There’s something very special about Sadar Bahar’s DJ sets. His artistry doesn’t begin or end behind the decks – it goes much deeper than that. He is an unsung hero of old school Chicago who has dedicated his life to music. In his sets you can hear the decades of digging, collecting, listening, practicing, mixing, sharing and playing soul, disco, funk and early house records for people, with legends as Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy as his peers. His sets sound pure – deep, soulful, energetic and dynamic. When he deejays he wears a beaming smile from ear to ear that lights up even the darkest of clubs, and he mouths every word sung on the records.
Hailed by Theo Parrish as his favourite DJ, Sadar Bahar has become one of the most sought after selectors worldwide, and we’re beyond ecstatic to have him share his humbling, contagious and passionate energy with CDR Berlin on August 7th. But before then Sadar gave us a taster of what to expect when he sits on the sofa with us at Prince Charles.
As you evolved as a DJ what made you take the direction you’ve chosen?
In my neighbourhood we used to play a game where we were like – “Let me hit you to this.” “Do you know about this?” Everyone was getting deep and I just got stuck into it. I just started getting into looking into that rare music that nobody else was playing, finding out about artists that we all love and finding that one album.
We just followed the music – stuff like 12-inch ‘Mainline’, Black Ivory. 12-inch ‘I’ll Tell You’, Sergio Mendez, 12-inch ‘Walk the NIght’, 12-inch ‘Hit and Run’, Gold Mind Records. Then we had Italian Disco, French records, ‘Stop ou Encore’. I was always looking for stuff that people didn’t have, that people weren’t playing. There was lots of music coming from everywhere but we wanted to be the first ones to find it and play it.
Can you give us more details about how Soul in the Hole came about?
Everybody started some nights. We used to be called Capital Sounds, Goldmine
Productions. Then we all ended up with sticking to Soul in the Hole because it seemed to fit what we were doing for the people. That was to teach them about the real music, thinking about the artist and the people taking it seriously and giving it life; not the people who are doing it for fame, trying to hop on the scene and doing this computer type stuff. You know, artists who got us all started into this, and now they’re all starting to disappear.
Chicago is a mecca for House music. How would you describe the house music scene in Chicago at the moment?
Right now the scene is back where it should be. For a while there were no parties. Now there’s loads of parties, anyone can go out any day of the week. There’s a lot of good music there. That’s how it is when you got so much talented packed in together fighting for their spot, and it’s always been like that. Chicago is a special place.
Tell me about your love for vinyl. Why strictly vinyl?
That’s how I was brought up as a little kid. To me it’s all different when you have that analogue sound and you have something in your hand that you can hold and read. It’s just a different ball game to me. I can never imagine not playing vinyl.
Who/What has been on heavy rotation on your audio player of late?
There’s so much music out there it’s hard to choose just one. I’m into things that I don’t have – always searching, always digging. I’m buying a lot of Brazilian records now and a friend recently gave me a nice record from Bulgaria that I can’t even pronounce. There’s too much music. I love it and I’m not complaining.
Any forthcoming projects you want to mention?
We’re going to be doing some Chicken Wings releases on seven inches, coloured vinyl, limited edition. Another ‘Soul in the Hole’ compilation on bbe records. I’m working on some live productions in the studio. And then in Amsterdam we’re working on something that will come out on Rush Hour.
What is it that keeps you so lit up when you’re behind the decks?
I love what I do. I prayed to God a long time ago to let me have this dream. And he gave it to me. This is something that I’ve been doing since a young man and watched a lot of people take off. I was very happy for them always, encouraged them and helped them whenever I can. Finally my time is getting there. And it’s like the old school saying – it’s not about when your time comes but being ready for it when it comes. I thank God I was ready and I pray that I stay ready. With the people and the love that they give me, I just give the energy right back to them.
Any resolutions for the year ahead?
Keeping the smiles on people’s faces and letting them know that the real stars are on the dancefloor and not in the DJ booth.
Finally, have you any advice to give to aspiring artists?
Never worry about what another man is doing. Always pay attention to what you’re doing. Stay focussed and if it’s something that you really love, something that you really want to do, you’ll be able to conquer it. Practice, practice, practice and you’ll get better and better. Never give up.
Catch Sadar Bahar at CDR Berlin this Thursday – full details here.
Words by: Ayian Camcam
Photo credit: Shoji Ogawa