Danny Daze and Jimmy Edgar Discuss the Arts of DJ'ing and Producing
Danny Daze and Jimmy Edgar.
Photos by Michael Raveney (left) and Vitali Gelwich (right)
If you spent any time in a legit nightclub in 2014, there's a good chance you heard Danny Daze's "Silicon." The track was an infectious cut that blended sonic touches from Miami's dance music scene -- including repurposing the obnoxious horn FX, as well as techno's rougher edges that some find intolerable.
"Silicon" is effectively Miami's best take on German tanzmusik -- all while keeping it strictly danceable.
The EP was released through Ultramajic, a label founded by Detroit-raised, Los Angeles-based musician Jimmy Edgar, along with artist Pilar Zeta and Machinedrum.
See also: EDM's Five Greatest Delusions
Edgar and Daze are good friends, and it's easy to see why. Both are formidable producers while being skilled DJs too. They also both found wider audiences after leaving their hometowns. And they are both part of a new wave of electronic artists poised to capitalize on EDM's waning popularity.
They've also both been hard at work. Daze just released his new Four EP as Omnidisc's inaugural offering, and Edgar provided the January installment for the always-popular Fabriclive series. (By the way, it's Fabriclive 79! Don't we feel old.)
The duo will put their friendship (and talents) on display when they hit the DJ booth at Trade this weekend. So we at New Times reached out to Edgar and Daze to talk about how they met, the confusion between the terms DJ and producer, and what exactly DJ'ing back-to-back entails.
*Note: Answers have been edited for clarity.
New Times: First of all, besides the gig at Trade, what brought you together?
Danny Daze: Jimmy and I have known each other for a long time. We met through mutual friends in Miami, way back in the day through the experimental scene that was bubbling out here.
Jimmy Edgar: We have lots of mutual friends from the Detroit-Miami connection. Otherwise, we both have like-minded taste in music, and I think that is really what brought us together.
You're spectacular producers, but you're phenomenal DJs as well -- and let's face it, not every producer is an apt DJ. Do you think terms "producer" and "DJ" are erroneously believed to be the same thing?
Daze: Nowadays, unfortunately, yes. The term "DJ" now just means the person standing up there behind the DJ booth playing music. A lot of people have no clue if the person is a producer as well or simply just a DJ. I've always taken actual DJ'ing very seriously. I'm a DJ first, producer second. I've been playing all sorts of clubs in Miami the last ten years, so it gave me a really good spectrum of music to reach out to when DJ'ing and trying to push the crowd further. Being able to read a crowd takes years of clearing dance floors.
Edgar: I think both terms are somewhat ambiguous to people without the eyes to recognize. This is fine, it's just a matter of being uneducated on the subject, and I am hesitant to judge people with the interest to learn more. I'm confident with what I do, and I don't care what people think of it; this isn't why I do it.
See also: Five Worst EDM Gimmicks
Daze and Edgar, gazing toward the future.
Photos by Michael Raveney (left) and Vitali Gelwich (right)
What do you say to people that think that DJ'ing is just mindless button pushing?
Daze: I tell them they're right, and just move on. Although, I do gotta mention: There are quite a few push-button DJs out there. The entire craft of DJ'ing deteriorated once Serato and Traktor really took off. I can't get into it when it comes to what people think DJ'ing is. They either get what some of us do or they don't. Whoever has seen me play knows I'm not just pushing buttons. I'm also twirling them.
Edgar: That's pretty ignorant, in all fairness. But on the flip side, there are some DJs out there who are not adding much value to the culture, so it doesn't surprise me that "mindless button pushing" would even enter consciousness. If every DJ was amazing, then this wouldn't even be a subject. It comes down to the way humanity is on a whole, don't you think?
I think it's safe to say EDM is on the decline, but there is now a large group of people who are interested, at least marginally, in dance music. Do you think underground dance acts can capitalize on all those potential new listeners?
Daze: The great thing about EDM was how many random people it swept into dance music. Ten percent of those EDM club-goers now know who a lot of these more so-called "underground" acts are. I use the word underground very lightly as well, as that word shouldn't even exist anymore. I myself have seen a huge transition in any sort of followers I have in the States. Oddly enough, you'll get a tweet from someone saying they heard Diplo, Radio Slave, Salva, and myself play at this one festival. Pretty shocked at the wide spectrum of music people are listening to these days, and this all stems from EDM.
Edgar: The door has been opened and those that choose can walk through and listen to the fruits.
A characteristic that ties you both is your refusal to stick to one genre, especially when it feels like dance music is all about labeling things. Do you think that genre hopping allows for more experimentation?
Daze: My only goal as an artist is to be happy. That's it. What makes me happy is playing all different sorts of electronic music in one set. I won't go as far as changing to drum 'n' bass in the middle of the night, but I've never been the kind to play a four-hour set where the entire thing just sounds like one long track. I definitely want people to remember high points and low points throughout a set. I also like challenging people and trying to get them to think outside of the box. This is why a lot of the times, right in the middle of a techno set, I'll try and figure out how to segue in and out of a New Wave record, for example, or any record that simply doesn't "belong" in the set. Not being pinned to one genre or sub-genre is definitely a good thing when it comes to creativity and experimentation.
Edgar: I think I am just a lover of all music. That is what makes a good producer or DJ, in my opinion. I've never heard of a good DJ who only collected music of one style.
Both of you left your hometowns in order to expand your reach and arguably your sonic palette. What did you find there that Miami or Detroit couldn't provide?
Daze: I wouldn't say I've left Miami at all, actually. I live here six months out of the year. The rest, I spend in Europe during summer as that's where most of the gigs are. I couldn't stay in Miami simply because of the travel. Jumping on a plane for 30 hours every weekend was too much. I tried it out for three months and ended up in the hospital. I just decided to spend time in Berlin instead of busting that mission. Being out there has greatly influenced me, though, in a very short period of time. Especially playing places like Panorama, Fabric, and Sub Club. Miami has a great thing going on, but unfortunately, there's maybe only 15 cities in the U.S. that I really feel 100-percent comfortable playing in. I do see it changing, though, thankfully.
Edgar: There are a lot of haters in Detroit. It's so competitive that I really didn't get any respect until I left and came back. It's important for me to always come back at least a few times a year. As much as I love and respect Detroit for what it's done for me, I can't help but feel it's stuck in time. But it's only relative, because I move and travel so much. It's a pretty deep topic.
See also: Five Signs This Club Sucks
Beyond just being friends, you've worked together through Ultramajic. How did that come to fruition?
Daze: It all happened very organically. We were sending music back and forth. I sent Jimmy one track he really liked and he asked me if I'd release it on his label. Then I cooked up another two records for him. I've always believed this is the best way to achieve proper cohesiveness within a label, which is the same approach I'm taking into my own label.
Edgar: Danny just sent me some music, or maybe I asked him. Not sure really which was which, but we just decided to do it and it has been good working together. It's all for the music, really. We're developing a crew mentality. I think this is important these days, because people are becoming more segregated.
Are you surprised at the response Ultramajic received in its short existence?
Daze: It doesn't surprise me at all. Good music speaks for itself.
Edgar: No, not at all. Which is funny, because I feel like once you actually start doing something you love and can put so much effort into, then you have no choice but to succeed. This idea has been really prevalent and allowed me to realize how you can make things happen, but only through honest, creative, and real passion.
During your set at Trade, will it be back-to-back? I've always wondered, what makes a set B2B? (Sometimes, I feel the term can feel a little gimmicky.) What's being done differently than if you were just behind the decks alone?
Daze: Who knows? We might go B2B all night. Usually, when I B2B, it's a spur-of-the-moment-type deal. B2Bs are tricky. The toughest part is finding the right flow with the other person in order to not have too many hills and valleys in a set. You want people to maintain their groove while still playing a bit of tug-o-war with the person you're with.
Edgar: Danny and I figure these things out when it appears right in front of us, we loosely decided to do some B2B. We are both very confident DJs, so i think we could both walk into any situation and make it work, whether it be DJ'ing in some place around the world or being asked to B2B with someone. B2B is interesting, because it's like a musical conversation, and if you read between the lines, you can ultimately see the DJs have an intense conversation and that can be any color of emotion. I am bringing a lot of vinyl, so I think that will be a fun addition.
You're both really busy men. Do you guys ever find the time to just to chill out and maybe sleep in for a week?
Daze: I'm lucky if I sleep four hours in a day, to be honest. Probably something I should start taking a bit more seriously now that I think about it.
Edgar: Yes, we do find time to chill; it's the most important part! Everyone who says "I don't sleep" is generally full of shit, trying to act like they are so busy, but meditation and rest is what keeps my work so efficient. Not sleeping is incredibly counterproductive. I love to chill, that's when all my best ideas come about. I'm that good in the studio that I can come up with a solid idea in an hour's work. This is what happens after you produce and DJ every day for 15 years.
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