Words by Sean Ocean.

DJ Sneak is a true veteran and legend among House Music DJs and Producers. Being the first among Daft Punk’s roll call influences listed on the track Teachers and famously credited with some of the slamming, yet funky and soulful house music the world has ever known. DJ Sneak is still keeping it locked down, holding onto his principles with integrity, personal style, and honesty. Ahead of our huge collaboration with Robot Heart SOL Y LUNAco-headlined by Sneak and Juliet Mendoza and featuring local luminaries Oscar B2B Brown Amy, Louiv and Mario Dubbz B2B Heather Besos, celebrating Latinx contributions to dance music culture, Sneak explains as a DJ and Producer where he feels the scene is currently and also as a chef, what you’d be eating when sitting down at his family table. Click Here for Tickets.

As You Like It: We’re excited to host you for the first time Sunday in Oakland as part of the Robot Heart residency at The Loom. This is obviously not your Bay Area debut. Tell us a bit about your early relationship with San Francisco and Oakland’s rave culture of the era.

DJ Sneak: My first time in San Francisco I was invited to play one of the most iconic parties of the times, Funky Tekno Tribe, a rave company ahead of its time creating  events with amazing production in a time when things took time and lots of preparation. The early days of House Music in the Bay Area  featured an all-city appreciation for Chicago House, The likes of Derrick Carter and Mark Farina planted the seeds of this culture, which meant that many children of Chicago were often performing in San Francisco and Oakland.  My journey continued into the night clubs and bars of the city, from The Top to DNA Lounge from The End Up to 1015 Folsom along with many talented (local) DJs.

We helped the music scene thrive!  The Chicago House influence became a favorite and with our top representative Mark Farina eventually planting his flag in the city, moving to San Francisco,  securing a steady flow of events and parties.  I’m grateful to have joined such an innovative group, Funky Tekno Tribe, eventually spreading all over California and the West Coast – a piece of my heart belongs to San Francisco forever.

AYLI: The DJ Sneak sound is quintessentially Chicago, but you’ve typically chosen harder-edged sounds such as the 909 to contrast a soulful slant. What has made you gravitate towards this aesthetic, rather than a deeper, funkier, and groovy style?

Sneak: I honestly adjust my styles according to how I’m feeling at the moment. I love to make music for DJs who know how to work crowds with good music. My many years of experience on the road in so many countries totally influenced my views in production becoming a blueprint to any style of music  I feel like producing.

AYLI: My understanding is that you’ve largely been Chicago-based. You also lived in Toronto, for a period, and now you’re in Los Angeles. What if any influence have they had on you over the years?

Sneak: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, around my middle school years my parents decided to migrate to Chicago, I did my school years there,  later decided to move to Toronto, to pursue more work plus a couple of DJ residencies in several nightclubs of that time. Through it all, l  got to soak up some of the best cultural experiences from so many different places I visited and often lived in.

AYLI: Some of your best-known records have been built around sampling. Do you think it’s considered taboo to continue sampling classic soul or disco, or is there a workaround such as paid-for acapella and services like Splice these days that you prefer to use?

Sneak:  I love to sample. I am a master of finding just the right ingredients in often old music and re-constructing new vibes over a dope beat. Services that provide things like sample packs are ok I suppose for some people, but this is exactly why you hear the pre-programmed loops with preset sounds that create a generic outcome, everyone sounds the same.

AYLI: You’re noted as being a DJ first and foremost; In what ways do you think that the art of mixing has changed?

Sneak: It has only changed for new school so-called DJS,  people who are popular but have zero talent, people who often do not respect or appreciate the 40 Years of House Music that revolutionized and shaped the many events they are often going to.  For Veterans like myself, nothing has changed but the tools used to perform with. I personally like to play vinyl from the 20,000-plus records I own till this day.

AYLI: Things have gotten to the point where some people believe it’s rude of a DJ to layer one song on top of each other. What would be the thing that would change those people’s minds?

Sneak: Experience, To really watch a “DJs DJ” create an environment of pure musical bliss, There are still a few amazing “Gurus of DJing” dedicated to giving you their Best, the Many Veterans that started their career with vinyl and are still here representing for the real love of music while showing exceptional DJ skills.  Not some goofy’s at Coachella.

AYLI: Years ago there was a lot of drama going on about ‘Sneak’s beef’ with this artist, or that DJ. Have things mellowed out for you now? What’s changed?

Sneak: If being honest and passionate about what I have dedicated my life to is controversial or dramatic for some people,  they all need to look at themselves and really ask if they are really doing it for the right reasons or just to be a “Famous DJ”  I’ve grown, expanded on new ways of how to still be DJ Sneak without compromising my values in a very saturated, over-hyped music industry where the rules of engagement require you to sell out for clickbait, I’ve decided that social media is cancer and the less involved i am the further away i get from the matrix that it is where many stay trapped. Plus I’m a Vegetarian now!

AYLI: From the looks of things you’ve stayed busy as a DJ and producer for a very long time. What keeps you going?

Sneak: The lack of good music, the massive need for something that makes you feel good without having to do drugs or go spend thousands of dollars to see some DJ  that is less than average but popular. I am dedicated to creating as much music as I can these days,  my love for vinyl has once again connected me to my source of happy moments and beautiful memories playing them. When you care as much as I do there is no ending to the story.

AYLI: What projects and things should people be aware of that you’re working on and what is coming out in the near future for DJ Sneak?

Sneak:  I’ve been signing an arsenal of 12” records from some of my favorite record labels from across the globe, 2023 had eight new Vinyl releases and in 2024 there are at least 10 more vinyl releases coming, again from all parts of Europe and UK.

I also have created a boutique experience for true fans via Live Streaming, i perform every Friday from my home in LA to the World, and you can catch me drop was every Friday at monad.social/circle /djsneak/

AYLI: Last question: As a chef who is known for his Puerto Rican cuisine, what is your favorite thing to make for guests, and what would you suggest a novice foodie to try in their kitchen to get great results?

Sneak:  Basic Family Style food, Rice &  Beans, Salad, Plantains, Avocados, (Meats if meat Lover) Flan, Cafe, Coquito, and Latin Beats.

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