"We are soulmates in music"
Every set by Altair & Sagan is a reflection of their taste; the distillation of a life spent playing thousand styles, and over the years, it's been proven right time and again. We caught up with Sagan to try and work out what holds together a duo djs that defies categorization.
Hi Sagan! Where can we find you right now?
Hi! I’m right now in our home studio in Neukölln, Berlin.
How did you start off your day?
I woke up at 10 and enjoyed a nice vegan porridge with fruits, in our sunny balcony. I wake up very hungry every day!
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
It was while living in México that I started to see Djs that showed me another side of electronic music that I didn’t know. Then I moved to Ibiza and I have the chance to see huge Djs and producers like Âme, Maceo Plex and Solomun, I was in shock! That was my very first contact, learning from music by listen to them playing in clubs. Then I entered to the downtempo world and listening to more organic music. I went to a lot of nice parties in Ibiza, my favorite one was "Acid Sundays” with Acid Pauli as a resident, I was there every week and I have the opportunity to see many artist that I so admire. I remember a “Berlin night” with Mira & Chris, and a night with Satori, amazing memories there.
I see that you also play with many instruments. With which of them do you feel more comfortable?
When I was a child I took drum lessons, then guitar and also singing classes for quite a time. I cannot say I’m a good player but I enjoy being myself in my room playing some chords with the guitar, just for pleasure. It’s liberating and relaxing.
When did the idea of starting a project begin to take shape? Has it always been something you’ve wanted to do?
I like to think that I've always been a DJ but I didn't know it then. I always collected music, starting when I was very young in the 90’s, recording cassettes with tracks that I liked from the radio, buying Cd's and then downloading albums and full discographies of many artist. Then in my group of friends I was always the one who wanted to lead the night with music, otherwise I was kinda bored.
After living in Ibiza in 2015 where I’ve met Mauro (Altair) and after him seeing me collecting tracks like crazy, he suggested me to make my first mixtape and open a Soundcloud account, so he helped me to record it and pushed me to start being a DJ. I had the whole equipment and my own teacher at home.
Which artists have your interest these days?
Definitely Bawrut is my main one right now, every set I play now has tracks from him. Such a crazy mind, I would like to be in that brain when he produces.
Also Palms Trax, I think he has a unique way to keep the flow in his sets and an incredible wide spectrum of tracks. He is a gems rescuer from the past.
But I have so many that It feels so unfair to just named those 2, people like Life of Marvin, Redrago, Acid Pauli, Autarkic, Reznik, Weval, Rex the Dog, Billy Caso, Theus Mago, Curses, they are all pure inspiration for me (and the list goes on and on).
How do you manage to combine such disparate genres? How do you manage to give them unity and harmony? What do they have in common for you?
Well I have to say that I was a bit obsessed with transitions and mixing, I started playing more downtempo and slow techno, where the transitions are longer and super homogeneous. I’m learning to deal with that. I changed the focus, now for me is more important to keep the flow rather than trying to do everything perfect, especially when you want to mix tracks that has no easy mixing and were taken from an old vinyl, for example. Sometimes mixing has to be from one point straight to another and it doesn’t has to be perfect.
Every track I choose to play has to have a distinctive soul and sound, something that make it unique and is not like any other else. I’m always searching for music pearls. So I think unity and harmony lays on there, even if they are very different tracks in a genre way talking, they are united by their particular beauty.
How would you define your sound?
I’m struggling with that question every time somebody ask me, because I’m in constant movement, always trying to go forward, not sticking to a specific genre. I can say that I like to play what I’m currently listen to. I like psychedelic tracks with a "non-structure” structure, where things happen all the time, sounds come and go, and there is no certain point but you still cannot stop dancing. I like modular synths but also a very good old tune and the mixing between past and futuristic sounds.
How did you form Altair & Sagan?
We started to play b2b very often since I started to play and then at one point we realized that it was much more fun when we play together, also because we are like music soul mates so was super natural for us, not a conscious decision. To have a partner like him is a dream come true.
What have you learned from each other?
We are quite similar to each other so it’s a sort of constant feedback between both of us. Altair is such a big listener and he has been playing and producing for quite a long time, so he is always there with his experience, able to help me or give me his opinions to improve. He is super humble so I will always try to be the same way, open to critics and doing my best to learn more.
As producers, what can you tell us about your last edit: Lassi International - Temporary Secretary? How did you get to that track? What inspired you to work on it?
Altair came with the idea after listening to the original song by Paul McCartney. We immediately fell in love and decided to do our own version. Also the base of the edit is a track from Todd Terje, so is basically inspired on those two tracks. We just put them together but I think they were just meant to be :)
It was a pleasure to released it on Sidirum’s new label.
What has Berlin taught you? How is your experience in the city?
Before I came here I was always so amazed by artist that I like and watching them from “below"trying to reach their know ledge so me day. Now being here, meeting so many talented artist (some of them not even popular) I can feel we are all humans after all, and everyone is on the same level, no matter what.
The important thing is to share music and being involved and surrounded by artists that add some new values to your music and as a person, being always humble and respectful. Berlin is a place where everything can happen, so I’m enjoying the magic in here!
What are you missing in Berlin? And in the music industry?
I’m missing of course my family, dog and friends, and I miss food a lot!
In the music industry I miss to play with my friends and big artists, people like Barda, Jin Yerei, Sidirum, Mica Towers, Villa Diamante. They are always working a lot in a non-easy scenario in Buenos Aires. Much respect to them.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work? Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
I’m a very privileged person so I don’t feel like talking about "dealing" knowing that there is millions of people who are really struggling with this situation. But certainly C19 has gave me more time to focus in music, I’m playing with vinyls now, searching new ways to play and learning production.
I think this times of introspection has a lot to teach us, everyone in their own ways. I hope people become more respectful, tolerant and careful with the whole environment, the animals and with each others, we are in a very critic moment as human beings and the future is already here.
Musically talking I think there will be a lot of new albums and music, it is a period where most of us have more time and that we are all learning how to find new ways to share what we love to do. At the end, that’s all it matters, to keep doing what we love to do and share it with the whole world.
So what music are you currently obsessed by? Have you picked up any records recently that you have been playing in every set or have been listening to every day?
I like to always drop new music to my sets, so 95% of the times I play a set, they are all tracks that I’ve got recently and I never used before. I’m obsessed with psychedelic and twisted tracks with modular synths like Theus Mago, Bawrut, or Autarkic do.
I’m currently listen to a lot of experimental electronic music, old disco, music from the 80’s, post-punk, new wave, Italo disco, old house, among others. And of course punk rock is always there when I ride my bike.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
This a set I recorded last Friday on a streaming for Souq Festival. I was invited to play there by my friend Quentin (Farn) from his house. When I got to his place everything was perfectly settled by him and 2 other friends, Reda (Airka) and Tine. There was warm lights and plants everywhere, a projector, food and things to drink, a super cozy environment.
Was a very magic moment, we had so much fun that we ended at 8AM doing a b2b2b at a very low bpm, so I experimented my tracks at that speed and I liked it so much. We had a great time!
This is a very special set for Keller label that we did together. We used 21 tracks: we cut them and played with different pieces and the result was a sort of collage of one hour of music. Some of the moments has 4 or 5 pieces of tracks playing at the same time, was very fun to do.
What makes a good mix to you?
I feel surprised when a DJ or producer plays tracks that I never heard before and are special in their own way, combining old and new tunes of every kind, that creates different moments throughout the whole set. I like to listen to something different, always.
In which clubs have you played and have you felt at home?
Here in Berlin I played in Kater Blau, Wilde Renate, Anomalie and Mensch Meier but I feel at home when I play at Beate Uwe, it is so cozy! the vibe is super nice always and the crowd is open to every kind of sound. I feel very well treated by the guys working there, so definitely it feels like home :)
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
I recently discovered this track when a new friend showed it to me. I felt the energy after the first 2 seconds and I decided to make it part of my collection. I already used it in a streaming and it was a nice breakdown moment to start dancing like crazy... well I did :)
Syclops - Jump Bugs
What makes you happy?
Music and vegan food when shared with Mauro, my family, friends and dog. I love to laugh with all of them too.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects?
Right now with Altair we have some tracks to be released soon, we cannot wait to share them with you!
From my own side I’m focusing in vinyls searching for new music every day and learning production, asi I said before. Learning, learning and learning, that’s the key
Altair & Sagan