Roger Sanchez has revived his dark house pseudonym from the 1990s — The S-Man. And he's been talking to DJ Mag about his reasons for doing so.
Roger decided to resuscitate the S-Man persona earlier this year, and has just released '2 Close' — his follow-up to 'Dangerous Thoughts' — on his new label Undr The Radr. Leftwing & Kody and Jimpster remix. It's a return to the dark house sound he was pushing around 20 years ago, before he hit paydirt with tracks like 'Another Chance' that signalled a more pop-orientated songwriting direction.
During the noughties Roger consolidated his place as a major playa on the international DJ circuit with his smooth house sound, epitomised by his 'Release Yourself' mix compilations released just about every year on his own Stealth Records. But now his return to his S-Man moniker has reconnected him with the underground, collaborating with people like Huxley and getting props from cats like Jesse Rose...
Hi Roger, why have you decided to bring back the S-Man?
“For a long time I had been doing music under the name Roger Sanchez and when I initially started the S-Man it was to express a kind of darker, more underground side of my music. I just felt that timing-wise it was the right moment for me to bring that back, especially since I’ve been going back to my roots musically for the last few years.
“I really wanted to start experimenting with deeper, darker sounds again and I felt that the S-Man was the perfect moniker to really give people a sense of what I was doing. A lot of DJs who were around the first time when they heard me do the S-Man projects immediately noted the difference in sound from what the Roger Sanchez productions were, and I felt that it was the perfect avenue to explore that.”
People seem to have welcomed the S-Man back with open arms – has that been your experience? Why do you think that is?
“I think a lot of people who are currently now in the scene grew up listening to the S-Man stuff that I did, and are really drawn to the more raw sounds of the S-Man — and that’s one of the things that really has appealed.
“I’ve done collaborations recently with a couple of different people — guys like Huxley, Jesse Rose — and I think that they appreciate going back to that original root of my sounds, which is what they were drawn to from my initial productions as the S-Man. So for me, definitely, it’s been a fantastic experience that people have really gravitated towards.”
Can you define the difference between an S-Man release and a Roger Sanchez release?
“My Roger Sanchez releases are generally based more in songwriting. It’s a little bit more traditional in the sense that I’ve always gone for the more soulful approach with more Latin rhythms for the Roger Sanchez productions. Some of them have had more crossover appeal and success, but they’ve definitely been more song-driven.
“The S-Man productions aren’t really based in anything so structured in traditional songwriting, chorus and verse structure, and there’s definitely a lot more freedom in what I do as the S-Man to experiment with different sounds — it doesn’t have to necessarily sound right as long as it sounds good if that makes sense. And I think that the ability for me to really try out different ideas as the S-Man allows me to implement that even in the Roger Sanchez productions.”
Do you think of the S-Man as like a character – sitting in the studio in superhero costume, or anything like that?
“When I’m going into the studio, I don’t think of the S-Man as a character as more as I feel like Roger Sanchez will walk into the studios and turn on the lights, and get a really bit more of a happier vibe, whereas the S-Man comes and turns down the lights, and gets to the dark and the dirty.
“So with anything, it’s kind of like light and dark — it doesn’t mean everything that the S-Man moniker is always dark sonically, but it does mean that I get a chance to experiment more with things that go to the heart of when I’m playing my longer sets and just a far more underground vibe that I enjoy.”
Who is GTO, the featured artist on your new single '2 Close'?
“GTO is a vocalist I’ve been working with for a long time — he’s the voice of 'Turn On The Music', and also 'Troubleman' which we did last year. Going even way further back, he was actually the voice of The Masterdon Committee’s 'Funk Box' and his voice is just incredibly soulful...
“It’s got blues and just sounds like he comes from the swamps of Louisiana. And he’s been one of the most consistent artists that I’ve worked with vocally, just because I love the texture and tone of his voice — and as a performer he’s fantastic. He gives 100% on stage.”
How did you choose the remixers for this single and the previous S-Man one, 'Dangerous Thoughts'?
“With 'Dangerous Thoughts', my headspace was really more towards a bit more of a hip-hop edge to it, so Amine Edge & DANCE were actually two of the guys who inspired me to do the track. I was in the studio with them in Ibiza last year and just kind of vibing with them, and that’s what came to my mind — so I wanted to have them on board on the remix, and they did a fantastic job.
“There are a couple of more remixes coming out shortly including one from my boy Kenny 'Dope' Gonzales. When I started the track initially and chose the initial ideas, Kenny was definitely vibing with it so it made sense to get him on the remix. In addition to that, the other guys that I chose, I just feel like they compliment the styles — including DJ Sabb, who I recently did a collab with, and also Man Without A Clue who’s coming up in the house world as well.
“For '2 Close' I wanted something a bit deeper, so Jimpster was perfect as I’ve always been admiring what he’s done for years. Leftwing & Kody bring a fantastic kind of new edge to it but still keeping it in that deep vibe. It’s got an electronic edge to it while it still maintains keeping it very deep.”
How did you end up collaborating with Huxley?
“That was actually a collaboration that was brought about through my A&R team. I've been checking out Huxley for the last couple of years and really been paying attention to what he’s been doing, so when they said would you like to do something with him, I said absolutely.
“I love the vibe that he’s on and I think for my S-Man projects he was a perfect person to write something with. Huxley jumped on it and sent me original parts to which I then added and shifted stuff around and added my flavour to it. He took it back and finished it, and I think worked out really well.”
Anything else you wanna tell DJ Mag readers?
“I’m feeling very inspired by the state of dance music and house music these days. There are a lot of really good producers and DJs who are inspiring me, and I feel that this is the perfect time for me to come back with my S-Man vibe. I feel like it’s kind of gone back to a place and feeling in spirit to when I first started — and that’s where my head is at right now.
“It’s almost like a new beginning but with the benefit of having lived through what I have with dance music. I get a chance to have participated the first time around, but also be part of this new generation, so I’m really looking forward to it.
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