Underground dance parties are kinda like a second home to Tempe resident David Sankey. Or, more specifically, his beat-juggling alter ego CIK. Pick up one of those typically cartoonish four-color fliers for the next big off-the-radar affair or desert party and its almost guaranteed you'll see the 36-year-old's moniker listed amidst a sea of other local DJs (usually sandwiched between Robotek and Mando). For instance, you can catch him at next month's Bubble Bobble 5 in Mesa.
And while some teenyboppers will take their first steps into a rave new world of glowsticks, heavy beats, and candy kids, such things are old hat to CIK, who's been a part of the Valley dance party scene for 14 years now. He prefers raves to ordinary club gigs, excels at spinning genres you'd typically hear at some warehouse party (like happy hardcore or gabber), and he's pretty much seen anything and everything take place at such events. That includes catching ravers in flagrante delicto or witnessing SWAT officers fully loaded for bear storm a party he was getting ready to perform at. Sankey shared his memories of that particularly alarming incident when Up on the Sun recently spoke with him.
Name: David Sankey
AKA: CIK, Hardcore Dave, The Senator
Preferred genres: Hardcore techno, industrial techno, industrial hardcore, and gabber are what I'm most well known for. However I do sometimes play house under an alias (Inspector Mustache).
Why do you dig those particular genres? The second rave I went to, I saw a Japanese hardcore DJ by the name of DJ Tact and this guy was so ill you would think was a ninja. He did everything but backflips behind the turntables, and the energy of the music was what really took hold of me.
Upcoming gigs: I am currently more focused on music production but I do have gigs in the pipeline including Bubble Bobble 5 on March 23.
How did you get into the DJ game? In 1998, my mentor DJ Spitfire started to settle down and start a family, so he asked me if I'd like to buy his record collection and that's ultimately how it began.
What separates you from other rank-and-file DJs? That's a tough one because a lot of the local DJs are ok with being a "superstar" in the state of Arizona. That was never my goal. Most people need to look a little further outside of the box, it's my opinion that most locals in the Phoenix scene are not appreciated for what they do on a global scale, if they're doing anything at all.
My focus was to expand my brand, and expose people to my performances to different audiences where it counts. DJ's have the chance to go any place they want, it's all about how you go about setting and achieving your goals.
Do you have a particular mantra? Handle it!
Why do prefer raves to club gigs? [It's] the only place where my style of music is played in clubs is over in Europe. The aggressive nature of my genre makes it very hard to break into the clubs in the US, yet it can be at the forefront of raves and festivals here so that's just how it tends to work out.
What's your favorite thing about raves? The fact that I can share my sound and my dreams with such a wide range of people in the audience.
What misconceptions do people have about you? Amongst people that don't know me, word on the street is that I'm arrogant or cocky. But the thing is, I have always had internal battles with celebrating my successes publicly, the reason being is there is always someone who has something negative to say anytime someone accomplishes something significant, others who want that success will run your name through the mud.
How come? Maybe out of spite, maybe because they're bitter, I really don't know. Due to the hard work and time I've invested to achieve my goals, I hold myself to a higher standard and apparently that comes across as arrogance. The reality is, if you actually get to know me you might be surprised. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, "You're really not a jerk, once I got to know you," I would be a millionaire. It's hard being a performer. The end.
What's the best thing about being a DJ? Traveling the world and seeing new places, and the friends I have made all over the world.
And the worst thing? The lack of business ethics amongst so many industry people and promoters. The lack of respect that exists -- especially here in Arizona -- you can get booked to play in Europe in front of 20,000 people, but back home they want to give you a 7 p.m. timeslot because of the style of music you play. Coming in at a close second is how difficult it can be to experience a good, healthy relationship. It's hard to find a girl that wants to date the person I truly am, not just the person in the spotlight behind the turntables.
How do you go about crafting your beats? It all usually starts with whatever I'm feeling or what's going on in my life at that moment, and I go from there. It's become difficult to watch a movie without a pen and pad to mark times of samples, sounds or things I want to use. Cubase 7, my MIDI controller, Komplete 8 Ultimate, and a huge bucket of frustration are my tools of the trade.
How do you create energy in your mixes? Mixes are generally my way of telling a story or taking someone on a auditory journey. Remixes you try to add your own flavor while still staying true to the original, and if possible, hopefully making it even better.
How much or your work is original artistry and how much is remixing existing songs? I have a few releases of my own original work, some of which I collaborated with others, and to date I think we have done three remixes.
What's your favorite track of the moment? Lenny Dee - Forgotten Moments (Ophidian Remix), the 10 minute version.
What other artists have been finding their way into your set lately? Lenny Dee, Evil Activities, Angerfist, Promo, Stunned Guys, Tommyknocker, Angel Enemy, Lowroller, D-Passion, Ophidian, Satronica, and Unexist.
What's the key to a good gig? Being treated with respect by the promoter, being paid without having to chase someone down at the end of the night, and the overall experience.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? A show in Texas was raided by the Dallas SWAT team, and I was told to eat the ground while staring down the barrel of a high powered assault rifle.Five minutes before [my] set, on my way to car to get vinyl. Although the occasional fornication on the dance floor would be a close second.
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Where else have you performed? I have performed in NYC, Philadelphia, West Virginia, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Texas, The Netherlands (including Ground Zero Festival 2010 and 2012), Nocturnal Wonderland 2004, Bang 2008 (Philly), Toronto and Quebec City, Canada.
What bygone club do you miss the most? That's easy, The Works, hands down. Markus Schulz every Friday and Saturday for $5? Yeah, definitely The Works.
What's your opinion on the future of EDM? With the world's biggest production companies coming to America and SFX Holdings having a BILLION dollars allotted for dance music, I think it will continue to grow. People are up in arms about this but it will only raise the production level. Personally, I am excited to see Q Dance, ID&T, Tomorrowland, and all the awesome parties Insomniac will put together. Americans have no clue on how grand European production value is, but they'll get a taste here very soon.
David "CIK" Sankey is scheduled to perform at Bubble Bobble 5 on Saturday, March 23, at Arizona Event Center.