Interview: Doc Daneeka

Doc Daneeka rarely shows any compassion for others, is everything but helpful to the people he owes and ends up being effectively dead to everyone around him. Not the best state of affairs for Joseph Heller’s squadron physician. Mial Watkins, the producer who named himself after the troubled character, is luckily the anti-type of his namesake. However, there is one parallel between the two Daneekas. “I think I could be a bit of a hypochondriac producer, to be honest,” Mial says in reference to the neurotic traits of the other Doc Daneeka, and he leaves it at that.

The Swansea-based producer has a month off from gigging to write, and has naturally been busy with the label he runs with Ian Yeti, Ten Thousand Yen. Founded early last year, he enlightened the world with a five-part series of limited-edition 10″ singles featuring Julio Bashmore, C.R.S.T., xxxy and the like. “The label has been going great! It’s been a really long ambition for Ian, one of my best mates, and me. To get it off the ground and for it to do as well as it has is just great. We really love doing it. Last year has been good as well!” With regards to upcoming projects, the label has some exciting things up its sleeves too. Doc excitedly reveals that we can expect an E.P. by the Dutch producer Presk on the label soon. “He’s finishing the E.P. up at the moment, man’s got a wicked vibe.”

Last year, Doc Daneeka released two EP’s through the relatively young sub-label of Ramp Recordings, PTN – his debut EP “Deadly Rhythm” and its successor “Television”. Besides all of this, he released the monumental one-sided 12” “Hold On” on Ramp in August, as well as various remixes and a track on Well Rounded’s Cash Antics Volume 2. Something that most of his tracks have in common is that they lean on polyrhythms and have a soulful and warm vibe. This might be about to change. “There is a new project I’m working on with Benjamin Damage, we roll as They Live!” he says. Damage is an old friend of Doc Daneeka’s who taught him how to use music programs back in the day.“We have a 12? coming out on Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons in April. It’s kind of dark and creepy but I’m really into it.”

“With regards to my solo stuff, I’m doing a handful of remixes at the moment, including one for Skream’s new single. I’m finishing up a couple of releases for myself but I’m not sure where they’re going to be released. I’ll probably be putting out a 12″ on Ten Thousand Yen myself at some point.” When asked about the India-themed EP he said he would release after returning from his his travels from the north to south of the country, the answer is slightly evasive. “Ah, you remember! I thought people might have let that one go, ha. I’d still like to do it but to tell you the truth, it’s not really near any level of completion right now. But it’s there, in the back of my mind. We’ll see!”

In regards to Doc Daneeka’s production process, he doesn’t really have any rituals he swears by when it comes to the initial phase. “I just go with gut instincts, really. Sometimes it’s a synth, sometimes it’s a sample and sometimes it’s a drum pattern I start out with. I just keep doing bits until I’m into it and then it all just falls together.” He doesn’t necessarily think there’s a “formula” for a good track, after giving some thought to what makes a track good he says: “There’s definitely a certain type of rhythm I look for. J. Dilla definitely had the perfection of that down, that ‘bump’. Apart from that, I’m very keen on sonics. That makes a track special for me. It’s not necessarily clean, in fact, I much prefer it a bit rough – in the right places. One of the most special tracks for me that kinda embodies everything I love is Patti Jo ’s “Make Me Believe In You”. That’s about as close to perfection as I can think of right now.”

The aforementioned track by Patti Jo was released in 1973 on Wand, written by the late musician Curtis Mayfield. Just remember, I’m hip to the lip. A track of perfection, unfortunately covered by Amerie thirty-four years later. Doc Daneeka himself tries and listens to as much soul music as possible but wouldn’t say he knows a lot about it, or any type of music. “There’s too much out there.” But what about his first real love, break-beat? “Haha, I know the odd track. As regards to my musical background and how I ended up listening to break-beat I suppose it’s standard, really. I started out listening to my parents’ records, then played in a few bands when I was fifteen. I eventually grew out of punk and fell in love with dance, beat and soul music. The whole broken beat thing was big for me, my take on it anyway. A big moment for me was when I heard some friends play some old Masters At Work and Gregory at their club night, I started going for that beat.”

Off the top of his head, a few tracks responsible for pushing Doc Daneeka down his current musical path were: 1. a track by Urban House/UK Funky pioneer Hardhouse Banton, “Reign”, for showing him there were other people out there doing stuff like him and for showing how it could work 2. Model 500’s “No UFO’s”, a classic techno record from 1985 he admittedly slept on (“It definitely changed something for me”) 3.the Bugz In The Attic remix for Amy Winehouse’s “In My Bed”. A runner-up is the Quantic remix for Kyoto Jazz Massive’s “Brightness Of These Days”. “It’’s hard to say, though. I’ve heard a lot of great records this year that are probably changing my course again.”

I take one last moment to put Mial to the test to see how much he differs from his namesake. Heller’s Daneeka has no moral duty whatsoever and only cares for his own welfare. Through his sometimes slightly frustrated tweets about Arsenal, I noticed that Mial’s a Gooner. What does he prefer, the feeling when he holds a freshly pressed vinyl of one of his own tunes or Arsenal winning a match? “Haha, it depends which match.” Fifth round, quarter finals. “Vinyl, maybe if we’d won the Champions League final, then maybe, the match.”

Soraya Brouwer

LONDON VIA AMSTERDAM - Soundcloud & Instagram

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