Junior Sanchez Talks New Albums and Pop Projects

World-renowned DJ-producer Junior Sanchez hardly needs an introduction.

Like his homies Erick Morillo and Harry "Choo Choo" Romero, Sanchez was bred in New Jersey's seminal '90s Latin house scene. He would cut his teeth spinning at legendary NYC hotspots like Limelight and the Shelter.

As a member of the infamous N.A.S.A. collective, he introduced the '90s club kids to the newest sounds in underground house, techno and electro.

These days though, Sanchez has risen high above the underground to become one of the most recognizable DJ names in the international scene. He's also kept busy behind the mixing board producing pop acts likes Katy Perry and Mya, and even rock bands like Good Charlotte.

Which is not to say he's not still 100% committed to soundtracks for the club. Seize The Fewcha, his latest compilation album on Nervous Records is out at the end of this month, featuring original unreleased goodies along with new bangers by the likes of Armand Van Helden, Felix Da Housecat, and Laidback Luke.
Junior Sanchez will be spinning alongside Oscar G at Mansion on Friday and we caught up with the star to talk about his new releases, pop projects and John Hughes high school flicks. Get the full Q&A after the jump.

New Times: Growing up in New Jersey, what were your earliest musical influences?

Junior Sanchez: I was def brought up in a household of music. Me being the youngest of five, I have always been surrounded by Latin music, pop, rock, hip hop, industrial, and new wave. All my brothers and sisters where into their own thing and it all rubbed off 100%.

What can you tell us about the early days of N.A.S.A. and the '90s American rave scene? How did it compare to the club scene today?

It was definitely an experience and very mind opening. When I fell in love with house music, I knew there where other forms of electronic music, but I never really put it in categories. I would listen to Todd Terry, Masters at Work, Kerri Chandler, and have no problems going from that to KMFDM, Bjork or Prince to Bob James -- it all made sense to me. So when NASA came around, it made sense. From early breaks to gabber to the Harthouse label, Omni Trio, Moving Shadow, UK, etc., NASA was the first place that really taught me that you could combine all these elements and make one new thing! Respect to Scotto, DB and Dante for creating a legendary night! Nothing today compares to it because it was what it was -- NASA! And there could only be one NASA and one unique space called the Shelter! 

You've been keen on partnering with other producers in the studio over the years, from Erick Morillo and Harry Romero to Armand Van Helden and Green Velvet. What do you consider some of the collaborative highlights of your career?

There are many. I treasure all my creative collaborations. They're all dope!

As as house producer that has flirted with pop for years, how do you feel about the pop direction artists like David Guetta are taking dance music in? Are you fully onboard this shift, or do you think it's important to keep some grasp on the original house music form?

I think every genre of music gets exploited one way or another, it's inevitable. As one thing rises to be commercial another thing reemerges to be underground. It's all good. As long as the composition is good, I'm all for it. 

You've produced work for several pop and rock acts. Will this type of work become a greater focus for you in the future, or do you plan to stay in the EDM game for a long time to come?

No matter what, I'll always be involved with EDM -- it's my heart no matter what I do. With every artist I ever work with, there's electronic influences infused in either the production, writing, etc. EDM will always be one of the most important parts of my life and career.

What can you tell us about your new compilation
Seize the Fewcha?

Well the compilation is an amalgamation of the most dangerous dance music ever created! (Laughs) No, I'm joking, it's a good look at some of my original productions and remixes that either you know or were unable to get, along with some amazing tracks from my good friends and peers Armand Van Helden, Steve Aoki, Alexander Technique, Laidback Luke, Harry Romero, etc. It's def a fun CD that everyone should own! (Laughs)

We hear your debut artist album Welcome to 2 Jr High is also in the works. What can listeners expect from this work?

Welcome to Jr High is my version of the best high school experience ever. Imagine a John Hughes film like The Breakfast Club where all these kids are in detention, and eventually they all become friends. Well that's my album in a nutshell. But instead, you got the rocker emo kids, indie kids, hipster kids, techno freaks, house guido fist-pumpers, the serious record store minimal/deep house heads, and the mainstream music jock all locked in a room in detention making music together! That's my album! (Laughs)

What else do you have in store for 2011?

Finishing my album, releasing new singles on Steve Angello's Size imprint, CR2 and Danr labels, and collabs with Angello, Alexander Technique, Sandro Silva, Laidback Luke and Gina Turner, Green Velvet, my SoCal homie DJ Reza. Also developing new acts, producing some artists you might know, launching my dance imprint Cube Recordings again, and keep nurturing my multimedia label Brobot.

Junior Sanchez with Oscar G. Fruday, January 15. Doors open at 11

p.m. Mansion. 1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20 in

advance from Ages 21+ with ID. 305-531-5535.

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Sean Levisman