Producer. Journalist. Blogger. DJ. Dani Deahl is a modern-day renaissance woman for the electronic-music community. Hailing from Chicago, the city that invented house music, Deahl reimagines the city’s musical lineage with a distinctive sound all her own—her pink and black hair is just as recognizable as her hard-style electro meets house sound. Her track “Poppin’ Bottles” (released on Red Stick Recordings, a sub label of Strictly Rhythm) with electro-house king Whiskey Pete ranked high on the Billboard chart. A music enthusiast, she has interviewed EDM heavyweights like David Guetta, Tiga, Paul Oakenfold and Pretty Lights for national publications, not to mention that her personal blog gets over 60,000 visitors a month. 2012 has her holding down residencies at Chicago’s revered Porn & Chicken and Madison’s Segredo and entertaining capacity-filled crowds throughout the world. No two ways about it, Dani is on her way to conquering all things electro. Stack her accomplishments next to her unique and sassy style—a cross between punk and rock ‘n roll with electro—and you’ve got a winning formula. There are a lot of reasons to love this fem phenom…most recently her tracks: “Diplo Hates You” featuring Oh Snap, which is coming in at #25 on Beatport’s Electro Top 100 chart, “Pocket Porn” for Royal One Recordings and “Cupcake” for Dirty Fabric.
Dani Deahl featuring Oh Snap!! “Diplo Hate You”
Home Town: Chicago.
Currently Living: Chicago.
Origin Of Name: Thank my parents for that one. Some people think it’s a stage name, but I got lucky.
E-Slug: danieahl.com, facebook.com/djdanideahl
Weapon Of Choice: Bacon.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: Hard to say since the destinations always change...but already for 2012 I’ve traveled about 20,000 miles and it’s only February!
Gigs Played / Nights Out Per Year: Around 100.
Source Of Power: My family and friends first and foremost—the support I get from them, and their belief in me, is incredible. Having the right people by your side makes the bad times good, the good times better and the goals more attainable.
Fan of all that is pink, black, studded and leather. Music tinkerer. Wordsmith.
What life activities are made better when listening to music? Talk about the last time you enjoyed one and the other.
Is it cheating to say everything? Even this past week when I was in LA, I remember sitting in my makeup artist’s hotel room, having him prep me for my gig while he had the Britney album on blast, and it just totally fit the situation. Or listening to an Alvin Risk remix of Kill The Noise while we were all dancing like fools on the set of my music video for “Diplo Hates You.” Or setting my Last.fm to Treasure Fingers while writing out the answers to this interview. So, yeah...everything.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
I actually got a fortune once that said, “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” That’s kind of the same as the saying, “luck is a combination of preparation and opportunity.” Work hard, practice, go to events all the time—meet people—participate in SoundCloud and forums. Immerse yourself.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
When I was first starting out I went to go see Paul Johnson play in a small venue—there must have only been about a hundred of us or less. He put on this one record I had never heard before and I instantly fell in love. Instantly grabbing a pencil and paper I ran up and tried to read the rotating record to write down the title. Paul saw me doing this and reached into his case, took out a copy of the same record and gave it to me. It was Spiller’s “Groovejet” and funny enough, years later, Spiller himself emailed me to pitch me a new song for my blog. I kind of freaked out and emailed him back, telling him the same story. I think the moment stuck with me for so long because it was such an amazing gesture to make to a fan, a genuine way to make a connection through a shared love of music. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Cybersutra: I Believe (Dani Deahl Remix)
Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.
I’m actually thinking about getting my first tattoo based upon Modjo’s “Lady.” That was the first piece of vinyl I bought for myself and there’s a line in it that says, “I feel love for the first time.” It’s come to represent not just the beginning of my DJing, but also the moment of my life when I figured out where I fit in.
Is there a band whose album covers you love?
I love Miami Horror’s artwork—muted dreamscapes that have a sci-fi element to them. Same with their music videos. Something about them just makes me want to get lost in the image—they’re so beautiful and there’s depth to them, as if you could imagine an entire story happening in this one landscape. But I love artwork in all regards, from album covers to product design, to clothing and traditional prints, painting and photography. There are certain sites I go to for mood inspiration. Really good ones are fffound.com and polyvore.com.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?
Funny question since not much of that came from in my own household. My parents are creative people, but in film and photography, not music. Discovering electronic music for me was born out of being a complete outcast in school and needing an escape—searching for a place where I felt a sense of community. I dated a raver when I was sixteen and he brought me to my first event after I bugged him incessantly. Actually, at that first rave I ran into this girl Lisa who was my bully for several years in grade school—she was wearing fairy wings and gave me a huge hug. Completely bizarre but makes a point...we were, at the time, like an island of misfit toys and I finally had a group of people to call my own. And they just happened to listen to house.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
It’s so important! I like to, when I can, have light coming in where I’m working. Certain personal items I like to have around me...like for example I have a Domo pillow and pink Kidrobot All City Breakers. When I’m traveling, I love hotels with bright colors...something about that just makes me want to get shit done. I just stayed in the Shore Hotel in Santa Monica and loved it—all bright oranges and cyan.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring?
Some of the best memories can happen both inside and outside the club. In Madison, a graphic designer had made me an image featuring me slaying killer cupcakes with a katana. At Porn & Chicken in Chicago I tested one of my new songs for the first time and it was so incredible to see everyone go nuts as soon as it dropped. In Oklahoma City, I wound up hanging out at a Cowboy’s game-watching party eating a huge turkey leg wrapped in bacon and dripping with BBQ sauce. In China, I had to figure out how to navigate simple things like a meal, with promoters who only spoke Mandarin. I love that I get to experience travel in a way most people never get to.
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
The first time I had an audience’s complete attention. Actually, it was the first time I played out, the first record I played out. I can’t believe I remember this, but it was the Paul Johnson remix of Studio Nova’s “The Music’s All I Know” on Fiat Lux. [here's the OG version. -ED] The reason I remember this so intensely was because I was incredibly nervous and actually couldn’t beat match because my hands were shaking so much. Luckily there were two songs on that side of the record so when that mix ran out, the next began. The crowd knew it was my first time playing out and they were so incredibly supportive, cheering me on. Their positivity is what made me press on and made what could have been a really bad experience, a great one.
What has changed in the realm of headphones since your first pair?
I’m going to speak from my personal experience, since it’s a little different. I never really was a headphones person until I became a DJ. I mean, even when I was little, I’d carry around this Fisher Price tape player everywhere and be all, “what, I want to listen to Raffi, so you’re all going to listen to Raffi.” I suppose I had a portable tape player and CD player when I was in high school, but I didn’t use them much—I preferred to listen on my stereo at home. I always felt like headphones created a sense of isolation, but DJing changed that. Now what I viewed as isolation I view as a way to transport you. What’s interesting is that headphones are now not a “private” listening experience, but a selective shared experience. What I mean by that is we now have splitters, so two people can listen to the same thing, or things like silent discos, where, as long as you have a pair of headphones, you’re privy to experiencing the party with others. Personally, outside of DJing, my favorite place to use headphones is on planes and in airports. As soon as I put them on, I swear all sense of time and place is skewed. I almost forget where I am.
Soundtrack of Life:
For some reason, I love cooking. I say for some reason because my father is famous for setting the kitchen on fire while making toast and I once caught my mother sautéing chicken in truffle oil because hey, oil is oil. I got my first Betty Crocker cookbook before I was ten as a Christmas present, though it took me a while to learn the ins and outs on my own...my first attempt at cookies was so god awful the babysitter refused to let me eat them. I was drawn to pastry in particular, mostly because I liked the science and how exacting it all was. I taught myself over the years and learned that eggs should always be large, not jumbo, butter should be unsalted and you can make your own brown sugar if you have molasses handy. Below are tunes that aren’t as hard as what I might play out on a weekly basis, but are my perfect backdrop for whipping up a cheesecake or some brittle—dripping with sexy vocals and iced with the perfect amount of synth.
I’ve been a fan of The Knocks for some time and when Brightside came out, I instantly fell in love. How can you not like this song? Uplifting and reminiscent of summer-time rooftop parties—it just puts a smile on your face.
From 2010, Sunlight is still a song I can listen to over and over. With a sweet, puppy love romanticism and peppy synths, it makes me want to get up and dance or just give someone a hug.
This song makes me think of a perfect date that goes until the dawn breaks. Featuring a little guitar in the background and cute narrative lyrics, it’s innocent and flirty. You might want to grab someone’s hand and run off into the night.
This song was sent to me as a submission for my blog at danideahl.com and within seconds, I was hooked. Instrumentals like violin blend seamlessly with the synth work while vocals profess grandiose statements of love.
Kidz In The Hall featuring Esthero “That Good”
Esthero’s feature on this Kidz In The Hall track puts everything over the top. Her voice is so silken, I love it against the loungy feel of the song with soft piano and shuffled drums. Sexiness embodied.
“Dsquared Vol. 3”