Ru Johnson is a writer, cultural critic and head maven at Roux Black, a creative idea firm. She believes in love, perfect manicures and the greatness in artists like Sango. You can follow her on Twitter @theperfectRu.

Cloak & Dagger turned the city upside down last Saturday night. Dual venues boasting of some of the hottest names in instrumental production and electronic music kept music lovers on the dance floor all night. City Hall Amphitheater and Vinyl Nightclub were teeming with those ready to shake their groove things, pump their fists in the air and be taken over by the bass. The Souls in Action crew was in full effect throughout all the mayhem and beautiful chaos.

The evening got started with an early set from Milky.Wav (formerly Black Jordan) Iwono and more, before the sun set. The air was brimming with possibility. Pomo, Cashmere Cat, Justin Martin, Kidnap Kid and my personal favorite, Sango were all on deck preparing to get the party started. By 8pm there was a line around the corner and Vinyl was filling quickly. Despite the event’s name, there were no daggers to be found but more than a few cloaks in high fashion.  Souls in Action head lady in charge, Lulu Clair was swimming through the crowd, giving hugs and putting out logistical fires with the poise of a pro while Luke Rothschild kept all things media and logistics related under control.

Early during Milky.Wav’s set, we caught Sango milling around and watching the happenings. Because this is what fans of incredible artists do, I promptly approached him to chat about an interview after his set. We got things squared away and the partying commenced. Sango dropped hit after slowed down hit, made the bass crush the walls and minds explode with his intricate intros and loops. He also read the crowd with such dynamic precision, it was almost surgical.This all made sense, of course, as he sauntered into the artist green room with a humble swagger for our interview.

He was positively charming, articulate and open with his formulaic approach to music, sound, life and love. Read on to find out how he stays inspired by love from above, why Timbaland is his favorite producer and why he walks softly but carries big, big bass.

You’re not a big drinker and you don’t smoke. How important is it to maintain such professionalism and discipline with your work, considering you work is essentially to party?

I always played sports so I never really got into it. The discipline also stems from my family because I’m a military child. Both of my parents were in the navy and they taught up crazy manners. That seeps in and it’s the base but I’m my own person. It’s important to remember this is a profession and not just a party all the time.

How does living in so many different places as a military child influence the diversity of your style?

I think what resulted in that was my mom and dad being in different countries and bringing back what they found in those places and sharing it with us. My mom was stationed in the Philippines. They were big on Michael Jackson soul music but the way they did it was they kind of brought it back in the 90’s what was actually 70’s disco. My dad was stationed in Japan and into a lot of into Japanese jazz. He showed me a lot of stuff.

If I was an artist who wasn’t familiar with your work and saw your live set, I’d think you’re into a lot of Timbaland and R&b that is flipped in interesting ways.

Timbaland is hands down my favorite because there are different Timbalands based on the artist. Some of his stuff is prettier, like for Aaliyah, whereas Justin Timberlake’s Timbaland is kind of like dance, funkier and has more pizazz to it. Then there’s the Timbaland who produces for anyone else, he’s so versatile. He removes himself so the artist can have their platform. And you can still tell it’s his beat. I can tell you enjoy that extra staccato drum style, and the slowed down beats, too. You played that Kanye and Jay-Z “What You Need” track slowed all the way down.

Do you create the kind of sound you wish the artist sounded like?

I like restrictions. I’m a graphic designer so I can be crazy with restrictions. I can think outside the box but I also know my limits. I pick my favorite things to do. Slowing things down is my favorite thing to do. One of the slowest tracks I usually play is “0-100” by Drake. It’s so slowed down, it’s almost chopped and screwed and people love that.

And then you’ll flip a track like the Janelle Monae “What Is Love” joint and it is an entirely different perspective.

I try things behind closed doors without releasing anything first to experiment. To see how my mind would react. That’s how it was when I got turned onto Brazilian stuff. I was introduced by my friend in Brazil and he gave me all that sound. As time progressed, I started making that style on my own.

You seem so at ease with getting the party started.

It’s not even confidence, it’s like cockiness, cockiness, you only use it when you need to confidence is still humble. Cockiness means you already know what’s gonna happen. I enter that realm with that confidence. It’s kind of like burning myself real quick and learning I’m still alive. Then I get into my focused mode. I’m really focused about what I want to do. It’s a balance between introducing people to new style and give them something to recognize.

How important are transitions to you? It’s like we trust you to take us where we need to go on the dance floor.

I learned from being a runner when you run, you have to pace yourself. You can’t just go all out and then at the end of the race you lose. I start out with a bang, cool down, maintain, and do that again. You gotta treat it like that. You can’t empty it out. The way I technically do the transitions, I’ll lead into a song, drop it and make it instantaneous. It’s setting patterns, after like the 16th going to happen, you’re ready for a switch up or enjoying the song. I pick their brain and see if they look ready, I’ll loop the intro over.

You facilitate the bass so well.

The bass is like grease. Like food, you need some chicken and anything fried, you’ll love it. You can’t have too much of it, but you love it when you have it.

What motivates you?

God.

Say more about that.

I believe in doing things out of myself. What I mean is it’s for me, for this world but all in all I’ll do things like, this show, I want to bring happiness with people. Remind them, whatever issues they have, boyfriend problems or girlfriend problems, or anything, there’s a simple small things that bring to the table to get people forget their problems. In a Godly way, I was put here to get people to focus on other things. When I make music, it’s more of an escape for the listener. I can tell. The vibration raises incredibly when you’re on stage.

What’s your sign?

Libra. You could probably already tell that. Born on October 1. I’m not a hardcore Libra. I could have been a Virgo.

Who are you?

I like to observe. I’m an observer. I can be awkward. So my music can be too and that’s why people are drawn to it. Generally speaking, who I am as an artist and a person, I like to explore, observe, take in, and repeat.

What do you want out of this music?

I want to create with my family. I want them to be proud of what I make. What I’m doing right now is performance stuff but it’s only a small part of who I am. Something to my arsenal, something I can use. Learning crowd control, how to be personable, learning how to transition through songs and be more fluid with my sound.

 

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