What an interesting 24 hours we’ve had. That Moomba+ And Friends party highlighted a number of things that seemed to be brewing internally with Sazon Booya, and as you saw from Rot10 Musik’s statement, DJ Sav is no longer a part of the group. Their masked hypeman, Mystereo, has been around both Sav and Mr. Vega for the past two years, and decided to give his official statement on this ordeal to The Dankles. Again, here are his unedited thoughts on the situation:
For the past two years, I have dedicated my life to touring with Sazon Booya as their hypeman. A duty, I considered an honor and a privilege, and treated more as a life style than a job. Despite the fact that DJ SAV was the one who brought me into the group, I was always straight down the middle in terms of my loyalty, love, and support of both members. Otherwise, what kind of hype man would I have been? However, as time went along; particularly within the introduction of “our” new manager, (who SAV, mistakenly, brought into the group himself); the dynamic within the group seemed to shift; ultimately culminating into this debacle that has shaken my world to the core. I never wanted to be put in a position where I would have to take one side over the other. However, these current circumstances, leave me no choice, but to state the facts as best as I witnessed them throughout my two year stint with Sazon.
When our new manager was brought into the group; his very first order of business was an attempt to phase Mystereo out by making him a separate entity from the brand. He expressed to SAV and Vega that their energy was enough; and Mystereo being on stage the entire time, was simply an added distraction. From inception; it appeared as if our manager wanted this to be a two person group; most likely for financial reasons. The only member of the group who saw the importance of my character being directly tied into the brand; and stood up, and fought to keep it that way, was SAV. SAV is a filmmaker and storyteller who understood the added cinematic element that Mystereo brought not only to the live show, but to the overall brand as well. This was evident in his decision to turn Mystereo’s origin story into a comic, which he not only wrote, but also facilitated by finding and hiring the graphic designer/artist (Harlie Rose) who drew the comic. However, to say that SAV’s work on the creative/video end is where his contribution to Sazon Booya ended, is a downright fabrication. SAV had developed a plethora of resources and connections over the years through his work on the Electro Wars documentary, and his overall ability to express a humility to people that make them want to help him. That being said; everything from Sazon’s appearance on MTV to all of their biggest shows (The Knife Party show at Pier94, Afrojack/Diplo, EDC, etc.) were all facilitated by SAV, himself, through his connection with a Pacha promoter.
SAV approached Mr. Vega with the idea of Sazon Booya, not as a producer, but as an eager, determined, filmmaker/ fan of electronic music. However, if there’s anything I’ve observed about SAV in my time being around him; it is that he is constantly striving to improve himself, and add new accolades to his already impressive arsenal. Through their time working together, I have actually been present for several sessions in which Mister Vega trained SAV on the art of production. And if I may say so myself, SAV truly did learn from the best. I have personally heard the new music that SAV has been working on, in which he dabbles with new sounds. And all I can say is that once this e.p. is released to the world; the music will speak for itself. That being said, it is true that SAV did utilize several of his friends/associates (Ano, Dume, and Defina) from the film/media/video world) to help contribute to the video end of Sazon Booya, as more and more of his time was dedicated to perfecting his producing skills, and facilitating deals with labels, promoters, etc. However, as any of those three talented gentlemen he employed to help out on video content would tell you themselves, he and I were always heavily involved in the conceptualizing, organizing, and production of all content.
As far as the music production end is concerned; I, myself, had the privilege of being able to sit with SAV and Vega on several studio sessions, particularly in the early half of the group’s tenure. In the beginning, it should be stated that there certainly was a camaraderie between the two on all levels. A DJ duo simply does not rise to the top as quickly and efficiently as Sazon Booya did without a clear camaraderie between two talented parties both lending their expertise. That being said, SAV and Vega would work together on music, and Vega was always open to all of SAV’s suggestions; Sometimes, he agreed with SAV’s contributions and made it work, and sometimes he didn’t—As any artist in any field would tell you, that’s simply the creative process, and there’s nothing wrong with disagreement, as long as it ends in compromise. Vice versa on the video end, SAV and Vega had a similar arrangement (even with the conceptualization of the comic), in which SAV always considered and respected Vega’s inputs, and they would work it out accordingly. However, as time moved along; particularly, once Vega had the full support of “our” new manager in his corner; things started to change. Vega, no longer took any suggestions or input from SAV. On the contrary, he began to make music on his own, often behind SAV’s back; and once the track was complete; he would refuse to go back and change what he had worked on. However, he still wanted to have the same say he had always had on the video end, often shooting down ideas that myself and SAV would come up with. SAV expressed this concern to “our” manager, who only seemed to address Vega’s concerns and complaints, but did little to address the points that SAV was making. I found myself writing emails to all members of the group, attempting to get them to see eye to eye again, and work together in the same light that they did when they first started. These emails, I feel, are a managerial duty; however, upon noticing that “our” manager was truly not acting like a manager, I felt that as the group’s hype man, I had to at least it was at least make an attempt to save this sinking ship. Both members acted favorably to my email, however, “our” manager never made an attempt to have the two get in a room together and discuss everything moving forward, as per my suggestion. And this set the stage for the debacle we’ve come to know as our 2013 Miami Music Week experience.
Once in Miami, SAV received a phone call from “our” manager stating that he had been removed from the group. Now, I consider myself to be an extremely loyal person. It’s something that I pride myself in, and have always lived my life by. For that reason, when I realized what had happened: (“our” manager had gotten one step closer to his ultimate goal of turning Sazon Booya into a two man group); there wasn’t a doubt in mind, that I would be standing in SAV’s corner, just as he had stood in mine. There was no way on God’s green Earth that I was going to allow anybody to phase SAV out of his own group. For this reason, I could not maintain the loyalty I once had to Rot10 and Vega, as much as it killed me because I truly consider a lot of those guys family.
SAV’s support of my character was not where his support of me ended. That brings me into the discussion of money, which is no coincidence that I’m mentioning this last because my love and passion for the group, and the art we were creating always came first. I’m not a money hungry animal; rather, I simply wish to get paid in a timely fashion so that I could pay my bills and ultimately survive. Like so many other things I have mentioned in this statement; my payment situation worked perfectly fine for me in the beginning, but got increasingly worst, particularly with the introduction of “our” new manager. The agreement always was that SAV and VEGA each gave me an equal amount that I had agreed on, (and wish to not disclose) out of their sum from the shows. I want to reiterate so there’s no confusion; it was Vega and SAV’s responsibility for paying me (as per our deal) and not the Rot10 label. There were several accounts I recall in which, Mr. Vega either went out of state to play solo gigs as Mister Vega, or was locked away in his studio working on music; During these times, weeks and (sometimes even months) would go by before I would see the half that was owed to me. I, personally, put that blame less on Mister Vega, and more on “our” manager who’s job is to see to it that I be paid in a timely fashion. Regardless, each time that happened, it was SAV who would dip into his own pockets to compensate me, and make sure that I wouldn’t go hungry or be late on bills.
As it stands, I still have not been paid in full for the Mansion show we played nearly three weeks ago in Brick New Jersey. The money from that show was placed in our manager’s hand, and due to a particular set of circumstances and confusion, that money was not dispersed amongst the three of us right away. Despite several attempts and phone calls I made to “our” manager; I was constantly given the run around. While in Miami, he paid me 40 percent of the money owed to me. I have already accepted at this point that I will never see that money. As for the 40 percent I was given; it was good enough for one Miami meal. Long and short of it; once SAV was kicked out of the group; and it became clear to everybody that I would not take part in any shows unless SAV was present; “our” manager left Miami with Mister Vega, and they continued to play all our paid gigs without us. Now, I was left in Miami with no money in my pocket (I had been depending on those paying gigs), and no return flight home. In fact, the only reason I was able to get back home was due in part to the money I collected from the Tony Form’s event we played—An event that I wasn’t even doing for the money, but rather for the fans. I guess in the end—Good karma got me home. It should be stated, however, that the only ticket I could really afford at that point, was far from a direct flight, as I had to make several lay over stops, and ultimately ended up taking a five hour bus ride home from D.C. Between all the layover stops, waiting in the airport, waiting for the bus, etc; I literally had to travel over 24 hours to get home, leaving Miami at 6 in the morning, and not arriving home until 11:00 a.m. this morning, when I was lambasted with phone calls regarding the statement. Going on zero sleep; One could only imagine how hurt, enraged, and down right discouraged I was at this point. I hope that everybody understands why I needed to write this statement. I know that it will rub some people the wrong way, and that upsets me; but there isn’t much I could do about that at this point. I loved and believed in this group..I put my life in danger every time I stepped outside in a public area (wearing my face), whether it be in the airports, or the island of Puerto Rico, where the natives didn’t take too kindly to my shenanigans..I did it all in the name of Sazon Booya, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat–but everybody has their limits. And I have reached mine. The only thing that I’m most grateful for is that Baby Eddie passed before he ever had to witness the demise of Sazon Booya because this has truly been the saddest week of my life. I am uncertain of the future. I can only send out my love to the fans, my thanks for their continued support, and my undying promise that no matter what I do…I will always go hard—I will always go in—And I will always give everything I do my absolute 100 percent. Because that’s just what I do.
Please note that the Sazon Booya page will no longer reflect my or SAV’s personal opinions on any matter since we are no longer in the group and no longer have access to any Sazon Booya social media.
For any updates on us please visit our twitters @mystereomusic and @stephenavasquez