DJ Sun has been behind the turntables, professionally speaking, for 20 years. He’s been hosting the Soular Grooves radio show on KPFT (90.1 FM) for almost as long. He’s brandished records at pretty much any local spot that can fit a turntable. In short, he’s a Houston institution.
But he’s also about to be a new artist. Sun’s first full-length album, “One Hundred,” drops this week.
“I don’t mind at all. I think it’s kind of a refreshing turn to my career,” he said of the title. “Most of what I was doing up until about seven years ago was exclusively DJing. I always wanted to get into music from a production and from a creative standpoint, but it just took time to set all that up. To put together a full album really took a little bit of a journey — making my signature just right, trying different approaches. Now I’m really happy with what I have.”
“One Hundred” follows EPs “Monday Drive” (2007) and “Para” (2009), which touched on Sun’s comfortably chill groove. The full-lengther fully illustrates the breadth of his sound. It’s an affable, easygoing affair — never too slow, never too fast and the perfect complement to his laid-back persona. The title refers to beats per minute (BPM), used as a measure of tempo in music. He says most 0f the 18 tracks sit right at 100 BPM.
Sun (whose real name is Andre Sam-Sin) was born in Rotterdam, Hollandthe Netherlands, then moved to the South American country of Suriname before arriving in Texas at 14 years old. He’s called Houston home ever since and — proud papa moment — has a daughter who was recently accepted to Rice University.
“The album is a representation, kind of a storytelling of where I’ve come from. As many here in Houston, I come from a different background. There are different sounds that have influenced me, and that brings this together,” he said.
“I’m also somewhat a child of the ’70s. I gravitated toward soul, funk and Caribbean styles of music. But then as I came to the U.S. and witnessed the old-school hip-hop era and the aesthetic of the production techniques they used, I was heavily influenced by that as well.”
He’s been counting down to the album release with “One Hundred Days to One Hundred,” a multimedia journal featuring a look at his favorite Houston singers, locations and influences. (See it at soulargrooves.com.) The disc itself features locals Leah Alvarez, Jessica Zweback, Meghan Hendley and Antibalas founder Martín Perna on “Heart Seed.” Perna has worked with TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones, David Byrne and Scarlett Johansson. He’ll be at this weekend’s release, also Sun’s birthday party.
La Mafia bassist Tim Ruiz also was an integral part of the album’s sound. He played keys, guitar, bass and also worked on arrangement and production. The pair has plans to perform the album live with instruments, no turntables, in the near future.
“He’s just been the cornerstone of a lot of what I’ve done. We work really well together,” Sun said. “I’ve known this kid since 1994, when I had Soulstice (downtown jazz bar). We have a great mutual respect for each other.”
“One Hundred” comes at a time when Houston is experiencing a cultural renaissance of sorts. The New York Times recently named Houston one of the top places to visit in 2013, and Forbes dubbed it America’s coolest city. The time might be right, then, for Sun’s years-in-the-making soundtrack for his, and our, city. And it seems to have opened the floodgates. He already has a pair of follow-up albums already in the works.
“I really want to be part of this new Houston landscape. You can obviously see that Houston is experiencing some growth, some recognition. I want to make a contribution to that and have the album represent some of that,” he said.
“There’s been the general feel of what Houston’s been in the past with Southern rap, with country. But the Montrose, in the Heights, the inner-city area — I believe we should have a voice as to what the Houston sound represents. We’re all part of the same community. I want to reach out to different styles, different genres. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t be able to do that here if we opened our minds a little bit and made this music community a little tighter.”
DJ Sun “One Hundred” release party
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cha Champagne and Wine Bar, 810 Waugh
Tickets: Free; 713-807-0967 or soulargrooves.com
Also: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth; free