Devout Moombah Goombahs,
I have been sitting on this interview for quite some time now, and there is a very good explanation as to why. When I first got in touch with the Sazon duo back in November, they were nice enough to oblige my question by question format and we knocked the first few off the list. But as 2011 became 2012, the hip-loosening EDM movement stepped into the limelight in a big way and began making its way onto motherboards and dance floors across the world.
Along with the efforts of fellow Moombahton artists like Nadastrom, Munchi, Diplo, Dillon Francis, Torro Torro, Brosafari, and many others, this novel Latin-inspired electronic music culture has been more than accounted for at most major music festivals and events, and the NYC duo’s schedules have spiked accordingly in terms of responsibilities. But keeping to their word, SAV and Mr. Vega continually answered my questions whenever they could find the time, and like the coda of the genre itself, the slowed nature of the whole ordeal made it that much better, as I feel we actually got to know each other a decent bit by the end of it all.
slow and sexy wins the race…
- Signed Sincerely, The Worst Guy
TWG: I don’t feel there’s any other way to start off an interview without asking about your first sonic revelation and musical roots. Which artists really popped your cherry, and what specifically triggered your jump from listener to producer?
- SAV: I’ve been listening to Salsa and Cumbia records since I came out of the womb. My uncle married Hector Lavoe‘s sister and that kind of fortified my ties to Latin music. I grew up in NYC so naturally my love for Hip Hop was imminent, however I learned to have a strong appreciation for alternative rock, metal, and punk as well. My mother was a disco queen and being an 80′s baby I was fully entrenched in 80′s pop. I can appreciate many genres but producing them with a contemporary twist has always been a challenge. Moombahton is the perfect outlet/genre for all my musical sensibilities, and if you listen closely to our tracks you can hear all the aforementioned influences to some capacity.
- Mr. Vega: I got my start early on being influenced by Run DMC, Special Ed, Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. My father was a DJ so I used to hear all those records as kid. Later on I got into hip hop production from 96-08 basically being inspired by Timbaland, The Neptunes, Beatnuts, DJ Premier and Pete Rock. I worked on projects for Violator, Bad Boy, Black Wall Street and G-unit during that time. Eventually I got tired and didn’t feel challenged by the music and turned to electronic music when I heard Justice’s and Boys Noize’s first albums.
TWG: So in what ways then do you feel you guys compliment each other during the producing process? What was the original reason you guys decided to start working together?
- SAV: We compliment each other in the sense that we both understand music and the basic functionality of essentially “grooving” to something that matches the club sensibilities. Josh has a strong background in Hip Hop production and I used to frequent Hip Hop/Dance Hall/Salsa clubs, so it was a natural marriage. I approached him about potentially teaming up to create a new Latin Electro sound, which was prior to our introduction to Moombahton. Another interesting thing to note is that we were both introduced to dance music very recently. The combination and knowledge of all these genres has allowed us to take a more playful approach towards our music. We tend to throw the rule book out the window when it comes to our sound. Hence the sound on our latest EP Moonlight, now available on Beatport and iTunes (shameless plug).
- Mr. Vega: like SAV said our backgrounds were the perfect marriage and it all fell into place once we sat down together. We try to take our tracks to the next level every time we approach a new idea. We also constantly email each other with demos and ideas for new songs on a weekly basis and in the end it becomes what you hear on our Soundcloud.
TWG: It’s funny that you describe it as “tossing the rulebook,” the Knife Party boys used the same description when I asked why they chose to start something new, and I feel like its the reason why so many people are drawn to this new modern EDM culture we find ourselves in. Do you think you guys have found your sound in terms of Moombahton production, or are you really just starting to hit your stride?
- Mr. Vega: I think at this point in time we have found our sound. We started this project with ideas of what we might want to sound like, and now we might come up with an idea and have the exact plan on how to execute it.
- SAV: We have a basic foundation for our sound, but our structure and arrangements are constantly evolving. The other night we started a track with a more minimal approach, a thought we never entertained before.
TWG: After your gig with Dave Nada @ Webster Hall it seemed like you guys started getting booked a shit heap more often. Did that gig have a heavy impact on your career or were you guys starting to get booked more regularly before that?
- Mr. Vega: I think any gig with Dave would have a great effect on an artists career lol but we had a tour booked and that was 1 stop on it at Webster. We’ve definitely received more offers as of late.
- SAV: Playing that show with Nadastrom and Digitalism was special to me for many reasons. First off that line up would have been laughed at a year ago; the fact that we all shared the same stage was a big step for Moombahton in NYC. Secondly, I fell in love with dance music on that stage, and to actually play on it was truly an honor.
TWG: For some reason a lot of people see Moombahton as a “passing craze” sorta speak, and the ones I’ve spoken to seem to base their argument on the fact that most mainstreamers at a given Dubstep/Electro-house show cant really tell the difference. I disagree entirely and believe the vibe and feel of a Moombah show is entirely different. What’s your opinion on the Moombahton culture in general, and what aspects do you think separates it’s vibe from other live electronic music shows?
- Mr. Vega: I agree its 100% a different vibe. We’ve played so many shows across the states together and even a few years ago, before we became a group, we played as electro djs on the same line-ups and its entirely different. We played a show in Philly off the Mothership Tour and as soon as we started the crowd looked at us like what? 5 mins later a few girls started dancing, then the guys followed, and then the whole club was packed and everyone was going nuts! (see our In Your Eyes video for footage) Not to say that this doesn’t happen at electro/dubstep shows, but its a different feeling, a closeness – a moombahton show is intimate and sexy.
- SAV: Im so desensitized when I’m at a Dubstep show, but that can definitely be attributed to the fact that I’m always on tour with Skrillex. I’ve learned to appreciate “bass music” for what it is and accepted it as its own separate entity. There’s a cultural response to the music no doubt, but to compare it to the energy of a Moombahton show is very unreasonable; its apples and oranges. Even a Moombahcore track cannot be compared to a Dubstep track, as they both evoke different emotions based on their structure and tempo. I feel like Moombahton salvaged structural elements from Reggaeton and Cumbia, music many second and third generation Latin Americans grew up with. This hodgepodge of sounds meshed with their electronic sensibilities birthed a new and exciting genre that, at the moment, has no boundaries. It’s rebellious approach and attitude will allow it to thrive and grow in many subcultures. The tempo has also allowed Dubstep producers to experiment and question their own tempos during their sets, which is a beautiful thing. At its core music is meant to inspire and provoke new ideas, experimentation is the foundation of electronic music. Dave Nada took a risk that paid off and because of that a new sub genre has emerged, a sound that is polarizing the electronic music community.
TWG: SAV I would love to talk to you about One & Only Productions briefly, as I am a big fan of the Electro Wars project, the Miami Music Week Documentary, and all the work you guys have done covering Skrillex on tour. I’m wondering how/why One & Only all got started, and what is on the horizon in terms of it coinciding with your musical ambitions as a member of Sazon?
- SAV: We have been integrating Sazon Booya into the company since its inception. All our music videos and anything video-related falls under the One & Only Production umbrella. I treat this project with the same degree of respect as I would any other film/video endeavor. Josh and I are always trying to come up with ways to integrate visual elements into what we do, outside of video. During our Webster Hall show we introduced live visuals during our set. We are planning to introduce many forward thinking forms of multi-media to our Sazon Booya project. Expect lots of innovative forms of story telling this year.
TWG: I’d love to get a better sense of the underground electronic music scene in NY at the moment. Who are some of the artists at the forefront of the emerging Dubstep and Moombahton movements, and which clubs have served as the most frequented gathering hubs for each? Any relatively unknown NY producers that you don’t think get the attention they deserve?
- Mr. Vega: As for Moombahton I’d say Uhall in D.C. is like the Mecca. NYC doesn’t have any huge moombahton spots but its growing. Honorable mentions definitely go to Moombahton Maxxin’, House of Moombah and our residency Moombahton Mondays at Bembe in Brooklyn. With Dubstep I don’t pay attention to it much to know all the names, I catch artists here and there but my friend Kid Cedek has amazing EP coming out in April. As for a relatively unknown NY producer I’d say Cabo Blanco, we play his tunes in every set. He deserves more shine.
- SAV: what he said lol
TWG: Aside from the touring, video shoots, studio time, and other Sazon-related day-to-day duties, what do the two of you choose to do when you have some down time on your hands? Have many of your non-music interests changed much since your careers have taken off?
- Mr. Vega: Honestly I don’t have a lot of down time between the group and running my company Rot10 Musik but when I do it’s mostly family time with my wife and son. Usually watching movies, playing with my son or doing domestic stuff like laundry or groceries.
- SAV: I’m usually developing concepts for music videos, short films, and side projects that I can develop with my production company. I also make a conscious attempt to visit my friends and family and stay in the loop. It’s a tough balancing act but I manage, it’s getting harder every day though. I’m definitely in a place I’ve always wanted to be since I was a child.
TWG: @Mr. Vega – as a record producer and a family man, do you like to keep your work and your home life separated or is your record label more of a family business? @SAV – I fully understand man, having an incredible family and core group of friends is a double-edged sword in terms of the distance that a touring musician’s schedule places between the two. Has your family and friends always been involved in the proliferation of your music career or do you keep the two separate?
- Mr. Vega: My business partners are all family, best friends and brothers. My wife is a huge supporter of what I do but it’s really hard right now with all the success we’ve had as a group, as things are moving a little too fast. I honestly do try to separate my home life as best as I can.
- SAV: My family has always been extremely supportive in all my endeavors. I’m blessed to have such a strong core support group that always keeps me grounded and staying optimistic. I’ve wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry from a very young age and learned how to play the accordion at age six. I also made my first short film at the age of eight, albeit with non human actors, do Ninja Turtle action figures count?
TWG: Yes Ninjas Turtles always count, and im glad to hear that both your families are behind you and fully understand what you’re in the midst of accomplishing. Lastly, considering how quickly your careers are gaining momentum, what aspects of your life now are you hoping to continue as you progress into the spotlight? Is there any advice you wish to impart on your future selves?
- SAV: I just want to keep reinventing myself as an artist while staying true to the essence of what we started. I hope to bring new ideas to the table that can one day help us reach a level success we felt unattainable. The sky’s the limit right now and we’re in a good place, we’ve accomplished a lot in a year but there’s still much to be done. There’s still more room for growth in many facets, including the label and my production company. If I could give my future self advice it would be to never give up, and never forget where you came from and who helped you get there.
- Mr. Vega: I just hope to continue with my family life and to continually progress my company Rot10 Musik as the Sazon Booya project grows. As for advice to my future self I’d say stay humble and keep working like your still trying to shine.
TWG: Thanks so much again for letting me interview you guys properly and for sticking through the whole process, it was truly an honour. I wish you all the best in the future and nothing but health and happiness to your families.
- Sazon Booya: Our most insightful interview to date. Thanks for putting so much thought and energy into the questions.