Santero is one of the most eclectic DJs in London today with his diverse sets rocking crowds across the globe. Just check out one of his brilliant sets for proof. We caught up for him for a chat that included what he’s up to at the moment, highlights from his career so far, the state of clubland in London at the moment and since Santero has the the brilliant Beats & Burgers blog, (https://beatsandburgers.co.uk), we had to talk about his favourite food spots.
What are you up to musically at the moment?
Fully focused on DJing these days, moved back towards the open format DJing that helped me with my success in Red Bull Thre3style. I do a weekly radio show called Endless Rhythm on www.musicboxradio.co.uk, that’s Saturdays 9pm-11pm
What are the rest of your plans for 2017?
Got some great international and festival gigs lined up this summer, still waiting to sign on the dotted line for most of them, but definitely will be playing at Secret Garden Party and MADE Birmingham, the others I don’t want to jinx!
What were your main musical influences growing up and how did you get into DJing?
I grew up with two older brothers helping shape my tastes, that certainly helped my listen to better stuff than most kids! My first 12″ was an 808 State record from my oldest brother, you get the idea. I was massively into punk and rock type stuff like Hüsker Dü and Pixies, was singer and guitarist in a band, but then at university got into raving, sold my guitars etc, and bought some Technics – never looked back!
I used to see you playing hip hop at Detonate in Nottingham all the time years ago, do you remember those days with fondness?
For sure! I’m still friends with all the guys from back then, and we had some awesome nights over the years! I learnt a lot about DJing in those years, and played with some incredible artists.
Who are some of the acts that you’ve played before on the past?
Before and after Jazzy Jeff – having to follow him in Paris was rather intimidating! The Roots was a bit special, there was a night with Diplo, Annie Mac, Boy 8-Bit and Riz MC, aka Riz Ahmed from Star Wars! Armand Van Helden, Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy, DJ Shadow, Grandmaster Flash, Claude VonStroke, all sorts really – warming up for or following, its always interesting when you are working with someone of that sort of stature, puts a lot more pressure on you to be at the top of your game!
Do you still play hip hop sets at all?
Yeah, lots – thats probably the sort of sets I play most after my open format ones these days.
What do you think of hip hop in 2017?
There’s loads of amazing stuff around. I’m not massively into mumble rap, but some of it works great in the club, and then you have the likes of Kendrick who are just incredible. I’d say there’s an argument for this being a new Golden Era.
What live gigs have you got coming up in the future?
I DJ 4-5 times a week these days, so too many to mention but playing main stage at Secret Garden Party on Saturday 22nd July , MADE Birmingham for Applebum the following Saturday, Reading Festival for Relentless in August, Notting Hill Carnival after party for regression sessions are some highlights off top of my head
What three tunes in your sets are guaranteed to make the dancefloor move at the moment?
Lethal Bizzle – Fester Skank seems to transcend any setting, thats a big one pretty much anywhere!
Ginuwine – Pony has resurfaced as an absolute monster in the last year or two, I was baffled as to why, but turns out it was in that Magic Mike stripper film. Funny how these things happen!
Four Tet & Champion – Flipside is an absolute fail safe, so good, wonky and bassy but with a catchy singalong hook
And what tunes do you always reach for no matter what?
Haha, not giving away my secret weapons!
What is a typical Santero set like? If there is such a thing!
Haha, well, I did have Jon Rust come up at a gig recently and say “I knew it was you, I could tell from your style”, so apparently I do have a sound! There’s generally a little bit of scratching and cutting amongst the mixes, but not in an intrusive way. I like to hop around styles, genres and tempos, but take pride in being very precise and making sure things flow in as organic a way as possible. I’m not sure that really helps anyone that hasn’t heard me, but there you go! I tend to vary how quickly I run through tracks depending on the setting – sometimes I’m very rapid fire, other times its good to let the songs breathe and play a bit more. All about being flexible!
Do you always like to play eclectic sets or does it depend on where you’re playing and the crowd you’re playing to?
I tend to phrase it like this – “I play to the crowd, but through the prism of my own tastes”. So I’ll bend to what is working, but not start playing stuff I’m not into. And often that means hopping around genres and styles a bit – I really enjoy that, and I’ve become good at doing it in a way that doesn’t jar. People seem to love being surprised by curveballs in a set! I do still do straight up house or hip-hop sets occasionally, but mainly they are very mixed.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
Hmmmm. The most enjoyable was probably following DJ Shadow at Secret Garden Party last year. I had to wait til the stage was clear before starting, so by the time I got started it was 4am and the only people in the giant big top tent were a couple of my mates. Within 3 or 4 songs it was packed, and played til 6am, so much fun you can’t begin to imagine. I was flying for the rest of that weekend!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while you’ve been playing live?
Haha, well, I did catch a guy just taking a piss against the outside of the DJ booth once, he was so confused when he got chucked out. I remember a huuuuuuuge fight breaking out at a gig in Nottingham once, apparently between 2 sets of football fans. I stuck on “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and took cover.
Who would you pick to play on your ultimate bill with?
Danny Tenaglia doing a disco set
Jazzy Jeff doing whatever the hell he wants
Cosmo Baker on the warm up
Claude VonStroke & Justin Martin B2B for the messy last few hours.
Hosted by Beardyman.
What set up do you use when you are playing live?
Generally speaking Serato, ideally with a Pioneer DJM-S9. I don’t really mind whether its CDJs or Technics, I’ve got so used to using both, although scratching is certainly more fun on Technics
There’s been a lot of talk about it But do you think of the state of nightlife in London at the moment?
It’s in a strange place – there’s definitely a problem with councils looking to push established venues away from certain areas, but at the same time, cities are generally places of flux for nightlife, and many of the places that clubs sprang up in have completely transformed in the last decade or two, so I can see why they’ve found themselves in a tough spot in terms of their relationship with neighbours. Personally I feel that it should be a “who was there first” rule – you move next to a music venue, then you accept all that comes with this. But the city is still full of incredible clubs and live music venue, and Printworks looks like being something very special while we have it.
What’s your favourite venue in London to play and why?
Oh god, what a question… I guess the main room at Ministry Of Sound. It’s an absolute dream for a DJ, the layout is just perfect and the sound phenomenal.
Have you got any upcoming DJs that you could recommend to us?
Depends on your definition of upcoming, but been very impressed by Lord Leopard from what I’ve heard.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Probably the absolute highlight is competing at the World Final of Red Bull Thre3style. Terrifying but that is what changed the trajectory of my career. Since then had some great moments, but that one stands apart as the most important. Played gigs in Nairobi, Cairo, Bali, Hong Kong and so on, but none of that would have happened without Red Bull and the platform it gave me. Playing the main stage at GlobalGathering was pretty incredible too – and hopefully I’ll be signing on the dotted line for something comparable soon, watch this space!
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Right at this very moment – checking out the Baauer album from last year. Pretty good actually! Kendrick’s album on heavy rotation, but generally it’s promos and podcasts to find new music – fave podcasts are DJ History with Bill Brewster, Freerange Podcast, Beats In Space and The Birdhouse.
What is your all time favourite album?
Depeche Mode – Violator. I wrote about why here – https://beatsandburgers.co.uk/2016/02/02/my-favourite-album-depeche-mode-violator/
But the greatest album ever is Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On. Sublime, and still 100% relevant today.
What’s the best gig or set that you’ve ever seen?
Big question – reckon Beastie Boys at Manchester Academy in 1995, Redman & Method Man at Rock City in 2014, Pulp at Brixton Academy in 2011 are all up there, but A Tribe Called Quest at Wireless was pretty special, as was Depeche Mode in Berlin in 2014. Think those two are my faves
You’ve got a blog that combines your love of music and food. Would you ever consider opening a restaurant that combines both?
Haha, it’s one of those thoughts that does float around, but having worked in a restaurant before, I know how hard it is – I’m not sure I’m up for that sort of punishment!
What restaurants and food joints would you recommend as your all time favourite?
Dinner by Heston is the best restaurant I’ve eaten at by a distance – next level stuff. I really love Homeslice pizza, my favourite burger joint is Patty & Bun. Big fan of Dishoom for incredible Indian food. Chick n Sours is pretty special. Oooh, and Bone Daddies for kick ass ramen. Love the Smokestack brisket too. I could go on for days about this haha!