Among the many native venues to fall sufferer to the COVID-19 pandemic in its first horrible 12 months was beloved Bucktown dance spot Danny’s Tavern. The bar had been house to a number of fashionable DJ nights, together with Evening Strikes, a cosmic disco month-to-month that ended its 12-year run (after just a few lineup adjustments) hosted by Ross Kelly and Jesse Sandvik, aka Jesse Sandwich. Sandvik, a 42-year-old DJ and producer, additionally runs boutique dance label Areaman, and because the demise of Danny’s he’s begun reserving DJs on the California Clipper, a jewel in Humboldt Park’s crown that’s additionally recognized for its eclectic, Americana-inflected reside music and selection exhibits. The Clipper was nearly misplaced to the pandemic too, but it surely reopened in February 2022 underneath new administration and has shortly grow to be one of many metropolis’s most dependable nightlife spots. Sandvik is liable for the membership’s numerous and thrilling lineups of revolutionary DJs—and the return of Evening Strikes in January 2023.
As instructed to Micco Caporale
I’m initially from Ithaca, New York. I moved to Chicago about 18 years in the past. I had visited a number of occasions driving cross-country, and the music, artwork, and tradition right here simply sunk its claws into me. I had spent a variety of time in New York, in and round Brooklyn, however the vitality right here felt much more my velocity.
The data I grew up listening to had a extremely lasting impression on me. Dizzy on the French Riviera, the Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane . . . I can keep in mind my father enjoying Booker T.’s “Inexperienced Onions” actually early on a weekend when all I needed to do was sleep, and now that’s a few of my favourite music. I grew up within the MTV period, and listening to these data—possibly performing some work downstairs or cleansing—that was my first expertise of vinyl as a doorway into unknown worlds.
In my teenagers, I used to be into punk and hip-hop, so these data obtained me occupied with how that instrumental music will get made. I had a pocket book for monitoring samples of issues I needed. , facet A, first monitor: drums. Facet B, monitor three: bass. Stuff like that. I went by way of all my dad’s data and did this. Although I didn’t have a sampler, I’d assembled a fairly large binder of all this pattern materials. Once I was 19, I dropped out of school and moved in with some buddies, one among whom was a producer, and I lastly obtained to file all these samples and begin making my very own music. After which I obtained to journey and see what was on the market, due to that music.
Once I moved right here at 24, I’d solely been to Chicago thrice, and each time left me eager to see and listen to extra. I’d simply get blown away each time I visited, whether or not it was seeing Jeff Parker or hitting Danny’s. There’s all the time a lot taking place right here, and it felt like a heat, inviting atmosphere filled with alternative.
New York struck me as costly. In Chicago, it appeared like there was extra intention behind issues, as a result of it’s extra reasonably priced. Individuals have extra space and time to domesticate what they’re doing, as a substitute of being caught within the rush and hustle of New York.
I used to be doing a variety of development work once I moved right here. I used to be truly occupied with object and furnishings design and social gathering installations, so I began throwing events. We have been doing loft events, creating these now-called “immersive” environments: a zombie disco on Pluto or the wreckage of a sunken cruise ship. One time we constructed a DJ sales space in a mouth. These events let me incorporate artwork and music collectively, and I set to work with a variety of proficient artists in Chicago.
I obtained occupied with DJing primarily by way of Kevin Stacy at Danny’s. He requested me to return in and open up DJing on a Saturday evening. I had by no means DJed earlier than. I used to be like, “No approach, I don’t know the way to do this. I simply take heed to data.” We’d talked loads about music earlier than, so he stated, “Don’t fear. I’ll present you what to do.” As soon as I skilled filling up a quiet room on a Saturday evening with individuals and music, I used to be hooked, and Danny’s let me minimize my DJ tooth.
That first evening, I keep in mind being actually nervous and tremendous centered on bringing the fitting data. I’d already spent just a few years simply going to Danny’s and having fun with the music, however I by no means anticipated to DJ there. Nonetheless, in my head, I already sort of knew what I’d play if I did: 60s and 70s instrumentals and loungy jazz music, Burt Bacharach, surf rock. Issues alongside the strains of Booker T. & the M.G.’s! However extra campy, possibly. There are these data known as Persuasive Percussion—like, actually produced studio albums that have been constructed for individuals to take heed to on their hi-fis at house. I performed a few of that stuff as a result of it has an enormous rush of sound to it, and I felt prefer it match within the area very well, particularly within the extra relaxed earlier hours of Saturday or Sunday at Danny’s.
The March 2021 debut launch from Jesse Sandvik’s Areaman label, by Jeremiah Meece of The-Drum and Clique Discuss
For just a few years, I saved enjoying this atmospheric stuff at Danny’s. I don’t suppose I had the arrogance to, say, captain the ship of a extremely busy dance flooring. So I used to be capable of sort of discover my sound and construct my confidence and follow mixing songs.
I heard a variety of DJs there. A few of my favorites have been the Evening Strikes crew, which was Brandon [Walsh], Yolanda [Carmina Alvarez], and Ross [Kelly]. A 12 months or two after listening to them, they requested me to do a visitor evening. I used to be thrilled. Finally, that lineup modified to simply Brandon and Ross, after which Brandon moved. In 2015, Ross invited me to be an official Evening Strikes DJ, and we did that collectively for about 5 years till Danny’s closed.
Evening Strikes actually centered on Italo disco, cosmic disco, Balearic disco. . . . Balearic disco is a late-80s style of music from Ibiza—sort of a chill home model, type of postdisco bossa nova, extra downtempo. Music you take heed to watching sunrises on the seaside. It’s actually fairly and ethereal. We’d play a few of that stuff earlier within the evening, then construct in direction of that Italo sound or issues like Sylvester’s “I Want Any person to Love Tonight.” By the late night, we’d progress to all issues disco, however actually specializing in Italo boogie, boogie funk, home, acid home, even a few of the outdated WBMX classics you’d hear on Chicago radio, like Mr. Grasp.
As a DJ, I believe gaining access to a variety of inspiration and mentors in Chicago gave me an instance of discovering my very own voice or model. That’s essential to me. Being eclectic and dynamic is pleasurable to me. Individuals like Mark Grusane, Nosha Luv, Darren Jones, Jeff White, and Brandon and Ross from Evening Strikes . . . there are such a lot of DJs, it’s exhausting to say, however these specifically actually gave me a way of listening in a different way and enjoying in a different way, even in relation to approaching one other DJ.
Like, possibly somebody is enjoying one thing that I’m actually into, and I ask them about it. As a substitute of telling me the precise monitor, they could inform me what label it’s on or who the artist is. That creates a path the place I can discover all this different music by these different artists till I arrive at my very own track that speaks to me inside the realm of that monitor.
That’s an enormous level of rivalry today, particularly with vinyl collectors and vinyl DJs. I’m undecided individuals perceive that. There are some individuals making a profession for themselves by discovering data that no one else has taken the time, endurance, or dedication to search out. It provides them a component of mystique. There’s a lot recorded music that exists on tape—even unreleased music or vinyl that’s not on the Web. Chicago has a variety of DJs specializing in that. If somebody doesn’t need to offer you a monitor, it doesn’t all the time imply they’re making an attempt to be impolite. They’re making an attempt to encourage the magic and fantastic thing about a DJ who can take you to an audio world you don’t know easy methods to discover. They need you to marvel and discover.
Playfulness is actually vital in my units, so I like having a sort of comical title. I believe individuals within the DJ world usually take themselves too significantly. Like, be critical about your craft, however the total angle or promotion of a picture can get approach too critical for me, personally. So I wish to be extra lighthearted.
My first DJ title was DJ Easy & Scrumptious, however in a approach, I’ve all the time been Jesse Sandwich. I imply, Sandvik, Sandwich . . . yeah. I don’t know when that title formally occurred, however meals and taste have all the time been a part of my musical journey. I like to prepare dinner, and I like music. And there’s a physique expertise to each. You’ve actually obtained to soak up them.
I’ve all the time been obsessive about discovering new flavors and making an attempt recipes, the identical approach I’ve all the time been into discovering new sounds. I just like the tactile seek for elements, which I believe is much like my fascination with file looking. Each meals and music interact a number of senses. Like, music goes past listening. It actually triggers feelings for individuals, and you may bodily really feel it. Deaf individuals can nonetheless sense music, even when they’re not “listening to” it. I consider what I do as, like, layering and sandwiching totally different songs or genres collectively to create a sure taste or expertise. DJ Jesse Sandwich.
I labored in hospitality for a very long time, from being a line prepare dinner to a server. Then I obtained extra into the bar facet of issues. I labored my approach up from being a busboy and meals runner to being a supervisor and a bartender at Massive Star, and that sort of overlapped with extra of a dive into DJing and music. The Boogie Munsters have been an enormous affect, and Tim at Star Creature Universal Vibrations, in addition to Shazam Bangles and Constance Okay, obtained me into this extra deep boogie, funk, disco, and home sort of vibe, which led me to satisfy DJs from each the north and south sides.
Then Tim requested if I’d be occupied with performing some work for Star Creature—primarily delivery and stock stuff—so I did that on the facet after I turned disenchanted with hospitality. I additionally did a variety of work with Numero Group, so I’ve been lucky to be taught and develop from two influential Chicago labels, particularly through the pandemic.
When the Clipper was getting ready to reopen, Kristina Magro [from new owner the Orbit Group] requested if I’d be occupied with reserving DJs there on Fridays and Saturdays. I used to be curious if they’d extra programming obtainable, so now I work on placing collectively playlists for all their companies and consulting for his or her sound methods.
As a booker, I’m actually occupied with highlighting not simply Chicago music historical past however Humboldt Park’s historical past. There’s music throughout you there, continuously. For those who simply stroll by way of the park on any weekend, you’re going to listen to individuals enjoying music out of their vehicles or hanging out and barbecuing to music or simply having fun with a reside present within the park. So bringing a few of that sensibility into the California Clipper is actually vital to me—having bands enjoying Puerto Rican-style music in addition to having DJs who’re capable of honor that custom. However I additionally need the California Clipper to be a spot for dynamic dance music. It’s about with the ability to connect with that sort of unifying sense of pleasure that occurs on the dance flooring, whatever the style or the place within the metropolis the DJ is from.
On the Clipper, we’ve put collectively one thing actually particular and intentional. It’s one thing I’ve all the time dreamed of, and I’m simply so pleased that Kristina and the remainder of Orbit Group possession supported that imaginative and prescient. Individuals want an intimate area to bop and get collectively, they usually deserve to do this with a sound system that’s good and pleasurable. We have now a DJ sales space that’s everlasting and exquisite and a part of the structure of the area, and the room sounds unimaginable. We’re actually fortunate the way it all got here collectively.
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