Get To Know: Doc Daneeka
14 February 2013
Doc Daneeka makes music for your heart and your ass. His blend of house, garage and funky keeps an ear to the rave culture of yesteryear while incorporating the soulful tradition of early house and first-wave garage over wide-open basslines that nod to dub. We’re tempted to call his music reckless, and we don’t mean that as an insult. Rather, we’re drawn to the recklessness with which he uses sounds.
Doc might punctuate a straightforward garage track with the kind of dirty layered handclap that one would be more likely to expect out of a grimy Baltimore basement. Some of his remix work takes loud and dirty sample sources and layers them with clean, carefully produced, and – above all – pretty synths. Basically, the guy just doesn’t seem to give a fuck about making music that sounds the way it’s supposed to.
And that’s just fine with us.
Catching up with the doctor, it seems, is a pleasure as a person but a challenge as a journalist. He’s so laid-back and unassuming that you sense he’s more comfortable with the music than with being the guy who’s paid to fly around the world and play it. He’s never cagey, but he’d rather just nerd out over music than talk about anything that touches on his own celebrity.
But when asked about the route that he took to electronic music production, Doc Daneeka was eager to engage. He spoke about his growing up in a family filled with musicians and his early obsession with the form;
“It progressed as I got more angsty and teenagy and the hormones starting flying around. Getting into punk, rock and grunge and that sort of stuff. Played in lots of bands. Then funk, hip-hop – we had a really good funk night in my hometown. It just evolved naturally. I then started to meet girls, go out dancing with girls and getting into dance music and taking drugs. And it just evolved into that. I started really loving electronic music and the freedom of not having to deal with other band people made the whole idea of working by yourself really attractive.”
And as the man quietly lays out his love of the art form, the idea that he might not be the type to advocate loudly for his own interests as a member of a band made a great deal of sense. Thank god for computers.
Doc Daneeka’s passion for sonic frenzy bled into his India trip. With a few days in New Delhi, the producer was eager to get out and equip himself with new gear, “The idea is to find a couple of things that [Sebastian] Szary from Modeselektor tipped me off on and said "you need to get these things". The last time I came to India I got some stuff that I’ve sampled.”
We didn’t get a chance to catch up with Doc again, so we don’t know if he managed, but we’re hopeful to hear a few more Desi nods on his future releases. And the thought isn’t so outlandish. “I did a couple of tunes that were working towards an India EP,” the doctor confessed, “which is essentially just a very hectic version of what I do. Really rowdy with lots of Indian samples. … I just try to take my sources from everywhere really.”
Indian or not, we’re looking forward to continuing trotting the globe with Doc Daneeka, a consummate producer and performer, and a damn fine dude to sit down with and share a beer.
The first piece of vinyl/music you bought with your own money?
First record I ever had, I used to be three or four years old, and my auntie – she used to work at CBS – brought me Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me. It was a big tune, man. A lot of naked dancing happened to that when I was young.
WC: So what was the first record you bought with your own money?
DD: Queen – Greatest Hits Vol. 1. I’m still into it.
The best set you’ve ever played?
I mean, there are so many sets that are special for so many different reasons. Sometimes, the sets that leave you feeling the greatest aren’t necessarily the most busy, or the biggest most spectacular shows that you could play. For me, coming to places like India, or Australia or America, where you play smaller shows, but the people are so up for it, and so appreciative of you even being there, it has this kind of electric attitude that leaves you feeling like “this was really amazing.”
Mumbai on Friday was really special, but I think probably my number one has to be Sonar this year. It was really quite a moment. I’ve always dreamt of playing there. When you’re looking out at the end and you’re like “shit, there’s a lot of people out there and they’re all fucking clapping real hard and making a lot of noise.” Just Blaze was telling me how much it fucking changed his life and shit.
The one song you’d want to listen to while you were blasting off into outer space?
Somebody To Love – I want something kind of epic. That’ll do it.
The best album for making love?
That’s a tough one. You go too cheesy and too smooth, it turns into… if you play Marvin Gaye or something, you just start laughing. You don’t want anything with too obvious a rhythm either, because that kind of fucks you up. Maybe something really smooth like Dwele or Jill Scott… I don’t know. Maybe go “Jungle Book”. Get some Tito Puente or some Fania funk.
WC: I’m a big Boogaloo fan.
DD: I think maybe Boogaloo. Makes it feel a bit more junglish. And it’s not too much.
God, that’s a real tough question. Generally, I’d go for a mix. Something that delivers a bit of everything.
One track that’s a guaranteed dancefloor filler for any crowd?
Gypsy Woman. You play Gypsy Woman, and it’ll never clear the floor.
Your favourite book?
I just read this book. It’s called Pulp Head by some Jewish guy from America. … It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.
Your worst DJ experience?
Your favourite city to spin in?
I don’t think I’ve had a bad gig in Manchester. Amsterdam or Berlin. I love Berlin. Anywhere. It’s hard to say.
An artist or producer whom you admire or respect, but rarely feel compelled to listen to?
No, I wouldn’t say so. Generally, if I like an artist, I’ll listen to them tirelessly until I don’t want to listen to them anymore.
The effect of zero gravity on the downbeat?
What? Is this for me to…? I don’t understand. I can’t say I can enlighten you on that.
Words: Kerry Harwin
Image Credit: Sachin Soni