This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)
Argentinian Luke Santos and me met at the Amsterdam Recycle Lounge. Despite his wheelchair, we often danced together. In 2016, I asked him about his first gig and heard his incredible story. Read and shiver! “Every Saturday, I juggled with just one turntable, a cassette recorder, a CD player, and a rusty four-channel mixer.”
“I started to play music in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the country that I was born. That was in the mid-80s, so I started at a very early age. I was about 16 years old. My first gigs were mostly at school parties. But a year after I was hired by an Event Management Mansion, to play every Saturday at all sorts of events and parties, from weddings to corporate events and fashion shows.”
No ego or glamour
“There was no ego or glamour in what I was doing, but I had a steady job that was very well paid for my young age. I also met my first serious girlfriend playing music at one of those events.”
Not my best friend
“Every Saturday I had to juggle with one turntable, one cassette player and one CD player and a very old and rusty 4 channel mixer that was not my best friend. Despite this, I still managed to get the music out and ultimately make the people dance. Without knowing, that was my best schooling in what in a distant future was going to be my professional life until today.”
“There was no house music yet, or at least I wasn’t aware at that time. Somehow though, I was already drawn to the electronic industrial sounds from groups like Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb. I also liked the softer electro pop sounds from British bands like Depeche Mode, The Human League, and New Order. So, every time I had a chance to torture the audience, or it was the time for the people to go to sleep, I cleared the dance floor dropping songs from this sort of music. I didn’t consider myself a DJ. Those two letters were not yet in anybody’s vocabulary. That came much later.”
“What I really consider as my first gig, was the first time that I played in front of an audience after what I call “My Renaissance”. This happened on January 2002 and my first public appearance was in September 2005.”
“What happened? Well, at the peak of my career, I had a car accident. This left me quadriplegic. This means, that I got paralyzed and have no kind of movement or sensations below my shoulders. I have a little bit of strength in my biceps. So, with the left arm I can control the joystick from my electric wheelchair and with my right arm I can move a specially for me modified trackball, having the possibility to do a left click with the back of my head. This way I can control the mouse pointer in the screen of my computer.”
“At the beginning of 2005 I was invited to play on the main stage at the Chilean edition of the Berlin based Love Parade. This event took place on January 7th 2006 in the capital Santiago. It had a staggering number of visitors: 300.000 people. The event was produced by the experienced event organizers of Euphoria. To promote their upcoming Love Parade, before this they organized many events in different clubs all over South America. The one in Buenos Aires took place in a huge club called Bloody. I was the headliner, together with Euphoria’s main DJ and event producer Zikuta. The warm-up was in charge of Abel Meyer, Bloody’s resident at the time. Zikuta and Abel are both soul friends until today.”
“So, three and half years later I was back on stage for my first gig after my accident. I was 36 years by then and I played in a packed club for 2000 people of all ages. Almost my whole family was there: my mother, my beloved sister who unfortunately passed away by now, and even my uncle and aunt! All my friends were present as well. They were all there to give me an amazing support and an incredible energy that led me to play one of the best sets of my life.”
Voice recognition program
“The fact that there were so much loving people in that dance floor gave me a huge amount of confidence. Therefore, I wasn’t nervous or afraid to make any mistakes. In the previous months I had learned that with my limited mobility, I had to prepare the whole set into detail from the beginning until the end. I was extremely happy that for the first time I was able to test many tracks that I produced myself the year before. Seeing these people dance into frenzy, to music that I had made with nothing but a voice recognition program, during the set made me drop a tear every now and then.”
“My second gig after my ‘renaissance’ was without a doubt the peak of my career and my most memorable gig, because I had the enormous privilege to headline the Love Parade 2006 in Santiago de Chili, together with legends Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano. I played peak time on the massive mainstage for 300.000 souls.”
“My next gig will be on 20 October 2016 on the Amsterdam Dance Event, for the 20th anniversary of Global Underground. This is the legendary record label that marked my sound in the best time of my professional life until today.”
“My next track is a collaboration with another Global Underground artist and a dear friend, Arturo Hevia. In this case we have the privilege to have the Argentinian rising star Marcelo Vasami in charge of the remix. The release date is something that I cannot yet reveal. Another collaboration, also with my great friend Marcelo Vasami, is on the agenda and many more projects are already in schedule for 2017. No rest for the wicked!”
This interview with Luke Santos is originally published on DJMag.nl in October 2016.
More Luke Santos?
Luke Santos started DJing at the age of 21. His career really started, as he moved to Miami. Living in Miami, he took part in six Winter Music Conferences. In search of new experiences, he traveled to Amsterdam to play and ended up living there for over a year. Living in Holland, he was able to play at some of the best clubs in Europe in cities such as Frankfurt, Barcelona, Rome and Ibiza.
After several years, Luke Santos traveled to Argentina for a couple of months. New Years Eve 2001, he went to Santiago, Chile for a gig. He ended up living in Chile. After a year of playing all over Chile and South America, he decided to move to Pucón for the summer season. There he had an accident that almost cost him his life. It left him paralyzed from the shoulders down, leaving him without any chance of deejaying again.
In December 2003, Luke Santos started to take electronic music production classes and started to make his first tracks supported by voice control technology. Having thought that he could never be involved with music again, he proved himself wrong. It has enabled him to go ahead with his life. In January 2004, he produced his first track. It was the starting point of the infinite possibilities he had before him.
In January 2005, Luke Santos was invited to be part of the Chilean edition of the famous Berlin-based event Love Parade. His presence at the chilean festival stood out and the creator of the Love Parade, Dr. Motte, touched by his story, talent and determination, challenged Luke to start deejaying again and invited him to take part in next year’s event in Berlin and Santiago. On August 26th 2005, he produced the first Love Parade event in Argentina. Once again, he was where he never imagined he would be: in the dj booth. With only 20% of his body and 100% of his emotions, he made over 2000 people dance!
2006 started off with an unique invitation. Luke Santos had the privilege of taking part in the line up of the second edition of the Love Parade event in Santiago, Chile. He performed on the main stage for over 300,000 people. In 2008, Luke Santos relocated to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he is still DJing & producing.