Photo by Suzette Lee

Sango Embodies the Change He Wants to See in the DJ World

Nothing ruins a party more than a shitty DJ. In the wrong hands, a party can turn ugly, with people taking Instagram selfies in the corner instead of dancing. You can try to make the best of it by buying a round of drinks for your friends, but you can't stop the train wreck. A bad DJ’s lack of attentiveness to the crowd ruins the whole room's vibe, and a lack of appreciation for the art of DJ'ing is to blame. It's time for a change.

Keeping up with change is a daily duty for the average disk jockey. Since the 1960s, DJs have evolved from using crates and turntables to bulky CDJs to sleek controllers and laptop applications that can make anyone a selector. The rise of so-called DJ personalities — the ones who just press any button and a sound effect to keep the party going — has put pressure on the true craft of DJ'ing.

As for DJ/producer Sango, staying close to the roots of his craft is how he stands out. Born Kai Wright in Seattle, Sango sticks to the basics while incorporating trends to curate a dance-floor environment that gets bodies moving. "I try to focus on the roots of DJ'ing. It's about rhythm, connecting with the crowd, and also educating them," he says. "I just tend to be myself onstage."

Being himself onstage is working out for him. Since 2010, he's released more than 12 EPs and two albums. Along with DJ'ing, Sango has also racked up production credits on singles by Tinashe, Bryson Tiller, Smino, and Mick Jenkins. "People like to beat around the bush and label their music as something odd or unique to kind of pop out,” Sango says. “Well, I'll be upfront: They're beats.”

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His beats capture the essence of '70s and '80s soul, hip-hop, funk, and dance. Shuffling through his 2018 release, In the Comfort Of, you can feel yourself swaying to a mixture of soothing vocals, carefully constructed beat production, and a flow from song to song that allows you to play the entire album without skipping tracks. This project is a reflection of Sango’s acceptance of change while still remaining true to himself. "I think staying true is about knowing yourself outside of the music. It's supposed to carry over to your music, and the people can tell how genuine you are," he says.

According to him, when people offer their minds to one another for careful inspection, it can ignite change. This change can be a transition in music from track to track, the beat progression in Sango’s next release, or your change of plans because the DJ couldn’t find the rhythm.

"I can't change the world, but I can change my world, which allows others to see inside of it," he says. "Hopefully, I can influence them to feel and do the same, and hopefully, that trend goes on to the next person."

Sango. 10 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001; thegroundmiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $20 via ticketfly.com.

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