Working in House for over twenty years, legend DJ Dan has made an significant impact in dance music. Known for his funky samples and energetic sound, Dan has proven himself to be one of the most revered artists in House. Coming off another huge year with big hits like “Fist Pump Broken” and “Out of Nowhere”, as well as his latest EP collaboration with friend Jerome Robins, DJ Dan found himself all over Beatport charts. Amidst all of this, he is a very humble and down to earth guy. He was more than willing to sit down for an interview with me for YourEdm and wanted to give a big thank you to all of our readers, so enjoy!
PM: You have been producing and DJ-ing House for nearly twenty years, how did you first get into doing it? Who were some artists who have had a significant impact on your career?
DD: I got into it because started going out and seeing DJ’s like Dr. Rob and Randy Schlager in high school and college. Randy was amazing because he would turn new wave stuff into industrial stuff. Then he’d take some early funk stuff and go into house. He was the first artist that told me you could take a story out of many styles of music and you could mix in such a way to do so. I was a big record collector since I was a kid, my parents bought me a lot (probably just to keep me quiet). It was my own escape because I loved playing records. When I started going out and hearing dj’s mixing it together I became obsessed with the art. When I moved to L.A. in 1991, I went to my first rave and realized I could play for a large crowd and create this type of energy. I met another DJ at a party, we hit it off, became friends, and ended up playing more shows together.
PM: Every release I hear from you always sounds fresh and energetic, what artistically keeps you from repeating your old tracks and also separates you from other house artists?
DD: It’s a strong vision that represents what inspired me to get into house in the first place. Mainly for me, it’s my record collection. The whole studio is wall to wall with vinyl and I try to keep it organized for when I got to find a sample. A lot of times, I will come up with a loop and then it’ll hit me, I need to go grab this vocal from this hip hop record. It’s almost like a sample tells its own story. I think it’s pretty easy to do an original track with preset bass lines or other loops, but to find a sample and make it really work and sound great within that story can be very challenging but very rewarding. I’m really in love with the art of sampling because after you work out the sample, you let it make its own animal and breathe energy on the dance floor.
PM: 2012 was another huge year for you, as you had big hits like “House All Night”, “Jacked Up Funk” as well as a new album, Disco Funk Odyssey, and overall doing a lot within disco house. What direction do you plan to take with your tracks in 2013?
DD: I think I’m going to stick to both house and disco house because a lot of artists I like are more tech-house. For me, incorporating a disco house song with tech house song is the direction I want to pursue.
PM: Being an American DJ, is there a significant difference between what you play to American crowds compared to European crowds?
DD: Because dance music has become so quickly popular in America, a lot of places in this country want me to play more commercial. I’ll play a mash-up or two, but for the most part I’m sticking to my guns, I play what I want. I pay attention to the crowd and make sure I’m making them happy. However, it’s more about a vibe for me and why I’m there. Anyone can play well-known records but if they’re inviting me to play, then I need to represent what I’m currently playing. In Europe, they expect you to play underground stuff and don’t necessarily want to hear the biggest, newest tunes. It has been a bit of the struggle because I can tell it would be easier to play the hits people want to hear, especially in the United States, but I’m not going to do it.
PM: Are there certain tracks that you have been using in your recent sets that have gotten great response from fans?
DD: I just played Jerome Robins edit of “Fly Life”, which is sick and that’s been doing really well. There’s something else coming out on InStero by Wise D and Kobe called “How Many Times”. It samples an old Doobies Brothers record, which is unexpected and it really goes off. That Jay Lumen “Get Ready”, you can’t touch that, that thing’s crazy. Also, there is a new track coming out called 3 10 funk which is something you guys will definitely have to check out, its dope.
PM: Tell me about your label InStereo Recordings?
DD: It started about eleven and a half years ago. When I originally started, I was getting a lot of good tracks from friends that I ended up sort of A&R’ing for other labels, advising friends to give their track to this label or that. Finally, I thought, why am I sending these amazing artists, some who have gone on and had a really great career, to other labels? So I decided to make a place where I could put out my stuff and my friends stuff and make it like a family. If they want to see the royalties, how much they’ve earned, and their progress, they can see it. It’s the label of my family of friends. It’ something I can trust with the sales work and always tell my friends you always have a home to put out your music because we will support it.
PM: In closing, what advice do you have for aspiring DJ’s and producers who are trying to make their mark in the industry?
DD: You kinda have to stay on the hustle. When I first started it wasn’t about making tracks, it was about playing great sets and being known for that. I think know it goes hand in hand, you have to play well and put out good music that represents the style of what you’re playing. I try not to stray too far from what I produce and play, but I do have a techno history, so I make sure that every release represents what I play.