Q&A with Sleepy & Boo: Reflecting on Two Years of ILLUSION at Cielo

This Saturday, long-standing residents Sleepy & Boo celebrate the second anniversary of their monthly party at Cielo – ILLUSION. We sat down and asked the NY based house/techno duo behind Basic NYC and asked them to tell us about the last two years, what’s next for the party, and for them in the coming year.

Q: How did the concept of ILLUSION come about? What were your main inspirations for this party?

A: ILLUSION was a natural evolution of our Sleepy & Boo + Friends party that we hosted at Cielo for almost three years. But ILLUSION has more of a philosophical foundation to its concept. If you’ve ever done any meditation, or spiritual exploration, you’ve likely encountered the idea that our reality is created by our thoughts and our minds – and what we perceive as life is really just an illusion. We believe that music can be a powerful force for unlocking different forms of consciousness. Bringing people together on a dance floor, putting together a set that has peaks and valleys, weaving different timbres and styles throughout, can be like a guided path towards furthering this understanding. The release that comes from dancing, that dynamic energy that is created when people come together on the floor, is almost like an alternative reality to most people’s daily existence. The dance floor is a temporary zone where we have the ability to direct different energies towards it. So with Illusion, obviously the party element is there, we want everyone to have a great time and enjoy themselves, but by having this idea behind the night, it kind of elevates everything for us and puts it on a more sacred level.

Q: As you mentioned, ILLUSION isn’t your first residency at Cielo, you’ve been part of the Cielo family of DJs for some time. Are there any particularly memorable moments that have stood out for you two?

A: October will make it 10 years from the first time we ever played at Cielo. We warmed up for Mark Farina on a Thursday, and it’s been a great experience ever since. So many icons of music have played that room, and we’ve been fortunate enough to support many of them. Kaskade, Chris Liebing, James Zabiela, Paco Osuna, Joris Voorn, Nick Warren, deadmau5, Danny Howells…those are just a few of the highlights for us.

As DJs, being residents at Cielo has been very important to us. Cielo makes music its primary focus – the music has always come first. So as Cielo residents, we feel we have a responsibility to uphold and represent that standard every time we play there. Cielo will be celebrating its 14th anniversary in 2017, which is truly an amazing achievement in today’s New York nightlife landscape – or really in the entire history of New York nightclubs. There’s only a handful that have lasted as long as Cielo has. 14 years of quality music and great DJs, standing firm while the neighborhood around it has metamorphosed multiple times. To always be flying that flag for good music is a testament to how important it is to the fabric of New York City’s nightlife. We are profoundly grateful to Nicolas Matar for making Cielo the great destination that it is, and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of that legacy.

Every ILLUSION night we do, there’s always some great memories we carry away with us. It could be anything from the response from the crowd that was there for our last encore, or a particular track that went off on the dance floor, or how we made some new friends or had some surprise old ones stop by and visit. Each party is like a new experience each and every time, and that’s something we look forward to each month. Outside of our ILLUSION parties, we’ve really treasured the opportunity to welcome New Year’s at Cielo for the last two years.  We’ve done our own Masquerade Ball and those have just been incredible experiences; it’s so much fun to celebrate the new year, in a great, intimate space like Cielo, playing the music we love, being with friends and family.

We’ve also really enjoyed working with different promoters like Dance.Here.Now and Made Event who also really helped to make Cielo the focal point for New York’s dance music scene for many years. So we’re personally very thankful to Benny Soto and the late Rob Fernandez, who always believed in us as DJs and invited us be a part of their nights there. And of course, we’re very thankful to Mike Bindra and his whole team as well, who have also put together some great, unforgettable Cielo parties.  More recently, Mike Nervous and Nervous Records, and the United by Music crews – both of whose parties we’ve played at – have been keeping those traditions alive.

One of the biggest things for us throughout ILLUSION has been our personal evolution as producers and remixers. Since March 2015, we’ve released several original EPs and tracks (around 16 as of now). Being able to play our own music when we’re DJing at Cielo has added a new dimension to our sets. We get to try out our new productions and feel the feedback from the crowd, hear how they sound on the monitors, etc.. When we’ve created something new and we play it, and the crowd gets it immediately, that’s just an amazing feeling. Those are some of the moments that we really remember.

Q: Your career as both DJs and producers has really evolved over the past decade, with you being booked at festivals and venues around the world, getting inspired and bringing that energy back to your sets and productions here at home. Can you tell us some more about your favorite events, venues or festivals happening outside of New York right now?

A: Traveling is an essential part of being a DJ – seeing how dance floors function in different places around the world is important to our craft, and we love being able to see how other dance communities respond to our music. For us, right now, Berlin is in a league of its own. The vibrancy of the club scene there is amazing. In the summer, there is a staggering amount of interesting venues, parties, and festivals happening. The whole philosophy of the scene is unique – people are really into the music itself, not just whatever big name DJ happens to be in town. We were there in June for close to three weeks, and we did the same trip last year. We got to play at Sisyphos both times, which is a weekend-long party at this crazy complex of buildings and outdoor areas. It’s packed with dancing people who are there for the music and vibes – they don’t sell presale tickets and they don’t announce the DJ lineup until just before the party starts. And yes they have a selective door because they don’t want any people who will give off bad vibes at the party. That’s just such a different ideological foundation than what goes on in most places. And that’s just one unique venue in a city with so many different things to choose from.

We were also really happy to be a part of the first-ever SXMusic Festival in St. Martin this past March. It’s like a dream come true – a beautiful Caribbean island, events all day and night with great underground artists playing to a very cool and sophisticated international crowd. We’re very proud of all of our friends who helped get it off the ground and we can’t wait to back in 2017 and see how it evolves. We’ve been going to the BPM Festival practically every year since it first started in Playa del Carmen. It’s amazing to see how big it’s gotten, while still really sticking to its original underground vibes. We played for Christian Smith’s Tronic label showcase this year; he’s an amazing artist and great friend. Closer to home, in July, we were part of the Gratitude Migration festival, which is a regional mini-burner festival on the beach in Keansburg, New Jersey. It was very cool that they were able to build this community on the beach, and they had some quality stages and production. We played on the PEX fire stage, with an excellent Funktion One sound system. And we’re really looking forward to joining PEX in Philly for Halloween this year. It’s been really fun for us travel-wise in 2016 – we’ve been to Mexico, Boston, DC, Montreal, Providence, Miami, St. Martin, Berlin, Ibiza, and even went to play in Buffalo, New York in July, which was a lot of fun. We hope 2017 is just as full!

Q: How do you see yourselves growing in the coming year, and what does that mean for ILLUSION?

A: On a professional level, we want to keep evolving as producers and making more music. We just released music on Yoshitoshi, which was huge for us, and also on our friends’ 3Bridge Records label. We’ve got two more EPs coming out – one on the Savoir Faire Musique label (our second for them), and one on the Cenote label from Vermont, plus some remixes and compilation tracks coming down the line. We’re looking forward to expanding that part of us as artists. We’re also planning to start our own label soon.

We’ve also started our own ILLUSION radio show that we do every week on Pioneer DJ Radio. That show is an extension of what you’ll hear from us at Cielo every month. The future, of course, is an illusion itself – so we try to stay in the now as artists, and as people, and focus on being creative and getting our music out to the rest of the world to enjoy, and to stay positive about the world and life wherever and whenever we can.

As for ILLUSION, we handle all the programming and we get to choose our openers, which we definitely enjoy. We remember what it was like the first time we got asked to play at Cielo, and getting that chance to come and DJ there from time to time. Giving new DJs, local up-and-comers a shot is something we believe very strongly in and will continue to do. We love feeling their enthusiasm and excitement, and we really try to make ILLUSION a family affair, and make everyone, including the crowd, feel like they’re an important part of the night – because they absolutely are. We’re excited to keep growing ILLUSION and to keep bringing people together on the dance floor at Cielo. We look forward to celebrating with everyone this Saturday!

To join Sleepy & Boo for their Second Anniversary celebration with Lost In The Zoo – RSVP to rsvp@basicnyc.com for free entry before midnight – or get your advanced tickets here

Check out Sleepy & Boo on Soundcloud and peep their newest mixes and releases here.