When it comes to all things funky, house, and breaks, DJ Dan is a West Coast luminary. In 1995, when the West Coast rave scene was in full bloom, Dan’s track “Loose Caboose,” under the Electroliners moniker, not only epitomized the rhythms that were moving dancefloors up and down the west coast, it was one of the most notable sonic fingerprints for California’s soon-to-be acid house meets breakbeat meets techno trend. That track spawned many global hits and Dan is still going strong. From clubs to festivals, few DJs know how to work a room like him. He’s a funky American institution through and through.
I travelled the whole country soaking up the culture, music, food and art. I was so inspired from my last rip that I came back and made three of my best tracks to date.
DJ Dan "Baby Boomer"
Home Town: Olympia, Washington.
Currently Living: Los Angeles, CA.
Origin Of Name: It’s funny because a friend of mine hired me to play a party he was throwing and he asked me what my DJ name was. He said that if I didn’t come up with something clever by the time he was done with the flyer, I would be DJ Dan…and so it began.
Weapon Of Choice: My record collection.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: 100,000.
Gigs Played/Nights Out Per Year: 75 – 100.
Source Of Power: James Brown, my parents and all the underdogs who have fought their way to success in life.
Blurb Yourself: I have always been passionate about music, food and the arts. Growing up I loved cooking with my mom and always tried twisting the recipes. Cooking is still a big hobby of mine. There is no greater feeling than seeing someone get really excited about a new taste sensation. I get this same satisfaction from putting music together, this is why I mix funky disco with techno and occasionally some breaks. I have always been inspired by combining things that traditionally shouldn't go together, the audio sensation of being inspired by a great DJ set is what I truly live for. In the past few years I have travelled to Italy two times and took cooking classes both times. I travelled the whole country soaking up the culture, music, food and art. I was so inspired from my last rip that I came back and made three of my best tracks to date. I think of music as a way of telling my story and my life experiences are my tools to do this. I've always looked at music in colors. Disco is orange, techno is blue and brown, electro is bright silver and progressive sounds are blue-ish. I like to combine many styles into my DJ sets to take people on a musical journey of sound. Peaks and valleys of energy through color is how I would best describe it.
DJ Dan "House All Night"
Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output.
My passion for music, and my obsession for vinyl, started with loving the feel of 45s. Throughout growing up I loved funky music of all forms. My parents rewarded me throughout the years with new 45s if I was good. I had eight brothers and sisters that always seemed to get into trouble but you could always find me jamming out to my records with my headphones on. It became tradition every Christmas for a family member to buy me a new turntable. It was all I ever wanted, I had a great collection of them from around the world. I kept up with music growing up, I then started playing in clubs in college in Seattle while I was studying fashion design. The music and fashion went hand in hand, it was the beginning of the acid house Movement in 1989 and there was a big post new wave fashion movement inspired from the house scene. I moved to LA in 1991 and fell right in the middle of the rave revolution. I knew then and there that there was no going back once I went to my first show. Since that time I have played all around the world from house to techno to funky house. I love all things creative, my house has many custom art pieces painted by close friends. I have renovated my home in a very Balinese style and have brought back many art pieces and sculptures over the years. To me, the art of expression is everything and I love my many outlets to express it through.
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
I have recently started meditating and have actually re-discovered a mix that I recorded over 15 years ago as my background music. It's a downtempo mix called “Imagine” that I had made just for close friends. The journey that it takes you on is very relaxing, calming and soothing. The messages in some of the vocal songs are so uplifting, I imagine myself floating on a cloud by the end of the mix.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Be a leader and follow your own vision.
What is a song that inspired you to create?
Foxy “Get Off.” It was the disco track that made me fall in love with funky music as a kid.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
My most memorable night out was going to a rave in 1991 seeing Barry Weaver play at Union Station downtown LA. It was a Paw Paw Patch Party. I had never seen a DJ take the music to such high levels through the mix. Pure genius story telling through sound. It was the day I decided I wanted to be in control of the crowd's mood through the peaks and valleys of music. I knew I was meant to be a DJ.
Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.
Depeche Mode “Never Let Me Down Again.” The lyrics “I'm taking a ride with my best friend.” This song always takes me back to the day that I had the balls to leave my hometown of Olympia Washington. I had just had a really inspiring conversation with my best friend and he had convinced me to just pack up and head to Seattle for college.
Is there a band whose covers you love?
Everything But The Girl Idlewild. This CD has many covers of some of my all time favorite songs. It was released in 1990 and was the CD that got me through many late nights in college. Tracy Thorn has the most soothing voice and for some reason her vocals always calmed me down when I was in a chaotic state. I still love that album today.
How does listening to music figure into your creative process?
I love sampling records. I have a massive record collection so those are my tools. My favorite thing to do to get inspired is to grab a stack of records, my headphones and comb through records looking for bits and pieces to conceptualize a track out of. I get so many ideas by doing this. A melody to a Duran Duran record can be played into a bassline for a house track and it sounds totally different in the translation. A sample of a hip-hop record can be cut up and stretched out and turned into an instrument. I hear these things by manipulating the records as I'm listening to them. It's funny how I'm basically doing the same thing since I was five-years old.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring?
About 15 years ago I was DJing in San Francisco and was playing this new Depeche Mode single and it was a beat driven dub that I was actually playing at 45 rpm instead of 33. It just sounded great sped up. Right at that moment my good friend walked in with Martin Gore from Depeche Mode. They were old friends and he was in town on tour. They came up and hung out with me through my set, I apologized for playing his record at the wrong speed and he said he thought it actually sounded great at that speed, whew! After my set, we went into the back VIP area and had drinks, played pool and then out of nowhere he stared singing us classic American country and western songs about death for 30 minutes. It was so surreal I had to call my friend the next day and ask “did that really happen?” Martin Gore is the coolest and strangest guy ever.
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
Yes, I was playing at Shiva’s Erotic Temple in Long Beach. I was playing Bizzarre Inc. “Playing With Knives” and X-Pansions “Move Your Body.” The rush of the songs had the crowd so high that water was being thrown in the air and it was catching the colors of the laser beams. The crowd was so happy and the energy was electric. I realized the power of music and my role as a storyteller through this form.
What has changed in the realm of headphones since your first pair?
Now, headphones are like that favorite pair of designer jeans that you saved up so hard for as a kid. You know you are getting a piece of art as well as going to look super fly in the gear. There's no sexier feeling than putting on a sleek pair of headphones.
Soundtrack of Life:
Since I love cooking I'm gonna list songs I love to cook to...
Because I always flip my recipes different every time and its usually always pretty good—and its my way.
Cuz sometimes it’s just too hot!
Having so much love for international cuisine, Im usually cooking something I fell in love with on holiday.
I have two potholders that mimic 45 records that say Hot Stuff on them…so this song always comes in my head when I use them.
Because doesnt everyone want to be at the Copacabana having dinner and possibly falling in love?
DJ Dan "Stereo Damage" (DJ Dan & Brian Matrix Remix)