After talking to him for an hour, it’s not hard to figure out why Junior Sanchez has so many fans in this industry, among DJs, producers and party people alike. He not only makes forward-thinking club music, but is one of the most genuinely interesting and engaging cats on the scene. From teenage party promoter at NASA to remixing Green Velvet classics and his new record Seize the Fewcha (released January 25, 2011 on Nervous Records), he’s in the business for the right reason: this cat lives, eats and breathes music.
Just to show it’s always useful to read artist bios, I had no idea you were involved in the NASA parties in New York. What do you remember about those days?
I actually was a promoter for about a year when NASA was at Shelter here in New York, with Scotto, DB, Dante and those guys. I was still in high school at the time. They were such great times, and the people – I remember seeing Chloe Sevigny, she used to work the coat check.
It’s was interesting because you would go to NASA on a Friday night and then go to Sound Factory Bar, and you would notice how the Techno and House scenes were spilling over. What I mean by that is that I remember hearing Moby and Soul Slinger at NASA and they’d be playing the newest Kerri Chandler record. And then Louie Vega would be playing the latest Dave Clarke record. There was this great cross-pollination between the two scenes. That’s how I think it has to be. Just one big electronic gumbo and House and Techno in bed together.
That’s part of New York City and growing up here too. All my boys were into different things, but we never felt that it had to be just “like that”, you know? I got into dance and electronic music, but I’ve always been like that, playing a Kerri Chandler record next to a Nitzer Ebb record. My Hip-Hop guys were going to Limelight on a Tuesday to hear these crazy industrial bands.
Chicago in retrospect seems more purist – except for some cats like Armando and Spencer Kincy and unfortunately they’re no longer with us.
Yeah, but Lil Louis though – he always had that kind of genius. He could go into “French Kiss”, this hot vocal record, and then go into “Blackout”.
Speaking of old school and Chicago, one of the records on your new album Seize the Fewcha is your remix of “Perculator”. How did that come about?
Curtis reached out to me. Once I got over the excitement of that, it was sort of like, “Well, if you really want me to…” I didn’t want to do it – it’s “Perculator”, man, you know? How do you remix that record?! What do you do to it? I was in the studio and really having a hard time thinking about all that at first. But then I decided I was just going to have fun with it and it came together really well.
And that remix lead to our collaboration for “Heavy Mental”. I sent it to him and asked if he would be interested in putting a vocal on it and Caj wrote some sick lyrics to it!
Let’s talk about the new record. I’ve noticed a few artists undertaking projects like this, sort of a collection of tracks they had a hand in, either as a remixer or artist or what not. Have all of these been released?
Some are remixes and collaborations that have been released before, some haven’t come out yet. Sometimes there’s not the budget for the remixes that are already done and you work out a swap where you can go ahead and release it on your own compilation.
Technically, this is a mixed compilation of material from myself and my friends. Of course it’s a lot easier to release this than to go around and licensing a lot of other people’s material. But a lot of it is stuff people might not know about.
How did it come about that you linked up with Nervous on it?
I was at the club a year or so ago and Kevin Williams asked me what I was up to. I said I was doing XYZ, he mentioned a collaboration and I said sure, let’s do it. Simple as that! I’ve always had big respect for Michael Weiss from Nervous and the label itself.
You’ve gotten a rep in the industry now for your remix work, including a lot of indie and pop acts. How do you decide between all the offers you must get?
I never remix anything I don’t like. I’ve never done anything in my life strictly for the money… though in retrospect I guess I should have! No joke, I’ve looked back on some things I’ve passed over and gone, “Damn!” It sucks but art rules my life.
So people bring projects to me and I turn down a lot of them. I’ve even turned down some that I did like. I just told them, “This is perfect. I can’t do anything better than what you’ve already got.” I’ve got to have a good feeling about it to start with.
Recently, I’ve started looking at it another way and thinking about remixing things for a certain demographic, style or club crowd that the track would never otherwise reach. I’ve got to like it first, but I also realize that with the way things are, some artists will never reach the people that I can with a remix.
Same question, really, but you’ve worked with Mya and other more mainstream artists. How do you approach business for the major labels?
First and foremost, when it comes to production, I’m a songwriting guy. I love writing songs and working out arrangements and working with artists. Even on a track – I can make a nine minute track and you won’t get bored. I remember when I was 19 and listening to House Music and my mom would say, “That’s just the same thing over and over again. I don’t know how you can listen to that.” At 19, I had no idea what she was talking about. But at 30, 33… I sort of got what she was saying. That’s why songwriting and arrangement are so important.
With your history, how do you feel about the future of dance and electronic music as it’s unfolding? Are you generally positive or negative about it?
I’m really positive about it. I think we’re at the beginning of a new 7 to 10 to 12 year reign of electronic music taking over the United States. Europe will maintain what it’s doing but we’re going back to electronic music here. For the first time in awhile we’ve got major labels taking it seriously again. No joke, it wasn’t that long ago that they didn’t even have a dance department. Even David Guetta has helped a lot in that – it’s not a bad thing.
How do you feel about the new jacks and the generation coming up after you? I think you were at work behind the decks for a few years before your first record came out – do you feel like folks aren’t paying their dues or is it no longer relevant?
I was a sophomore in high school when my first record came out. My second was on Strictly Rhythm. I don’t know – technology changes things and I don’t think it’s really relevant. A kid can pick up Abelton or DJ Now with Traktor. But it’s not just what’s on Beatport – a lot of new tracks are on blogs, never released or sold.
But there’s just so much music now that as quickly as the new producers rise, just as quickly they disappear. It’s easier to make music but harder to break through, and when they do break through they get sidetracked by what they think dance music is supposed to be. House Music, dance music – it’s a lot deeper than the glitz and glamor that they see and some of them have gotten into it for that. And if they did, then they got into it for the wrong reason.
Me, I sort of feel like the last of the Mohicans. When I was a kid in New York, there were labels like Strictly, Emotive, Nervous. They had big offices and everything. I was the youngest of that crowd to come up and guys like Armand, Louie, Todd, Kenny – they accepted me and that cemented me. Kids don’t have that now.