This episode of Dubspot Radio Rewind revisits an evolving Moombahton groove mixed by DJ Sabo along with an exclusive interview where we discuss the Moombahton scene, what makes for a good studio mix, and much more.
DJ Sabo’s name and his Sol*Selectas label have long been held in high esteem with the Afro-Latin House and Moombahton scene. While the label is mostly known for Moombahton in the years 2012-2014, the signature Sol*Selectas sound incorporates ALL types of Global rhythms and grooves with an electronic edge. The label is now re-shifting slightly, digging deeper into Tribal-Tech sounds. In our exclusive interview, Sabo sat down with us to discuss the Moombahton scene, where it’s going, and the love of Reggaeton among its founders. He also breaks down what makes for a good studio mix, lays out the tools he uses, and explains why he relocated to the Left Coast.
1. House of Gypsies – Sum Sigh Say (Heartbreak vs. Sabo Edit)
2. Sabo – Mezclaton
3. Oliver $ feat. Deize Tigrona – Ta Com Medo De Mim (Sabo Moombahton Refix)
4. DJ Djeff, Silyvi – Canjika (DJ Bu5a Remix) (Sabo’s Amtrak Edit)
5. Sabo – Philly BOUNCE
6. House of Pain – Jump Around (Sabo’s Moombahstep Edit)
7. Sabo – Fr33ky Egypt
8. Sabo – Patchy Moombahton
9. Benga & Coki – Night (Sabo Moombahton Edit)
10. Sabo – Toca Aqui (feat. Zuzuka Poderosa, Joytoy)
What makes for a good studio mix?
For a studio mix, I usually prepare the track list ahead of time, make sure all songs are in tune, and then spend time on the intro and outro. The studio mix should have a theme of sorts; I generally make them an eclectic blend of styles with varied tempos. I also tend to edit some of the tracks as well to include as many songs as possible, without losing the flow. For live mixes, I just use two CDJ 1000′s, a Pioneer 800 mixer, and then record directly to an M-Audio Microtrack. For studio mixes, I use Ableton Live to edit some of the tracks, extend the intros for blending from song to song, and sometimes add voice-overs or sample snippets throughout the mix to coincide with the theme.
How does a studio mix differ from a DJ set?
A studio mix is more planned out and generally has a theme with an intro and outro to tie the journey together. For a live one-take mix, it’s spontaneous, and the musical journey is a direct reflection of my mood. If it’s recorded in front of a dancing crowd, then the mix is a direct reflection of the energy I’m receiving from the crowd at that particular moment.
Why did you move to LA?
Warmer weather, more skateboarding, better quality of life, and because LA is really the most happening city in the US right now in terms of underground music and parties. Not to mention LA has two or three radio stations which are playing non-commercial top 40 music, and that’s something that really doesn’t exist in NYC other than a few hours of special programming per week.
What benefits does that city offer over NY in terms of being a DJ, artist and/or label boss?
I’m still adjusting, but I feel there is a lot going on in the underground scene here for music. Many big name producers and DJ’s are relocating here, and that means more creative outlets and people to collaborate with. Also in terms of licensing, we are next to the film/entertainment industry, so opportunities to get songs licensed are greater being out here. I also wanna tap into the Asian market for gigs, and being in LA the flights to Asia are much cheaper than from NYC.
Your music often features live drumming. Is that you?
No, I don’t play drums, but I do have some incredibly talented friends who play percussion, and I generally record them. Nappy G has been on many of my early works for Sol*Selectas; he’s probably the best percussionist I’ve heard play over electronic music.
How do your record and arrange live drumming?
I’ll record a drum session in Logic, usually having the percussionist play a few takes over the song. I’ll then edit the session, taking a few of the best loops, drum fills, or solos, and use those parts for the final mixdown of a track.
What is your studio setup?
Very basic Mac laptop, M-Audio firewire external soundcard, and a small Oxygen MIDI keyboard. Having been in NYC and restricted to very small work spaces in studio apartments, I had to really minimize the gear I can use (or rather fit into) the space. I have small studio monitors and my DJ setup to record samples from vinyl is small as well, but that’s pretty much it.
Your first Moombahton release was a free download. Do you think a shift away from dependence on sampling in the genre will develop as it grows?
Definitely, in this day and age, hardly anyone is buying music anyway, so it just seems better to giveaway tunes rather than try to clear samples and recoup those costs. Even a top 10 tune on Beatport or Traxsource is not selling very many downloads, so making a profit is really difficult. I’d rather post a song for free and allow more people to hear the tunes right away. Moving forward, now that the genre is established and respected, I think it’s time to make original Moombahton works that are sample free, and that’s what I’m focused on now.
Is that necessary for its financial sustainability?
Financial stability in the music industry right now is shaky at best. However, I do think that original Moombahton works are necessary for the genre to grow and be respected by other producers who initially thought it was just a fad. It’s already happening right now with my official remixes, and I think the Moombahton scene will grow.
How do you feel about its creative development?
I think it’s amazing because there are really no rules other than the general BPM being around 108-110. People are making tracks that use influences from all types of music such as Latin, Afro, Disco, Techno, House, Rave, Dubstep, Soul, Funk, Reggae, and more. It’s what makes it exciting. Kids in Canada, Australia, Europe, South America, and all over the US are pumping out tunes, and the various styles keep on coming. I think it’s these various interpretations of the genre that will keep it fresh and help it to grow.
Is there a strong appreciation for Reggaeton among Moombahton fans?
Me personally – hell YEAH! I’ve always loved Reggaeton, particularly the older productions, many of which were at 108 BPM already. In the last few years, Reggaeton moved toward a slower bling-bling auto-tune imitation of mainstream Hip-Hop, and that’s ultimately what made it lose popularity in the U.S. I think. Moombahton is the dirtier, crazier cousin that Reggaeton needed for the last five years. A lot of producers are now getting into the Moombahton game who probably never even listened to Reggaeton, but all the original producers of Moombahton like Dave Nada, Munchi, Heartbreak, and myself were HUGE Reggaeton fans from the get go. Not to mention you have guys like Toy Selectah, who are already making a hybrid sound called “Raverton”, and I know he is a huge supporter of Reggaeton. I feel like Moombahton is the defining sound we’ve been waiting for…
When you made one of your early Moombahton tracks, you said that your House fans would hate you for it. Have you found that was true or remains true?
When I did my “Hey Hey” Dennis Ferrer edit, that was such a big popular House tune, and almost nobody had even heard of the term Moombahton yet. I thought there would surely be some haters who thought “you shouldn’t try to remix such a classic, and especially not in a non-house tempo.” But to my surprise, many guys I highly respect like King Britt were feeling my slowed down edit. In fact, I sent my remix to Dennis’ label Objectivity, and they loved it! Because of their open-mindedness, my remix got cleared officially. It is out on Mad Decent’s “Blow Your Head” Moombahton compilation. That’s huge respect for the genre to me. You gotta remember that Moombahton has that same four on the four pumping kick drum like House music, and it makes people DANCE. House guys are lovers of dance, so they respect, if at the very least, the crowd moving power of this new genre. When I make a Moombahton edit of a House tune, I’m doing it because I already love the original song, and it’s sort of my way of paying homage to the artist. As with anything new, you’re always gonna have haters, but in the end, haters just fuel the creative fire that makes us all aspire to make better and better tunes.
Your mixes and releases have always been eclectic. Do you ever do entire Moombahton sets?
Lately, I’ve been doing quite a few exclusive Moombahton sets. At SXSW, I played strictly Moombahton sets at both the Peligrosa party and the Megaton showcase. Also, Dave Nada and I started a party called Moombahton Massive where all the DJs are Moombahton producers, and we play only that all night. The response has been incredible!
After 19 years, William Sabatini aka Sabo, with his natural, ever-evolving groove, continues to set the benchmark for future dance music and remain a staple in the dance music community. Heavily influenced by a multitude of cultures from around the world, Sabo’s sound holds much of his intrigue. It’s seductive, yet tasteful. Rhythmic, yet deep. The productions take you along a journey into sound, a sonic landscape that crosses several musical borders and may best be described in the title of his album “Vibe Quest”.
A DJ/Producer in the purest of terms, Sabo stays poised in the studio while maintaining an extensive travel schedule – touring the globe as a DJ, seducing one dance floor at a time. His live sets channel mixtures of a meditative desert oasis to Tropical poly-rhythms – featuring lush, tribal vocal samples, and smooth, organic textures. When listening, you will undoubtedly find yourself resonating with his intention, imagining yourself dancing in an Amazon rainforest or a Saharan sunrise. Whether original productions or an extended DJ set, Sabo has undeniably driven the vibe from one diverse dance-floor to another. From festivals to club plays, Sabo shines as a true leader in his art form. Behind the decks, his innovative approach to each DJ set makes him a consistent standout at festivals like Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Shambhala, Fusion, Symbiosis, Desert Hearts, Further Future, and Burning Man’s Robot Heart Bus.
Aside from turning heads of notable producers including DJ Tennis, Jamie XX, Rob Garza, Metrika, and Nadastrom to name a few, Sabo has seen notable mentions and features in publications like Rolling Stone, Spin, Mixmag, Thump, The Fader, and XLR8R.
As a label boss, he is known for his dynamic vision – heading up his imprint label “Sol*Selectas” which successfully redefines a new vein of dance music. The label captures a wide array of sounds, enlisting up and coming underground producers from all over the globe, as well as prominent, well-known producers in the industry. With its recent re-launch and re-branding in 2015, Sol*Selectas is focusing the sound on deep shamanic dance music, guiding its listeners into the future realm with positive intention.
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