Dan Wainwright has been producing for a long time, delighting and experiencing all those who wish to immerse themselves in the most select, eclectic and magical electronic principality. In addition, he has managed to make music a way of life.
Hi Dan, I would like to thank you for your time! First of all, I want to know how are you feeling at this moment and where are you playing these days or weeks?
Hi there, thanks very much for spending the time to ask me some questions too. Right now I’m feeling good and rather focused creatively in quite a fresh way. I’ve been creating music that’s been a lot of fun to write, similar to writing music when I was a kid.
I have been DJing every single week in Manchester since November last year and I’ll be there every Saturday for as long as they’ll have me for now. It’s just bar gigs but they are helping support my creative habit… The past few weeks DJing have felt quite special actually. Great vibes.
I’m hoping to play some club events and parties whenever possible too.
Mostly I keep myself busy creating music every week.
How did this fantastic adventure start for you?
I’ve been a big music fan all my life. I learned at a young age that Stuart Sutcliffe is my great uncle. My grandma’s brother. When I was either 6 or 7 I was at my grandma’s house and her sister Pauline, my aunt, had just had a book published and there was this picture of these three guys on a jeep with their guitars and leather jackets. One of the guys from that picture was in many other photo’s all over the house. I kind of put two and two together and figured out he must be family.
So on the way back home, I asked my dad “Who are The Beatles” and he told me about Stuart and that I will have already heard them on the radio and told me if I listen to the radio I will hear them. So I used to listen to the radio and tape the radio in the 90s and I think that’s where my drive for music comes from, because I wanted to be on the radio too.
I didn’t actually start playing music until I was 11 when I started on drums, then learned guitar and started recording my own music obsessively and still am doing nearly every day and I’m at the age of 27 now.
How have things developed since you started?
I started producing my own music back in 2006 with my first electric guitar and a cheap desktop microphone. Since then I’ve had minor success with stoner rock music when I was 18 in my old project which became a real band, Groan.
I then got into psychedelic rock music then acid house and Balearic beat and I’ve been creating music based around acid house ever since then, no matter what the genre is, it’s roots are always rooted in acid and psychedelic in some way.
Since starting creating dance music, I’ve released on a lot of different record labels and had a few vinyl out and digital releases.
How did you discover electronic music?
My college tutors introduced my class to the Ozric Tentacles and the film 24 Hour Party People. This sparked my interest in acid house music. When I was studying and creating acid house music at Stafford University I was tipped off about a party called Wonk, where Soul Mekanik were the DJs. I understood that this is what I wanted to do with my life at my first Wonk party.
What music has influenced you? Are there any that could surprise you? Are there any musical guideposts or influences that led you to have the sound you make?
The Beatles, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd and Tame Impala are probably my biggest influences musically. But also there’s too many artists involved with house music to name. There’s always great new music being released. I’m listening to Moby right now as I’m writing this. The new Thom Yorke music blew my fucking head off too.
How did you first break into DJing?
I started DJing around the new year in 2012 as I had been creating electronic music for some years at this point and I wanted to be able to play my own music out. This inspired me to move to Manchester for a few years to get more involved in the electronic music scene.
One of the main features of your approach as a DJ is to both entertain and educate an audience.
What in your opinion makes an artist great, besides talent and dedication?
Great songs firstly. And sometimes, it’s way beyond the artist alone…it’s the right people, the right event, the right feelings, the right time… the right sound system!
When the stars align there’s a transcendent experience when either a band or a DJ performs. I don’t think I can actually explain how that happens, but I’ve experienced it a few times when you kind of realise all you see and all you are is all one.
Is there a particular thing that you look for in music? What was the first idea on you did build the sound of Dan? Has that sound changed a lot over recent years? What is your music criterion?
Ever since hearing The Beatles Revolver album I’ve always looked for a worldy vibe to music, especially within house, but I didn’t know so much of it existed until a few years ago when I started finding lots of amazing record labels via bandcamp.
Aside from that I love records to be very interesting and lively, psychedelic or really melodic. I’m not a huge fan of lots of repetition unless it’s done really well like Daft Punk’s track, Alive.
That’s what I’m trying to do with my music currently, it’s something I’ve always tried to do but I’m a lot more happy with the current results I’m getting.
I guess it’s all about good energy whatever that may be.
How would you describe your sound? Your music mixes elements of techno, disco, electro… how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard any of your songs?
If it’s my current dance music I’d say it’s psychedelic and a bit fucked up but still really funky and hopefully broadly accessible.
I am also creating more song based music at the moment and I’d be less sure of how to describe that as it’s quite diverse from song to song. But it all sounds like me.
Do you often get in the studio with clear ideas and everything well tied or leave something for improvisation and inspiration at the moment?
It depends. Sometimes I hear an idea in my head and many times I just let myself start out quite random and try to not influence the track so much but find out what the track is. The approach of discovery is really fun because I can get excited about the music happening because it’s new music to me. Sometimes I’ll do this with a general idea of what vibe I want to pursue so I know what combination of instruments to use and what sort of scales feel right.
Could you describe your creative process? How do you usually go about making a track?
Create and write without judgement and without mixing anything… let it flow and get out of my own way. Do the mix later. It doesn’t usually take me more than an hour to write a track. Although, with my guitar there’s sometimes songs that take a lot longer to piece themselves together.
What are the key challenges that independent/underground musicians encounter?
They’ll be different for everybody I guess. I can only speak for myself. I know I’d always like to reach a larger audience.
Are there any live shows that stand out as being particularly memorable?
Yep. My first acid house party, Wonk. It was a themed party- ‘Around The Wonk In 80 Days’. I heard music like I’d never heard before and experienced a dancefloor unified to records. No band… just music. I understood what people get out of going to church.
I had a similar experience to that this year at Glastonbury festival when watching Tame Impala and The Chemical Brothers. Incredible energy in the crowd… but it felt like it was filling the whole space and the air. Very cosmic!
To you, what is the most important piece of work you have created in your life?
I never have created the most important piece of music to me, and hopefully I never will do. I’d just like to keep discovering my own creations as time goes on. Whatever I’m creating at the time is usually the most exciting thing I have ever done, to me.
There’s one track that hopefully will see the light of day that I particularly love which is just acoustic and with my mate Andy singing. He sang on a record called Doing It which we had out on Is It Balearic? Andy is my favourite musician, but he’s very hard to pin down to work with.
What are you most hungry for in life?
To get out of the city and live in Wales. A simple life. I’m not one for a busy life or trying to achieve too much. I’d like my new and recent record label, Oddball Records, to do well. And I’d also like to keep creating music I enjoy. Hopefully my partner will still be by my side for a long long time.
What is one deep thought that you have had recently?
Haha… there’s usually many discussions I have daily with my girlfriend that can be rather deep. The conclusion to all of it usually is, everything is okay… being able to talk and be open with close and trusted friends is important. Life doesn’t always need to be deep because it’s not always helpful and realistic.
That being said I am a deep thinker and always break things down to understand something, whether it is to empathise with a person or situation or to know whether something is true or not, and therefore a useful piece of information.
The conclusions from thinking deep don’t tend to give very deep answers. I think real wisdom is very simple.
What would be your all-time ultimate venue/festival to play at?
It doesn’t really matter much to me. My favourite gigs are when there’s a special vibe and there’s unique moments being created. So far I’ve had some unreal moments at house parties, club gigs, bar gigs, my own events and also closing off one of the main stages at Kendal Calling Festival after Blossoms.
Do you have any vision or personal predictions about music evolving in the future and its position in the world?
None. I’m just quite happy as long as I can keep finding great music to listen to. Maybe that’s a good indication to where music’s position will be in the world as there will always be a need for music.
Further releases for Oddball Records whatever and whenever they may be. I will have a few records out on different record labels through this year too but I can’t give any info on them yet.
Phil Cooper has just asked me to write an album and given me an advance of a new electric guitar to get the job done with, as mine has been broken for too long. This project will hopefully form into a band. I’m going to write everything first and see where I can go from there, like bringing in a really good singer, other musicians and a great drummer. I guess I’m making the blueprint for that project right now.
Hopefully more of my music will flood out there as there’s so much being created at this moment in time.
I’m open to what life will bring my way.