An LA native with further techno education via Detroit, Santiago Salazar is a master DJ and proliferative producer of the highest quality. His recent album “Chicanismo” is as excellent a full length we have heard, ideal for all ends of the dance floor and an inspiring home-listen. From his first residency in LA, in a district so dangerous it was profiled in “Training Day”, to his own releases on globally admired labels like Rush Hour Recordings, Seventh Sign Recordings and Planet E, Santiago’s record bag is a unique & authentic journey through underground house and techno. From Bassett, California to Backdrop, we are delighted to be offered the opportunity of hosting this insight into one of our favourite artist’s collections, and thank him hugely for taking the time to speak with us.
When, where and on what equipment did you record this podcast?
I used 2 vestax pdx-2000 and a Numark DXM09 Mixer.
Musically speaking, what has been keeping you most busy recently? How do you divide your time?
It’s always a uneven balance of spending time with family or making music.
You dropped an Amir Alexander track “Gutter Flex” in your Boiler Room, and you start your mix here with a recent Levon Vincent & Marcel Dettman track on Novel Sound. These are the artists that inspire us at Backdrop. Hence why we brought them both to play! Which other artists do you monitor closely for new output? Are there any “buy on release” labels you enjoy?
I’m always wanting to discover new artist. But I have a few favorites that never let me down such as DJ Qu, Kerri Chandler, Andres, Jenifa Mayanja, Hakim Murphy, Ricardo Miranda, Glenn Underground, Pepe Bradock, to name a few. I’m just starting to discover the buy on release labels. I think it’s a good way to get music to your fans quickly.
We Pride ourselves on bringing extended sets to Backdrop, and have brought inspired selectors who dig very deep. Are you still buying as much new music as you always have? What is your main source for finding new tracks? Do you focus on solely on stuff you would play out, or any non dance music additions to the collection recently?
No, I cut down on buying new records. I maybe do it 3 to 4 times a year. I use to spend around $300.00 a week in the early-mid ’90’s. One of my main sources on discovering new music is listening to other dj’s mixes. I have a few DJ’s that I listen to religiously. A few new DJ’s out of Los Angeles, one being Force Placement. I think he has a good ear for music. Lately, I’ve been focusing on stuff I play out, but every now and then I’ll buy some non-dance stuff.
When DJing, how much if at all do you plan in advance? How do you go about picking records from what I guess to be a very vast collection? What are your favorite moments within a DJ set, hands in the air? Eyes closed? early doors? closing track?
Well for the mix I did for you, I had just recently ordered a lot of records from Downtown 304. With that mix, I spent a Saturday mixing those records for about 2 hours, then when I finally had something, I hit the record button. My favorite moments at a party, are seeing people dance and working it out. Another thing I really love is seeing people entering the party by 2-stepping to the dance floor. That is my favorite moment. Everyone has a different little dance they do while they enter the party.
Jeff Mills recently said when they were pioneering techno it was music for the future, and dancing was another great use for it. But today producers have only the dance floor in mind and it is making some music very one dimensional or predictable. I have played out many cuts from your album and all have been brilliant on the dance floor. It also works supremely well as a full length for listening at home, much like Levon Vincent’s last album. This must be a very difficult balance how do you achieve that? Remaining innovative, yet establishing a recognizable sound, that is also effective for the body’s (and minds) on the floor. It all sounds quite intimidating to me.
Wow, thanks for that compliment. But, I cannot take full credit for the album. I had sent around 24 tracks to the label heads at Love What You Feel and they went ahead and picked the tracks out. I really trusted them with that task. If I had to choose, the album would of sounded very different. I agree with Jeff Mills assessment on music for the future. But I also feel, a lot of it comes from our past, just modernized with current instruments.
What three pieces of production equipment/software could you not be without?
My Yamaha Motif-Rack, Roland JV-2080, Bass Station 2 and Ableton software.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Not too much as of now. A couple of remixes in the pipe. But no set releases scheduled.
What still excites you the most musically? DJing out, finishing a track… Chatting to over enthusiastic English people on Facebook who are desperate for podcasts from you?
I still get excited listening to DJ’s. I don’t go out as much as I use to, but when I do, I end up dancing for hours. I also enjoy the soreness the next day I feel from dancing. I also enjoy seeing people dance.