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Talent, intelligence, common sense, and
creativity are only a few of the attributes
of the award winning charismatic DJ Sammy.
How does a person transmit a vast amount
of their aura over the phone? No idea,
but DJ Sammy's vibe emanates so strongly
that it would be very difficult for someone
to not be effected positively by his energy.
DJ Sammy can cause a natural high that
lasts for hours after talking to him and
the inspiration he stirs within can still
be in effect weeks later. With his own
dance label Super M Records, his own management
company, Bahia Music, and two fully equipped
studios in order to work as efficiently
as possible, one in his homeland of Spain
and one in Germany. DJ Sammy continues
to work diligently to spread his positive
vibe throughout the world.
Thank you for taking the time out to do
this interview for Raves.com - it's a
phenomenal pleasure for me to have the
opportunity to interview you! Your well-deserved
success is astounding!
DJ Sammy: Our basis
is first being human beings and then you
can be talented in your job. It's very
important to put yourself at the same
level of every human being. Where are
DJ Sammy: Boston -
beautiful city, I have been there. I've
been playing there at a big club called
Avalon. It was a beautiful gig there.
Avalon was nominated at the Dance
Star Awards this year in Miami - but you
won, and they didn't! What was the main
influence in your life that got you into
music and DJing?
My father is a guitar player, my sister,
as well, is a piano teacher. I have in
my blood music influences from my own
father and the whole family since I a
little baby music has been around my entourage,
my ears, and we have always, since I was
a baby, piano in our home as well - a
big piano in my home. So when I grew up,
we grew up in a musical atmosphere, and
that's the key to why I'm involved in
music. When you grow up in a musician's
family, you have no way out, only music,
so this is how it started.
Did you play piano as a child, also?
Yes, yes, of course! Actually, when I was a little kid, I was having some piano classes from my sister, and you know, it's like, typical, that, I was not, my father plays the guitar and all of them with the acoustic sounds, and you know, when you're a little guy, you want to be something different then the others you want to have your own word and I said, I'm gonna do some electronic sounds. So I started to buy a few vinyls, and started to be involved with little computer, Atari 1024. My first work was with Cubase, doing some dance music, electronic sounds step-by-step making some jobs to combine myself a little equipment some minor playing in little club which was illegal for me, I was very young, 14, 15 I could not go in so I was going to the other side and playing and being around and this how was based the beginning of my career. I knew my career was involved in some music. My father didn't see it very beautiful because my older brother is a doctor and my sister is a piano teacher as a music hobby, but she graduated in chemical physical mathematicas and could be a pilot and stuff like this. I am the only one who said, I wanted the nightlife and the music so I was like the black cat but in the end I am a king. The most successful one though, it took me long, but it worked.
Do you still work with Cubase?
No, no, I'm working with ProTools. When
you arrive at a certain level, you have
to make some investments because not only
am I producing myself, I also produce
another artist. You know, I did a lot
with an artist called Loona, who's sold
over eight, nine million records. You
should arrive to a certain point where
you have to work with high quality equipment
to be quick, fast, and the quality is
Do you have your own studio, or do
you rent studio time?
I have two studios of my own because I own two companies, one in Spain, and one in Germany. Whenever I am there a few days, my time is very tight, I want, each time I have one day, I have to be in the studio. Because I don't let one day away without being in the studio when I have two (studios). That's why I should be combining two studios and now I put a few people also working in both studios that the things can be quick and I go and you know, I make the last touches. Before, I was spending 15, 16 hours (in the studio). The time is so tight, so I cannot reach it, so I go in, and I start the basis for everything like I say, I play a few things and I say, guy, this is the rhythm and this is how it should go and this is what I have in my ears, go in that direction. I stay two or three hours then I go away, I come two days after he has lifted more in front I check it once again and I - if he's going in the right direction, then I put it right away to put him still in the right way and in the end I go to do the mixing and the final stuff. I mean, I am also (involved) in the recording of the vocals. Sometimes I let behind some guitar recordings, whatever, because they know what I want the guitars how it should be recorded.
Do you tend to use the same musicians?
Always, always. So they know me. I always have been calling allowing my studio, calling my guitar player telling him this and play that. So he knows, when I am not there, my engineer is there and he knows what he has to do.
How long did you take to find the
people you work well with and who fully
understand what you're looking for?
I think today's world is not only music apart, it should have a very perfect structure, a very perfect team, because there is not only one winner, there is a team of winners and it's very important to be surrounded with good people - it's like an architect who is building a home he always has own team he likes to build with. It is important in today's business because actually the music business is going fast everyone wants the product on time and alone I cannot reach it anymore. Back in the days, yes, but now not anymore so this is more than work it's like being involved. Like I started some fifteen years ago doing my own stuff in my room and when I needed a guitar player my father did record a few things but I used to call a big guitar player in Spain, one of the biggest ones in Barcelona, he comes over and says "Sammy, what do you want" and I say "this is what I want and this is how I want it" and he will record it. So I'm working with him for over ten years now and so he plays three kinds of guitars, acoustic, classical guitar, flamenco guitar, and also electronic guitar. He plays all kinds of guitars so he knows he's the one who comes with the guitars, he hears what I have for basis, he checks it, records three different ways, he gives it to me in ProTools. I come, I choose the best and I cut it and I'm done. This is how you should have it. I'm a perfectionist. In today's world, you have to do it that way, or you cannot survive. Majors, all the record companies as well, who are licensing to bigger labels. That's why I want to have everything controlled by myself.
Do you publish also?
Yes, yes, yes. If there is something where you never know there's an act, they're sending me a CD, a very good one, but it's not professional, only the idea, and if I like it very much, I call all the people and I produce it by myself, and I present them as an act, and I am producing behind them. So I have it as well, so to don't depend on all the big labels telling you yes or no. So you have to do it yourself, and best by yourself, and after, when your name is there, the people are always asking, we want some Sammy stuff.but I always am very careful, I don't abuse my name, I don't abuse my quality I always go step-by-step, ya? And then reaching the right world is all doing it easy, slow, I mean not hectic, and not exploiting my talent that my credibility is gone, you know what I mean, I take care in what I'm doing.
There's so much competition with radio lists, how do you get the amount
of radio play that you have?
You know what, it's like, we should be really clear that quality counts. I am doing something much more hard than other people. Other people are doing R & B or Hip Hop in the U.S. It's much more easier to go in. Because at least, R & B, or Hip Hop or this kind of stuff, it is a product that is played on the radio 80 percent and Pop, you know what I mean? Dance music, the space is very, very, very tight. Only few records in the world can make it, you know, Dance music. It's going good, I cannot complain. But you know, it costs of the years, and is all about doing the right product, knowing how to make the balance, between radio and mainstream and between club and mainstream. So it's really hard work and even mixing the records, the way you mix it is important.
Do you mix your songs yourself?
Yes, I mix very often. In ProTools and on my desk as well. I mean, actually, depends the mood I have, but of course, I prefer mixing on ProTools, but sometimes I'm also doing it in analog, not only digital. So it depends the mood, the records, and I'm very critical with these things. I want to know exactly for what is this product, for where is going, so I'm specific for the market.
You have multiple successful businesses, have you had any business schooling?
No never, the best business school is the streets!
I read on your website that you went to sound technician school?
Ya, sound technician, yes, because from a baby, I was very interested to manage a very big desk (SSL console). How to record a drum set, how to record the guitars, I did record a few pop bands, to know how it is - to be an owner of a cafeteria, first of all you have to know how to wash the glasses and know how to handle it. You cannot start straight away as a big boss. So I learned what I needed to know to start.
With all you do, I have to ask you,
how many hours a night do you sleep. Two?
(laughs) Actually no - I always think when we die, we're gonna sleep enough! I want to take a profit of the day as much as possible so I sleep five hours or with six hours, I'm super fit. You know what? You need (a certain amount of hours of sleep) because your brain says to - that everything you do is about getting used to it. If you get your body used to eating five times a day, it will always ask you to eat. If you make your body used to a kind of life, the body doesn't think it's that difficult if we only make it used how we want. It's all about getting used to it, the brains are the body, not the body - not the body.
What is your favorite food?
Seafood - and to be honest with you, I'm on my way to the restaurant!
How do you feel the internet has helped or hindered your success?
Like everything in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Nothing in life has a logical point of opinion because everyone sees things differently. I see the internet as a beautiful way to connect people around the world but it's also not fair that you're working so hard and people are getting your music for free. The internet is killing the idea that people go out of their home to pick the records, they get very lazy, get it at home, straight away, download it but it's also good because you're promoting your records. I think in life, it's important, if you want something, the go and get it and move your ass for it. We should not forget that main point in life is the balance, don't abuse anything. The internet is a very nice modern way - but we have to learn to use it in the right way. The internet is beautiful, but it shouldn't be abused.
With a lot of dance music being underground, do you find you receive skepticism
because you've been able to popularize
what you've done?
You know, some people see it bad because they say, 'DJ Sammy crossed over very strong' because they're doing very underground stuff, yes? But to be honest, I don't believe in underground stuff. I also believe that underground people would love to be successful. But, you know, when somebody doesn't arrive to there he says that it is very bad. It's not only jealousy, it's impotent as well. When you feel yourself, you cannot make a number one then you say 'this number one is shit'. It's because you cannot (do the same). Maybe you are not capable, first of all, second, maybe your look is not prepared to be a personality, or artist, or loved person. You are a shy person, you are not ready for the world. There must be a few reasons behind it that makes you be underground. Because, what a beautiful thing, to extend your job, your work, and make people happy with what you do. I mean, I don't want to say, 'oh, I want to make as few as possible people happy, I want to be minimalist because I'm underground'. It's stupid! I want to make as many people as possible, happy! And the other way, they say, 'oh, I don't want my music to be big', I don't understand this kind of thinking. I mean actually, with this electronic sound, I'm really getting huge, huge, respect, and also, thank God, I'm also getting respect from also the whole underground industry today because they say, wow, he's doing, of course, chart, import music, but at least the quality is there. So, it is important that what you do, whether it is commercial, underground, or not commercial, whatever, that you can call it is well done. Maybe it's not my taste, but it's well done.
As far as production equipment, do you have any particularly favorite hardware,
software, synths, etc. that you really
like to use to get your sound?
You know what I like the most? I like the old stuff the most such as Roland and Yamaha. I have a few instruments of my Father's like the 909, it's very old, and I use it, and an 808 as well. The old stuff, I love it. But for the new stuff, I love the Virus. I have all of them, including the Virus Indigo, because the people who invented the Virus are very close friends. So they bring things to my studio to try it together. They live six kilometers away from my studio. Actually, they made one especially for me for me. It's really unique in the world. It was a present. It's something very, very, very beautiful. So I love that equipment because I know the people very close, we are very good friends. The virus has amazing sounds that work beautifully with both acoustic and electronic sounds. It's one of the best pieces of equipment for dance music that is used worldwide. The Nord Lead is also good. I also have all the models of the Nord because once you have one you want to have the next one that comes out. It's like movies, if you see the first one you want to see the sequels.
What is the most recent movie you've seen?
Matrix Reloaded. I loved it!
What can we expect from you on your next album?
OK, I just started writing the songs because I'm doing dance music, but first, I write songs with the piano before I convert the music into electronic, first I write the songs on the piano. because I want to have (a) basis. I don't do the electronic sounds straight away. First I want to write solid music. First I do the song into a normal classical song with piano, with a nice texture, a nice thing and after a while I transform it into dance music. What I'm doing now is writing songs with a few friends, I'm asking songs from other guys also in the U.K. I'm putting together another 25 or 30 songs and after (that) we choose 12 or 13 or 14 to start an album with. So I'm really very, very ready to make it like, a very different album it's going be like the sounds of DJ Sammy, mixed with some rock stuff. Not hard, hard rock, because I like the softer rock but I am trying to mix rock music with dance music. If you listen to my album, you will hear a lot of songs, (that are) very happy, very positive, sounds like the sea, the sun, and the fun - you can hear my Spanish influences. I have flamenco guitar down mixed, nobody hears it, but you feel it. It's all about feeling good.
Thank you so much DJ Sammy!
For more information, including a full
biography, please check out http://www.djsammy.de
and for further information on one of
DJ Sammy's favorite pieces of studio equipment,
check out http://www.access-music.de.
-- written by Jules Mari