A life of its own – Profile on Daniel Avery

Looking back through an old interview from 2013, Mischa Mathys attempts to frame the enduring appeal of Daniel Avery.

A lot has happened since 2013. Much has changed in the world of music, and especially electronic music. DJs have assumed rock-star status, travelling the world on their skills and almost every piece of music released today at the very least references electronic dance music tropes. Who would have thought back in 2013, that this music would be as popular as it is now and who would believe that by 2021 it would be inducted into popular culture in the way that it has. 

I certainly didn’t think that would be the case when I first interviewed Daniel Avery back in 2013. Even though he had just released Drone Logic, a very popular independent dance record, it was still a niche record.  Even in the dance music arena, fit fell between the gaps of a minimal Techno sound coming from Berlin and UK Bass coming out of London. Avery, although already well known and admired in DJ circles, was still fairly unknown outside of the UK before Drone Logic, but that was to change too. 

The record left an impression, perhaps even because it fell well clear of the trend-informed mark of the time, and Avery’s star rose accordingly, only justifying his finely honed skill as a DJ. Some 8 years later though, and I’m still listening to Drone Logic and we’re all too familiar with Avery’s craft in the booth. Yes, while things have changed, much has stayed the same, and the best of these, like Avery and Drone Logic have stood the test of time. 

“I got told early on by several people close to me that the only thing you can do is make something that is true,” Avery told The Big Takeover in an interview from earlier this year, and that sentiment reflects the work and the artist’s enduring appeal today. Four solo albums and a touring schedule that sees this in-demand DJ play all over the world week in and week out, and there is no denying that Daniel Avery’s truth, much like his music, resonates with the rest of the world. As he says in that same interview; “A true and an honest statement can never be beaten.”

I guess I like club music

Avery has come a long way from his adolescent indulgences. “I’d probably ask myself if I still had that Lostprophets CD I bought in my early teens…” Daniel Avery said if he could ask his younger self a question during that old interview. It was the allure of guitars that initially caught the young Avery’s attention growing up in Bournemouth. He ”grew up on things like droney, shoegaze music” according to a Dummymag interview which led to playing the bass guitar and by the age of 15, he was recording music via a 4-track recorder.  It was a “very rudimentary set up,” he claims in The Big Takeover interview today, “but the second I started doing it, something felt right about it.”

Call it a latent talent or innate ability, but Daniel Avery’s first foray into music would not come from making it, but rather listening to it and it took him some time to come to terms with electronic music in particular. As “a young, naïve kid,” he recalls in Dummymag, “all that was there in front of me was stag and hen parties playing dance music that I fucking hated.” 

While initially put off by the tawdry aspects of “club music” he eventually warmed to the idea when he started hearing DJs like Erol Alkan and Andy Weatherwall playing sets that crossed a line between the attitude of punk-rock and the more polished aspects of electronic club music. “Richard Fearless and Death In Vegas were a very early one as well, because I love Death In Vegas and went to see them, and he was playing this mind-expanding techno and electronica. And I was like, ‘you know what, I guess I do like club music.’” That affirmation not only endeared Avery to the sound of club music, but most apparently propelled him forward towards a career in DJing. 

Selling records or selling records

“I started playing warm-up sets around 2003, but even then, it simply felt like an extension of making mixtapes for my friends but on a bigger scale,” he told me back in 2013. Avery found an affinity in the ability to be able to “affect the mood of a room,” but more than that he was able to follow in the footsteps of people like Weatherall and Fearless, blending in new music with more experimental sounds for a largely listening audience. “I discovered I could play the stuff that was coming out at the time, like the first Interpol record or TV On The Radio, and then I could also play Neu! or Kraftwerk or Harmonia,” he told Dummymag. 

He assumed Stopmakingme as a DJ moniker and started playing around London, most notably as a nascent resident for Fabric. While the UK was moving towards Bass music and the likes of Riccardo Villalobos was establishing a new minimal sound in room 1 of Fabric, Avery was drawn to the harsher edges of Techno, that was beginning to form around the last remnants of Electroclash in room 2. “I do love the grittier end of it,” he says of the style of Techno he enjoyed at the time. “A fucking heavy break from a rave/jungle record will get me every time, but everything I do has a techno heart.“ That fluid approach cemented his style and took its cues from those archetypal DJs like Erol Alkan who started to take notice of the younger Avery, but more on that later…

Around the same time as he picked up Djing, he started working at a record shop in Farringdon, London. He grafted, selling records by day while honing his DJ skills by night. London came to know Stopmakingme, not from the music that was yet to come, but for his individual skills in the DJ booth. He became a regular favourite at the esteemed Fabric, and soon caught the ear of an international audience on his skills as a DJ alone. After a decade working the decks, he did eventually move into production. 

Talking to him in 2013, I asked why he had hesitated to release music. “I didn’t hesitate,” he claimed, ​​”it was just something I had never even thought about in the early days.” In the interview with The Big Takeover, he shines some more light on the subject, suggesting that his decision to start releasing music might have coincided with the closing of the record store in Farringdon. “I was really faced with this huge crossroads in my life,” he remembers. “I could either find another job selling other people’s records, or I could make records that were sold in these stores. It was a leap of faith, but it’s one I took, and I’m so glad I did.”

On the shoulders of giants

Releasing a few singles and EPs as Stopmakingme, he made music that offered to bridge that gap between indie bands and the dance floor, much like Weatherall did with his early work for Creation, but as the bands started moving away from guitars and towards drum machines and synthesisers, so did Avery and Stopmakingme had to be killed off, so Daniel Avery could be born again. 

“I look back on the Stopmakingme period as my ‘first band.’” he recalled in 2013. It was like a kid picking up a guitar for the first time and seeing what comes out. I listen back now and it all sounds so young and naive… because that’s exactly what it was. I switched to my real name at a time when it felt like I was finally able to actualise some of the sounds in my head and, with that, could begin to carve out something of my own style.”

Assuming his given name, and teaming up with his idol Erol Alkan, Daniel Avery carried on where Stopmakingme left off, both as a DJ and a producer. It called in a new era in music for the artist behind the moniker. With Erol Alkan as friend and mentor, Avery practically moved into Alkan’s studio, with Alkan providing the platform in Phantasy Sound and the tools in the form of the machines to record what would eventually become Drone Logic. 

The breakthrough record was an immediate success in club music circles, even though it completely broke with the zeitgeist of the time. Raw, heavy percussion and synth sequences running like freight trains through the arrangements was pure body music; but body music exploring the emotional depths of a mechanical soul. “The thing that draws me to this kind of music,” says Avery by way of explanation in The Big Takeover, “is the idea of taking machines, mechanical objects, and breathing some kind of human life into them – some kind of living soul or beating heart, and making them sing in that way.” 

He moved into a studio which shared the building with not only Alkan, but also Andy Weatherall. “Aside from being surrounded by a staggering record and synth collection,” he says about the experience in the Skinny, “ it’s just a very inspiring place with an ever-present creative atmosphere.” Even, inspired as he was, it would take five years for him to follow up Drone Logic with his next record, Song for Alpha.  


“It’s been a year full of highlights,” said Avery in 2013. “Releasing the album felt like a big moment but the thing I’m most pleased about is that I feel more confident than ever as a DJ. I’ve always been proud of my sets, but I’ve really felt a significant gear shift this year. I feel like I could play for hours and hours in every city I visit.” 

In the five years between his first and his second record Daniel Avery’s reputation as a DJ preceded him wherever he went. Channeling the influences of the likes of Andy Weatherall, Fearless and Alkan, Avery found a distinct voice in the DJ scene. Techno remains at the heart of everything he does from the booth, with humanoid machines dictating the language, but it’s that “mind-expanding” experience that he first encountered with Fearless that has become central to his interpretation of the genre. His 2016 DJ Kicks mix stands testament to that. It’s a psychedelic trip through a labyrinth of electronic soundscapes unfolding in a cinematic plot-line. It doesn’t entertain any specific genre other than a broad Techno interpretation, and while the songs of their time the mood we encounter in that mix is timeless. 

“The music that interests me is the music that sounds unreal,” Avery told Interview magazine  about where his particular tastes lie. For Avery it’s “music that sounds like it comes from somewhere else entirely and grabs you by the hand and takes you somewhere that you haven’t really been before,” and that is reflected in his DJ sets. In those early influences he seems to have carved out a unique sound that sets him apart from his predecessors, while at the same time offering a fitting tribute to the legacy left by Andrew Weatherall

Get lost

After that, “it became almost a necessity to be in the studio,” Daniel Avery told Interview around the time his second LP was released. Looking for “somewhere that feels totally different to a nightclub,” he set about making “Song for Alpha,” an LP that picked up where Drone Logic left off, while at the same time consolidating Avery’s love for those psychedelic sounds, and the quest for the dance floor. “I’m just a huge fan of psychedelic music…I just like music in which you can get truly lost.”

Getting enough distance from his debut LP, Song for Alpha is a truly different beast, although it retains some of that elusive visceral appeal of Drone Logic, even elaborating on it. “I just realised very early on that I wasn’t interested in saying the same thing again,” he explained in Interview. In the five years since releasing Drone Logic, that “youthful urgency” he displayed, had calmed and matured. Song for Alpha not only indicated a significant change, but it set the benchmark for the next 3 years, which saw Avery release two more LPs, a collaborative LP with the legendary Alessandro Cortini, and a host of EPs and remixes too. 

Song for Alpha and the succeeding Love + Light saw Avery taking a very different approach to his sound with atmosphere playing a significant role in his music. That visceral feeling he achieved in the bold rhythms of Drone Logic, he now transposed to melody and harmony as synthesisers came together in vivid orchestrations. In the two part record Love + Light it’s particularly striking as Avery moves from the impulsive dance floor to the serene tranquility of an ambient record. Love + Light did more than just tie a narrative between the beginning and the end of that record, it also offered a bridge between Song for Alpha and the follow up record, Together in Static.  

Starting life as a concept for a show, Together in Static marks the latest in Daniel Avery’s discography, showcasing, yet another side to the artist,; a reflective side, with more than just corporeal impulses dictating the mood. “It started to form,” explained Avery in The Big Takeover, “this idea of making something specific for the show that was more ambient-leaning and toward the quieter side of what I do.“ There’s no doubt that the pandemic played a significant role in this objective for an album conceived in 2021, but yet again shows Avery able to adapt, without succumbing to the zeitgeist. 

A life of its own

“I feel, right now, as if what I’m creating is a sound I’ve been striving for ever since I started,” he believes, but all the elements that constitute his appeal are still very much there, even in this latest record. The idea that “robot music” must “have a human heart” continues to be a recurring theme in his work, but now it’s able to modulate between the dance floor and a pair of headphones. 

“The best DJs take things from different genres and make them sound like they’re from the same world,” Daniel Avery told the skinny back in 2016, and with Together in Static it’s a sentiment he can still apply to his production work too. 

It’s not 2013 any more, it hasn’t been for some time, but Daniel Avery remains consistent in his ideologies. Although the music has changed and the audience has gotten younger, he remains, and the ideas that shaped Drone Logic and his earlier sets are still intact, unwavering in the presence of whichever contemporary trend. Despite, or perhaps in spite of that, Daniel Avery has shaped his career into legacy today, walking in the footsteps of those he idealised back when he was starting out. His ability in the booth is unmatched and his music continues to draw new fans to his work. 

“Creating something that can be shared around the world and that’s got a life of its own even when I’m gone,” is something Avery said he strived for in The Big Takeover. Today, as we discuss his debut LP and the fact that everything we talked about in 2013 can still be applied, the sentiment runs true. 

* Pre-sale tickets available here.