Extended Mix: Danny Tenaglia on the Art of DJing

From the DJ History archive: DJing’s marathon man on his early years, legendary New York clubs and the joy of long sets

Courtesy of Danny Tenaglia

Danny Tenaglia was always destined to be a DJ. A music obsessive from an early age, his life changed when one of his cousins played him an eight-track tape recording of a local Brooklyn DJ called Paul Casella. Tenaglia was mesmerized. By the time he turned 16 he was already playing regular sets in local bars, clubs and roller-discos.

In the late 1970s he began going out in Manhattan, heading to such iconic clubs as Better Days, The Loft and the Paradise Garage, in order to dance to DJ sets from now legendary DJs such as Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Tee Scott and Bruce Forest. In 1985, he moved from New York to Miami in order to take a job as a resident DJ at one of Florida’s biggest clubs of the period. From that moment on, he’s never looked back.

When Tenaglia returned to NYC in 1990, it was initially to further his blossoming production career. He became an in-demand remixer, delivering long, deep, dark, driving and muscular reworks tailor-made for clubs such as the Sound Factory. His reputation rocketed worldwide during his residency at Twilo in the mid-to-late 1990s, while a steady stream of singles and albums in his distinctive style captured the mood of the times. It was at this point that his marathon DJ sets became a highlight of the annual Miami Winter Music Conference.

Dj History

Between 1998 and 2000, at the height of his DJ and production career, Tenaglia conducted a number of interviews with British music journalists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. In these he talked at length about growing up, his experiences on the dancefloors of some of New York’s most iconic clubs and the art of playing extended DJ sets. The in-depth interview that follows has been edited together from those lengthy conversations.

We understand that you grew up in Williamsburg.

That’s right. When I go there now it takes me back to being a little younger than ten years old – just a little boy who would hear music from across the street. It could be radios, restaurant jukeboxes… Wherever I was, I was just naturally attracted to music. Bands, street festivals… If there were musicians, I wanted to see. If we went to weddings or parties, I was always the kid by the stage, looking at the band. I loved instruments. Every Christmas, every birthday the kids would get gifts and they didn’t even have to ask me. As long as they gave me a tape deck or a little record player, or some little instrument, I’d be happy.

The neighborhood must have been very musical.

Yeah. It was the kind of area where summer would come, people would be out on the streets. They’d have street festivals, like the annual feast at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church on North 8th Street. They would have bands at that event. I was just naturally attracted to that, to instruments. I started fiddling with a piano because my aunt had one. She only played by ear, she didn’t learn professionally but I still learnt from her. I basically taught myself somewhat. I also attempted to learn guitar professionally but that didn’t last very long. I didn’t have the patience and discipline that it takes.

But you were definitely musical.

Yeah. I knew I had a good ear for pitch and rhythm and all that, but I didn’t have the patience or the discipline that it took to study several hours a day. Then my attraction to vinyl kicked in. When I was a kid and we went to restaurants my mom and dad would ask, “Where’s Danny?” I would always be over by the jukebox.

I was always attracted to records as a youngster, but it wasn’t until I was probably around 11 or 12 years old that I started buying records. I really don’t recall the first things. I would think it was “Soul Makossa” and stuff like that. Motown stuff and the Jackson 5. Back then I was always attracted to rhythmic and interesting abstract songs, like Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Tighten Up” and “Funky Nassau” by the Beginning of the End. I always loved records like that. I don’t know why.

That instrumental side of things?

I think even as a child I was underground! They were all into the Beatles and I wanted to hear the B-side to Manu Dibango. So it started back then, my passion. I was 12 years old when I discovered the art of DJing and the fact that you can blend two records together.

How did you find out about that?

Through an eight-track tape that my cousin Kelly was playing in his car. The songs blended from one into the other. It was so harmonically blended, this guy was really crafty. I immediately picked up on it, because of my interest. And I said, “How did he do that?” Kelly said it was a mixtape of a DJ from a club he used to go to on Queens Boulevard. Back then it was called Monastery, but it later became Butterfields. The DJ was called Paul Casella. So I was in the car and my cousin explained it all to me: the DJ, the nightclub and all that. From that moment, I was like, “This is it!”

Because it was making music but you didn’t have to practice.

Yeah. I already had this passion for vinyl, and I loved collecting records and playing records, but never even knew there was a concept of continuous beat matching, the art of DJing. I knew there were radio DJs, but you stop, you talk, you put on the next record. I didn’t think about dancefloor culture.

When he explained it to you, did you understand that it was an art form? It took a while before people saw it that way.

I saw it immediately because of my love for music since birth. I always had record players. With DJing it’s only, “You have two record players and a mixer and you just continuously do it with the headphones.” It was a revelation.

I was fascinated so I called up the number on the eight-track tape and the guy was just like, “Who are you?” I said, “My name’s Danny. I got your tape from my cousin.” He just couldn’t believe that this little 12-year-old kid was calling him. He said, “Where are you?” I said, “I’m on the deli on Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn.” He said he was a few blocks away and stopped by, recognised my cousin from the club and gave me three more of his tapes. So I went home and studied them.

What year was that?

1973 – pre disco but on the verge. When I turned 14 – around 1974-’75 I managed to get snuck into the club where he was resident DJ, the Monastery. My cousin knew the security guys outside. He said, “My cousin’s just dying to see what this looks like, he’s fascinated.” He took me to the DJ booth where the other resident, Jenny Costa, was playing. She was like, “Who’s this little kid? He’s so cute! How did you get him in here?” She was amazed. It was like 4 AM. My cousin was like, “He wants to be a DJ. He just wanted to see the club.”

I stayed for 20 mins or half an hour. I was just mesmerised, by the lights and the people dancing. And that’s really it – the rest is just history. I knew from there on that this was my calling. I needed to be around this environment. And it was from the heart. I never thought, “Oh one day I’m going to be a future big-name DJ,” ’cos there was no such thing. But from that day onwards I knew what I wanted to do.

My first going out experiences came when I was playing in venues. I left school at tenth grade because I was already working as a DJ.

What was your first DJing experiment?

I got two turntables and I hooked them up to the balance control, so one turntable would be on the left and the other turntable would be on the right. You would only hear one song out of one speaker. I might have doubled up – it was mono then. So that’s how I would do it, with these turntables that weren’t even 12-inch platters. They were for the little 45s. It was a joke.

Did you tape those experiments?

I had an eight-track player, but I don’t think I made professional DJ tapes until I got professional set up. When I was 16 going on 17, my Grandma had left me a little money – maybe $1500 – so I went to Crazy Eddie’s on 8th Street and bought two turntables and a mixer.

Before I got my own equipment I started playing at a pub: a small place. The front part had a long bar and a pool table, and at the back was a restaurant. It had all these booths but also a mirrorball. They used to have live entertainment and people danced. I was 15 going on 16 and it was the time where DJs were starting to come into it a bit more. They were starting to do weddings, proms and bar mitzvahs, so my two older brothers told the guy at the bar, “My kid brother Danny loves to do this DJing thing. It’s his hobby.” It quickly turned into, “Why don’t we get him here and do parties at the weekends?”

Even though I was just turning 16, my parents allowed it because my brothers were there. It was three blocks from my house and Williamsburg wasn’t like it is now. It was a neighborhood. It was a cool environment, there weren’t drugs and shit. And it was only from nine until one. My parents were quite strict so I wasn’t allowed to go out apart from when I was DJing until I was 18. My first real going out experiences came when I was playing out. I left school at tenth grade because I was already working as a DJ.

Before that I’d not been doing that well at school. From the first to the sixth grade in Catholic school I was a really good student – grade As and stuff. My parents were very proud of my report cards, right up until the seventh grade – my Junior High School – and then I started hanging out with the wrong kind of element. We’d have the radio by our sides, go to the handball court, get a quart of beer and smoke a joint. It was like a daytime nightclub on the handball courts outside the park. All of a sudden I could live that club vibe through these kids on the street.

By the 9th grade, my parents were complaining about failing grades. I tried to tell them that I wasn’t learning anything and that I wanted to do music. They wanted me to learn an instrument, but that was nothing to do with DJing, dance music or soul. At 17 I started getting more gigs in bars and clubs. Just little lounge type places where they’d just set the DJ up in the corner. I’d say that all started around 1976, when the labels were beginning to knock out the hits on a weekly basis – labels like Salsoul, West End, Prelude and Casablanca. They were early nights, but I was making money.

By this stage did you know about the clubs in Manhattan?

Yeah, because I’d read whatever trade magazines I could. I probably started going to clubs about 1978.

Do you remember which ones you went to first?

It might have been the Inferno, which was a young crowd and the music was derivative of the Paradise Garage. The DJ there was black, Rene Hewitt, and Kenny Carpenter was the light man. That’s where I first met Kenny. Besides the Inferno there was Better Days. When I went there it was to hear Tee Scott.

Whereabouts was Better Days?

It was on 49th Street, between 8th and 9th. Now it’s a restaurant. It’s right across the road from the Polygram building.

What are your memories of it?

I remember it being predominantly black. They played a lot of soulful classics, like Chaka Khan “Clouds” and MFSB’s ‘Love Is The Message.” That was the first place I discovered people vogueing. You know, the West Village, pier-type crowd. They responded so well to the music.

Chaka Khan – Clouds

Was there any hostility towards you as a white person?

No, it was cool. There were only a few white people who went there. They were either there because they were in the industry, or because they loved the music. It was a lot easier back then.

What do you remember about Tee Scott as a DJ?

He was obviously different from other DJs. He would try things; do these long overlays. Back then, it was so much harder; people really don’t understand or realise how hard it was to mix those records with live drummers. I remember listening to his mixes and he would do them really longer than I would hear other DJs attempt to. The next time you went you’d hear the same mix, but I knew it was something he worked at, so it was worth doing more than once. It was worth repeating. And the response he got from the crowd… When a record came on they would have their hands in the air and would scream.

How did you discover the Loft?

Neighborhood friends. I think one of my older brothers went. They told me they thought I would like it.

So when was the first time you went to the Loft?

I’d say probably 1979. I remember becoming a member and getting the membership card. Their logo was the Little Rascals sitting around a table. You felt like you were in somebody’s house; like a big house party. I loved it as soon as I stepped in. I felt the power of the level and the music – it was a whole different vibe from Brooklyn, where the neighborhood guys are looking to drink, get drunk and pick up chicks. Now I stepped into a world of unity for music. It was like, “Oh my God I’m home.”

What did it look like physically?

If I recall it was ground level. You had to walk up a couple of steps. It was a storefront. You could be on the dancefloor and they would have tables and chairs like this [points to tables and chairs we’re sat on, which are like the kind you find in school cafeterias]. I remember David Mancuso up in the DJ booth – it wasn’t on the dancefloor, but up and away. I remember hearing songs like Chantal Curtis “Get Another Love” and Pam Todd “Let's Get Together,” as well as Mike Theodore Orchestra and all those Philadelphia soul records.

Chantal Curtis – Get Another Love

I remember the balloons and machines shooting bubbles out into the crowd. It was a very relaxed environment. There everybody that I met was like, “If you love this, have you ever been to the Garage?” I’m like, “No, but I’ve heard of it.” That’s the big daddy. When I went there, it was like glue. I’ll never forget it. I wanted to move in.

What was is it about David Mancuso that was inspiring? Like Larry Levan, who we’ll talk about later, he figures in so many people’s stories as a crucial inspiration.

I think with David it was selection. Everything he played would be something I would play. It could have been me up there feeling the same thing he was playing. I loved everything he was playing. Technically, you know, he was never an incredible, phenomenal mixer. Back then it was hard, too. We’re talking about live drummer to live drummer and those 4/8 measure intros.

So when was the first time you went to the Garage?

It was 1979. I remember the first song playing when I walked in: “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me” by Peter Brown. If you remember that long break, it’s really intense, considering that it’s like 20 years old. The sound, the clarity… Oh my God. And I’m standing in front of that stack, and feeling it from head to toe. Oh my God! I just wanted to put a mattress on this thing and never leave!

Peter Brown – Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me

It was quite early. The lights were pretty much still lit. The room was bright. There was only a few people scattered around. I must have got there about 1:30 AM and the club opened at midnight, so there weren’t many people there.

So you got to see him build the whole night?

Right. Larry was still kind of fiddling. I saw the whole changeover, from people coming in, coming up the ramp and going into the area where they had lockers. They would change their clothes, put on their shorts and tank tops and that was it. I was born there, for like, phase three. Phase one was the instruments, the toys and the passion for vinyl. Phase two: That was understanding the art of DJing and getting to witness it with my own eyes, going to Butterfields and the Loft.

I went to the Garage religiously for the next five years. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I don’t think I ever will experience anything like it. I’ve travelled in all parts of Europe and got an incredible response from people. That’s great, but it still isn’t like the unity at the Garage. It was more about the song. And it didn’t have to have these drum-roll beats to make you feel it. Songs like [D-Train’s] “Keep On,” they had their peaks but it was mainly the vocal context that would make people go off. So it was a whole different feeling.

What special nights do you recall there?

They always did a really good job when it came to decorating for holidays and Halloween, Christmas-time. They weren’t cheap about their parties. As far as what was special, I remember seeing the group Lace there, who did “Can’t Play Around.”

What year was that?

I think it was 1982. It was everybody’s favourite record at the time. They only had that one record out at that time. The crowd was just so intense. They just howled and stomped until the band came out and did it again. I think the song was six minutes. I probably had 15 minutes of goose bumps. I will just never forget it. It wasn’t drugs. There was no liquor there. It was pure love of the music. The only other time I experienced a performance like that at the Garage was when Christine Wiltshire came out and performed the song “Weekend.”

When she was with Class Action or Phreek?

Class Action. Sergio Munzibai [and John Morales] remixed it on Sleeping Bag.

Class Action – Weekend (M & M Vocal Mix)

Because it was originally a Patrick Adams production wasn’t it?

That [original 1978 Phreek version] was a massive Paradise Garage record. When it was remade on Sleeping Bag, it was a hit again, and she came to perform at the club. She goes, “Now you know I ain’t gonna do the original classic,” and the whole place went insane. It was almost like the Lace performance. But there were so many others, like ESG, but none ever came close to that for me. The stories are endless you know. There are so many songs, like “A Little Bit Of Jazz” by Nick Straker Band, “Let’s Go Dancing” by Sparque, “Walking Into Sunshine” by Central Line. These songs would come on and people would just lose their minds. There were so many others like that. I’m getting all gushy here!

That’s fine. What do you think makes Larry Levan stand out so much?

Besides talent, which I think is the bottom line in the entertainment business, I think it was the right place at the right time. He had the most overwhelming space in town. What I learned more than anything from Larry, though, was the entertainment thing. The whole crowd would just light up when he’d get them to sing along with a tune. I also learned about headroom: It’s not about always being on maximum volume. That’s really important. A lot of DJs just want to go to ten, they’re not ever turning off their monitors to hear what it sounds like outside.

I really learnt the art of entertaining a crowd from him, and feeling what he was feeling, because I was out there, I was participating. Week after week, year after year, just dancing to what he was playing. When I’m playing, I think, “Can you feel what I feel?” I’m really feeling it and I can see the people who are also feeling it. They look at me and they’re in amazement – not over what I’m doing, just at the song, or the way it’s being played, or what came next and what was before. A proper set – not just like, “Oh I love that song” and then, “Let’s have a drink.”

Like, “He’s reading my mind!”

Yes! It’s like a whole journey involved. I learned a lot from Larry in that sense, particularly how to take people from one plateau to the next. It really wasn’t about technical aspects so much, because he didn’t have all the toys we have today. With CDJs you can do sampling and all kinds of things.

I’d call Larry Levan the Jimi Hendrix of dance music. What he was doing at the time was so special and unique.

Did you get to know Larry?

I got to know Larry on a somewhat personal basis. I met him at the club. I knew a few employees and a couple of times I was there hanging out with them they took me up to the booth and introduced me. He was cool and a bit standoffish. He was definitely in his own world, but he knew who I was. I was really a nobody back then – just another neighborhood Brooklyn DJ. I was working in a roller-disco at the time.

How did he create such empathy with people to the point where, even now, people talk about him? He’s like the Babe Ruth of dance music.

I’d call him the Jimi Hendrix of dance music. Jimi was legendary and there was some sort of connection with Larry and Jimi. Larry started doing his Peech Boys stuff at a studio on St Mark’s called Electric Lady. Jimi had recorded there. Larry had referred to Jimi Hendrix in various conversations, because what he was doing at the time was so special and unique. Not only him, but also the owner Michael Brody – his passion was the room and how much people enjoyed it. He wasn’t into having liquor. It was about the party. They would put out fruit bowls. They had a bar, but it only served juices and sodas. They wouldn’t even charge.

Do you think the fact that it was a membership club made people think that it belonged to them?

Definitely. You felt special. You felt like you were in an elite group with people who were on the same level of understanding about music as you. I think the only club that captured it afterwards was the Shelter, which is still going on. The Sound Factory opened up in the situation of wanting to be like the Paradise Garage and it captured it somewhat in the look of the room and the floor-stacks, but I think when it did finally open, the music had moved to another level. When I moved to Florida in 1985, even though the Garage was still open, I felt the last two years it was open were not such good years.


The music was in transition. A lot of it was great, but a lot of it wasn’t. House was coming in – “Jack Your Body,” Mr. Fingers’ stuff, Chip E, Liz Torres – so it was becoming track-oriented. Sad to say, I think Larry was in a different place as well, with his partying and stuff. Towards the end, they knew it was going to be the last year. The lease was up. I believe they had the option to renew, but I think Michael wanted to end on a great note.

Did you go to the last night?

I flew up from Miami specifically to go to that party. I probably made the mistake of getting there too early because since I was away I didn’t fly alone, I came up with some friends and they had never been to New York before. It was little bit too overwhelming for them because the place was absolutely scarily crowded. So I didn’t get to stay till the end, which would have been the most meaningful for me. I think it closed at something like seven at night. I stayed only until about 11am. But I had five special years, and I heard everyone’s descriptions of the last few hours.

Going back to the earlier Garage period, was there anyone and anywhere else important at the time?

At that time, DJs that come to mind besides Larry and David, are Tee Scott, Tony Humphries and Shep Pettibone, who was been equally influential as a remixer to me, for the other side of my career.

You know Bruce Forrest from Better Days? I learned a lot technically from Bruce. He was like this wizard white kid who just stumbled into a gig at Better Days. He was studying like medicine or something, but kind of liked DJing. They were having auditions at Better Days and he got the gig. And it’s not even something he had been doing for years.

He just had some natural feel for it?

Yeah. He was really incredible on the decks. He came on around the time when it was cool to use three turntables and introduce a sampler to the booth, and David Cole often would bring his keyboard and do live stuff.

Let’s talk about Miami, where you moved in 1985. You were the top dog in Miami for a long time.

Right. In the Garage days I didn’t wish that I had Larry’s job, I just wished that someday I’d have something like that. Which thank god I do now have at Vinyl, and other places. But by the time I was going to Sound Factory I had already had my residency at Cheers in Miami for five years.

I was there for three nights a week, from 10 PM to 7 AM. I had a fan base. I had the market cornered because it was the only place in Miami, Florida even that could stay open until seven. All the other clubs would close and people would come for their last four or five hours at Cheers. It was great because it was when house music was really exploding. That was between 1985 and 1990, which was when I was in Florida.

What took you to Miami in the first place?

There was nothing going on in New York.

So you were actively searching for a place to play?

Yeah. A friend of mine, this kid named of Tommy Moore, moved there. When he moved to Florida, he found this club that was open seven nights a week. He said, “They’re looking for a DJ, if you like I could set you up with a gig.” So I moved down and we were both resident DJs there. It worked out really well. We were best friends, we shared parties and we covered for each other.

It originally started out as a video bar, about the size of this room here. Then they extended it to the next building and that became the dancefloor and the DJ booth. They just kept on expanding, knocking through into other buildings.

Tommy, he loved Madonna and playing those kinds of pop records. That’s why he was a hit there. It was the time of Taylor Dayne and Company B, when freestyle was at its peak. Then I came in and was introducing Chicago tracks, like Chip E and Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, into what he was doing. Slowly but surely I started introducing dark house and more great records were coming out. Ten City was having hit after hit and David Morales was knocking out remixes left, right and center.

That’s also when I started my career as a producer. I made my first record in 1988 as Deep State, “Waiting For A Call”, which got signed to Atlantic. In 1990, Warsaw Ballroom opened and hurt a lot of small businesses. It was fate. Now it was time to say, “Warsaw’s hurting our business. I’m progressing as a producer, but there’s not much going on for producers in Miami.” So I moved back to NYC and started over.

It was with a view to taking my production further. I shelved the DJing for a while. I didn’t have a gig. Then I started going to Sound Factory and really enjoyed what Junior [Vasquez] was doing. I wasn’t necessarily thinking, “Oh I could do better,” or, “I wish I had his job,” because I’d had that great rapport with a crowd for several years at Cheers. I was now here to focus on my production.

I already had started doing songs like Double D and Right Said Fred, and then in late ’92-’93 I started working with The Daou. Also, I knew the Murk boys because they used to program for me in Miami, so I remixed Liberty City “Some Lovin” and Funky Green Dogs “Reach For Me” for them.

When they did records they would bring a box to me in New York and I’d take them round to DJs Through that I became friendly with a lot of DJs. I would hand Junior their records all the time. He played my remixes and that was cool. That was the basis of our relationship. Things got a bit sour for a while but it’s all water under the bridge now. I wish him all the best. I hold no grudges.

Things have changed for DJs recently in that the fame thing has got off the hook. Do you think that’s changed things and damaged the craft? There are certainly some famous DJs in England that aren’t that talented.

I think I know what you’re saying. We’ll se where they are five years from now. Will they have learned from their whole experience? Will they put the right amount of effort to into DJing, or move into production? Or are they just gonna be like party animals, the jet setters type? “Oh man, just got off a flight and we’re going to Ibiza tomorrow, and then going off to Amsterdam, and then…” I know the type.

But the thing is, that keeps them in the magazines, which keeps them famous even when they’re no good. It also encourages kids to think that’s what its about. The other thing is that in the UK the tradition was very different. In New York it was always about one person playing for ten hours and playing maybe two or three times a week. When dance music took off in the UK and Europe it was two hour guest slots for the “star” we’re bringing in. There’s much less understanding of great DJing over there, because there’s not that tradition of having to play a whole night.

I think that playing long sets is the important part of my success and my enjoyment of it. If I don’t play from the beginning of the night, and I just show up, have to set my records up around another DJ and start to play for a crowd that’s all facing the booth, I’m like, “Uch!” To take up where he left off is just ridiculous to me.

I love getting to Vinyl at 11, setting up my six records and starting off with Sly and the Family Stone if I want. You know, just vibing to put myself in the mood and pulling out music that has been sitting on my shelves for 25 years. That way I can warm myself up so that by the time the crowd is there, I’m fully ready for them. I’ll start out with a slow groove, the way it used to be and the way it should be. I call it the appetizer, the entrée and then the dessert.

At the end of the night I come back with the classics. The last hour I’ll pull out all those surprises and people say, “Oh shit, I remember that!” Or there’s people that are hardcore and they’ll stay til the very last song, they’re there to hear what my very last song would be.

So the very last hour I’ll play anything from a Kerri Chandler record to old Murk tracks or something of my own – and I’m not known for playing a lot of my own music. The last hour can be my hottest record of the moment, mixed in with a classic. You know what I mean. It’s just that fun. The smorgasbord at the end, down to something slow, funky: En Vogue, Soul II Soul, whatever. I mean, the elements of surprise.

It’s all about a story.

Yeah. There’s definitely a journey involved.

Is there anything you’d like to be able to do better?

Well, that takes me back to being a musician. I wish I could better learn how to play the piano, but I never will because I know what it takes and I don’t have the time or the patience. What I have here is like juggling three careers. I have Vinyl every Friday, which takes a lot of preparation with it being my party. “Be Yourself” at Vinyl is my party. Kevin Mccew handles al lot of stuff, but when it comes down to the flyers and every little detail, I’m always involved. From guest lists to flyers, who’s gonna open for me, things like that. Vinyl is a handful in itself and preparing musically for that is one career.

Then there’s the production career. I’m constantly being offered remixes. I turn a lot down every week because I just don’t have the time. Some of them are really lucrative, like Britney Spears. I’ve been turning down artists of that stature. Right now I’m only into taking on songs that really touch me. The next record I’m remixing is a classic, “Give your Body up To The Music” by Billy Nicholls.

Billy Nichols – Give Your Body Up To The Music (Danny Tenaglia's New Generation Mix)

So I’m doing that and I’m building a Pro Tools studio, as you saw in my garage, so I don’t have to give thousands and thousands of dollars away to big studios any more. So that’s another major career. It really is. It takes up a lot of time.

Is DJing still a blast?

It’s become more and more of a blast. I think so much has to do with the music. I think trance, techno, the whole 140 BPM “dum dum dum” nonsense, is now coming back down to more of a progressive, funkier groove, with a foundation where it’s 130 BPM or below. The foundation is more groove-related and anything over the top is just cool synth sounds that I’ve always embraced. Now it’s just all coming back around. It’s so great to know that I inspired people whose records I love, like Tilt, Peace Division and X-Press 2. I’ve loved those guys for years.

Now all I want to do is make records with these guys. We should just all collaborate. That would be great. That’s my whole goal now: To have the studio in my garage, and whenever they’re in NYC, we can make a record together. It would just be about fun, not about business, dollars and big label bullshit.

What’s that feeling like when you’re in the DJ booth and it’s going great?

I think it’s like seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. I recently went to a party and I saw cousins I haven’t seen in so many years. We felt so happy to see each other. They know of my success as a DJ, they’re so happy for me now. They’re really proud of me, because they always remember Danny as the kid that loved music. “I always knew you were gonna do something!” So when I’m in the club, any club I go to, and I look out there and I see people, It’s almost like I’m seeing family. They’re happy to see me and I’m happy to see them.

This feature contains elements from separate interviews by Bill Brewster (conducted in 1998) and Frank Tope (2000). © DJ History

By Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton on January 25, 2019

On a different note