SANDY RIVERA spinning as part of NATION with MYKA, G MONEY, TEE LOO & RICO and LUDIKRIS at Life (240 Richmond West), Saturday (November 10). $15 before midnight, $20 until 2 am, more after. 416-598-1221.
It takes more than a rumbling percussive build and a wailing diva to create a dance-floor anthem, and few producers know how to mix that formula better than Sandy Rivera, the production genius behind the Kings of Tomorrow club smash Finally.
Unlike many house anthems built on a pummelling beat and a catchy vocal hook, the success of Finally -- which was just named "best Ibiza tune" at the 2001 Muzik Magazine Dance Awards -- seems to be based on the musical sophistication of the arrangement and the soul-stirring effect of Julie McKnight's singing. Subtlety in house music? Now there's a concept.
"The amazing thing is that there's actually no real hook in the song at all," states Rivera with pride from his New Jersey home. "It's just an eclectic track that somehow got to people.
"I think what really made that track was that middle key change and the way the drums lead into it. That's the killer right there.
"There I was in the studio, fooling around with different things on a keyboard as I often do, and I hit on that change. I sat around in the studio for, like, the next eight hours in awe. I couldn't believe what I'd stumbled on."
One of the more intriguing aspects of Finally's rise in popularity is how long it took to blow up. Many people currently grooving to the tune aren't aware that Finally has been in circulation for nearly three years now. The choice of title was more apt than Rivera imagined.
"The reason why it took so long to catch on might be because of the lyrics," he surmises. "You know, 'Time marches on, never ending' -- that's some poetic shit. I don't think people realized at first that it's about someone meeting their maker. Once they got the message, the song really clicked.
"Since I recorded the song three years ago, I figured everyone would be tired of it by now, but someone just called me to say they were at a club the night before where Louie Vega, Tony Humphries and David Morales were spinning and Finally was played twice, possibly three times. That's amazing to me."
It won't take anywhere near as long for Rivera's follow-up to Finally to break. The finished version of the track, Changes, hasn't even been officially released yet and it's already being played by tastemaking UK DJ Gilles Peterson.
"I still don't know how Gilles got a copy of it," he says, "but Joe Claussell heard him play it and he just called me to get a copy for himself. I guess you could call Changes an answer to Finally, because it's sung from the perspective of someone who loses a loved one and deals with the changes they're going through.
"I was just in Ibiza, where I played it as my last song, and people were feeling it. Maybe it's because of the whole September 11th tragedy -- I don't know -- but it seems like the time is right for this track.