For any DJ and bedroom producer, the ability to “hustle” is often the most underestimated, yet most important factor in determining whether they will fade out or successfully make their mark on the industry. Good hustle is the epitome of both the man and monumental career of international DJ, Roger Sanchez. From humble beginnings in New York City, diggin’ in dusty crates of old vinyl and spinning at house parties in Corona, Queens, to dominating huge dance floors and headlining festival main-stages in every corner of the globe, Roger is truly a self-made man and a house music legend.
The crafting of Roger Sanchez, the DJ, started in the late 80s, where as a young man he was enticed by the explosion of hip-hop that was taking over the city. Embracing the culture as a b-boy and graffiti artist, he would hit parties on the Bronx River and before long, his friends had him trying his hand on the wheels of steel. In a time and place where hip hop, house music, and “turntablism” all collided in a perfect storm of creativity, opportunity, and sick beats, Roger seized his moment and began to build his empire on vinyl and slip mats, starting with a few singles and expanding into a massive collection of over two thousand original productions and remixes.
Releasing music under a multitude of monikers, including the S-Man, Roger S., The Nu- Solution, Underground Solution, DV8, Ego Trip, El Mariachi, The Funkjunkeez, Tribal Infusion, Twilight, and Transatlantic Soul, just to name a few, Roger has been able to maintain the essence of his sound, his flavor, his “sabor”, if you will, while still using each alter ego as a tool to expand on various fresh and experimental sounds. Each one of his multiple music personas have allowed him the opportunity to defy the mainstream and travel out to the far reaches of the musical galaxy, collecting depth, wisdom, and perspective along the way and applying them to his future endeavors in innovative dance music sounds, allowing him to remain fluid and cutting edge across decades.
So many successful endeavors would have never been possible without a rock solid work ethic, something that Roger prides himself on. From the very beginning, he was a dedicated crate digger, searching for obscure samples and break beats in influential NYC record stores like Rock & Soul and Vinylmania. His infallible work ethic, paired with the strong foundation of art and culture that he gained from the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture took control of the wheel as his passion for music expanded, driving him to start hustling mixtapes on the sidewalks of Broadway in order to finance his earliest gigs. With the encouragement of his father, an engineer, Roger abandoned his plans for a career in architecture and decided to devote all his efforts to his music.
His first 12-inch, “Dreamworld” came out on the Outer Limits imprint in 1990 under the name Egotrip, and was the turning point that shifted his focus from simply playing music to producing and playing music. Shortly after, he released “Luv Dancin” for Gladys Pizarro, under the name Underground Solution on the iconic Strictly Rhythm label, which led to his first tour. Roger hasn’t stopped grinding since, using his decades of experience to build enticing remixes for a wide range of artists including Michael Jackson, The Police, Diana Ross, Jamiroquai, Maroon 5, and No Doubt, for which he won a Grammy in 2003 for Best Remixed Recording with the song “Hella Good”.
Always motivated by that innovative spirit, Roger was an early pioneer of podcasting and was awarded the first-ever Best Podcast Award at the International Dance Music Awards in 2007. He currently hosts Release Yourself, a weekly terrestrial and online radio show and podcast that features not only his own productions and those of successful house music staples, but also features up and coming tracks and artists. It attracts over 10 million listeners around the world and is broadcast in thirty markets on every continent, and if that weren’t enough, he creates many of his podcasts and mixes from the road, enduring a tour schedule that would exhaust even the most hardened of festival warriors with the vibrance and consistency of someone who has just returned from holiday.
With all that energy and motivation, it’s only logical that he would push himself to the creative limits, assembling an annual Release Yourself compilation which highlights his own tracks, as well as tracks from both breakthrough and established artists. He further extends his influence by helping release the music of new artists on his labels and through his own personally built production studios. In addition, Roger has captained a slew of releases on such influential labels as Strictly Rhythm, One Records, and Defected over the years. Keeping in tune with his varied and diverse career, he has also founded several labels of his own, namely Narcotic, R-Senal and Stealth.
His newest label, UNDR THE RADR, launched in 2014 with his own ‘Dangerous Thoughts’ track, also saw the collaboration ‘Drop The Needle’ with Man Without A Clue & Kevin Knapp. The collaborations with Huxley (‘The Calling’) and Tough Love (‘In The Name Of Love’) followed suit, continuing the theme of exploring new ground that was shown with his ‘Amour’ single for Riva Starr’s Snatch label. In addition to a barrage of dark, dirty house music, UNDR THE RADR also brought the revival of his infamous S-Man moniker.
“The S-Man was my alter ego for when I wanted to do stuff that was just dark, dirty, straight dance floor with no regard for radio or anything like that. Just the raw expression of what I feel works for me on the dance floor. I really get the chance to open up and try different sounds”, says Roger. “I think the S-Man brings back a lot of what I learned in the early years of my production… the really straight back-to-the-club roots of it. It’s taking on the elements of deepness, making it dirty again, adding elements of hip-hop, and just bringing it all to bear.”
2014 wasn’t all under the radar for Sanchez though. He also relaunched his Stealth Recordings label and released massive hit, ‘Remember Me’ (feat Stealth) as Roger Sanchez, which exploded onto the scene as Pete Tong’s Essential New Tune and continued into a global radio and club hit, picking up deals with Ministry Of Sound – Australia, Ego – Italy, We Play – Germany, Blanco Y Negro – Spain, and beyond.
The continued success of the Sanchez and his S-Man moniker through 2015 perfectly set the stage for Roger’s return to the spotlight in 2016. Teaming up with the team at Defected, Roger hit the ground running. In March, he teamed up with old pal and house legend in his own right, Harry Romero to release ‘Searchin’’ on Strictly Rhythm, a track that left house heads searchin’ for more Sanchez, to which he answered the call. In April, 2016, he released Strictly Roger Sanchez, a comprehensive anthology of Sanchez’s finest studio moments, comprising a broad selection of productions and remixes from across his various aliases.
As if his amazing anthology were not enough, he has followed up the album release with a whirlwind tour of shows that are taking him to dancefloors in the far corners of the world and allowing him to return to his second home, the White Isle. Having prominent residencies in Ibiza since 2000, Roger took a break from the island in 2015 and has returned in full force this year, beginning with the Space Opening Fiesta and continuing throughout the summer with Creamfields Ibiza and monthly Glitterbox appearances at Space, as well as shows at veteran clubs, Pacha and Amnesia. 2016 has also brought him back to the festival stage, as he has numerous summer festivals lined up from London, to Croatia, to headlining the NYC Downlow Stage at the iconic, albeit damp, Glastonbury Festival.
Ever evolving his hustle and always pushing himself and those around him to do better, his passion for his craft clearly drives his mission to spread the musical word to the farthest reaches of mankind and inject them with the fever to dance with him. Yet regardless of his massive influence and success in the world of dance music, he remains humble, real, and true to his roots. The S-Man sums it up perfectly when he states: “I’m always moving forward, but never losing sight of where I’ve been.”