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Grammy helps to light the way

March 13, 2003|Steve Baltin | Special to The Times

A shiny new Grammy for his remix of No Doubt's "Hella Good" has DJ Roger Sanchez looking forward to a little more public interest in his own music.

"When I come out with the next album, people will be like, 'Oh, didn't he win a Grammy for remixer? I wonder what his own stuff sounds like?' " he says.

If recognition at home has been slower in coming to Sanchez than in Europe, where he's been a hot commodity for years, it's partly his own doing.

By his mid-20s, Sanchez was the face of New York house music. His own productions on Strictly Rhythm Records sold briskly on streets and filled underground clubs, while his remixes for the likes of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Soul II Soul brought dance to MTV and radio waves alike.

But it wasn't until two years ago, at 36, that Sanchez released his debut album of original material, "First Contact." The CD was a massive international hit, spawning the infectious, sweet pop gem "Another Chance," a song whose video stayed on the MTV Europe Top 20 countdown for months. Yet even with that momentum, "First Contact" was never released in the U.S.

Sanchez has ideas about why he's better-known overseas -- besides the fact that dance music is bigger there than here.

"When I've been home, I've been focusing on the studio side," he says. "I think getting out there and gigging more would help."

To that end, he's on his way to L.A., where he hasn't appeared in more than two years. He will be spinning at Spundae on Saturday and then return April 26 for his debut at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. He says fans can expect eclectic set lists at both shows. "I play house," he says, "but it's a lot of flavors: funky, tribal, soulful and with a lot of edge to it."

Those elements will come together on his second artist album, which he hopes to put out early next year, in what he envisions as a double album also including "First Contact."

"The timing will be good," he says of the possible dual release.

And yes, despite the international fame, money and respect of his peers represented by last month's win, being acknowledged by U.S. audiences does matter to him.

"Nothing feels better," he says, "than having some measure of success in your own backyard."

*

Roger Sanchez

Where: Spundae at Circus,

6655 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood

When: 9 p.m.

Cost: $25

Info: (323) 462-5508

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