Noel Sanger is an artist who, while flying mostly under the mainstream radar, has cultivated a rich musical history along the way. His releases dating back to the 1990s remain in high demand, and his current work, always critically acclaimed, continues to see top DJ support. As a DJ, Noel has manned the booth at some of the world’s best clubs, sharing the stage with some of electronic music’s top names. He has played at festivals such as Ultra Music Festival and Electric Daisy Carnival (Orlando) and his South Florida residencies have hosted some of the biggest names in dance music, with Noel playing to hundreds and even thousands of eager clubbers each week. Now residing in Orlando, Noel plays select shows nationwide and spends his weeks in the studio, remixing and preparing for his upcoming releases.
Hi guys, thanks for talking to us. Where can we find you right now? How did you start your day?
Hi thanks for having me! I woke up today in Orlando, Florida, which is where I’ve been living for the last 7 years. My day started with coffee and sunshine- does it get any better?
When did the idea of starting a musical project start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
I started writing song lyrics when I was 8 years old, so I always planned to have music be a part of my life. I played guitar and sang in bands when I was much younger but I discovered house and techno very early and I was sort of captivated by it and moved in that direction in the 1990s. By the end of that decade I had released a ton of stuff and was touring fairly consistently in the US.
How much time do you get in the studio with your collaborators? Or is it mostly remote working these days?
The reality is I am not a great in-person collaborator! I do best when I can focus on the music in solitude, then my creativity starts to flow. So even the collaborations I have done in the past have most often been the kind where we send files back and forth but almost never in-person. Now remote-work is sort of the norm.
Tell us about your new remix. Is this going to be the direction for your sound from now on?
This is definitely a direction, but maybe not the only direction. I’ve always loved so many forms of underground music, and I like to explore different dimensions of sound- but my sound is always progressive, and I always try to incorporate melody in an emotional way. With “Last Sunset” I wanted to increase the energy of the original a bit, and create a remix that would play well in both a club and an open-air setting, while keeping the feeling of the vocal front and center, that theme of summer love lost. It’s melancholy, but it’s about moving on, but can we catch just one last sunset?
Tell us about Dissident… how did you first hook up with the label, and how has it developed over the years?
I started Dissident in 2008 with a tune of my own called Natural Perfection. In the first two years we had some amazing artists on the label: Solarity (aka Dusky), Manuel De La Mare, Jon Charnis, Mike Saint-Jules, PROFF, Tritonal, Cerf+Mitiska and more. It was a good time for melodic progressive music! Our release schedule was hit-and-miss for a few years after that. Commercial EDM blew up, I took a gig as a music director and talent buyer for a couple of clubs in South Florida, didn’t write a ton of music for a couple of years and I really struggled to find my sound again during that time. Around the time I moved to Orlando, I partnered with a much larger independent label in Miami called Essential Media Group. They’re mostly a catalog company but the team there all have a deep history in dance music and the owner is someone who I have known and worked with for decades. So we sort of left Dissident alone for a couple of years, but for the last few we’ve been actively releasing music and building the label up to where we’d like to see it. Always an emphasis on quality and always music we think will stand the test of time.
What other artists are you interested in these days?
Personally I listen to all kinds of stuff: dance music and otherwise. A current repeat-play is the new Moderat album, and anything from Apparat of course. Sufjan Stevens is kind of a hero of mine, but on any given day I could be listening to Iron Maiden or Jimmy Eat World, or JOSEPH, Frightened Rabbit, Gungor, Firewood Island, Deathcab, Sleeping At Last and of course- always always always Depeche Mode.
Can you tell us anything about your projects for the rest of the year and beyond?
I’ve been trying, or I should say planning, to finish an artist album for like 5 years, so that’s a huge priority this year. I have a side project for ambient/electronica stuff and an album for that alias is almost done. I have a few collabs on the books that we’re going to shop around to other labels and I just finished a remix for a friend’s label called Masvingo. Also, I just joined up with a new boutique booking roster that’s an offshoot of the great Pro B Tech record label from the UK. And slowly, carefully, starting to get back behind the decks as often as possible and as safely as possible! I just mixed the first two installments of a mix-comp series called Dissident Selections which is basically mixes drawn from our catalog, which is growing! Loads more great music on the way too, with artists like Seth Vogt, Blake Jarrell, Abstrakt.Digital, Micke, Alex H, Focus, Kaspar Tasane, Dark Matter and Prisma Storm, Stereolynk and more. The next 12 months should be really good!