In Conversation… Carlos Sanchez
From Javier Carballo to Paco Osuna to Javi Bora to Cristian Varela, there’s little doubting that Spain’s electronic music scene is currently undergoing something of a golden age in terms of international recognition.
At the forefront of all this is Carlos Sanchez. Although he’s from Gran Canaria, a small island that’s actually nearer to Africa than it is to the Spanish mainland – few people have been as responsible fro driving the scene forward in his home country as the sometime Home Invasion, Poker Flat and now, Lowwaxx boss.
With a new alias going down a treat, a recently established label gathering pace and another busy summer in his locker, we figured this a good time to check in with the gregarious Spaniard. Here’s what went down when we checked in with the main man recently…
How was your summer?
I’d a great summer actually, full of more brilliant moments. A recent gig in Dusseldorf being a real highlight. I also spent a lot of time in the studio and ran my own night at home in the Canaries which has been keeping me busy too. Shout out to all the guys who helped me there!
Did you get over to Ibiza at all?
Actually, no I didn’t. It was just a case of being too busy, to be honest. My label Lowwaxx and my new alias has been taking up a lot of my time and I guess I just never got around to making it over there.
I’m guessing Ibiza is somewhere that’s been highly influential for you over the years? Do you remember the first time you went?
For sure. It’s had a huge influence on my career. Obviously I’m Spanish, so to visit somewhere like Ibiza for the first time was an extra special experience. But it took me a while to get over and I didn’t actually play there until 2010. My finest hour on the island was playing at Space for Carl Cox’s night in collaboration with a label I released on a couple of times. As a profesional DJ, it just doesn’t get much better.
What do you consider the highlight of your career to date then?
It’s hard to pick one, working as a DJ itself is a dream come true in so many ways. But playing in Japan has to rank up there I reckon. Back in 2011 I played in Osaka and Tokyo and both were absolutely outstanding gigs that broadened my mind and made me evolve as a DJ. There’s something about the crowd there that’s just so great to play for.
But the whole trip came about in a kind of funny way actually. It was all managed by a friend and my manager, who’s from the Netherlands. Unusually I was inaccessible that day by phone or even social media, so my friend contacted another DJ friend of mine who happened to have played with me in Studio 80 in Amsterdam a few years back. Anyway, they eventually got a hold of me after trying for hours… on a public phone! There’s a bit more to the story but anyway, it’s one we still laugh about. And yeah, I bought him a present to say thanks!
What music inspired you to become a DJ/producer in the first place?
Good question. Well, becoming a musician is a very solitary path in terms of learning and growing, but it’s also true that at some point we meet someone who in one way or another pushes us, shows us skills or introduces you to a fresh new sound or way of thinking. It’s hard to pinpoint people, but for me, it’s the labels. The likes of Imperial Dub, Siesta, Grayhound, Underground Music Movement (UMM), Surreal and Strictly Rhythm etc. In my case, I must say that nothing but the music opened my curiosity to dig deeper and to understand what it is to be a DJ. Several years later, i think all those influences are still very apparent in my music too.
Steve Bug has supported you for a long time. What was your reaction when you first heard that he wanted to sign your music? What does it mean to have someone like Steve Bug in your corner?
Well, I’d been a fan of Steve’s music for a long time before I got that call, put it that way. And yes, of course I remember the day when it was all agreed with Poker Flat! I called it two of my closest friends and we celebrated together. As someone who’s been an influence on me both a DJ and as a producer for many, many years, it’s an honour and a huge support to have Steve in my corner. It’s undeniable that his support has made me think that I’m on the right track.
What about your hometown of Gran Canaria. Is that an inspiring place to make music?
Well, we’re surrounded by nature – from the mountains to the sea in a blink of an eye and we have good weather all year round. So yeah, all those elements obviously create a very pleasant atmosphere in terms of being inspired, whether that be with music or with life in general. My family is very musical, so yeah, maybe where we’re from does play a part in that. We all play instruments such as the piano and the guitar and all start doing so at a Young age too; in my case, when I was 10. My background has been fundamental to both my personal and profesional life and I owe my upbringing a lot.
What about the scene on the island right now?
It’s going through an interesting time, definitely. There are a lot of events on all year offering a really wide range of music. I guess like everywhere there are promoters who’ve been doing their thing for years as well as up and coming guys. Some make mistakes, some are consistent, but we’ve plenty of reasons to be optimistic – that’s for sure.
And what are some of the challenges facing clubs and promoters in the Canaries?
The music scene here is constantly changing and growing. But professionalism is definitely the biggest challenge facing clubs and promoters here. I’ll leave it at that.
Have you ever considered moving to Berlin or elsewhere? Do you think you can progress as an artist in the Canaries or is this something you’re wary of at all?
I’ve considered both Berlin and London but in all honesty, I don’t have the courage – or at least I don’t right now – to make such a big change. I guess I’m a pretty safe guy in that regard and I don’t feel the timing is right, although that’s not to say there won’t be a time when it is. But after years in the business I’m also not entirely sure I need to leave to progress as a musician. The Internet is obviously very helpful these days, and while big cities give you access to bigger scenes, they don’t all have the weather either!
Tell us a bit about your new label, Lowwaxx. What’s the idea behind it all?
Lowwaxx was actually born very organically. I always liked the idea of starting my own label, but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I felt ready for it. It’s related to big changes in my personal and professional life. I’m a timeless music lover and I truly believe in the idea that a record can last a lifetime in a DJ’s bag. It doesn’t have to follow trends; timeless music is what I’m about. No matter what genre of electronic music it is, if it has that ‘magic touch’, then it fits on my label.
You also produce as Lowwaxx. How does the music you make as Lowwaxx differ than that you make as Carlos Sanchez?
As I mentioned before, Lowwaxx comes from a change, and music wise it came from the need to evolve.
Lowwaxx and Carlos Sanchez´s music are made from a DJ point of view. The main difference between the two concepts being that Lowwaxx could be described as a conversation that not everyone could understand but is always made with a “4/4 message”. My own stuff is made more for the dancefloor I guess.
So how does it work when you’re in the studio? Do you generally know what you’ll be working on or do you just jam and see what happens?
Sometimes I’m going straight for an idea and sometimes I’m not. It depends if I’m focused on a specific sound. Other times I just flow with my mood and gear, which is mostly when Lowwaxx appears.
You’ve collaborated with both Tijn and Trujillo for the label so far. How do you find the collaborative process? Does it make you more or less creative? Are you still able to take risks musically or does it sort of limit what you can do?
Well these collaborations were achieved through a friendly relationship and because creatively, we all share a musical common ground. It doesn’t limit my creativity at all. For me, it’s actually just the opposite as two minds are more powerful than one.
For the label’s latest release you’ve called on Tommy Vicari Jnr, with Rich NXT supplying the remix. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with these guys? And what does it mean to have them on board?
I just like Tommy [Vicari Jr] and Rich [Nxt’s] music. Their sound fits perfectly on Lowwaxx, and it’s a great time to put them together and make a strong release. I’ve been following them both for a while, and how they have developed their sound was what made me decide to go for them.
Why did you decide to take a step back and not release on this EP? Was that a conscious thing?
It’s not about always being the star of a movie, it’s a matter of music. Lowwaxx was created to share a message and there are lots of artists with a lot to say. And it will continue like that in the future, although you can expect more stuff from myself also.
Speaking of labels, you’ve released on some absolutely great ones. Is there one release that you’re proud of above all others?
Signing my music to Franck Roger’s record label ‘Home Invasion’ was definitely a goal completed, and also to have remixed Hollis P. Monroe and release it on Freerange records was another honour that made me very proud.
What else can we be expecting from Carlos Sanchez and Lowwaxx over the next couple of months?
Gigging wise I’ll be in Tenerife, Mallorca and Bordeaux. With regard to my releases, I would like to tell you where and when they’ll appear, but the label’s schedules the way they are, it might take a while before I can announce them. As they say, just expect the unexpected!
Tommy Vicari Jnr’s ‘Beta Stop Thinkin’ EP (complete with Rich NXT remix) is out soon on Carlos Sanchez’ Lowwaxx label, you can grab a copy here