Cowlin Presents: Santero

Ministry Of Sound, Hong Kong & Marvin Gaye…

Earlier this week I managed to catch up with Santero, the Buxton born DJ/Producer, known for the ‘Ministry of Sound’ residency behind his name and winning the 2010 UK Red Bull Thres3style competition. Ahead of him heading off to play in Hong Kong at Volar on November 7th,  we discussed the experience of playing on the main stage at Global Gathering earlier this year and how he actually got into the house music scene.

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The ‘Want More Presents Simma Black Vol 3’ released this week, features two Santero releases on it. One being a solo track and one with his long-time production partner Jordan. Sitting alongside a host of the scene’s bright lights, such as Low Steppa, Shiba San and Nolan. Both tracks from Santero and Jordan have seen huge support on promo, with the likes of Shadow Child, Groove Armada, Sinden, Bushwhacka and Cevin Fisher numbered amongst the fans.

To celebrate the release of these tracks, Santero is giving away his secret weapon from recent months, a high-octane mashup of the track of the summer (Pushing On) with a selection of 90s Garage classics, a cocktail that has taken the roof off at Ministry and beyond. Alongside this is a brand new mix, showcasing his broad taste in house music; starting deep and moody, before gradually cranking up the pressure, and finally entering full-on bass-driven party mode – something like a night at one of his events might go, condensed into 75 minutes.

Beatport Download Link –

Oliver $ & Jimi Jules – Pushing On (Santero Garage Blend) Download Link –

Santero Simma Black Promo Mix –

Santero – Simma Black Promo Mix (November 2014) by Santero on Mixcloud

How did you get into House music and do you have any major influences you have had across you’re journey?

My oldest brother was a regular at The Hacienda – he played me LFO – LFO very early on, I used to regularly shop at Warp in Sheffield as a kid between 91-96ish. I was given 808 State – Extended Pleasures of Dance for my 13th birthday, the first 12″ I ever owned. I remember listening to pirate stations in Sheffield whenever we had the chance, and then getting cassettes of those stations, or recordings from Hacienda, Lakota etc. Pre internet you really had to put the effort in to hear stuff, kids today have it easy by comparison!

Explain you’re musical journey from when you started until today.

I’d always been lucky to have older relatives with good taste, my oldest brother was a regular at the Hacienda and my dad had a really cool vinyl collection. in my mid-teens I started out saving up money in my £2 an hour dish-washing job, with dreams to become the next Bob Mould or Black Francis, and formed a band at school where I sang, played guitar and wrote the songs, very Pixies style. When I got to uni (with the sole intention of meeting new band members and becoming a rock star!) I fell in love with techno and drum & bass, sold my guitars and bought decks, and gradually started building my vinyl collection, initially mainly D&B. I picked up a few sets at Detonate (which just celebrated its 15th birthday), but my obsession with DJ Hype and his scratching had moved me towards hip hop, and I became Detonate’s hip hop resident, playing regularly at The Bomb and Stealth. Hip hop taught me to open my horizons, as any track could be hip hop if you bought two copies and looped it, and through that I explored disco, funk, house and all sorts of other bits, gradually focussing more and more on electronic music, via bmore as a kind of bridge between hip hop and house! I played my first Ministry of Sound gig in 2008, for Renaissance. I was very active on the Hollerboard and Erol Alkan forumat this time, and learnt a lot about different styles around the world. In 2010 I was convinced (against my wishes) to enter Red Bull Thre3style, which was my first and only battle, and ended up winning the UK final ahead of the likes of Oneman and Martelo, which coincided with my first release, on Utah Saints’ Sugarbeat. I moved to London in 2011, and by the end of 2012 had been brought on board by Ministry as an official resident after being a semi-regular guest for some time. And then here we are today pretty much!


Earlier this week you’ve released two tracks, one being with Jordan, have you two worked together before or is this the start of something?

Yeah, me and Pete Jordan have worked on lots of stuff over the years, mainly with our label Weird Science. We don’t get much chance these days to link up, he’s retired from DJing and we’re both so busy with our own stuff, but it was good to finish this track – we started it in 2010!

Jordan & Santero – Everybody

How long did it take start to finish to produce the finished production?

Haha, well, as I said, we started it in 2010… Generally a track will take a day or two but sometimes its hours, others weeks. And its not like time has a direct correlation to quality either, sometimes these things just flow.

Earlier this year you played on the main stage at Global Gathering, how did this booking come about?

They needed someone to DJ the changeovers between artists, and so my experience and the fact that I was known from the Red Bull Thre3style as being versatile meant I was a great fit, I’ve known the bookers there a long while so it all happened quite nicely.

Where has been you’re favourite venue to play at other than Ministry of Sound & Global Gathering?

I’ve been lucky to play some really nice places like Bali and India with Ministry, and I’m off to Hong Kong this week which should be amazing, but the most amazing would have to be this gig I did in Lisbon a couple of years ago. They’d basically kitted out a tube stop with a whole nightclub set-up, trains were literally going on the platform below before I started, and when they finished the lights went down, I went on, it was unreal. Hard to describe, but very special. In the UK, I’d say The Bomb in Nottingham, it was a great venue that was very special in its prime. Sad that its gone, but that’s life!

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When producing music, what does your set up consist of? (Software, hardware, etc…)

I predominantly use Ableton, but I’ve just started using Maschine Studio, which is fantastic. Trilian is a staple, Subboombass too. Lots of samples from all over the place. Vengeance Metrum is a bit of a secret weapon to make designing a decent kick very easy indeed, and I really like Schwa’s Schope for signal analysis. Ooh, and one thing that has really changed things for me is the Subpac – allows you to “feel” the bass in a way its hard to manage outside a club! Amazing bit of kit when used with good headphones (I use Sennheiser HD650s at home).

Away from the dance music scene, you’re top 3 tracks?

Christ… All depends on context really, but off the top of my head, Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection, Sugar – Hoover Dam, Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues

What are the biggest obstacles you’ve come across in trying to make it as a Producer/Dj & what would you say to people trying to get into the scene?

My biggest problem is probably being too diverse – people tend to think that should be a plus, but promoters and labels want to know exactly what they are going to be selling, and having a varied back catalog and history as a DJ can make them nervous and cautious. I think this is why its so common for DJs and producers to retire aliases and start again, or run multiples at the same time. I’d say, know what you want to be, and stick to it as best you can, don’t hop around too much unless you are ready to accept the difficulties that can bring. Try to be consistent and its then a lot easier to gather a following – with the amount of music out there, people have a habit of tuning an artist out if they hear 2 or 3 songs in a row that aren’t of their style, unless they really know that this artist jumps around a lot (like Diplo say). Very hard to achieve that kind of Diplo-esque situation though!

Gaining support from fans and other artists is obviously very important when it comes to being successful, how would you say you have achieved this?

The best thing you can do is just try to be good really; sounds dumb, but if you are a bad DJ or making bad music, all the networking and social media in the world can only get you so far. Getting out and meeting people is key though – someone is far more likely to listen to your promo if they know you. Top DJs get sent so much music that most emails don’t even get opened, let alone listened to. Social Media gives people a direct way to try and build relationships too, but its important not to just spam people with unsolicited Youtube links and stuff; better to try and just naturally chat on Twitter or whatever, and go to events where they might be playing. I’m lucky that I get to meet a lot of people I want to get my music to at Ministry, which really helps a lot.

A big thing that I’ve learnt in my time in London though is that no man is an island; being attached to a label or crew can go a long way in boosting individual artists’s reps. I’ve become good friends with ZDS aka Zombie Disco Squad, and we now share a studio space, the whole Ministry residents gang are all very tight, I’ve been friends with Matt Tolfrey from Leftroom since before he was ever really a DJ, and there’s loads of good people I’ve met along the way; dickheads rarely last in this industry as nobody wants to deal with them unless they absolutely have to!

The largest capacity crowd you have played to? And what was your favourite tune to play to this crowd?

Global Gathering, by a distance – that was crazy. There’s a really nice video of that here actually – – I get the feeling the scratching went over their heads a bit to be honest, but I felt like I nailed it technically, so I was happy! Biggest reaction was probably my Sound Of Da Police edit – that’s why I did it, as I knew it’d get the crowd vocal!

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Quick fire questions

Your place of birth? –  Buxton, up in the Peak District!

What’s your full name? –  Haha, are you trying to get me for identity theft here? Will Kirby, the middle name is too embarrassing to share, I think my parents had a cruel sense of humour!

Adidas or Nike? – Adidas all day baby!

Rock Music or UK Grime? –  Hmmm. Rock music is a huge group of music and UK grime is a tiny niche, so I’m much more likely to listen to rock, but a lot of rock is absolute dog toffee.

Tattoos on Girls?  – Not a deal-breaker either way! Can look nice when done well though.

Dairy Milk or Galaxy chocolate? –  Neither, both are grim!


Don’t forget you can catch up with Santero with the links below!

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