Offering dreamy, syncopated beats and room-shaking bass, Welsh producer and DJ Mial Watkins, aka Doc Daneeka, is becoming quite the master of the house music spectrum. His recent collaborative album THEY!LIVE with longtime friend and producer Benjamin Damage is a landscape of melancholy minimal house, while his own tracks, such as "Hold On" veer toward uplifting soul-house. Beyond producing, Doc Daneeka attended the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid and also runs his own label, Ten Thousand Yen, which oversees releases from artists like xxxy and Presk. He took time out of a spring tour with Addison Groove to speak with All Shook Down about his label, his progression towards playing primarily house music, and what's he's listening to lately. Doc Caneeka performs this Saturday at SOM Bar with Addison Groove, Grenier, and local DJ Sam Supa.
How has the tour with Addison Groove been going?
It's been great so far! We've had some great shows, met some great people, and generally been having quite the party.
Growing up, you were really into rock music. Who was your favorite rock band?
When I was eight it was all about Queen! But I don't know, when I was in my teens it was all about people like Deftones and Refused -- stuff like that you know?
At the start of your DJ career, you were primarily focused on DJing drum 'n' bass. What prompted you to get into house music?
I was digging a lot with a good friend of mine, Aled of Bingoboutique, who does all the design for my record label, and we both started uncovering a lot of broken beat. For us that was the thing, and we just set about getting to know what we figured was broken beat. Obviously, a lot of it was house and Detroit techno, but we didn't really know that. And in that sense I still kind of see what I do as broken beat more than anything else.
You run your own label, Ten Thousand Yen. What's the most satisfying part of that?
I just love putting out music that I'm crazy about -- and doing it justice in the production process. It's how it started. Previous to that, we were essentially sitting around, wondering why some of this music wasn't getting released. And then we just figured, why don't we put it out? And that's the part of it we want to stick to -- putting out music that we really love, in a way that we feel justifies our passion for it. In a sense, that is the most satisfying thing. The only thing that I feel can really eclipse that is the love we get from people all over the world for what we do. That shit just blows my mind.
Your track "Tobyjug" is an excellent blend of female vocals and U.K. house, a bit different from what you usually do. What do you look for when adding vocals to a track?
Thank you! I think vocal tracks need to be made integrally with the singer. There are too many tunes made that sound like a good vocalist has just been given a beat and they go sing on top. It doesn't sound right to me. Abi and I didn't make the tune together, but it was reconstructed heavily in order for it to sound coherent (in our eyes) as a complete song. So yes I always have a pretty clear idea of where I'm going and how I want it to sound.
I've heard the use of 808s, 909s, 303s, in your tracks. Which is your favorite and why?
808 everything; 909 hats and ride. Although a 303 made a couple of cameos on
THEY!LIVE, I can definitely live without one. The 808 however ... nothing compares.