Dan Ghenacia on French EDM and American Scene: "Miami's in Top Three Cities in U.S.A."
Parisian DJ-production threesome Apollonia borrowed its name from Prince's '80s backup group Apollonia 6. It's a nod to that raunchy Minneapolis funk sound, which the trio has infused with European tech-house.
This signature sound is currently all the rage on international dance floors. And Resident Advisor even picked Apollonia for the latest installment of its prestigious podcast series this week.
Of course, the group's sonic identity has been a decade in the making, going back to the first records that member Dan Ghenacia released on Freak n' Chic, his now-defunct first label, which would launch the careers of Jamie Jones, Shonky, and Dyed Soundorom -- the latter two of whom are now his partners in Apollonia.
Ahead of a Friday headlining gig at Treehouse with LINK and Miami Rebels, Crossfade caught up with the influential Mr. Ghenacia to chat about why the Frenchies are so adept at EDM, his new EP, and where he ranks Miami among the dance capitals of the world.
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Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to much of it while growing up in Paris?
Dan Ghenacia: I went to my first rave in Paris in 1992 and got involved in dance music almost immediately from there. In 1996, I moved to San Diego for almost one year, and I discovered the deep and psychedelic side of house, and this was the biggest influence for me.
France was not known as a great exporter of popular music in past decades. But ever since the emergence of electronic dance music in the late '90s, it's become a major hub -- from Daft Punk and the Ed Banger label, to Bob Sinclar, David Guetta, and underground tech-house artists like yourself and Apollonia. Why do you think France excels so much at EDM, where it didn't in other styles of music, like rock?
It's true that it's working good for the Frenchies in any style of EDM. Maybe the difference with rock or other styles is the language -- it doesn't sound as good in French as it does in English.
You were involved in David Guetta's F*ck Me I'm Famous parties back in the day. How did you hook up with him and what (if anything) did he impart to you as an artist? What are your thoughts on the über-commercial direction he's taken in the last few years?
Dyed Soundorom, my partner, was promoting his party. I DJ-ed for Dyed's party. And the first time I played in Ibiza, it was for David Guetta. I played the first three F*ck Me I'm Famous parties in Ibiza. But my music style then was pretty similar to today. I've never been influenced by David's music but am really impressed by the hard worker that he is.
Freak n' Chic was a highly influential tech-house imprint in the 2000s. What were the most rewarding aspects of the work you did with the label. Why did the label close?
Freak n' Chic closed after a business dispute between the partners, nothing more. I had, from the beginning, this idea of building a crew with the label as a platform for releasing our music. I did it. The best memories were when the partners asked the artists to follow them at the close of Freak n' Chic. Everybody stayed with me and I am very proud of this.
How did the concept for Apollonia first come about? And where do you plan to take the label and outfit in 2013?
After Freak n' Chic, I wanted to have a new imprint. Freak n' Chic was a label to make a crew, and a label for beginners. Dyed and Shonky are my partners in Apollonia and this label is a reflection of who we are now through our own productions, and also of where we come from.
You've played all over the globe. What are some of your favorite party spots and why? Where do you rank Miami among the dance music capitals of the world?
It's very simple, my three favorite places to play in the world are DC10 in Ibiza, Panorama Bar in Berlin, and Fabric in London. All three clubs have very nice crowds that are involved in and really come for the music. On top of this, each club has a very good sound system. Miami is great. I really like to play at Treehouse during WMC and also anytime during the year. I am building my own crowd there. So yes, Miami is in top three cities in the USA to play.
What can fans expect from you next on the production front?
I've just finished a new EP called Trax On Da Road, coming out December 4 on Apollonia. Dyed, Shonky and I are now concentrating on Apollonia music, with a team EP in the pipeline. We will be in the studio together in Berlin all of February to hopefully produce something really special. With regards to the Apollonia label, keep an eye out for the debut album from Chris Carrier and Hector Moralez in early 2013. This is not just a house album, but encompasses everything from hip-hop, to soul, funk, and acid -- a really great piece of work from two top producers.
Dan Ghenacia. With Thunderpony and Hardline. Presented by LINK and Miami Rebels. Friday, November 23. Treehouse, 323 23rd St., Miami Beach. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $10 plus fees via residentadvisor.net. Call 305-614-4478 or visit treehousemiami.com.
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