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Five Mins with: Sandy Rivera, DJ

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As the producer behind some of house music’s finest tracks, timeless good-time anthems from Fall For You to Changes—Sandy Rivera needs no introduction and we’re as ecstatic as ever to welcome him back to the decks twice this summer, starting with the Soul Heaven Opening party on 11th May.

I’ve been in the middle of a move which is never easy—relocating to Mallorca for the moment until later this year to make flights shorter. Flying from LA to Europe every weekend is painful!

When I finish my gigs for the summer, I’ll decide where to lay my hat. This does mean I won’t be in a studio for a few months. Luckily I managed to finish some releases and there are some great remixes of my songs coming out this year from artists including Hot Since 82, Mochack, Joseph Capriati and Marco Faraone.

As a DJ you want and need people to drop releases you can use, uplifting or not. Putting a new twist to old or current tracks leaves a lot of choice for the various situations performing DJs are in lately. It’s all great and the production these days is amazing from all angles but there’s just one issue in my opinion—SOUND QUALITY! Please use a Mastering Lab that’s fully analog!

I’m more successful in making songs and DJing. My label’s just an avenue for me to drop records. When it comes to tracks I focus on getting the song, even if the track being used to write it will change drastically at times. As far as DJing goes, I like to feel out the event, and the crowd, and do my best to sound like a DJ and not just a stage performer. To me, a D is someone who still educates people with their sets. A performer DJ is just someone playing their own stuff like a band would at a concert. They’re both great and at times, I toggle both in a set.

If you say you can sing, I’d be very curious to hear you. With social media it’s much easier to find singers if they respond back! It’s so easy to make average songs these days and not much attempt is being made to make GREAT songs. You can only find out how good it is after you drop it or if a good label is interested in it or not. This is where artists need to show up and not get discouraged! Just keep going—every song becomes a lesson.

To be oddly honest, “Fall For You” was declined at first as well as it was too soulful like “Finally” and didn’t fit the current trends which meant a bigger label might not have any use for it (it can become a difficult song to drop as far as business goes). The same label then changed their mind about a year later and took a chance on it as a musical piece. They asked to put it out and just see how it goes and…. It did better than what any of us expected. It’s growing with modest numbers for a soulful track.

Here’s a quote from Rick Rubin for you: “Make songs that can’t be easy for people to re-create.”

Since I’m older and have passed the time creating original tracks, that quote means a lot to me because a good chunk of my music falls into that space.

I have no vinyl at all because in younger, wreckless years my ex-wife threw my entire collection away and other things like digital audio tapes. Choose your partners wisely 🙂

1. Playing in Serbia for Exit festival on the main stage in 2005. That was an experience! The area was at 25% capacity before I got on. I wasn’t paying attention as I was getting ready to do my set and I get a tap on the shoulder from Darren Emerson who says “You’re not looking…”. He told me to look to my left and it was absolutely packed out by the I played my first record. “They came for you” he said. I still remember the way he tapped my shoulder as a sign for me to notice.

2. Playing at Yalta club in Bulgaria, because the energy of the crowd was so intense from the first record and it stayed intense the whole night. It was like drinking a Red Bull every half hour for six hours.

3. Playing El Divino in Ibiza in 2004 with Junior Jack and Kid Cream. This was a special moment with two younger acts that happened to make some bangers, and the response that night was confirmation that we were there to stay.

JT Donaldson’s “Stay Inside”. I managed to make that mix my own and delivered a unique bass line and arrangement. It was a special mix and personal to me as I met JT in 1996 in Texas at one of his events. I even met his Mom at that time and she asked me if he should “continue the music stuff”. I told her he has the passion and drive for it so there’s no reason why he can’t do well.

I’ve had many wonderful moments in Ibiza and way too many I can’t tell you about. I do my best to stay in the right lane, take long walks on the beach and eat a lot of “vongole” (clams).

I did have a great moment with Boy Noemi in Ibiza at Salinas once. So we were on the beach, we ate and we had a great time. He spotted the tower called Torre de ses Portes to the left and asked me if we could walk to it. I said “Sure, it doesn’t look far.”  As we walked with only a bottle of water each, I realised it WAS far, so I didn’t drink my water but held it for him to drink later.

“Everyone’s naked” he said and I said “You can be a nudist here”

We made it to the tower and it was an amazing walk through the cliffs. When we arrived heasked if we could get naked… So we did. We sat and talked about how nice it was there and we had a wholesome time just taking everything in. I told him I saved him some water and then he said “Are we gonna walk back naked?”

I said we could and we started to for about three minutes but then we stopped, looked at each other and said “No let’s not walk back like this. Maybe another time.”

I’d enjoy working with tons of people but Aretha Franklin? All day long.

Catch Sandy Rivera on Saturday 11th May at the Soul Heaven Opening Party and again on 26th August at D4 D4NCE.

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