Just doing my thing with Danny Daze

Converging on the sounds of Miami Bass, Electro, and Detroit Techno, Danny Daze is a DJ, producer and label head that has forged a singular sound in the booth and the studio for over a decade. 

Born Daniel Gomez, and raised in the vibrant musical landscape of Miami, everything from Salsa/Merengue, Hip Hop and Miami Bass encouraged an audacious youth to a life in music. Break dancing lured a young Danny over to the turntables, establishing a strong tether to contemporary music styles like Electro, where he would forge a career as a DJ. 

Inspired by a local scene of characters like the flamboyant Otto Von Schirach, DJing eventually led to production where Danny almost immediately carved out a career with his debut single, “Your Everything.” 

The Electro leaning track with its mammoth bass-line was strangely co-opted into the all-consuming Deep House trend of the last decade and sought to pigeonhole the DJ and artist into its ranks, but with his signature sets that ran the gamut from Detroit to Miami, critics couldn’t accurately consolidate his sound, which usually erred on the darker edges of body music. 

That criticism merely strengthened Danny’s resolve as he forged ahead in his enduring philosophy of “doing my thing” and after some releases on Jimmy Edgar’s Ultramajic, Ellum Audio and Kompakt Extra, the rest of the world eventually tuned in on to the Danny Daze wavelength. 

While he was establishing his singular sound as an artist, he was also breaking down boundaries from the booth. Informed by the same eclecticism from his youth where Bjørk could make an appearance in a Hip-Hop and R&B set, Danny’s DJ sets propelled his career even further. His bass-heavy selections, which played on the same corporeal intuitions he had cultivated as a break dancer, had endeared him to an international scene where he has staked an individual claim as a DJ today. 

Sets like his now famous Dekmantel Boiler Room mix, continues to set him apart from the trend-informed contemporaries, with a sincere focus on treading a unique path between elements of Electro, Miami Bass and Techno, leaning towards the darker hues of those musical universes.

In recent years, he’s channeled this unique approach to his music and sets in the equally distinctive, Omnidisc record label with releases from a close knit community of like-minded artists like RHR and Anthony Rother and the rare contribution from Danny Daze.

Between the label, the DJ sets and his music, Danny Daze has foregone the paradigm of  Dj-based music for the sake of the individual and after almost a decade of an internationally renowned artist and even longer as a DJ, it is this what remains at the core of his appeal. It’s Danny Daze doing his thing, and that’s what we found too, when we sent out some questions to Danny ahead of his set at Jaeger next weekend for Frædag

Miami has got such a vibrant musical legacy. What role did that play in your formative years as your ears were opening up to music?

Being able to listen to Salsa/Merengue, Hip Hop and Miami Bass all in a matter of 20 minutes from each other on radio was something I wasn’t aware would push my sound to where it is now. It’s the main reason my taste in music is quite wide. 

As you were coming into your own and aspiring to music was there any kind of scene that you would’ve gravitated towards?

I was always a dancer. When I was 5 years old I was already throwing myself on the floor thinking I was break dancing so naturally I gravitated to that scene. The break dancing scene was commanded by electro and funk so essentially it’s what led me to listening and playing electro. 

How did break dancing lead into DJing?

It happened rather easy. I was obsessed with all forms of break dancing music. From Jimmy Castor to Newcleus. A lot of my friends would come to my house to practice and I had a selection of CDs we would dance. It just naturally progressed to my mother buying me turntables and me DJing around for free at peoples houses. 

I’ve read (although not confirmed) that you were playing Hip Hop and R&B at first. What  influenced you to move over to those Miami Bass, Electro and eventually Techno sounds that you are associated with today?

Nah it’s the other way around actually. I started off in ‘99 playing Electro. I played old school Electro then in ‘00 I heard Nu-skool Electro for the first time. I then got into playing hip hop around ‘03/‘04 because I saw there was money to be made and I enjoyed the turntablism aspect of it. I started a remix/mashup project called DiscoTech which took off really quick in the US. I wasn’t expecting it to take off at all to be honest. I just wanted to earn a living doing something I loved and it ended up taking my partners Joe, Matt and I all over the world. Very unexpected. 

And was it always the darker elements of these genres that attracted you to these sounds?

Always. I remember when I first got into DJing. I got into Florida Breaks which is quite happy. I knew I liked it, but I knew I wanted something darker. Then I heard the Mandroid – B-boy No Comply album and my entire perception of broken beats changed. Then immediately after, Anthony Rother – Dont Stop The Beat absolutely flipped my head upside down and I knew there was no turning back. 

You’ve on more than one occasion mentioned one of my favourite and one of the most underrated electronic music artists in my opinion, Otto Von Schirach as an influence in the past. What role did he play in your development as an artist?

Otto was one of the first live acts I saw in Miami in the very early 2000’s. Along with Dino Felipe and Soul Oddity/Phoenecia. What attracted me to Otto was the fact he just did his thing and till this day he remains focused on his sound. Not only is he the nicest human on earth, the dude just does his thing and that’s it. I was very attracted to that attitude as a youngster because I was surrounded by people in school who constantly looked for some sort of approval or confirmation. I would say that the entire IDM/Electro scene in Miami really changed me as a young teenager. A lot of my friends noticed that change in me early in my high school years.  

I know like Otto, you like those alternative elements to dance and electronic music. How do you factor those elements into your DJ sets today?

Those elements just come in. Not sure how to answer that as it’s the only way I’ve known how to DJ and it’s what I thought DJing was about. Having your own style so you’re not just another jukebox. Even in the Hip Hop days, I experimented. I’d play Bjork right smack in the middle of a 1000 person club who all wanted Biggie. 

You got pigeonholed as a DJ, somewhat unfairly, in that Deep House trend after “Your Everything.” What effect did it have on what you would do next and how did you eventually sidestep it as a DJ?

Yea, that was quite fun to watch and be part of to be honest. That “Your Everything” track to me is not even remotely close to what I used to call Deep House. I always considered Deep House artist like Rick Wade and Mike Huckaby. When I finished that tune, I thought I had made some sort of Miami Bass/Electro-clash/Disco fusion thing. I wasn’t aware it would take me in the direction it took me but I’m glad it did. I got to learn a lot about the industry and how it works within 18 months of that record coming out. I’m honestly not sure how I was able to sidestep it and have people now understand what I’m about, but I think just doing my thing and not worrying too much about what people think really helped. Also, as time went by I think people just noticed my mixes, Dj sets and production just didn’t fit the deep house thing so slowly started peaking into what I do. 

Did you feel you had to adapt the way you produced your music as a result?

At first yes. I thought “oh well, I guess this is where my career is taking me now, might as well try to enjoy it”. It was way better than the Hip Hop/Mainstream world I was part of 6 months prior. I wasn’t aware my record collection from when I started DJing would actually be something I could continue playing over in Europe. As soon as I started touring Europe I noticed I’d be playing clubs where artists like The Advent and Cari Lekebusch were playing the second room. It surprised me and I immediately knew I needed to stick to my guns and not conform but by that time, the pigeonhole had already been cemented and I really needed to push hard so people knew exactly where I came from. It was quite a wild ride.

It was the first Ultramajic release that I always thought defined your sound as producer from that point on. That’s Detroit, Electro and Miami Bass all rolled into one. What was the crucial evolution that established your sound as an artist for you?  

It’s funny cuz what’s established my sound now is me simply rolling back the clock to what I started doing as a bedroom DJ. I was buds with Jimmy Edgar and he had heard some tunes I was working on and asked if I wanted to drop it on a label he was starting. I think that first release on Ultramajic surprised some people because everything about it was a bit different than expected. Not saying it was good or anything, but it was definitely different than expected for many people. Lol. 

Is there a conscious idea behind your music before you create it?

It depends. Sometimes I just wanna bang something out that was an idea floating around in my head, sometimes I’ll go into the studio wanting to experiment with one piece of gear causing something to happen that wasn’t expected. It’s finding that balance between both and knowing how to utilize that time. 

How does your own music relate to the sound of Omnidisc?

Omnidisc is an extension of my musical taste. Stuff I would play in a club, stuff I would listen to at home. It’s helped me shape the sound I want people to expect whenever they hear me play. 

What do you look for in music to make it on to the label and how do you usually come across this music or these artists?

I always look for experimentation in the recording process and want the tracks to tell a story. I get many demos where they simply sound like jam sessions and although these tracks may work in a club, I want people to walk out of a venue and specifically remember a song they heard. All of the artists I’ve released … I either know them personally or their demos have come to me via another artist on the label. At times I’ve received some demos that worked for the label and I signed them, but I really enjoy having a circle of artists who all feel like family with each other. I believe that’s extremely important for the growth of the label both sonically and maintaining its ethos. 

There’s quite some variety in there in terms of the pool of artists. Is there a concerted effort in them to make music specifically for the label, or is it just of you finding music to fit the label, regardless of the artist?

Nah, I like having an artist come back to the label. Artists like Shokh, Anthony Rother, Dean Grenier, Drvg Cvltvre are artists who’ve released multiple times. I’ve never told anyone to make music to “fit the label”. The only criteria I’ve ever had for something to fit the label is the music needs to tell a story. The sound of a label shifts of course, but the main thing for me is for the artist to feel free to experiment and not worry if it will top the charts or not. 

And is there ever a case of adapting the sound of a record to fit the label?

No. I just won’t release the record if too much has to be done to it. It’s happened often where I’ve gotten incredible records that I would play out, but I just don’t release it because there are plenty of other labels that would fit much better with it. It just doesn’t fit the label. 

Your own output remains quite reserved. Is it a case of being your own worst critic?

I’ve always produced music but I like to keep things at a minimum and not over saturate. One, maybe two EPs a year is more than enough for me. This year for example I have an EP coming up on Omnidisc, then releasing some stuff on Schematic Records which includes an album towards the end of the year. 

So what makes a Danny Daze track or record worthy of release?

I’ve got no idea lol …… it mostly has to do with whether or not it feels new to me. It doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, but I’ve always needed to feel like it’s something a bit different than what’s popular at the moment. 

Is there a lot of confluence between the music you make, the label, and your DJ sets?

It’s pure confluence that’s for sure. Everything merges and everything shifts at the same time. 

You’ve spent a lot of time between the US and Europe, DJing. How do you feel you have to adapt your sets accordingly and what effect has it had on your DJing in general, playing for a variety of audiences?

Part of being a DJ for me is being able to adapt and embrace without fully removing yourself from your original message. We’re living in a time now where “DJ” doesn’t mean much, but I’ve always respected those who just stick to their guns. Thus why I feel it’s important to have a wide spectrum of influence so you can adapt to what’s needed but maintain the core message of what you want to put out. 

Are there elements in the kind of music you play that is universal between these two regions?

Electronic music is pretty damn universal to be honest. Things have become much more commercial now that the internet is the main source for all things music, but good drums and proper bass lines will always do the trick. No matter where you play. 

This will be your first time at Jaeger. Do you have a way of testing the waters in determining which way your set will go on the night?

I usually go into the venue about an hour before I play and check out the crowd. Depending on set length, I take some left and right turns seeing how weird we can get with the crowd. The weirder the better. 

How do you expect your set to go on this occasion and are there some tracks you’re particularly looking forward to playing?

Absolutely no idea how my set will go buy I hope people don’t start throwing tomatoes at me. Haha. I’ve actually just gotten back the masters to my next Omnidisc EP which features RHR so I’m really looking forward to trying them out at Jaeger.