In 1983, Carlos Sosa aka DJ Sneak, moved to the city of Chicago from the island of Puerto Rico, where his early musical experiences and influences were rooted in salsa, meringue and Latin orchestras. Chicago, like Puerto Rico, is a city rich with musical styles and sounds. In Chicago, Sneak found inspiration in underground house music, warehouse parties and "old school" mix tapes from the early pioneers.
Sneak earned his nickname rocking graffiti-tags and began working at retail stores as an airbrush artist, which kept him out of trouble and allowed him to make important local industry contacts. Development as a DJ came while working regular mobile DJ jobs and local nightclubs. In 1992, using fundamental studio pieces, Sneak began recording tracks with an unusual new style. In 1994, while still working at local store Gramophone Records, Sneak met Cajmere (Green Velvet) owner of Cajual and Relief Records. Cajmere released three of Sneak's Catalyst Tracks, which helped to bring Sneak international recognition, and with it, a global DJing career.
In 1995, Sneak's new sound revolutionized house music with inspirational sounds and rhythms never heard. The disco filtered house grooves became Sneak's signature sound and an inspiration to many - Sneak's love for music inspired others like Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Armand Van Helden ….and the rest, as they say, is house music history.
DJ Sneak makes his return to NYC Friday June 29th for his first ever gig at Sullivan Room playing for his friend Tom Mello’s birthday celebration. Sneak will rock the house all night long with a sound of which he is a true the pioneer. Seeing him is the opportunity to see a true original of the house music scene.
Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you to get into DJing and producing? What were your influences?
My early influences came from a local radio station in Chicago from 1980 to 1989, 102.7 FM WBMX. That radio station and the mix shows influenced most of Chicago with all types of styles. They would play disco, funk , electro, early house music - you name it.
You were one of the pioneers of the very popular disco house sound. How did the idea for that style develop?
Well, I worked at several record stores when I was evolving from dj to producer and I just started buying and collecting old disco and funk records as that was the best stuff to sample.
You are considered an important piece of the development of the Chicago House sound. Tell us a little bit about how you see yourself as part of the history of Chicago House.
I was very lucky to land in Chicago at the right time in the house music movement. I learned all I could from the early house pioneers that I met while working at the record stores. Later, I was able to become a chapter in the "Book of Chicago House Music" - I became one of the producers that made a difference and I'm still carrying the torch for House Music.
You've created many amazing tracks and remixes over the years. What are your favorite tracks, remixes and projects that you've worked on?
Every project, remix and track I produce always pleases the DJs who play my music. It's hard for me to pick my faves as I'm still ALIVE and doing it and the best is yet to come... I really dig my earlier productions but now I’m evolving again into a better producer not just a house music producer.
What are the concepts behind your Magnetic and Oomph labels?
These days are all about survival, and everyone making records just sort of gave up to Digital. I'm still pressing records when I can, and I do everything myself these days. Magnetic and Oomph are the two labels I can release my own music plus music from upcoming house producers to get a start with the Sneak stamp of approval.
Is there anyone you like to collaborate with and why?
I'm down to get down with any serious producer, singer or performer. It seems everyone and their grandmas are DJ/producers these days, and the quality and craft that I learned has been forgotten by this new generation, so I only deal with serious people that still love and respect House Music, not just want to become a rockstar.
What inspires you to create a new track? How do you get started?
I get my inspiration from everything around me and all the beautiful places and people I get to meet and share my music with, If I'm at home I can get inspired by anything - my studio is my kingdom and in my kingdom House Music rules. I can get it going whenever I need to and it's still fun to do.
What new projects are coming our way from you?
Currently I'm introducing and promoting a couple of NYC's finest, the 1200 warriors, these guys are the real deal, and I signed them to Magnetic because I really believe in their music. As a DJ, I love to play their Beats. I am also waiting to release a few BIG tunes in the UK, some with the new "Strictly Rhythm" Records label – which is a collaboration with Todd Terry and Kenny Dope. Also I’m still working on my next LP.
What other producers and labels are inspiring you right now?
I'm the inspiration I feel. A lot of people are just in their comfort zones and won’t step out and be crazy like I am. I feel like I'm one of the only ones left in this industry that cares about house music. There are very few labels left I really care about - the rest have all sold out to Digital Downloads.
If you had to some up your DJ style and approach in a couple sentences, how would you put it?
The only way to answer this is by asking my fans and the people that love what I do. I'm A REAL DJS DJ. I will handle any crowd, any time, in any place, and walk away with a smile on my face because I know I’ve got them in the palm of my hand.
What are your favorite places/venues to play in the US? In the rest of the world?
The globe is my playground. I'm busy all year round, I couldn't possibly name one place as my favorite - I love to play everywhere. In the US I love to play the west coast (Cali), Europe is where I'm getting busy all the time, and I can say I rule out there.
What are some of your favorite moments in your prolific career?
Everyday I wake up and Do what I love to Do, this is always my favorite moment of my career. I have accomplished a lot in my life so far; I truly appreciate every moment of it, and never take it for granted.
What are you looking forward to in working the decks in NYC?
I'm looking forward to please the Sneak Beats fans and conquer the rest that are just getting a taste. NYC better be ready for the "DJ SNEAK House BEATDOWN".