Sadar Bahar Talks Ron Hardy, Residencies and the Secrets of a Good Vibe

Chicago veteran Sadar Bahar is a local legend in his hometown, developing as a DJ under the influence of Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy and more into a connoisseur of rare funk, disco, and vintage house grooves. It’s something Bahar’s termed ‘a 30-year disease,’ committing his lifetime to sourcing obscure tunes and amassing a collection that’d make even the most hardened of record aficionados green with envy. We caught up with Bahar ahead of his forthcoming residency at Oval Space this year, which kicks off this Saturday. He’ll play b2b with Soul In The Hole co-founder Lee Collins, alongside Rush Hour favourites Hunee and Soichi Terada as well as Brilliant Corners' digger-in-chief Donna Leake.

How’s it going Sadar?

Everything is good, having a drink. Back at home in Chicago right now, getting ready for the tour in Europe that starts in February and will go on throughout March. Spending my days going through my records, sorting out what to bring along for the tour.

Let’s start with an easy one. Favourite gigs of 2017? Any standout moments or tracks from these?

This is actually quite a hard one, because I don’t really look back at my gigs like that. But since you’re asking it would obviously include the banging nights at Oval Space. I also enjoyed the Sounds Familiar party in Barcelona last June with Volcov, Kai Alcé, Specter and Patrick Gibin and playing with Lee Collins last summer at Dimensions Festival and in Amsterdam during ADE. My annual tour in Japan was also great, and many, many more.

We’re really excited for your 2018 residency here at Oval Space, especially with it being your first outside of Soul In The Hole in Chicago. Can you give some insight into what you've got planned for the next 12 months?

London is great! The scene in Chicago is a lot more D.I.Y, in the sense that it’s expected for us to set everything up. I’m looking forward to meeting and hooking up with everyone in Europe. In the meantime I’m also trying to finish up another compilation for BBE (Barely Breaking Even). I’m also working on projects with Lee Collins and other members of Sounds Familiar. Also keep an eye out for the third volume of the Chicken Wings edits.

You speak in your Berlin CDR Interview about Ron Hardy’s residency at the Music Box. How did watching Ron do his thing impact your relationship with music? Did his time behind at Music Box prove to be the most influential residency regarding your approach to DJing? Are there others artists who’ve had a similar effect?

Ron was one-of-a-kind. The way that he affected me personally is by showing that you can play whatever you want to play, whenever you want to play it. Just play it correctly. He taught me that it’s really about controlling the party and just making sure everybody has a good time. Frankie Knuckles, Andre Hatchett, Lee Collins, and so many others in Chicago are also great deejays. But Ron was different, Ron was one-of-a-kind.

How has the role of resident DJ changed around you since first going out to clubs?

I don’t really consider a residency at a certain club as something different from any other gigs at different club. I believe you should always make sure to come with your A-game.

It’s all kind of the same as back in the days, but also different. A lot of the parties in Chicago used to be similar to how it is now in Europe. Clubs would stay open with late hours and go on until the next day. A lot of laws in Chicago have changed. It’s like they don’t want anybody out really late at night. It’s not like there were a lot of incidences or anything, it just slowly got cracked down on.

Some tunes seem irrevocably tied to a residency. It’s seemingly impossible to mention tracks like Jan Leslie Holmes’ ‘I’m Your Superman’ without also paying homage to Levan and Paradise Garage. What tunes have really endured over the years of Soul In The Hole and other residencies?

Tunes like 'Open your Heart’ by Africano and Mr. Peabody’s edits come to mind. But I can’t say I really have a favourite record as I don’t really like to think about music in that way. One of the first tracks I can remember, from a long time ago, is 'Open Soul’ by Tomorrow’s People.

Finally, as part of the Oval Space residency you’ll be curating a line-up for us in June. What’s your approach when curating a bill of DJs to soundtrack a night? Is there something specifically you’re looking for with each DJ, and how much emphasis would you place on the night working as a cohesive whole musically?

To make sure everybody’s music fits together, to get like-minded people together, to keep the party jumping and have a similar understanding of deejaying. To have people that know the stars are on the dance floor. People that professionally beat the crowd and most of all, have fun.

There’ll be 50 tickets on the door for this Saturday. We advise coming down just before 10PM if you’re planning on grabbing one.

Photo Credit: Matthew Gilbertson