GET FAMILIAR: SANDOR DAYALA
Sandor Dayala is one of the rising stars in the Dutch Hip Hop scene. His sets, as his name (real name, no gimmicks) are quite personal and match his identity: fun loving, positive and high energy. Blending R&B, New Wave and Hip Hop with his own contemporary style, having landed residencies at Live at the BBQ and has played big Hip Hop festivals Woo Hah and Appelsap, it’s safe to say Sandor is far from done. Today we are premiering a new mix by Sandor, a great occasion to catch up and introduce Sandor to our audience. Click play, listen, read on and Get Familiar.
Hey Sandor, please introduce yourself.
Hey, first of all, thanks for this opportunity. So I'm Sandor Dayala. 22 years old, born and raised in The Hague but currently located in Amsterdam. Although I have a small day job to make ends meet, my real objective in life is DJ’ing and everything that revolves around music as that is my true love and passion. Some people may know me from my DJ sets at Appelsap Festival & Woo Hah, the Live at The BBQ Club Nights and radio shows on Red Light Radio, the Patta events in London and Amsterdam & various mixes and mixtapes spread all over the internet.
What was the most important thing that happened to you this year?
2019: The most important thing in 2019 was my overall growth as a DJ and as a person. I faced a lot of obstacles and during that struggle I got booked for Appelsap, played for Patta & played at a stage on Woo Hah festival. Growing up as a hip hop kid, these were big dreams for me. I also joined the BBQ team, which was an underlying ambition that came to fruition this year. Playing for more people, and give the genre a broader perspective gave me the energy and confidence to keep pushing even in moments of doubt.
Originating from The Hague, how has that influenced your life and craft?
The scene in The Hague is much more underground in contrast to a big city like Amsterdam, but still very vibrant. There is a variety of mini scenes who in a mysterious way still link with each other because of the small creative bubble. The infamous culture pushers and local heroes the PIP (now also Magazijn & festivals like The Crave) provided the stomping ground and space where I developed my musical identity. It was there that as 15 year old youngin I saw acts like SMIB, Vic Crezée, Faberyayo & other artists / DJs for the first time. Because there is not a lot of club culture it forced me to think more creatively and link up with the few people that also had the urge to do something with music/art or another creative expression. With that being said: shoutout to my parents, my best friend Eddy & some teachers at my former school, who always pushed me to develop myself creatively.
Growing up, were your caregivers always supportive of your career choices?
I'm very lucky with my parents. I was not the easiest child, very bold and a busy bee. I got to take dance lessons, singing lessons and attended acting class. My parents played music from all over the world (my father is from Surinam & my mother is Dutch) so at a young age I got influenced by a lot of different music. I have never had to feel ashamed of wearing what I wanted and they were very open minded. When I quit my first year of Media & Culture studies at Utrecht University and decided to fully focus on music & DJ'ing they weren't very happy, but they still supported me mentally & financially. When they saw I started to get bookings in Amsterdam & got more booked often in general, they even gave me feedback on my sets & supported my decision to play more alternative music. Sometimes I even think it would be better if they would be more strict for me haha.
Who are your biggest influences; in life, your art and music?
The first American artists that really inspired me were Kanye West & Drake, I played their music and albums on repeat. T-Pain & Chris Brown got me in to R&B. Dutch artists like Hef & De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig got me into Dutch Hip hop. The SLBMG mixtape from Yayo, Spacekees & Sef was my favourite tape for years. Through that I discovered the DJ culture and found out about Vic Crezée & The Flexican. I started listening to their DJ sets. Besides that rappers like Ronnie Flex, Cho, Idaly, SMIB, Ray Fuego & The Veldentaal were/are a great inspiration for me. I checked out a lot of 101 barz Sessions & Cyphers. After discovering all these artists & albums I wanted to be a rapper and a DJ myself. The last few years I think I got heavily influenced by Young Thug, Future & Playboi Carti. Right now I find myself digging in a lot of different genres besides hiphop. I try to find music from other genres & I try to bring them into an hiphop perspective. As you can see I start the mixtape with an Ambient/Soundscape track and I used a track from the Industrial Cosmetics album by Sector as a tool, this is a downtempo track but in my eyes it's straight hiphop. I see this as a sneaky little gateway to get people in touch with new genres as I have their ears. I really like what artists as Budgie & Griselda are doing right now, bringing old school back in a fresh new iced out designer outfit and still having respect for and among their peers with a total different sound.
What do you want a crowd to take away from a Sandor Dayala set?
First of all, I want the crowd to have a good experience and vibe and dance. As I said I want to create a different context for hip hop. Take it back to the days were a hip hop clubnight was about dancing, vibing, interacting with each other and good music was the starting point of the party. I always aim for the crowd to discover new music, create sets where that is possible and still have people enjoy themselves. As I said I want to create a hip hop context for different genres. I try to mix new school tracks with old school tracks and make them fresh again. I’m also playing tracks that you know but have forgotten about through the years. The 'hey, I haven't heard this in such a longtime' effect. It's all about the combination of good technique, great selection and the perfect energy.
What would your dream club night look like?
The venue would be a big club outside of the city centre, something like a warehouse but not too gritty. It would be nice if there was a crowd with people from a lot of different places but still have the feeling of unity. What’s really important is a club night where everyone feels part of a community and that will result in people being more open to each other and open for new sounds. This will give the DJs, besides good energy, more space to play what they want, and that will make the night an overall success.
What are some of your favourite songs to warm up a crowd with?
Future - Percocet & The Stripper Joint
Veldentaal - Niet Blijven
DJ Felli - The Finer Things (feat. Kanye West)
SWV - Anything (Wu-Tang Oldschool Remix)
Lil Wayne - Snitch
Jay-Z - Can’t Knock The Hustle
Mobb Deep - Give Up The Goods
Drake - 4PM In Calabassas
2 Chainz - Threat To Society
Kodak Black - Love Of My Life Remix
Clipse - Ma I Don't Love Her
Young Thug - Killed Before
Ray Fuego - Playa
What’s the strangest request you ever got?
I've had quite a few strange requests but I think the coolest one was 30 euros in the Jimmy Woo to play Ashanti & Ja Rule - Always on Time, one of my first bookings ever lol. I bought snacks after my gig with the 30 euros. The most frustrating requests are when people come up to you and ask for a banger at 11PM or ask for a stupid commercial hit song that doesn't work at all, claiming that 'everyone in the club' will go crazy. I totally respect everyone's taste so if you like the song it's cool but don't come up to me and keep asking. I'm not against requests in general, if someone comes to me and asks for a track that fits the time and place I truly respect that person and their knowledge, and I will definitely play it.
What is your favourite part about this line of work? Your least favourite? Why?
The fact that I get to discover and listen to music everyday. I get paid to play music in the club, create memories for people. I get to meet new friends and I have travelled to London, Berlin and Antwerpen for my DJ stuff. I grow as a person and as a musician. Sometimes I don't like the fact that I'm always listening to music as a DJ or a producer and forget the purpose of the song or the feeling. I'm always thinking “how would this sound?’ and analysing music, sometimes I want to forget that and just let the song be what it is. I'm also a perfectionist XXL so sometimes it's hard for me to deliver a mix or a set because it's never done, but that's more a part of me that I need to fix than a part of the job. 99.9% of this whole life is amazing so I don't have a lot to complain about.
What makes a good DJ? Are you more of a crowd pleaser or a dictator?
I don't like the word pleaser because it has a negative tone around it. I think the word reader is a better fitting word. When you read the crowd you respect them, and try to search for the best way to give what you want to give in a context that the crowd in front of you understands. But yeah, I wanna be a mix between both, but sometimes my insecurities play part and that causes that I'm pleasing to much. I’m focussing on doing my own thing and stick more to the original plan. More patience and more trust in myself will result in a crowd that I control better without making too many concessions. There are a lot of examples where I found the perfect balance but every set is a new challenge, and that makes it fun. My goal is to be a dictator and a pleaser at the same time… a reader.
Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
I'm always nervous. Not exactly for failing but more nervous for what the crowd is gonna be like. I want to play some tracks and I'm just hoping that they gonna like it. “What if they don’t?”, that's always a thing. Through my sets I grew stronger and learned new ways and techniques to still do my thing and take the crowd on a journey. When there is a big event or something important I'm always more nervous, because of the pressure. But I think that's normal.
The mix we're premiering is called "Looking for love in all the wrong places," how did you land on this title, and what does it mean to you?
Ghamte came to me with this title, he's my manager since the beginning of January and was by my side all the time. The title reflects on my journey of the past couple years. I have dealt with insecurities about me as a person and as a DJ and I'm still struggling. I relied a lot on other people's opinions and made some decisions more for others. Now I'm more and more creating my own views, my own opinions and creating my own sound. Sometimes I found myself looking for validation/love from people, places and online. Acting like someone I wasn’t (or not 100%), giving in to crowds playing tracks that I thought would work instead of selecting based on my own feelings. I think there are a lot of creatives, and also people in general, that are struggling with this and this is my contribution to the problem right now. Inspire others to do what YOU want to do and focus on your own vision instead of doing what you think people expect from you. This tape stands not only for that journey but also for the switch/transition. This is what I am right now, expressed trough my music selection. The themes of finding yourself, finding love and seeking validation come back in the tracks. My journey of fully accepting myself is not over yet, but I think this tape plays a big role and symbolises the change in me as a DJ and as a person.
We know you as a pure Hip hop DJ, but on your podcast ‘Give & Take’ you feature a much more eclectic roster. Can you tell us a little bit about your podcast and the intention behind it?
The guests I have on the show are very diverse, sometimes it’s a OG hip hop DJ, sometimes it’s an electronic DJ and everything in between. The main question of the podcast is: ‘What’s the difference between the music that you play and the music that you listen to?’ If a DJ plays a certain type of music it will define his style really quick, with people not knowing what he’s into besides the music he’s putting out. With the podcast for Live At The BBQ I try to shine a light on the musical input and put that next to the musical output. Which hopefully leads to an even broader perspective of the DJs and they might be able to play a Hip hop track in a house rave and still be in context, because the people know that the DJ is into those sounds as well.. Other topics I talk about with my guests are preparing your DJ sets, main influences, finding new music and musical development.
What can we expect from Sandor Dayala going forward?
I'm far from done. I want to make a lot of mixtapes, play at more parties not only in The Netherlands. I'm gonna be doing more radioshows and grow as a DJ. My goal right now is making hip hop fun and danceable again. First in The Netherlands and after that I'm ready to expand and 'read' more crowds at new clubs, new festivals etc. Next to that grow the podcast to a even bigger plateau and for me personally gain and share more knowledge.
Catch Sandor playing out in Amsterdam as soon as clubs open back up. In the meantime follow him on IG to stay updated.