DJ Sneak - Quiet Beats
3D’s Cyclone speaks with house legend DJ Sneak, in Australia this month to play Harbourlife and Global Gathering.
DJ Sneak could be Chicago house’s most streetwise ambassador. The DJ – born Carlos Sosa – is touting himself as “the original house gangster”.
Sosa may have been based in Toronto, Canada, for a decade, but he’s not lost touch with his roots. Sosa’s contemporary Felix da Housecat ushered in electroclash, but he’s stuck to traditional Chicago house – or his “Sneak style”.
“I’ve never gone anywhere,” Sosa laughs. “I’ve been ‘DJ Sneak’ all the way through. It’s everybody else who’s gone in different directions. Now they’re lost and they’re trying to find themselves back to something that was solid – which for me is electronic and, in specific, house music.”
Still, Sosa has never been inclined to simply retread the past. Acknowledging Basement Jaxx’s hybridisation, he remodelled Chicago house with 2003’s snazzy crossover hit Fix My Sink – followed by a Latin-flavoured ‘artist’ album, Housekeepin’.
Though ambivalent about the electro revolution, Sosa appreciates that a “hipster crowd” are rediscovering Chicago’s acid house through retro-nuevo acts like MSTRKRFT. “This whole new generation is starving for knowledge and information,” he says.
Sosa was born in Puerto Rico, moving to Chicago with his family in the early ’80s. At one stage he was into hip hop culture – ‘Carlos Sneaky Hands’ was his graffiti tag – but he soon embraced house. The sometime mobile DJ met Cajmere (the future Green Velvet) while working at Gramophone Records, circa 1994, and Cajmere issued Sosa’s recordings, earning him an international profile.
Sosa emerged with Derrick Carter – and his seminal You Can’t Hide From Your Bud materialised on Carter’s Classic Music.
In 2008 Sosa stands among Chi-town’s most influential Second Wavers. Daft Punk are indebted to him for foreshadowing the filter disco craze.
Sosa, quiet of late, is again releasing music. The DJ, who once ran Defiant Records, now presides over Magnetic – and its offshoot Oomph – and has circulated several EPs this year in addition to the mix-CD Special House Blend. And he’s developed a website, dj-sneak.com, with his wife’s assistance. Sosa uploaded a tribute to Barack Obama during the US presidential campaign. “I guess there’s been a few Obama tracks made, but mine is really Chicago ghetto funky with some speeches – it’s pretty cool.”
Sosa is outspoken. He’s famously lambasted Euro trance, dismissing it as “soulless” and, more directly, “rubbish”. Sosa, who unwinds to vintage funk and soul, laments that trance is even permeating hip hop (mind, he’s dropped a house remix of Flo Rida’s Low). “Who wants to hear a stupid trance keyboard over a hip hop beat-” he rues.
Above all, Sosa is weary of electro’s “noisy tracks”, believing that female clubbers hanker after house music’s hooks, vocals and bass lines.
Sosa admits that two years ago he was bored with the dance scene – and frustrated encountering so many “wannabe DJs with one hit” – but he then settled on a ”plan of attack”.
“The lone ranger” is returning to Australia to play the house he championed in the ’90s. “I feel like lately I’ve had to reintroduce myself to a whole new generation, and I’ve had to reintroduce myself to people who maybe used to love what I used to play and bring them back to that style. It’s not like I have a personal vendetta, a war, house music against everything, I just want good music to come back.”
WHO: DJ Sneak
WHAT: Plays Harbourlife at Mrs Macquarie’s Point / Global Gathering at the Entertainment Quarter
WHEN: Saturday 22 November / Sunday 30
MORE: fuzzy.com.au / australia.global-gathering.com.au