The Rocks Off 200: Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Santos Pastrana tells us that he is a musician, turntablist, DJ and live sound engineer. "I say it in that order" he stresses, "because that's how my life evolved." He grew up in Southern Maine on the Atlantic coast ("long cold winters and short beautiful summers") and played instruments as a child, then started DJing in his teens and became a sound guy in his twenties. Pastrana has been living in Houston for six years now, and loves it because "it's nice and warm here."
Photos by Marco Torres
"I played the trumpet for nine to ten years growing up, first classical and then jazz," he recounts. "Got into DJing in high school and eventually become obsessed with turntablism and DJ battles. I like consonant-sounding music -- never been a big fan of dissonance, but I do appreciate good tension and release in songs. I like funk, soul, dance, hip-hop, rap, rock, metal, classical, reggae, big band, jazz and Motown.
"Really, any kind of music that is composed well and has more that just surface-level ideas," concludes Pastrana.
Home Base: "I run sound at Warehouse Live, and pick up other gigs as they are presented to me," Pastrana says. "At Warehouse I'm always practicing some sort of scenario, so I try to run experiments or do maintenance while I'm at work, and am always trying to learn new audio concepts.
"I practice turntablism/DJing at home in a dedicated room where I spend time working on battle routines and other musical compositions," he continues. "The big competition I'm always working towards is the DMC; I want to be in at least one of the USA DMC finals videos. I do some turntablism showcase sets around town from time to time. Club DJing is not a big interest to me any more -- it gets old."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "It's warm and people are chill," offers Pastrana. "There's work."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "People making new music that sounds the same as everyone else, especially rap, he begins. "The music industry brainwashing the non-musician people by releasing all this dumbed-down music. There is way more to music, sound waves and vibrations that the general population never gets to experience or are even clued into.
"By combining different notes you can actually make human beings feel different states of emotion," explains Pastrana. "It's so vast and deep. Vibrations are found in nature, an amazing connection between the natural world and human civilization. I saw this documentary recently where a man in the a subway [was] playing the keyboard and singing; he sang, "Music is nothing more than frequencies harnessed by angles."
Story continues on the next page.