There’s two things you will need to know about Danny Tenaglia: He’s a living legend of the New York scene, and he will be the nicest person you will ever talk to.
We had the opportunity to have a lengthy conversation with the artist as he prepares to headline the Montreal’s AIM Electronic Music Festival July 12-14th. A 3-day festival that takes place on campgrounds that will have some of the best techno and house acts in circulations.
Accompanying Danny this year will be the likes of ANNA, John Digweed, Pig&Dan, and the Desert Hearts Crew. Danny is scheduled to close out Saturday with a 4-hour house set on the main stage.
Danny Tenaglia is a walking encyclopedia with the entire history of the New York Club scene inside of it. Starting in the early ’80s at the age of 16, Danny’s trajectory of success is in large part due to not only his love of music, but of the scene overall too.
When we were speaking to him, we got a glimpse of how passionate he was about his roots as well as his ambitions. Multiple times, the interview would just steer off into a deeper conversation about music. It felt less of an interview and more of an enjoyable conversation. Here are some of the things we were able to talk about.
You are an award-winning producer, Grammy nominated, and a profoundly respected artist, at what point in your career did your success start to shock you?
What were your first few steps in your DJing career?
You’ve been back and forth between Miami and New York multiple times in your career.
I still have a place out there. I got a condo back in 2004 and I use it as my winter escape. New York is and will always be home base for me. Miami is the getaway. Although, I am considering selling and finding a nice home in NJ, but I will always be a true snowbird and head south every winter to escape the frigid temps, even if I have to Air BnB. Winters are feeling longer and colder each year.
What’s something that Danny Tenaglia would like to see more of in the industry? Is there something he feels like there’s lacking of?
New York music scene has grown out of Manhattan and devoured Brooklyn. As a Staple in New York, how do you feel about the change?
Do you have any advice for producers/artists starting in New York?
The number one thing I tell people, is how important it is to make music. That’s your business card. That’s what’s going to get you attention. That’s what’s going to get your name around the world once it gets on a record label and Beatport, or Itunes, whatever it maybe.
That’s when an agency is going to find interest in you. Any DJ can go to an agency say “can you get me bookings?” and they’ll say “Well what do you have?” You can’t just put a mix on Soundcloud, you can’t hand out flash drive keys with your latest set. You have to make music. Luckily, it’s more affordable than ever to make own little home studio. It’s easier than ever to make your own track with all the plug-ins that basically throw all the familiar sounds out to you.
My other advice is: Put the phone down. Enough with the social media. FOCUS. Make some music, pay attention. If you party, separate that. Those are the things that will set you back. There are now thousands and thousands of other DJs that are now doing that. Time to prove yourself!
What’s the best thing about the music scene like out in Montreal?
I’ve always said this, it’s my favorite place to play. Especially the club Stereo. The people who come to Stereo seem to equally love what I might play at the beginning of the night, Techno middle of the night, Tribal, closing with classics. You don’t get that love everywhere; that appreciation. It’s really rare you play from the heart and it’s open-minded to it all.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I pray. Plain and simple. I’ve always had my moments and I’m giving thanks. It’s a very personal thing for me.
You’re going to be Headlining the AIM Festival on Saturday at the Monolithes stage with a 4-hour house set. What is the significance of house music when it comes to Danny Tenaglia?
It’s more of soulful feeling, more of a swinging house groove, more to be present. As opposed to the techno stuff, [like I won’t be sounding like] I’m going to pull out my Len Faki records and go that route. Probably be a lot of classics, personal edits, mashups and versions that I’ve done that are exclusive to myself. Not go back to a disco era, but definitely a house vibe.
You’ve been expressing this phrase “Be yourself” for quite some time now. Although the message is obvious, why are you so adamant about getting it out to the rave community?
The song was originally written by Celeda who sings it. She was always a big fan of Sylvester (American Singer known for his hit disco singles in the late 1970s and 1980s) and I was a big fan of Sylvester from day one too. I totally understood where she was coming from with that “Be Yourself”, whether it’s gay, straight, transgender and just accept one another.
I have to be careful with my answers because “Be Yourself” doesn’t mean that you can also be an asshole. But accept one another, by hair color, by tattoos, by ear piercings because we can get over opinionated sometimes. I’m just as guilty as that as well. When it comes to the dance floor, there’s this certainty that you can dance like no one’s watching, and you can “Be Yourself.”
We’re looking forward to your new release “Don’t Turn Your Back” can you tell us anything about it?
I started that song roughly about 6 years ago. I slowly kept developing it but never feeling like it was finished. Maybe because the first 3 years I didn’t even have vocals on it. Then I was in a studio one night and I decided to say “Don’t turn your back” and I did. That gave the song a whole new direction.
I started playing it out and it started getting a lot of attention. Social media hype and people asking “What song is that?” and “When is this coming out?” I finally approached Jamie Jones who asked me to be part of paradise and he said “Yes! I’d love to sign that track!” We were able to get remixes coming out from Carl Cox, Harry Romero, Mendo and I’m a huge fan of all three of them.
It was an absolute pleasure to speak to Danny Tenaglia. C