Danny Daze: "I'd rather be an artist than make money"

Words by: Peter Adkins
Posted: 7/5/13 9:12

Danny Daze : Danny Daze might have spent his formative years in Miami, but his musical leanings have always been elsewhere, from the Detroit electro aesthetic that underpins his recent productions to the Warp Records IDM sound that informed his adolescence tastes. But then again Daze, real name Daniel Gomez, doesn’t play to expectations.

It’s a sentiment echoed by the fact that despite Daze’s 2011 Hot Creations track ‘Your Everything’ which cemented his position as a producer, he flat out refuses to repeat the deep house sound that made him something of an underground star.

Instead, recent cuts have seen Daze exhibit a penchant for techier, more electronic sounds, with releases on Plant Music and, most recently, Maceo Plex’s Ellum Audio label marking him out as a producer that you can't pin down within the confines of a single genre.

What’s more, Daze’s association with Maceo Plex extends further than just releasing on his label. Having recently moved Barcelona, Daze has subsequently teamed up with fellow ex-pat in the studio, recording under the moniker Jupiter Jazz (a homage to an Underground Resistance track).

We called Daze at his Spanish home to chat about getting DJ gigs at an age when most other kids would be playing Little League Baseball, what he thinks of the EDM takeover of his hometown and what the future holds for him.

You began djing in Miami in your early teens. Were you having to sneak into clubs to be able to play?
I’ve always looked younger than I am, and when I started djing at thirteen I looked like I was ten or eleven years old. I used to DJ a lot at a club called Malibu, who used to put on a rave every full moon and I’d have to be sneaked in through the back, through a Go-Kart racing track [that was behind the club].

Thankfully, by the third time I’d done that I had become good friends with the security guards and they automatically started letting me in.

The only way I’ve been influenced by Latin music is its syncopation. I’m really not into the tribal sounds that are found in Latin music, but I am very much into off-beat rhythms & not being 100% quantised...
Tell me a bit more about the party scene in Miami when you were growing up. What kind of sounds were in your record box?
Mostly, I was playing electro and IDM , stuff like Autechre and Richard Devine. It was a real close scene, you had to be accepted before you were ever allowed to DJ and you really had to hone your craft. It was [difficult] place to play to begin with, but it ended up being the best thing for me because I learned how to read crowds.

Did that scene relate to the ‘Miami Bass’ scene that prefigured it?
Miami Bass was definitely a very big influence. We were all playing records by artists like Aphex Twin who had taken the Miami Bass sound and made something else with it.

You cite Italo Disco and Detroit Techno as two influences on your music. But to what extent has Miami’s Latin-American vibes informed your sound?
The only way I’ve been influenced by Latin music is its syncopation. I’m really not into the tribal sounds that are found in Latin music, but I am very much into off-beat rhythms and not being 100% quantised. This is something that [figures] in my productions but also my DJ sets, I use this syncopated approach to throw people off and surprise them.

Danny DazeMiami has become a huge magnet for EDM music in recent years. What do you make of the fact that the commercialisation of dance-music has been centred around your hometown?
That’s a tough question. A long time ago, I used to have to play a lot of the [EDM] clubs. When I first started out doing underground stuff, I played these types of club [to make ends meet]. But this was before it turned into what it is now and I didn’t have to play the kind of cheesy records that they expect the DJs to play now.

I think [this homogenisation] is basically the fault of the radio broadcasting network Clear Channel Communications who basically own all of the USA. It’s good and bad, because it means that Skrillex and the big Swedish guys are pop stars and maybe 10% of their fans will come and listen to what I feel is good, soulful dance-music.

So I think it is a good thing, but it is also over-saturation and people get tired of it very quickly. It’s basically why I’ve moved out of Miami and come to live in Barcelona.

And how is city life in Barcelona?
I love it. The fact that radio in Europe is pushing underground music, that even organisations like the BBC play straight-up underground music on commercial radio, just tells me that I need to be out here.

Let’s talk about your music. The track ‘Your Everything’ on Hot Creations was something of a breakthrough record for you. Did it put a lot of pressure on you to follow it up with a similar sound?
I think people expected for me to repeat that same sound, but instead I’ve completely changed it. Whilst ‘You Everything’ came out in 2011, I’d actually started making it two years earlier. I had wanted to make an electro-influenced track with a drone bassline and it came out at the right time and was a massive tune.

But I felt I got put in the corner as someone who only made that kind of music, despite the fact that I was already doing something different.

Like the last record I’ve released, ‘The Calm’, is pretty much just pure techno. But I am appreciative of ‘Your Everything’, it definitely opened up [opportunities] and the reason we’re talking now is because of that track. But it’s not my sound at all.

You were never tempted by the fact it was a big hit and you could make hit after hit by replicating what you’d done with that record?
No. I’m the complete opposite to that. If I see something is a big hit and I can work out its formula, then there is no challenge or interest for me. Not many people know this, but I used to make pop music and so I have an idea of the formula needed to make hits.

But that’s not who I am. I’ve always been more interested in abstract music. I’d rather be an artist than make money. At the moment I’m making enough money to be happy and make records that I hope people will like [but not worry] if they don’t.

In terms of future releases that you’ve got lined-up, what can we expect?
I’ve just been in the studio with DJ Godfather from Detroit, the guy who pioneered ghetto-tech music, so we’re going to be releasing a couple of things together. In fact, one of the record might even be a Jupiter Jazz record. A Jupiter Jazz and DJ Godfather track that pushes Detroit sounds. And hopefully in October, I’ll have an album out.

What’s your album going to sound like?
I’m trying not to include too much dance music on it, to be honest. Maybe one or two dance tracks. I think EPs are good for dance tracks, but I’m trying to push something else on my artist album. Something different.

You mentioned the Jupiter Jazz collaboration between yourself and Maceo Plex. Can you tell me a little more about your friendship with Eric and how you ended up in the studio together?
He and I were both crate diggers of electro and IDM whilst we were growing up, and we got to know each other through an internet forum called the Electro Alliance, where you could trade vinyl records. So a couple of WMCs ago, when I started hearing his Maceo Plex stuff and he started hearing my new Danny Daze stuff, we just become cool. From then, whenever we’d see each other on the road or when I was in Spain, we’d catch up and end up in the studio making stuff. Now, we’ve decided to make a project, where we can push a new sound. It’s not a project we’re going to be 100% focusing on, it’s a side project. But we’re definitely going to be touring it and hopefully, get a live show worked out.

You’ve got a lot of dates lined up for the summer. Are you the sort of DJ who prefers the Ibiza club or festival tents?
Definitely the club. I don’t know if any DJ truly would [choose a festival over a club], apart from maybe the EDM guys who enjoy playing to 100,000 people. An intimate crowd, where everyone is enjoying the music is way better than looking like Jesus on a big stage at a festival where you can’t even see if the crowd is dancing.

Cheesy last question: if you weren’t producing and djing, what would you be doing?
I’d most probably be a lawyer. I always thought I would be a lawyer. I have no clue what kind. Probably not criminal justice, maybe entertainment law.

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