Interview: Sanctuary

Sanctuary is a progressive electronic producer based out of Chicago, IL. His style incorporates elements of drum n’ bass, future garage, trap, and downtempo. Think a mixture of the best qualities of The Range mixed with the most sensitive elements of Burial. He has four EP’s out, the latest of which is titled “With the End of My Breath” and can be listened to/downloaded here.

When did you first start making music and why?

I started producing the summer after junior year of highschool, but I didn’t really start taking it seriously until I started college. I’ve always wanted to be a musician but none of the other instruments I tried really clicked.

I’m assuming you mostly use MIDI systems and DAW’s?

I used to. My new EP is all done on my laptop with no controllers or anything. My USB ports are broken. But yeah, I use Ableton for everything.

Pitchfork does a feature from time to time called 5-10-15-20, which is basically just what was your favorite album from those respective years in your life. What would be your 5-10-15-20?

5: My parents are both musicians and they both know their shit, so I listened to a lot of really good music when I was little. I remember listening to a lot of Jonathan Richman. I loved Desolation Row by Bob Dylan – I really liked the line ‘Einstein disguised as robin hood’. And obviously my main man Raffi.

10: I remember getting into all the old hip hop my dad played. De La Soul, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes, Outkast. I remember every time we’d drive somewhere I’d ask him to put on Peter Piper by Run DMC. It’s still a banger.

15: Hella indie. Neutral Milk Hotel, Pavement, Sebadoh, Guided By Voices. But also I was bumping Daft Punk and Justice with the homies, and I was getting sensitive at night with my main man Burial. “Untrue” was my favorite album then and it still is today.

20: Aint even 20 yet but gettin’ there. This is the hardest one. Lately I been listening to lots of sensitive rap songs. Like when Gucci, Keef, Durk are in auto-tune mode. I listen to ‘Angels’ by Kevin Gates like everyday. Also been listening to a lot of shit from 2014. That new Shlohmo Jeremih, No Labels 2, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band, Sun Kil Moon. And of course I keep Ilias Greed’s new EP on repeat.

Going back to “Untrue” by Burial, I heard you have a really interesting perspective on the story of the album.

Yeah I really like the idea of telling a story with your music, whether it’s intentional or not. If an album has a really consistent vide throughout it just makes you start to imagine a story. Especially with Burial, with the little vocal snippets. Like on the track ‘In McDonalds’ when the voice comes in and says ‘you look different’, its like a whole scene is conveyed just in that one moment

So you’re from Evanston, IL. Almost all of the people I have met from Evanston are very into the arts, whether it be music, poetry, film, or graphic design. Is this just coincidence or is there something about the town that sprouts this?

Yeah, I’m not actually originally from Evanston; I only lived there for junior and senior year. But there is something to that. Definitely within my group of friends there’s tons of artistic talent. I don’t think I would ever have come as far as I have with producing if it wasn’t for my pal Adam Yamada also learning to produce at the same time.

Some artists are very particular over the samples they use and the background behind them. Perfect examples of this would be Burial’s “Untrue” and Dilla’s “Donuts”, the latter of which even tells a story just on the source of the samples. Would you consider yourself in this category?

Not really. Most of my vocals come from girls on youtube or soundcould singing acapella covers of shit. I like the lo-fi feel, and I like that they’re not pros. I think sometimes there’s more intense emotion there, just some girl singing to her laptop. I do think about what they’re saying, though. And I do try to make the words match the feel of the song. But Dilla and Burial are both on a whole other level. Maybe I’ll get there some day.

If someone were to come up to you and ask “Who the hell is Sanctuary and why should I care about you?” What would you respond with?

Shit. I guess because I think a lot of electronic music right now is really stagnant. Like, either you make EDM bangers or you make boring chill-out music. I really want to make something different, I want to make something a little bit darker and more challenging. And maybe I’m not quite there yet, but if people care, that’ll maybe, hopefully help me reach that creative place I’m trying to get to.

Any tips on who the Mysterious Party Boyz are?

I heard it was Mac Miller and Drake.