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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Music, Miami, and MIDI: Danny Daze on His Hometown, Influences, and DJ Sets

Posted By on Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 10:06 AM

click to enlarge Miami selector Danny Daze headlines Public Works on Friday, July 10.
  • Miami selector Danny Daze headlines Public Works on Friday, July 10.
Danny Daze is a techno, house, and electro producer and DJ from Miami, an unsung hotspot of electronic music in the United States. Ahead of his July 10 DJ gig at Public Works, we caught up with Danny to talk about Miami's place in electronic music, the off-kilter music he grew up with, and the challenges, and rewards, of being a working DJ. 

Where are you located right now?

Right now, I'm in a Fedex store, literally. Picking up a synthesizer, if you want to know exactly where I'm at. But no, I'm in Miami right now.

Are you headed on tour or just headed over to San Francisco for a quick stop?

Well, I'm in San Francisco on Friday, then bouncing right back to the other side of the United States after. I go to Chicago the next day, then New York, and it continues on and on.

Why don't you tell me about your Miami roots? I think that's something that's really interesting about you, because Miami doesn't get enough credit.

Yeah. Miami doesn't get enough love from the scene that I came from, because most people think of Miami as, like, very tropical vibes — but there's a very hidden underground scene that used to thrive out here, the electro and IDM, or experimental scene. And that's basically where I come from. The more experimental, electro side of Miami. Its roots are in Miami bass music — old 2 Live Crew, booty-dancing music, you know. And that scene is very tied into Detroit. They feed off each other. A lot of people don't really know about that. A lot of people tie Detroit and Chicago together, but they don't know that Detroit and Miami have a lot in common — maybe even more in common than Detroit and Chicago. And that's the scene that I come from.

Was this the same scene as the Schematic guys?

Yup. Schematic. Guys like Phoenecia, who are also Soul Oddity. Guys like Otto von Schirach, and also there's a label called Merck, or M3rck. For me, it's those two labels that put out some of the best music, and the world doesn't really know about them at all. I like that. I like that it's not very popular because that's where I get my sounds from, my sound palette. My influences, you know?

What are you working on lately? New productions?

Yeah, consistently. I'm working on my next EP. I just finished one for Ultramajic. Next one I'm doing is on Omnidisc. I just finished a remix for Kompakt, for these guys Terranova. Then I'm working on my album as well.

What's the album gonna sound like?

Well, I've always believed an album is to show where you come from, not necessarily to make people dance. It's going to be a journey, you know? All I do is put out dance music. This will be my other side. It's going to relate to what I'm doing with my podcast series, Sunday Morning, more experimental, trip-hop, downtempo, along those lines.

What's this podcast series? I didn't know about this.

I have a podcast series called Sunday Morning. It features Ruxpin — he released on Elektrolux, Mikrolux… it features guys like him, another guy called Rivet, and Lackluster.

I love both of those guys. I haven't thought about Lackluster for a long time.

Yeah, these guys are both buddies of mine that have been giving me music for awhile. So, yeah, the mix series is basically — it's designed to be something you'll listen to on Sunday morning. Beautiful downtempo, trip-hop, anything like that.

So it's on a more chill vibe.

Yeah, but not necessarily. There's some drum'n'bass, some liquid drum'n'bass by Tycho, for example.

What's your relationship with Jimmy Edgar?

I met Jimmy awhile back, because of that experimental scene I was mentioning. He had released on Warp. I was younger than him, but still in that scene, just because of Miami — I was a raver, I knew him from those days. I liked the music he had done, and since we've been friends we always traded music back and forth. The first EP I released on Ultramajic, it just came out of nowhere, you know.

I like that both of you came from this experimental Miami scene, and although you've both released lots of accessible music, you've both kept your weird roots.

Yeah. Well … you can stay weird for a certain amount of time. The weirder you are, the less good food you're eating, you know? This is all I do. My goal has always been to make stuff that I actually like — because I'm not putting out dance records where I'm like, This is cheesy, or this is not who I am. But at the same time I'm trying to educate the crowd. Some of the music I release is not the normal tech-house that people release nowadays. It's a balance — educating the crowd, but knowing you're going to have food on the table. Which is a really tough thing to balance. I do want to call myself a full-time artist, and I put 100% of myself into the art, but in the back of your head, you have to think, am I going to eat? It's very rare that people [can be like] Aphex Twin or Squarepusher. I wish I could do that, but I think that day is pretty much done. Unless you're like Flying Lotus — but he has a good backing, because his parents are — Coltrane, or Dizzy Gillespie, or something like that? [Editor's note: He's actually Alice Coltrane's nephew, per this interview.You know, someone huge. If you have a great backing then yeah, you can put experimental music out, all day. So, [Jimmy Edgar] and I both come from that same area, where we were both poor. My mom was by herself, and he was by himself with his mom, in Detroit, and I was here [in Miami]. So we basically come from the same background. Except he's much more talented. He's a musician and shit [laughs]I'm just a MIDI nerd.

Have you found that when you're DJing and you slip in some of the weirder electro tracks, the crowd responds well?

Well, I mean, that comes with experience, I think. You can't just throw "something weird" in there. You have to know what track to throw, at what time, and whether or not to do it at all. That just comes with knowing how to read the crowd. I've been DJing since '99. Started off doing weddings and all that. And that taught me to look at the crowd, and feel the energy. I'm just not gonna go in there and play exactly what I want to hear — you want people to have fun, you want people to come to your next show. So I balance it out. A little bit of education and a little bit of fun.

Do you plan out your sets or just go with the flow?

I don't plan them at all. I don't know what I'm going to play until I'm up there searching for the first track. Usually, right before I get on, I still don't know what I'm going to play. It depends what the DJ before me plays as his last song — just, you know, he might play an Italo disco record. I'm not gonna go from an Italo disco record into techno. I try not to come into anything with a preconceived set, because then it's not DJing, you know?

Have you noticed things changing in the States, as far as electronic music is concerned, in the past decade or so?

Well, it got worse for awhile. I've only been traveling outside the United States since 2007, so about eight years. And in 2007, it was horrendous. That was the Swedish House Mafia days. Now, thankfully, with the introduction of Disclosure … it's brought up these 13-year-olds, who are maybe now 15, and they're making some pretty decent music. So, now, I see things turning back to their roots, like we had in Detroit, Chicago, and Miami. But I can't say that it's very good right now. I can say that I only play in 10 cities in the United States. That's it. Only 10 cities that someone like me can play in. And in the U.K. alone, there's more than 10 cities. I blame Clear Channel for this. The radio that we have out here, I lay the immediate blame on them. We don't have any real underground stations pushing things, while [over in Europe,] you have Pete Tong pushing new Blawan records on his Essential Mix.

I feel like things are changing, but it's moving slowly.

I'll tell you — if someone gave Pete Tong a show out here — I know he does have a show out here, but it's nowhere near the coverage of BBC Radio One — if there were an open, available source [for new music] like that, then things would change. People gravitate towards what they're fed. If they're fed shit, like a new Justin Bieber record, then they're going to think, "This is the norm, this is good music." Over in Europe, the lowest common denominator is Disclosure. Over here, the lowest common denominator is Taylor Swift. A Taylor Swift mashup with Swedish House Mafia. It sucks because [the United States] basically started the [underground] sound. But, you know, hopefully it'll get there.  

Danny Daze will appear at Public Works this Friday, July 10.
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Chris Zaldua

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