Note: Part of this interview was originally published at Kesta Happening DC
DJ Sabo is — for my money — one of the most essential DJs and producers currently working in the States.
His impeccable production work and track selection are always anchored by a thrilling balance of profoundly soulful vibes with an eye towards getting people on the dance floor. Sabo’s sets capture the mood and moment of current music, but with a true connoisseur’s understanding and love for the past (also evident from the releases found on the Sol*Selectas record label he founded).
I got a chance to ask Sabo a few questions about moombahton, dance music, and what the future holds for him and his label:
Could you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with moombahton? What do you see the future having in store for moombahton?
Sabo: Before the term “moombahton” was coined by Dave Nada, i was already making music that was in the same vibe as Moombahton – basically reggaeton / cumbia / dancehall remixes mixed with Electronic sounds. So when Dave made his 1st official Moombahton mix for XLR8R, he used 3 of my previously released tunes to go along with his Moombahton edits.
I had heard about Dave, and was selling his records at Turntable Lab, but we had never met.
Shawn from Bersa [Discos] kinda made the official intro, and I emailed him to thank him for including my tunes in his mix. Dave immediately sent me all the edits he had (at that time there were only about 10 total LOL!) and i was instantly attracted to the sound, especially the Punk Rock Latino DUB tune. I asked him if I could remix one of the tracks and that’s how my 1st crack at moombahton “La Gata Plastica” came about. Anyway Dave and I hit it off straight away, and the rest is history as they say….
What do you see the future having in store for moombahton?
Sabo: As far as the future of Moombahton, I’m not really sure. But I hope it keeps progressing, and new fans will keep an open ear and mind to just what is considered Moombahton. Right now, most of the new “Moombahton” I hear is really really aggressive, and sounds like main stage EDM slowed down to me. That’s not really, nor ever was, my thing, so I search far and wide to find the sexy deep stuff that falls in the mid tempo BPM range. . It’s amazing how much vibey music I find in deep house / techno / electronica sections of digital download sites. To me – some of these tunes – totally capture the essence of Moombahton, but I’m sure the producers of this music have no idea what Moombahton is. In the end it will hopefully keep evolving and when people get tired of the same lasers, and trap snare drum rolls into huge drops, some new sounds and ideas will emerge to take things even further.
Where did you grow up? What’s your ethnic background? And did either of those things influence the music you got into or created?
Sabo: I grew up in Pennsylvania outside of Philly. I’m half Italian / half Irish. Not sure if those things directly influenced me, but my parents listened to a lot of Jazz when I was young so there’s that. Also when I was 15 I went to Spain for an exchange program. and over there I discovered techno music, flamenco, siestas, spanish women, and hash. All those things definitely influenced me.
What do you think of the current state of underground dance music? Mainstream dance music?
Sabo: I think Main Stage EDM DJs are gonna start wearing onesies with all the corporate logos on them like a Nascar driver, and will no longer be required to even touch anything while performing. Underground DJs are just going to wear longer darker t-shirts, never look up, and smile much less.
Where do you see underground dance music going?
Sabo: Deeper into the abyss…under the under.
Who are 5 current artists off the top of your head that you feel are doing good things in music or that you’re currently listening to right now?
Feathered Sun (and each of the members individually as well – look them up! )
Who are 5 artists who have greatly influenced your work?
Masters at Work
What’s your take on the numerous discussions happening in the dance/DJ community regarding too many DJs in the scene, sync buttons, vinyl vs controllers, the changes to the DJ profession itself, etc.?
Sabo: I don’t have time or energy to think about all this nonsense, I’ll leave it to the entitled bloggers to discuss. I just wanna keep making music I’m passionate about, and inspiring people with that music on the dance floor.
What’s your current go-to track when you’re spinning?
Sabo: Probably either my “SuperDrums” edit, or the “Dark Beat” edit I made. Those two have always seem to work for me.
What’s next for DJ Sabo and/or Sol*Selectas?
Sabo: Well Sol*Selectas is being completely re-designed, and re-launched this year. I have a full length album to release with amazing remixes coming in from Acid Pauli, Metrika, Nadastrom, and Lazaro Casanova so far. I have signed some new artists for the label like Goldcap, KMLN, and Saand who will all be releasing new Eps on the label this year. Disgraceland has a new EP coming that is seriously the craziest most original shit I’ve ever heard.
And then he and I have a collaborative EP coming this year as well. I’m super excited to share all this new music, and the new and improved sound of Sol*Selectas very soon.
As for me well, I’m just gonna keep playing and making my deep sounds, and hopefully get to play more extended sunrise sets this year.
Check out Sabo’s 2014 Burning Man set below:
Make sure to catch DJ Sabo (as well as Fort Knox Five, Nadastrom, and more) at Moombahton Massive on March 18th at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC. Tickets available here.