Only The Beat sat down with house music legend DJ Dan
to talk about his early years in Seattle and LA, his new artist album Disko Funk Odyssey
, and why you should fly to Mexico next month to see him play at the EDM Escapes
Cabo. A true pioneer and innovator in the electronic dance music scene, DJ Dan has been around since the beginning and drops some serious knowledge on us in this exclusive interview.
You were the first person to bring Daft Punk to Seattle, and I think it's safe to say that you and Donald Glaude are responsible for bringing "EDM" (more likely referred to as underground electronic then) to the Seattle/Tacoma area. What were the hotspots for dance music when you were living there in the early 90's?
I used to go this club called "The Underground" where Donald played. This was in 1989. Donald was the first person to do a successful all House music night. It was very common to mix industrial with New Wave and House because House music was not totally embraced at the time to make a complete night of it. Donald was the first to pull it off, he always pushed the boundaries of music.
What was the scene like in the late 80's and into the 90's?
Again, it was very common to mix several styles into one set of music back in the late 80's. When I first moved to LA in 91, this was the first time I ever saw big warehouse parties and at the time it was dj's like Barry weaver, Doc Martin and Frankie Bones that were rocking the parties. It was very common that warehouses were illegally broken into for the night until the police came to break it up. That was part of the fun of the night. As things got a bit more sophisticated, venues were actually rented properly. I remember this 2000 person party I played at on a military base in 1991. They rented it out to the promoter thinking they were doing it as a video shoot for Cyndi Lauper or some other big singer. It was pretty clever because if they told them it was going to be a rave, there's no way they would have let that happened. The parties grew to 10,000 people and higher by 1992 and the rest is history.
And what are the biggest differences in the scene from then until now?
Back then we had few big clubs that supported Dance music. Now it's accepted in the mainstream and we get to play on some amazing sound systems. Not to mention events like EDC that have brought in art from Burning Man and stepped up the level of production higher than we ever imagined possible. It's definitely come a long way since the days of a simple wall of visuals and a renegade sound system.
As someone who has been there from the beginning, what is your perspective on the development of the EDM scene in the US. Where is it headed?
I think we are going to see a real solid groove come back into dance music. I'm noticing a massive resurgence of groovy house and techno taking off in Europe and I think we will be seeing more of that here in the US.
Obviously there has been a lot of commotion the last week with the release of the DJ Mag Top 100 poll. You were ranked #5 by in the world by DJ Mag in 2006, the highest ranked House DJ on the poll…Do you think the DJ Mag poll was more legitimate then? What is your take on the poll now? Has DJ Mag lost the fans trust?
Personally I think people should like who they like based off their own research. A popularity contest is not necessarily an accurate representation of what's currently on the cutting edge.
Purchase DJ Dan's New Album Disko Funk Odyssey on Beatport Here
Well said! What is your response to people who think that EDM might fall victim to the same fate as Disco? Popular for less than a decade before ultimately loosing traction. Your new album is called Disko-funk Odyssey, is that something you thought about when you came up with the title?
I think electronic dance music is here to stay in one form or another. Ultimately there's always a mainstream and an underground side to everything and it will go through its changes. As far as the title of my album, disco and funk were the 2 main elements that inspired house music so this was my tribute to that sound. Pulling in familiar and fun samples and then working them in a traditional house structure. This album is something I have wanted to do for a long time and I am very happy to see if finally get released.
Was there an overarching theme for the sound of the album?
It started as a few singles for Guesthouse, one of my favorite house labels out of San Francisco. Once I realized I had made almost 16 tracks in this style, I approached the label about doing a full length album. They were very excited about the idea so I gave them the full album. The name just came so easily, based on the inspirations of disco and funk, and the journey the music takes you on.
What are your favorite tracks off the new album? Any special collaboration’s we should look out for?
My favorite tracks are Out Of Nowhere, Fist Pump Broken and Disko Dancin. I collaborted on all of these tracks with J Paul Getto. These guys have been making some of the funkiest house music around and it was a real pleasure to work with them. I also have a new track coming out with TJR that is not on the album entitled "Jak'd Up Funk". It's a real peaktime tune!
You also run your own record label, INSTEREO. Who are some of the up and comers you’ve signed to the label? Who should we watch out for in 2013?
Watch out for Hazzaro, WhiteNoize and J Paul Getto and DJ Mes. These guys are all doing amazing things right now. Also, the track I mentioned with TJR will be coming out on my label in December, so keep an eye out for that.
What would you say to convince someone who is on the fence about flying down to Cabo for EDM Escapes Destiny?
I'd say what's there to even think about? It's Cabo and these promoters are solid, it's going to be one amazing party! I better see you all there because I will be playing some exclusive new tunes just for the night.
Any final thoughts you would like to share with your fans?
Mainly a big thank you for all the love and support over the years! Keep the love for dance music because it's here to stay and we've only seen the beginning of it. See you all in Cabo for EDM Escapes Destiny!
Connect with DJ Dan
We would like to thank DJ Dan for taking the time to sit down with us and answer some questions. He makes a great point that all of us should heed, and that is to curate our personal taste in music based off of our own research. Don't be a follower. And take the time to actually explore new genres of music, only good things will come from it.
Only The Beat also hopes that all of you can make it out to Cabo to see DJ Dan! Check out EDM Escapes Destiny Cabo page for the full line up, pictures of the venue , and more information about booking your trip...It's your Destiny!
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