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Roger Sanchez

Author: Jo Vraca
Friday, 5 October 2001
"People still want to continue on and have a life that's as normal as possible but it remains to be seen what's going to happen."

Roger Sanchez has spent the bulk of the northern summer in Ibiza, away from the mayhem, the quagmire that is New York, the city he calls home. With a club residency at El Divino to keep him occupied, Sanchez has had to make do with the phone calls advising him of the murky state of affairs after last month's explosions. "Lots of friends of mine have called me from New York and told me what it's like," he says. "Going home to that is going to be a bit grim.

"It definitely changes the way Americans feel about America in the sense that, we've always felt that New York, or rather America has always been a bit removed from all of the terrorism. I think the American spirit is going to be bruised for a bit, we're probably going to be a bit more nervous for a while but that'll just last for a while."

Born in New York to parents from the Dominican Republic, the sound that defines Roger Sanchez is one that is defined by New York itself - its face pace, heady architecture and crowded skylines and its multi-ethnicity. "It's funny, I think my music is more world music with a very heavy New York influence. I don't think it's strictly New York any more. It was when I first started but now it's very much a world wide thing because it incorporates my influences from around the world."

And those influences are comprehensive. At 13, Sanchez, who grew up listening to salsa, disco and hip hop, was DJing at a friend's house party. In 1984, he had scored himself a bit part as a breakdancer in the classic hip hop film Beat Street and in Krush Groove the following year. "I was breakdancing and it was the early days of hip hop and I was very much into it," he recalls fondly. "With these movies, I wound up auditioning for the role that everybody else was auditioning for and I got in as this extra."

With the 80s resurgence currently at its peak, Sanchez reminisces about some of the more unsavoury moments for which the 80s will forever be remembered. "I remember really bad fashion decisions," he laughs. "Really, very strange things like walking around with socks stuffed down the front of my trainers, trying to make them really puffy - and white gloves. That is unfortunately a big thing that sticks - the early horribly fashion mistakes you make as a teenager.

"Fashion, like music, is perennial and it does come around in circles and cycles. But I also just remember having a great time in that period. It was very innocent for me; it was the birth of something. I was very, very proud of that era. I was very much in it. I was a breakdancer; I went to the [Manhattan] High School of Art and Design. That was in the middle of the whole graffiti thing - I was part of that culture, I was part of that change."

By the time his career as a breakdancer had been surpassed by DJing, Sanchez has scored himself gigs at The Tunnel in New York. In 1990, his first single, 'Luv Dancin' under the moniker, Underground Solution, garnering the Strictly Rhythm label a massive success. Sanchez continued to make waves under a multitude of pseudonyms including Tribal Confusion, Roger S and Transatlantic Soul as well as S-Men, the acclaimed, albeit transitory, production trio of Sanchez, DJ Sneak and Junior Sanchez.

And yet, through the remixes, the collaborations and the DJ tours, in a career that spans some two decades, Sanchez has only now managed to release his debut album although there was talk of a release as far back as 1997. "I was extremely slow," he laughs. "No the truth is, I've been touring and so forth and I took my time making this album; I wasn't really rushing it. About a year and a half ago, I thought I was finished with the album and after I listened to it, I sat with it for a while and I wasn't 100% happy so I went back and retouched it to where I felt I was comfortable with it. I like to do things right. I like to<
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