Dannic reveals his dream collaboration and why more DJs should invest in young talent
This interview is a part of #KanvasLive, an interactive, cross-platform content series brought to life on the Kanvas app and AOL.com. See more on coverage here.
How do you prepare for a set like this one at Ultra Music Festival?
This one is pretty big, yeah, but I didn't prepare anything, really. In January, I locked myself up in my studio. I've never had so much music coming up. I'm really excited to play it all. It's like, 90 person of my own tracks and 10 percent is my new label, Fonk Recordings.
So you'll be playing people on your label?
Yeah! Young talents that I'm supporting, which is great so I have a full set of brand new music that has never been heard before.
So you're premiering some new stuff as well?
Well, almost because obviously people are expecting me to drop the Dannic hits so it's going to be a good mixture of that and new music.
You released [your new track] 'Jungle' in January! How was the reception to that?
Really good, actually! It was a free download because I made that record in three hours with a DJ tool and wanted to have something funky in my sets and it's just a simple track but people love it and probably partly because it was free. But I didn't expect it to be as well appreciated.
You've performed before at Ultra. What do you love most about Miami?
Miami is one of my favorite cities, it's like a holiday. It's still work but you can meet up with all your fellow DJ friends and all this new music that is coming up. It's kind of the start of the festival season. Of course, the weather is great and the pool parties are awesome -- it's just the whole atmosphere. You can't really describe if you've never been here.
Do you feel like there's a different energy here than anywhere else in the world or do you think there are other places that rival it?
Energy wise, it's a good mixture. Because there are people from foreign countries that come over just to see Ultra and I think that's great. Yesterday, I played at a party and I played for fans from Japan and Canada and the U.S., as well, and that's what makes it special to me.
How important is the interaction with those fans, both in person and on social media?
My fans are really important and if I'm speaking about myself, I think I have super dedicated fans. They know all my songs. They always support me on social media. I think it's really important to actually interact with them. I always try to do that. Obviously, I can't always answer every question, but I try to.
What's your favorite social media platform?
Right now, I'm totally into Snapchat. I never thought I would ever say that because a friend of mine always used it and I was like, 'Dude, why are you taking selfies all day long?' and now I got into it and it's just like a really easy way to connect with your fans and they can really see what you're doing and it's really fast. And obviously Twitter is great and Instagram as well, but Twitter, I'm really responding to everyone. On Instagram and Facebook, a little less. But I try to interact with them all the time.
And you talked about your label and how you really try to foster young DJs and young artists. Why is that so important to you and where did that passion come from?
Basically, because I believe in young talents and I think everyone that is successful, they all had an extra step up -- someone that pushed them, like a mentor. It's just like Tiesto did with Hardwell and Hardwell did with me. They put you on a platform and they say, 'Okay, this guy makes good music'. Obviously, you have to do it yourself. It's not like you can lean back and say, 'Whatever', but you need support and someone that can prevent you from making the same mistakes that I experienced in my career so far -- that's what I want to do with them.
So, I'm helping young talents in the background, finishing their tracks and a lot of those guys have never played before so they have a very different approach to making music and I really see from a DJ perspective so and that really helps make their tracks better.
So are you going out and finding them online or are they coming to you? How does that process work?
Well, yeah, as my career is growing, my profile is also growing and people are reaching out to me. Of course, I just launched a label so we get about 200 or 300 demos a day. It's ridiculous. But I have to say, we don't really have an image yet but the label is about groovy, funky, Bikram house music -- that's what I'm looking for. So, obviously, we get 200 or 300 demos but it's not all the musical genre I'm interested in. We really have to build that [image] and people have to say, 'Okay, this is Dannic's sound and I'm making this track, he may like this one.' But it's great so far. We've signed eight or nine tracks right now. We're going to release some every month. We're going to keep it fresh and they're all guys who no one has ever heard of before.
You said Hardwell was kind of that figure for you when you were coming up? How did that come about?
Basically, we met 10 years ago in a bar, drinking beer and sharing the same passion for music and we were always in the studio together, making music together and he noticed my talent at the time. And he was like, 'Dude, you have so much talent! Let me help you do something with that. Go tour with me.' And I said, 'I don't know. It's a big risk. I have a good job.' And he said, 'No, no, no. Let's do it.' And you see what happened. When I quit my job, I had the time to actually produce 24/7 and it just started going off.
What was the job you had?
I was a marketing manager for three years. It's a big job but I can still use it in my career. I'm like the CEO of my own company and brand, which is great. But yeah, [Hardwell] is amazing. First of all, he's one of my best friends and we support each other. It's a back and forth thing.
When you look out on the landscape of dance music right now, who do you think is exciting and doing things that are different?
I think that the consumption of music is changing rapidly and I see a lot of genres popping up, sub-genres, especially in America. I really like what JAWS is doing. Coming up with a certain, almost like dubstep, electro but then again, it's still groovy and housey. I really love that. And besides that, it's amazing to see how many young kids come up with something unique because I'm like, 'Okay, what do I have to make?' because there is so much music and so many genres so it's great to see people who still have the creativity to come up with something new. I love that.
What have been the biggest changes in dance music that you've seen since you've started?
Well, to be really honest, I think that in certain markets it's been a little bit saturated. Especially in New York, people can choose from the biggest names every weekend and I think that's kind of killing the market because I think that dance music will always be there and EDM and Big Room House -- a lot of people say Big Room House is dead but I don't believe that at all. People still want to dance to commercial music, dance music, but it's just evolving. I think that a successful artist needs to adapt to what's going on in a certain way, in between his own boundaries and in between his own style and that's what I'm trying to do and especially with Fonk Records and I hope things will get more groovy and melodic and that's what I'm aiming for.
People are always searching for new music and new artists and music is getting more open format so anyone can collaborate with anyone. Just like what Justin Bieber is doing with Skrillex -- it's so clever. And they killed it. And it marked a huge turnaround in [Bieber's] career -- now he's kind of more credible and people accept his new music.
Are there certain people you would want to collaborate with? Any vocalists or anything?
Yeah, I would love to collaborate with John Legend, for example. He's on my playlist every day. And then I would like to keep it radio friendly, like, not banging.
More social influencers:
Get an exclusive look at what you missed from the most highly anticipated festival of the season
DJ MAKJ proves that he's here for his fans, period.
Dyro is the millennial DJ whose music transcends culture, nationality and genre