Santé, hailing from Berlin, is part of a new school of artists championing musicality, skilfulness and creativity over mindless loops and endless repetition. His productions, like those on his record label AVOTRE, ooze character, charisma & humour, feelings so often overlooked in the realms of house music.
After teaching himself to play the guitar in his early teens, Santé bought an Akai MPC-2000 when he was 16 and set the ball rolling for a life entrenched in electronic music. “I was totally into sampling and house”, he recalls of those early days of button bashing and experimentation. He left his hometown when he was 21 to immerse himself in the dance music mecca that is Berlin. A studio internship blossomed into a full-time career, with the emerging talent spending six years producing jingles and ad music and nurturing his passion for house music at any opportunity. Nothing was released, however, until one of his demos found its way to Matt ‘Radio Slave’ Edwards. His first ever release came out on Edwards’ acclaimed REKIDS imprint, setting the bar incredibly high and garnering him a lot of high-profile attention in the process.
The next major stepping-stone for him was meeting Tiefschwarz. “They were looking for a new engineer and hired me to oversee all projects for their label Souvenir, where I got the freedom to release my music and a platform to experiment” he explains. This fruitful, intense relationship lasted three years, a time Santé describes as being “a fantastic experience”. After working on many of Tiefschwarz’s releases, including remixes for Richie Hawtin and Grace Jones, Santé decided to fly the nest in search of new pastures. His subsequent release schedule spells out what a diverse producer he is and how far his popularity ranges – from bastions of techno like Cocoon to the kings of big room house Defected, through to underground darlings like Desolat and Supernature, all the way to acclaimed remixes for huge stars like Depeche Mode. Few producers can claim such a breadth of imprints to be associated with at any one time. When you ask Santé to describe his musical style, he says he doesn’t really know how to – which goes someway to explaining his widespread appeal.
In 2012, AVOTRE was born. The brand has grown incredibly quickly, to the point where it is now an established label doing showcases around the world, consistently releasing top 10 hits and underground club tunes. Santé’s residency at Sankeys in Ibiza has also been an unadulterated success, his style proving to be a big hit on the island – with the warmth of his brand of house music now bolstered by a loose techno rhythm and percussive drive, Santé and Ibiza were always going to get along.
Plans for the future include his long-awaited debut artist album, out in October 2014, which he promises will be more of a song-based affair than a straight-up collection of dancefloor grooves (“to show a few more skills”), and further developing his AVOTRE brand, to include a clothing line which will go hand in hand with the releases. With an album tour to look forward to, which will take him to all four corners of the world, the upward momentum that has characterised Santé’s career so far shows no sign of slowing down.
It might have come as a surprise to some that Hamburg’s Sidney Charles topped Resident Advisor’s Top 100 Most Charted Artists of 2013, but it’s an accolade that speaks volumes about both his approach to music and his prolific, consistent output.
Born Sidney Charles Hurricane Vieljans (yes, really), his journey towards the world of house and techno began when he first started DJing hip-hop, soul and funk at the age of 15. Taking his cues from the golden age of turntablism and associated culture in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, his attentions were led towards other sounds of the era also enjoying their first heyday. His infatuation with those classic 4/4 club sounds is something that lives and breathes vividly in his music today. “I see myself mainly connected with the raw house sound” he says of the style he projects with his productions and DJ sets today. “I am highly influenced by the early ‘90s. Jacking beats; heavy kicks; dirty highs. But I also like to experiment a lot to not make people bored of a certain sound.” Whatever shade of house or techno he’s producing, it’s always packed full of hard grooves, raw sounds and a classy simplicity that lets the track do what it’s supposed to do: make your ass wiggle.
For a producer who only started releasing music in 2011, Sidney’s achievements are all the more impressive. In the space of just three years, his works have graced bastions of house and techno such as Avotre, 8bit, I Am A House Gangster, Moda Black, Off, VIVa, Kling Klong, SCI+TEC, Suara and Area Remote – each release adding to his clout and helping him to become one of the biggest names in the underground. And that’s where he wants to stay. He has no lofty aspirations to play arena shows or break through into the mainstream of electronic music. He’d rather stay true to the scene and surroundings he loves and develop and grow therein.
“I think the most important thing for me is that people take my music as a personal part of me” he says. “That means I can create an image mostly characterised by authenticity. So I don’t need to play for the biggest fees in the biggest clubs. I am mainly interested in the underground scene itself and being an active and creative part of it. With my music and my activeness in the scene as a DJ or otherwise. I want to give my part to keep the underground alive. As my music is meant to be honest, I also see myself more playing in clubs which are not fancy or posh-like. I see myself in more underground-orientated locations like Sankeys, fabric, Watergate, Panoramabar…”
Along with his lengthy studio stints and his focus on making dancefloors vibrate.
Sidney continues to collaborate closely with his AVOTRE label mate and buddy Santé, whether it’s playing sold out AVOTRE labelnights or making tracks together. AVOTRE and Sidney’s rise to the top has often been hand in hand and this fruitful alliance shows no sign of fading.
2014 was the year of Sidney’s consecration into the big leagues, appearing at many festival stages and headlining clubs and parties around the world, and holding down a successful summer residency at Sankeys in Ibiza. Release wise, tracks on Hot Creations and Moda Black topped the Beatport Tech House charts for weeks on end. 2015 will see the release of his album ‘House Lessons’ on AVOTRE, packed with remixes and collaborations with DJ Sneak, Santé, Darius Syrossian, Pan-Pot, Hot Since 82, Patrick Topping & many others. Sidney continues to be in high demand around the world, once again reinforcing his huge pull on audiences internationally, topped off by another huge summer residency for Tribal Sessions in Ibiza.
With the diversity he’s displayed and the continually acclaimed output he’s been creating, there’s little doubt that Sidney Charles can continue to grow and evolve in the years to come – even within those refreshingly focused parameters which he has set for himself.
1. Sidney Charles – Houselesson
2. Bunny. – Chalk (Dale Howard rmx)
3. Maximilian – Future District
4. OnnO & Per Hammar – Mob Action
5. Citizenn – Resolution
6. Sidney Charles – Cave Rave
7. Santé – Endless
8. Darlyn Vlys – Floor 112 (Santé & Sidney Charles rmx)
9. Josh Butler – Snake Skin
10. Truth Be Told – Sonnen
11. Dale Howard – Blackout
12. Ale Castro – Schubkraft
13. Emanuel Satie – Bossin Up
14. Santé – Momentary
15. Raffa FL – Ansiety
16. Sidney Charles – 303 Love Story (Patrick Topping rmx)
17. Santé – Dusty Roads (Butch Rmx)