Interview: Dan Shake

Moodymann; now there’s a name that needs no introduction, but just in case let’s talk for a minute about the respect and influence a name like that holds. Known for his own brand of Detroit chauvinism and confrontational stance in a typically non-confrontational electronic environment, Kenny Dixon Junior ain’t no one to fuck with. As label head of self-named KDJ and Mahogani Music, his Detroit Strong roster knows a thing or two about house and techno and knows when to spot talent when they hear it. All of which brings us to Dan Shake, otherwise known as Daniel Rose-Weir, and his lucky (yet very well deserved) big break. The London-based artist has done what literally no other has done before him and landed his debut release on Moodymann’s prestigious label with no Detroit heritage and no Detroit residency: quite a feat for a man that went to see 3 Chairs at Dimensions Festival, handed Kenny Dixon Jr. himself a CD, and came out of it with a new fan. We spoke to Dan about the pressures of such a signing, his influences, and when Shreddies used to give out good shit in their cereal boxes.

Stream: Dan Shake – 3AM Jazz Club (Mahogani Music)

Hey Daniel, how are you? What have you been up to lately? “Hey Jess, I’m not too bad, thanks. I’ve just had the previews put online of my debut release so everything’s been based around that recently, the response has been pretty dope. How are you?” Great, thanks! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? “Erm, I’ve never been good at this question. I just do what any other 21-year-old Londoner does nowadays.”

You went to University in Leeds and have now moved back to London, is that right? Why the move back? “Yeah, sort of, I dropped out. University was fun and all but I’m not a studier. I didn’t want to waste a ridiculous amount of money on something I wasn’t really going to benefit from. I bought a load of records instead.” Yeah, I seem to feel like I wasted three good years at university more and more each day. Did you go out into the world of work? “I worked in events for a while, and now I work in music management. I help look after Submotion Orchestra and a couple of others, it’s pretty fun.”

There is a kind of joke in Leeds that “everyone in Leeds is a DJ” (not a particularly clever joke, but not altogether untrue). How did you start making music? “Haha, it’s definitely not untrue. The ratio must be one to three. I actually only started DJing a month or two ago when Mahogani got in touch, but I’ve been making music since [the age of] around 13. I played drums for a while, which didn’t really work out, and then one day got a free music making program called Ejay Extreme in a box of Shreddies. One of those ones where you arrange a basic selection of ready-made loops and call it a tune. I guess it sprouted from there. Maybe without Shreddies I would have never been signed to Mahogani?” I remember those! What a beautiful idea, maybe there’s a PR stunt in there too. How’re you finding DJing, do you have any favourites that would never leave your crate? “Ha, maybe. DJing’s a lot of fun, can’t wait to start playing out properly. U – I isn’t leaving my crate any time soon”.

Stream: U – I (ManMakeMusic)

Your debut is released on Moodymann’s label: Mahogani Music, I hear the story of how that came about is pretty interesting? “Yeah I guess it’s a pretty old-school way of getting signed. I was watching 3 Chairs backstage at Dimensions Festival and briefly got chatting to Kenny, handed him my CD, and three weeks later I received an email asking if he could have them (… I said yes).” Was this the first time you had openly pushed your tracks and do you have any tips for how aspiring producers can get their music noticed? “Yeah, I’ve never really pushed my music to anyone, it was a spur of the moment thing. My girlfriend made me burn a couple of CDs while we were out there in Croatia. So my tips probably won’t help… get lucky?” Maybe a persuasive and supportive partner too! I think that takes a serious amount of guts though, kudos! You must have been confident in your music? “The partner thing helps yeah, I was quite happy with the tracks though, at the end of the day I had nothing to lose.”

Mahogani Music is a pretty prolific label to have your debut release on, congrats! Kenny Dixon Jr. is a Detroit House Don and operates a roster of some Motor City talent, do you feel anxious about how it will be received? “Thank you, and definitely! It still blows my mind to be on a label along side such inspiring producers, Dilla for one. There’s an extremely high standard of music on Mahogani, but there’s been a great response from DJs we’ve sent it to. I hope people are feelin’ it.”

For sure! Everyone has quite an individual process for producing, what’s yours? “My process changes from time to time, I’ve made a lot of weird shit, which I create in a completely different process to the way I make my house, if you want to call it that. I guess there isn’t a set process, I find my best work is when I have no clue of what I’m about to make, I just go with it until it makes sense.” You’ve wavered before at calling it ‘House’, are you keen not to be pigeonholed? “I think when you tell someone you make house, they tend to think of music that’s nothing like mine. My music is such a blended collection of genres anyway.”

Stream: Dan Shake – Thinkin’ (Mahogani Music)

Who and what are your musical influences? And are there any artists you want to shout out or tell us to look out for? “There’s way too many, my biggest is probably Dilla, he changed the way I think about music. Floating Points always inspires me with his releases, and I get a lot of drum and percussion influence from African music like Tony Allen and Fella Kuti. But a good friend of mine, Mali Michael, is definitely one to look out for, a very different sound to me but has an amazing voice.” Apart from Mahogani Music, obviously, are there any other labels you’re feeling right now? “Ermm, Wild Oats just put out a massive release from Jay Daniel. Eglo are always putting out amazing music. Melbourne Deepcast… the list goes on.”

Yes! Also the Jay Daniel ‘Scorpio Rising’ EP was great. What is your dream collaboration? “Oh, that’s tough. Of course I’d love to collab with Kenny or MCDE, but probably an amazing musician who’s completely different to me like George Duke, I think we’d get more creative that way.” And finally, a Truants fave, what is your favourite drink and when was the last time you danced? “I’m all about the rum & ginger, that’s my drink. Last time I danced was watching Sticky at my mates night Brotherhood Soundsystem in Leeds, you should go some time!”

You can pre-order the limited 12″ of A1. 3 AM Jazz Club b1. Thinkin’ here.

Jess Melia

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