When the conclusive history of house music is laid out for all to see, chances are Roger Sanchez’s name is one that’ll crop up regularly. The NYC native has been in the game for well over two decades now, and first came to prominence in the mid '90s courtesy of some classic productions on the seminal Strictly Rhythm imprint.
Sanchez has been fairly busy and prolific since, as he’s somehow found time to diversify his sound, set up his own label, Stealth, and tour the world. Recently, he decided to bring back his early guise, the S-Man, in a move that’s seen him return to his infamous raw house grooves. We put a few questions his way ahead of an Ibiza season where he’ll be doing his thing at the Hard Times events…
So the S-Man is back with a vengeance. But did he ever go away in the first place?
“The S-man took a bit of a hiatus in 2006, but Roger Sanchez has been non-stop since then. But bringing the S-Man back has given me a new sense of purpose, and has really helped me hone in on my underground sounds. In 2012, I began to see a shift in the underground scene, and as it resonated with what my S-Man guise is all about, I decided there and then to bring him back.”
So can you talk us through the differences between a Roger Sanchez set and an S-Man set?
“An S-Man set is more bass-driven, with deeper and darker sounds, whereas a Roger Sanchez set is more of a classic house sound with Latin elements and tech house beats and vibes.”
You’re set to play the Hard Times events at The Vista Room this year. How does it feel to be back in with those guys again after all these years? Is there a sense of nostalgia?
“Yes, definitely. I just played Leeds with the Hard Times crew and it was fantastic! It felt like old times wrapped in a new vibe so I’m really looking forward to playing in Ibiza with them. When I played for Hard Times first, it was in Huddersfield and the energy in the crowd was completely euphoric. Back then, house was fresh and new and people were completely open to the American sound I was playing. It felt like we were part of a movement. So in a way it feels like I’ve come full circle — but fortunately there is a brand-new generation of DJs and clubbers around too.”
Who are you really looking forward to playing alongside?
“I’m really looking forward to playing with Huxley again — we had loads of fun last year playing back-to-back in Ibiza and I hope we can do it again soon.”
Obviously a lot has changed in the scene since you first came here. Do you still enjoy coming out to Ibiza as much now as you did then?
“Sure, my enthusiasm for the island has never changed. I really do enjoy playing to the crowds in Ibiza — they are always going for it and immersed in the music.”
Are you very conscious of the sort of gigs you play these days? What do you attribute your longevity to?
“I try to focus on the gigs that are fun and crowds that are invested in the music. I thank God I have had such a long career and have always been about the love of music instead of being caught up with all of the other trappings of the DJ life. That’s probably why I’m still here doing my thing!”
You’ve been back in the studio a fair bit recently too. Can you give us some insight into your recent releases and the thinking behind them?
“I have been doing a lot of collaborations with a new generation of producers such as Huxley, Tough Love, Tom Flynn and others as the S-Man, and I love the energy they bring. I have also started doing Roger Sanchez productions and am working on completing my 'Roots' album at long last. Busy times.”
Have you ever had any ‘Hard Times’ of your own as a DJ/producer? What do you do in those situations?
“Oh yes… I’ve had plenty! But when I’m in those situations I have faith and I keep pressing forward. I know things always change, and if you have faith they will always turn out alright.”
Roger Sanchez plays at the Hard Times event at The Vista Room this summer