If it wasn’t for the wonders of Twitter, I would never have had the opportunity to meet Cesar Sangwa – aka DJC-kay. Now a London native, C-kay was promoting his latest Smooth DnB mix on Twitter when I took the chance to listen… and I’m glad I did.Our friendship has grown, and now Cesar and I are parts of the International Mix Train Collective, where CK contributed to the last IMTC mix (‘The Drop’ – see my previous blog) as well as continually supplying people with mixes covering a variety of genres. We’ve also visited the SW4 Festival and the Ministry of Sound and shown them both how it’s done!
This is his interview.
1/ C-kay – I know very little about you, other than that I have every mix you have given me on my iPod! Tell me more about your upbringing and what/how music has influenced you into the DJ you are today.
I was Born in Switzerland, Bern in 1982. My dad used to DJ in Germany back in the 70s so he used to collect Vinyl Records when I was growing up so as a family we always listened to music. I moved to London in 1991, but even though I wasn’t born here I definitely see London as my home. I love London, especially the Music & Art that stems from it.
2/ What sort of music did your dad play? And does this mean you’re sat on a large collection of old European vinyl that’s worth a mint?! And have you ever played any of these old treasures in your sets?!
He was a DJ back in 1976 at a Club called Tam Tam for eight months in West Berlin while he was a student. He used to play American Pop music, Soul, Disco and also African High Life. All the vinyls were lost before I was born, but my dad collected music right when I was growing up. I only found out he used to DJ a couple of years ago. I was really surprised when he told me. I actually couldn’t believe it. Its a little bit like fate if you believe in that!
3/ So when exactly did you first take to the decks? When you arrived in London in ’91? And did you start out with drum and bass?
I first started mixing to UK Garage back in 97-98. I think I was hooked to the music from the first time I listened to it. This was when I was in year 10 or 11 in high School. There was a real buzz about Garage at school. A few of the guys in my year were DJ’ing and MC’ing. My older brother and my friend used to throw local Garage events at Edgware Town Football club, North West London. I think my first clubbing experience was to Garage music. It was all about going to a club, no-one cared what you looked or dressed like, or danced like, etc. Just enjoy the music and have fun. That’s what I’m about!
I used to tape record DJ mixes from local pirate stations, Mac Fm & Lush FM. But I think the actual time when I realized wanted to be a DJ was one night in a club called Gas Club just off Leicester Square, London. I was under aged but I was glad the bouncer let me in. To cut a long story short, DJ EZ was on the decks and I was the guy standing behind the DJ Box watching his every move. I think that was probably the first time I ever saw him DJ live and I was totally Moved & Inspired. I knew I wanted to get behind the decks and get that kind of reaction from the crowed he got. He made it look so easy! But it isn’t that easy, its actually very very hard!
I’ve only just started mixing Drum & Bass this year in January. I got a real BIG inspiration to start mixing D&B, so I did it! Back when I first started DJ’ing, it was very expensive to buy Vinyl Records. The only option for me was to choose one genre, which was Garage. I was into Jungle, Drum & Bass and House Music back then too. Fast forward 10 years on and you can now buy Mp3′s for £1.50 max. Now I can mix whatever type of music I want, which is great for me!
Thanks to the inspiration I got, I’m now a now also a D&B DJ. This is great for me because I now Love Drum & Bass!
4/ As a big, big fan of your drum and bass mixes I’m shocked to find you only started making them a few months ago! I think it’s safe to say you’ve definitely taken to the genre like a duck to water! So, we have to thank DJ EZ for being your ‘mentor’ of sorts (as well as your father), but what other DJs do you feel influence your work? Which were the garage DJs and who are the DnB DJs that inspire you?
I think especially in Garage music, there was only one DJ! That was DJ EZ. If you know how complex and hard it is to mix, and then if you heard him play Live, it blew me away. I don’t think anybody that I’ve heard Live came close. I think What I wanted to do is try & get to his level. I didn’t worry about any other DJs, I just wanted to find my own style and take on the biggest DJ out there in the world. Whoever that may be!
5/ That’s definitely a big question to ask; who IS the biggest DJ in the world right now? Do you consider guys like David Guetta to be DJs? Or is he too commercial, or more of a producer?
I would say David Guetta is probably the biggest DJ. As in the most famous. Maybe even Deadmau5. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best behind the decks. I’m sure there’s a DJ/DJette out there sweating blood and tears, tearing out a club somewhere in the world. Would love to find them and hear them play!
I think to be a great DJ you also have to be a great producer. It comes with the job. It also helps you understand the psychology of music and shows through your mixes!
6/ At the recent SW4 Festival we managed to talk a great deal about music, but which DJs impressed you most while we were there?
One of the DJs I really wanted to see and was one of the first DJs on was Swedish DJ Ida Engberg . I’ve been following her for a couple of years now and she’s a great DJ and also a great producers. But we kinda spent too much in in the pub in Waterloo and missed her set. But an hour after we got in SW4, I had to switch off as a DJ and listen to the music and enjoy it! Magnetic Man was a great set! Loved it!!!!!
7/ Agreed! And we certainly bounced around to Sasha as well as Pendulum right at the end! Ok, final question… where do you see/wish to see yourself as a DJ in 5 years time…?
That’s a tough question… I’d love to see myself DJing all over the world. I’d love to DJ in Ibiza, WMC Miami, Japan, South America to New York! I’d also love to get back to producing music. So by that time my productions would be up to scratch & I would be making the music that I want to make.
But at the end of the day its only music… a wife, a couple of kids, cats & dogs running around the house to share my dream with me!
Thank’s C-Kay! I think we’ll end this interview with your latest mix: Smooth Drum and Bass Grooves Part 10!