Name: Carlos Sosa / DJ Sneak
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Current Release: Back & Forth by DJ Sneak & Jesse Perez feat. KE is out now on Hot Creations.
Recommendations: I recommend to all wanting to be DJs to do their personal research into why you want to be in this culture. There are many books, many documentaries about the culture that will give you guidance, meaning, purpose.
Book ~ Outliers by Malcom Gladwell - It will entertain your brain and explain the 10,000 hours logic.
If you enjoyed this interview with DJ Sneak, the best place for finding out more about him and his music is his personal website, which features updates, biographical information and all of his renowned podcast episodes.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started about summer of 1986, yes the 80's! I first started venturing out to records stores around the Chicago Loop where I found a few shops and one in particular was Gramophone Records where they always had the freshest white label 12's for $1.99 to $2.99 - always the dopest Chicago stuff. Soon after my record hunting days I decided I was going in on DJing full time. I had a lot of people tell me it wasn’t going to work but I was determined. My early passions were always artistic in some way, drawing, sketching, glueing stuff together. I was always getting at things in a creative way and knew somehow creating would be a big part of my life. Musically I was majorly influenced by Chicago radio stations that were pumping House music all day. House Music from Chicago asterisk drew me in first, there was an awesome group of latin DJs that gave me hope I could do it, Mario Smokin Diaz, Ralph Rosario, Rico Pizarro etc. Most of these real dogs were the school I needed as a young latin graffiti artist that loved music.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating other. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
In the beginning we all have our peers and favourite DJs that often are the hometown heroes started with the street sounds and local house parties. I was always listening, watching, educating myself to finally get a chance to actually get some minutes to play and perform for friends etc.
I had 2 different major influences in DJ culture, one was a fella called Bad Boy Bill, he was the local radio jock in the 80’s with the hottest mixes for the radio. The other was in the early 90’s ~ Derrick Carter, he was, and still is our local hometown hero and the source of Chicago underground. On my way to becoming DJ Sneak I often admired their skills and they had a great influence on me.
On the journey I emerged with my own style and sound. If you copy a DJs style, looks, dancing moves exactly you’re doing it wrong and people will eventually see that. It’s very important to listen and learn but through that you need to focus on your sound, your message, your flow. Don’t be another boring replica.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
Honestly the only challenges back in the day when I started was to get some time to mix live for people, if you did your prep work like buy records, practice hard, get ready to strike when the green light was there, that’s all you needed. My generation of DJs are the truest to the game. We shopped for records every week, we practised and got our skills ready, we did real work to get on … Today everyone wants to cheat, get in the easy way, buy likes, create fake personas, buy more fake friends, make yourself look like you have all the skills in the world and you deserve to be in the spotlight. But the worst shit is that most that are getting the shine right now are talentless fuck boys.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
I live in improvisation mode all day, for me this is the only way to be a real live performer. The many bodies that have danced to my DJ sets know I give it my all to make them go on the journey, I’m the musical director, I feed from them I deliver to them musically! Everything happens right there in the moment.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
I produce music at my home studio that often gets played live, I hardly do mixes at home or just play unless it’s for a special occasions. I do organize music all day to be ready for any event that I’m playing at. After great nights or sets I take that vibe and bottle it until I hit the studio to make more of them Sneak Beats, it’s always a great source of inspiration.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
My Job as a DJ is to entertain the public on a musical level. My passion for the music shows, and as I stand in front of the crowd and get them shake ass I feel good about what I’m doing. There are many things you can be in the DJ world but the ones that people will forever remember are the ones that make people feel something on the dance floor. I believe many DJs today were moved by someone they looked up to and wanted to be like. Sure DJs can be considered influencers but the real deal is in the music, the memories made, the way people feel and the connection to the music, not the DJ.