It’s not often you hear EDM producers utter the names Van Morrison and The Police and labels such as Motown when asked the obligatory ‘musical influences’ question.
“It’s different for me because when I started DJing 12 years ago it was my dad’s CD collection I used,” says Dutch DJing powerhouse Dannic, also one of the main producers for Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings label. “It was hard to mix those tunes together because they’re not synched — they’re all hand drummed — and I enjoyed putting all these different styles together because it felt really creative. I’d mix Sting with 50 Cent then segue that into a Van Morrison song. I’d spend hours doing that.”
After previous career highlights including bagging the No.30 spot in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs poll in 2014, and the release of peak-time, big room tunes such as ‘Flare’ and the groove-heavy, dirty roller ‘Clobber’, this year is also turning out to be a good one for 29-year-old Dannic.
After breaking in the New Year playing a blistering set at Club Cubic in Macau, China, he’s already completed a solo tour of North America and released a fresh remix package of ‘Wait For You’, his arms-to-the-ceiling, sing-a-long vocal EDM collaboration with Shermanology that came out on Revealed last month.
He has “six or seven solo tracks finished and ready to go” and has just put out ‘May Day’, a collaboration with Lucky Date and Harrison that came out on Revealed last month.
His follow-up to ‘Wait For You’ is “almost ready”. And he has “a more groovy track” he’s working on that is a sort of follow-up for ‘Clobber’ and ‘Tombo’.
“My sound has always fallen between the big room sound and a deeper style,” says Dannic. “It can be hard and heavy but still it needs to have that groove that people can actually dance to it, not only jump to it. And that’s the same if I’m producing or DJing.”
After working as a DJ in local bars and clubs around Breda, Dannic added ‘producer’ to his CV in 2007, when he started making rudimentary mash-ups using Sony ACID.
“I did a simple cut-and-paste of David Guetta’s ‘Love Is Gone’ with a track by Hardwell & Chuckie,” he says. “A bunch of DJs like Billie the Kit and Erick E, who were big back in the day, started playing it loads.”
At that time, Dannic was already friends with Hardwell, who also lived in Breda. He’d met Hardwell in a local bar a few years earlier. They were in the bar, called Café Janssen, one night, propping up the DJ booth, drinking beers, and they started talking about music. “We were into the same sort of sound and Hardwell was doing really well with the Bubbling mixes he was doing at the time,” says Dannic, who’s a couple of years older than the 27-year-old World’s No.1 DJ.
“We’d been friends for a while when he started to really encourage me to make my own songs. I was always doing remixes, bootlegs or mash-ups, and he said, ‘Hey man, you have an ear for it, you have a talent, why not make your own songs?’ So that’s what I did.”
At that time, Dannic was DJing and making mash-ups under the name DJ Funkadelic (a name taken from the 1970s funk band, that he “loves”).
“I remember I’d made a bootleg version of ATFC’s ‘Bad Habit’ and I played it to Hardwell. He was like ‘Dude, I’m about to start my own label, I think we should make an original tune out of this’.”
The pair got together in the studio and erased the vocals on the ‘Bad Habit’ booty Dannic had made. They wrote some new lyrics — that Hardwell actually sang — and after a few nifty fiddles released the tune ‘Get Down Girl’ by Hardwell & Funkadelic. And that record was the first release for Revealed.
Later on, when Dannic’s new DJ agent (the same as Hardwell’s) convinced the Dutch DJ to drop his ‘DJ Funkadelic’ moniker for the name he goes under now, he came across his only career stumbling block.
“People were like, ‘Who’s this Dannic guy, he came out of nowhere and he’s releasing on Revealed?’” he says. “They just didn’t get it. And I really felt like I had to prove or even explain myself, even though I’d already been producing or DJing for so many years. Hardwell and I do go back a long way — I was in the studio with him when he made his big hits like ‘Spaceman’ and ‘Apollo’ — but it felt really unfair to be accused of just having fame because I was his friend. In the beginning that was hard, and it got to me, but that soon changed.”
Since he started releasing solo tunes, Dannic’s records have been played by big-namers including David Guetta, Fedde Le Grand, Avicii and Tiësto. “I first met Tiësto through the internet,” says Dannic. “He played a lot of the mash-ups and bootlegs I did on the radio and in his sets, back in the day when I made music as Funkadelic with another artist called Spank, and also another project I was involved with called Brainless.”
Tiësto, also from Breda, eventually asked Dannic to DJ with him at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam in 2012.
“I’d never played there before and I’d never met him, so I was really nervous,” says Dannic. “Before the gig, he told me just to play my own songs and I’d be fine. He’s super supportive to younger DJs. The gig turned out great and I got a lot of new fans that night.”
As well as releasing on Revealed, Dannic has had tunes out on Toolroom and CR2, and he plays all his releases — and more — for his monthly Front of House radio show, that’s syndicated all over the world.
When Dannic won the Dancetour DJ contest in 2009 he played to 10,000 as part of the competition-winning prize. It was the biggest crowd he’d played to but, these days, playing to huge audiences is standard.
“I toured Asia last year and, over there, EDM is still really new to them,” says Dannic. “There’s a big debate about how the future house sound is taking over from EDM, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. Every year some new genre pops up. Three years ago it was dubstep. A year ago it was trap. Now it’s future house. It’s always evolving and I think that’s a good thing, but I think EDM will always be there. It’s just the most popular music genre.”
Dannic is as much of a fan of EDM as he is of the future house sound currently being purveyed by the likes of Oliver Heldens. “About eight years ago I was a big fan of the Flamingo Records house sound — the kind of stuff being made and played by Fedde Le Grand and Funkerman,” he says. “Now I’m a big fan of Kryder and Tom Staar. Their music is big room but it’s housey at the same time. That’s what I love about it. You can play those tunes even after playing W&W, for example, and it still has the same energy.”
When he DJs, Dannic plays 80-90% of his own tunes. Catch him DJing now and you’ll hear him play ‘Tombo’ — an older release that has that groovy sound to it — as well as ‘Zenith’, one of his newer tunes.
“'Zenith' is a staple in my sets,” he says. “It has the big room feel to it and the breakdown, the melody, is something people actually sing along to.”
Crowds also sing along to ‘Wait For You’, Dannic’s second vocal release; the follow-up to ‘Dear Life’ that he did with vocalist Bright Lights. “When you’re DJing it’s cool to have people interacting with you in that way,” says Dannic.
“It’s amazing when I’m DJing, if I cut the music, and people are still singing along.”
Dannic still uses CDJs when he plays. And he feels his most creative ideas for tunes come when he’s DJing. “Even when I’m producing I use the knowledge of DJing,” he says. “I always produce what I need in my sets.”
When he’s making music — using a “Mac Pro, a good monitor system and a keyboard” — he always has an image in his head of the crowd; and he imagines how they’d react to a tune he’s making.
“I’m just a DJ kind of guy and I love playing music,” he says.
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