The word ‘legend’ is one that’s needlessly thrown around the electronic music world with wanton abandon these days, but when the history of house music is written, there’s little doubting that Carlos Sosa – aka DJ Sneak – is a DJ who’ll almost certainly get more than a casual mention. A native of Canada, Sneak is best known for his dancefloor-friendly, always catchy (and often brilliantly sampled) house jams, and it’s this vibe he’ll be bringing to his new hometown of Los Angeles soon for a massive party, PANIC IN LA, a genre bending hip-hop /house music party from ORLOVE, which also features rap royalty Czarface, esteemed freestyler Harry Mack and LA’s own Surround DJs. Basically, we had a lot to discuss! Anyway, here’s what went down when we put some choice questions to him recently….

 

How did you survive the pandemic year, what got you through it?

 

Honestly it was fantastic, I had the most amount of time to reset myself after 28 years of hard touring. While the world was in chaos I got some much needed rest, lots of sleep, changed my diet, exercised, reset my body to respond well to any situation, and most importantly got well mentally! People don’t discuss the mental strain on artists who are often beyond burned out but still grinding. I truly believe 2020 saved my life. I’m grateful to be alive, I had covid, no problem. I definitely feel I am more together now than I was four years ago. 

 

Were there any particular pieces of music you found yourself returning to? 

 

My family and I moved from Toronto to Los Angeles 4 years ago and it’s taken us about that long to integrate in such a massive city and state. We’re finally set, so in that time I didn’t have my collection of vinyl, it was all stored ready to be shipped from Toronto to Los Angeles. I finally felt the time was right, plus the space was well ready to receive them all. About 4 pallets and nearly 100 boxes of at least 130 each arrived, and my fun time began all over again. My wax and I had been reunited after so many years! I spent weeks and countless hours going to each box, listening to each record both sides and all mixes like I was shopping again at the record stores. It was the best thing ever and really helped me transform myself back to the Original DJ SNEAK, not the hyped up version made for the Business of the Music Industry. The many hours I spent shopping in each store in each city and country or continent had finally paid off with the countless great records I now have in my hands.

 

What did you learn about yourself, or about the dance music world?

 

I learned a whole lot about myself in self-reflection, both inward and outward, looking into who I had become. I remembered my journey and struggles to break into the level where I still stand tall today. I remembered why I became a DJ and why I loved it so much. I also learned that I had put enough time into the Business of the Music Industry, that I had done more than 100 artists put together, I had fulfilled more than many believed a Latin immigrant from Puerto Rico to the USA looking for an opportunity could have accomplished. I realized I had made my family proud by becoming somebody with respect and a person that works hard, stays determined and who is still putting in the time … I feel accomplished and fully at peace with nothing to prove. My mental state is in check, the real things in life have returned after the storm that I had gotten into and managed to survive to talk about. I am now in a place where I am fully able to allow the positive good things to enter my life and I feel fully at ease to walk away, squash or extinguish the negative. My reset was real! 

 

How has your style and sound evolved over the years, do you approach music in a different way now with all the skills and experience you have?

 

Honestly I believe I’ve become the best version of myself when it comes to being DJ SNEAK the DJ, not the personality. I’ve been playing more than ever with the best music I’ve collected for years. I really think I’ve replayed most of my vinyl collection already as part of my private livestreams I do every Friday. I feel like when you get back to the basics and have an opportunity to refresh your lazy brain you can restart using it in a fresh way, with no pressure & no outside influences. The skills are as sharp as ever. 

 

How do you look back on the period where you were coming up? Was it better then? Or just different? 

 

As a now 50 year-old man, I feel like things just change. The evolution of everything happens and what was once science fiction in nerdy science magazines is happening faster than we even thought it would. Technology is driving and we’re all just passengers. The thing to keep on top of is how you navigate through it all and still exist. My choices have helped me become the person I am today. Between bad decisions, friendships, partnerships, relationships, and everything ending with ships, you become stronger and more aware of what to stay away from. As you get older and more experienced you gain the ability to pay attention and spot things that may have slipped past you when you were younger. You are more cautious with your time and energy and you can really see things coming to you from far away and be more equipped to stop it well before it reaches you. In terms of music, there is no doubt that the 80’s & 90’s we’re the most influential years in music in general, nothing has been able to be simply better than those years. Everything after was a remix or rip-off or edit of something that was dope, a re-make of a track from these eras because nothing new could touch the craft or quality musically. I am a true Nineties Gangster! 

 

Why did you ask to be removed from all digital promo lists? how has that worked out over the last year?

 

Like I’ve mentioned before, the digital websites aka “Digital Cartels” have had their time with people’s hard work & intellectual property. While most people do not put real value to their music, there are some of us who understand the real shady business behind the business of the music industry. I decided I didn’t want my music or record labels in cheap $.99 corner stores. It is smarter to collect all your masters and intellectual property and put some real value behind it, find new ways to distribute your content at the best rate possible, or simply sell it direct to your fan base. It’s a new day and the content creators have a chance to finally deal directly with the fans, no more middle men.  

 

Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

 

My constant hustle comes from a lot of things, I see things differently, I have now become accustomed to making solutions to situations, and have learned that the best thing you can do is to keep things moving. At the end of the day it is really only your outlook that makes the problems. I’ve also learned that I often think ahead of time, this can be good and bad. Just because you have an idea that is amazing many times the rest of the world isn’t ready for it. They don’t’ get it because they are not on your spectrum, but then 3 or 4 years later everybody  wants to be doing exactly what you have been trying to sell them on! For example… Our Brand I’m A House Gangster was too controversial because the word “Gangster” and the world could not see past this. I tried different ways to explain and explode the brand like everyone’s else brands in Ibiza and around Europe with detailed plans and strategies and they all said that it was too controversial to deal with, mind you we never glamorised violence of any kind, yet years later all new branded nights wanted to BE GANGSTER – “Gangstar” “Gatos Locas” to mention a few. Inspiration comes from everywhere and I do not have a lack of ideas and new ways to exist in such a saturated industry. 

 

What should people expect from you at Panic in LA, where is your head at musically right now?

 

They should expect the best DJ Sneak they’ll see live! I’m fully experienced, professional, and sharp like a hawk catching prey. You can expect to hear the best House Music you may want to discover or experience, or just get reacquainted to the familiar sounds that only the Original House Gangster can deliver. 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with LA? When did you first go out there? Have you played many memorable parties there over the years?

 

I’ve been a part of Los Angeles Underground music scene for over 25 years now. I was part of the Rave & Underground scene when it exploded in California and performed at so many incredible events especially in LA and San Francisco. There’s a deeply rooted relationship between Chicago House Music & Los Angeles. DJ’s like DJ Dan, Doc Martin & Steve Loria helped establish a strong hold in such a massive music scene. I have enjoyed it so many times that now we decided to make it our permanent headquarters and living city. There are so many opportunities in this City of Angels, all you have to do is apply yourself to get a good jump on something you always wanted to accomplish.

 

You’re also playing alongside a bunch of hip-hop legends such as Czarface. Are you a hip-hop man too? Is that where the ‘House Gangster’ alias comes from? 

 

While I’m a fan of hip hop in my own way, I do not play hip hop, I do have what is called Gangster House Music, which essentially is hip hop elements mixed with Chicago banging House Music. I will surely find my way to fit into what’s in front of me. Through the years I have opened for De La Soul, Snoop Dogg and a few other hip hop acts where I was able to hold my own. House Gangster comes from my upbringing and not being intimidated to stand tall. 

 

What do you know now you wish you had known when you started out?

 

The real play book of the shady Business of the Music industry! Hey, you know I’m good, so whatever, but it would have helped to know how to avoid certain people, situations and decisions that I made & dealt with, but at the end of the day it only made me stronger. I also would have told myself to not fall for the social media lie that it is. I was made before social media was around, I really do wish it would have never been created. 

 

Music aside, what’s been keeping you busy the last while?

 

Living a healthy, smarter, relaxed life. Nothing is more important than what is right in front of me. I can’t change the past, I can’t control what’s going to happen, but I can control what it is that I want to do, with whom, and the terms of my future dealings with an ex-girlfriend called the Business of the Music Industry. I fell no restraints nor pressure, “Big Boss” is feeling great, creative and with plenty of energy to continue knowing I’m still living my Dream. 

 

Finally, tell us something about DJ Sneak that we don’t know! 

 

DJ Sneak is a persona created for a business that depreciated the value of the true raw art of being a DJ, an industry that discriminates, politicizes decisions while controlling their assets and false creations, or the products that many DJ’s became, a circus that was all about fake illusions, personas, actors but mostly impostors. I’d say, and it’s my opinion, that more than 85% of the DJ’s have been made up plans by groups with all the resources to modify any Country Boy and make them into superstar DJ’s overnight, changing and discarding the Culture that Dance Music created for cheap imitations, with many pre-manufactured genetically modified clones to be used and discarded when they lost their hype. I had the pleasure to be part of the first wave of true DJ CULTURE that still exists, it is always creating it’s styles of music to fulfil that House Music Culture crave. I’m also a part of the Evolution of the New DJ and the ways to be our best selves, playing and performing at will whenever we feel like trough platforms like Twitch Plus other newer platforms like Monad.Social which allow you to create freely, plus importantly give you the freedom to exist outside the old model that used creative people to maintain their Business and thriving while Creators, Artists & Record Labels were starving with the promise that they would have a fair chance to be able to survive from the scraps they paid out for selling their Hard Work. DJ SNEAK is a new Evolved Artist, Content Creator & Business Man with many great new ways to be that kid from Chicago that loved to play House Music, Not The Persona that I had to become to be in the Business of the Music Industry. 

 

Keep up with DJ Sneak on Facebook and Instagram. DJ Sneak plays Panic in LA alongside Czarface, Kraak & Smaak, Harry Mack and Surround DJs on November 18th. Tickets for that one are available at: https://bit.ly/3yf1YRp