DJ SNEAK performing as part of SNEAK'S BIRTHDAY BEATS with DERRICK CARTER , MARK FARINA , DERRICK MAY , FRANCOIS K , DJ HEATHER and more at the Docks (11 Polson), Saturday (November 6). $40 advance, more at the door, limited $30 tickets from Sneak Beats (675 Queen West). 416-461-3625. Rating: NNNNN
DJ Sneak likes to do things by himself.
On the phone before a gig in Vancouver, he mentions that he's turned down major-label offers when they were looking to sign anything with a drum machine, and refused corporate sponsorship for his parties, including his birthday Beats event. The lineup Saturday at the Docks is one of the heaviest the event has boasted yet.
On the production front, he's just released his long-awaited debut artist album. It was originally slated to drop in 2002, but Sneak wasn't happy with what the labels were offering and decided to wait and put it out on his own label, Magnetic Recordings.
"These labels don't want to do any work any more. You give them the album, but then you still have to do everything else, so I might as well do it myself. "
Sneak (aka Carlos Sosa) built his name as a producer pioneering the filtered disco cut-up sound popularized by people like Daft Punk. The new album, Housekeepin', might surprise those looking for more tweaked-out loops; this time around he's gotten a lot more eclectic and worked more of an urban influence into his house blueprint.
"It's a collage of the past 10 years of DJ Sneak. I just wanted to do something new. I own a record shop, and it's hard to get good records these days, so I wanted to do something different."
His shop, Sneak Beats, on Queen West, is about a year old. In the course of surviving that difficult first year, he's gained some insight into the changing music industry.
"I used to work in retail. I did seven years at record stores in Chicago. We're a boutique shop - we only sell house music, underground house. That's been good and bad, but once we started the online business it really took off. When I'm playing in other cities and people ask where I get my records, I can send them to my store. A big chunk of our business now is international, from wherever I play."
While most people still think of him as a Chicago DJ, Sneak has been living in Toronto for the past seven years. He's definitely put down roots here and has plans to do more recording with local musicians, as opposed to working in England as he did for Housekeepin'.
"I really like Toronto. It reminds me of Chicago, but minus the things I don't like about Chicago."