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Before The Music Starts Interview Series – Sandel B.

Learn more about Sandel B. from Salt Lake City in this edition of Before the Music Starts with Ethan Freeman from V2 Presents.

Sandel B is a truly passionate and inspiring Salt Lake City DJ. He’s been an active name in the EDM community for over ten years. Today he shares his secret to obtaining over a decade of bookings and longevity in the EDM industry.

Your name seems pretty straight forward, your first name followed by the first letter of you last name. Did you have a previous alias?

I used to go by Nrkotic, but apparently that was pretty high school of me. A lot of people didn’t appreciate it. My thought process behind the name came from how I like to play a wide variety of music. For me narcotics are a wide range of activities and influences, which represent the wide variety of music I play. It was hard to get my name on flyers though and I ultimately made the switch. I blame Brian Blurr for the switch! He said he wouldn’t put it on the flyer for a show in Park City, so I changed my name.

Are you still pretty open to playing multiple genres even though you no longer go by Nrkotic?

Yeah I love everything. I go through spurts of what’s inspiring me and trying to stay on top of the local edge of DJs. I was playing G House super heavy. Nightbass was a huge influence, but I got super burnt out on it. I started to hear everyone play it so I took the mental change and found an inspiration in Melodic Techno, Melodic House, and Trance.

Do you tend to have an average time you can play one genre before you switch it up?

Not really, basically when everything starts to sound the same. After a while everything starts to sound generic and nothing is inspiring me. That doesn’t mean it’s bad music, but it’s kind of boring to me. I think an adaptable DJ can take different influences and incorporate them into their style. I don’t stick to one specific genre through a whole set. It’s all about flow and creating a journey for the people one the dance floor. I want to captivate people by playing something they know and then taking them down a rabithole of something they didn’t expect. It’s like telling a story.

When did you get into EDM?

I got into EDM in 2001-2002 by hearing Sasha and Digweed, Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, kind of the trancy more progressive influences. Then I fell away from that and into Electro House, Dubstep, Trap, Psytrance, and Drum and Bass. I came back to G House because I loved the gangster shit, I loved the gangster shit back in the day. Then I was reinspired by Sasha. I had the opportunity to see him in London about two years ago at the Barbican. It was his first live show. It inspired me to come back to the path I’m on now with music.

How long have you been DJing?

I was 15 in 2002 when I found EDM and started DJing in 2005. I would DJ in my bedroom and play music with my friends. I found success from looking at DJing and playing music as a hobby. I feel a lot of new aspiring DJs and producers have an idea that they are going to get big and that people should respect them. People seem to get burnt out and get jaded. I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s crazy to see how many people have come and gone. Since I look at this as a hobby I don’t get burnt out. I find music, and love the music I find. I want to show my friends and family the music I’m finding. I roll with the ups and downs of getting bookings and not getting bookings. Do this and you’ll find more success.

Since you play multiple genres, what are your thoughts on DJs who only play one genre?

I’d say it’s okay if that’s how you want to be, but master your craft. You have to be finding the dopest, freshest tunes, and staying on top of the curve if you are not willing to be able to play other genres. Producing however is completely different. If you produce a genre, keep playing that. I encourage everyone to expand their music and not being genre stubborn. You should be able to find music that inspires you in each genre. It’s about digging deeper and finding what you connect to.

As the EDM industry changes and grows each year, what do you think is the secret to longevity in this industry?

My top thing would be never feeling like you are owed anything. That’s when people start to get tripped up and fall into jealousy. If you feel like the world owes you everything because you put in some work, that’s not the case. Nobody owes you shit. Keep working, keep networking, and grinding with the people who make it happen.

How did you get your foot in the door and the connections you have now?

Back in the day, about 2005 we started a glowsticking crew called The Radioactive Liquid Crew. We were on the Utah Rave Boards which is an old forum before Facebook that people would bullshit on. There were some kids that started talking shit on us because we were hella young. They were a bunch of the old skool heads and told us they’d come show us what raving and glowsticking is really all about. We ended up glowstick battling these kids, which ended up being really cool since they were some of the OG’s. That got us into the community. I got into DJing at the same time. Two of my buddies, Mark Simister and Jesus Cervantes were getting into DJing as well. They came to me and said “let’s start a Psytrance project.” We started The Fractured Minds in about 2007 and had our first show at Dreamland for KI Events at The Rail Center in 08 or 09. Mark and Jesus were pretty active in the community and they helped me get my foot in the door.

Do you have an idea of what you would be doing in life if you never found EDM?

I don’t know man. I wouldn’t have any of the community I have or any of my closest friends. I’d probably be a stay at home dad who drinks beer all the time and hates his life. I can’t imagine my life without EDM.

What other hobbies do you have outside of DJing?

The wife and I love backpacking and traveling. We enjoy going to as many places as we can. I will say this, my recent hobby is scootering. I’ve created a scootering gang with all of my friends. We mob around the city, drink beer, and ride scooters. We say “gang gang” as we ride around, it’s so much fun.

What’s your ultimate direction with this project?

Keep playing music for and with my friends. Also to continue to inspire people to do the same. Really the biggest part of it for me is to build my community through DJng, music, and finding the opportunity to play.

If you could have your fans remember something about you, what would it be?

Probably how much I enjoy DJing. To know my love and passion that I have for the music and the community. I’d like people to look at me and think “Hey, I’d like to be like him, that guy is genuine.”


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Wrote by:

Ethan Freeman – V2 Presents Intern