yeah, I have no idea how I do that when I play a set. I just have my tools, my music, and I go for it. I never plan a set. So I honestly don’t know. I’ll have music in playlists; but, you don’t know what the time and setting is gonna be. Some DJ’s go there and know exactly the set they are gonna play. For me, as a DJ, I’m not playing a live set— just DJing music. It’s about the setting, the people, the vibe: my job is to create this vibe. I just want to fit the setting.
You just said you played in South America for twelve hours and fit a jazz set in there?
Yeah when you play for twelve hours that’s a lot of music and I can play house for a long time. But, I don’t always want to play house music. I mean that Burning Man set you mentioned, they asked me to play something different because they’d been hearing house all day. Sometimes people want something different. So I played some Reggae, some of this, some of that…Why not? I was a Reggae DJ in Laguna [Beach, CA] before moving here [Los Angeles]. Why not play different types of music? I don’t want to be limited. I just want to make music.
He ended the interview smiling and playing me a trap track he had created as an experiment just for fun. He’s also working on tracks that are disco, moombathon, house, and everything in between.
Photo Credits: Jamal Eid