While the UK is in embroiled in an impassioned battle to preserve club and electronic music culture, Europe strides ahead, creating a playing field to allow DJs to attract up to five figure crowds alone. One such DJ and producer riding the crest of the EDM wave which has engulfed much of the world is Dannic. The Dutch native has taken his place among the elite in recent years, joining the upper echelons of the scene who trailed blazed their way to success from his hometown of Breda. Saturday 24th September brings the EMD superstar to Leeds for Mint Festival. Ahead of the show, we caught up with Daan to learn more about his ascent, curating his own label and handling crowds of 50,000 people.
Hi Dannic, how're things?
I'm good, just chilling here back home in Breda, Holland as I’ve just finished my world tour.
You've appeared at some pretty big events so far this year. Which ones stick out for you?
That's always a hard question as I have so many favourites. Every club and festival that I play is a little bit different with so many great memories, so it's like picking your favourite child a little! One of the highlights was Untold Festival in Romania as I played to 60,000 people on the main stage. Of course Tomorrowland is a really big event, especially this year as I was able to play all of my brand new tracks for the first time there. It's always great to see so many DJs and friends over there also.
Have you been playing some of your biggest shows to date this year?
Yes, and no. At the start of last year, I played Sunburn Festival in Goa, India which was in front of 55,000 people. I think that and Untold are two of the biggest shows I have played to date.
In your bio it is stated that you share a hometown with Tiesto and Hardwell. To what extent did those two artists, and the hometown you share, come to shape the producer and DJ you are today?
Everyone knows the success story of Tiesto. He is one of the living legends here in the Netherlands. I actually had a chance to play in the bar that he started in, so we definitely share similar history. It was only around 5 years ago that I actually managed to meet him. But of course everyone in Breda knows who Tiesto and Hardwell are. The best thing about it is Tiesto was a mentor for Hardwell and now Hardwell is a mentor for me in a similar way. It's almost like a tradition.
Did the success of Tiesto and Hardwell open your eyes to what success was achievable as a producer making progressive house?
For sure, Hardwell is one of my best friends and I’ve seen him go from playing shows and clubs in Holland to becoming internationally famous. He shared a lot of experiences with me so I became really inspired to try and do it myself. He was actually one of the people who told me I have the talent so I should just go for it and follow my dreams. So yeah, he's definitely been my biggest inspiration.
Your own label Fonk has been putting out releases for the past couple of years now. What was the thinking behind curating your own label?
Two reasons really. One is I wanted to emphasise my own sound further. You have big room house and then you have future house, for me, Fonk is right in the middle. That's where I want the Dannic sound also. It has to be groovy, it has to be danceable. One of my biggest inspirations is Fedde Le Grande, and I want to try and work with that sound more and more to create my own sound.
Secondly I want to try and help young artists by giving them a platform for their own music. I'd been helping young artists for a fair few years, giving them feedback on their tracks, but I could never release their music. So that's why Fonk was born.
Any releases in the pipelines?
We have some really interesting ones that will be released pretty soon. It will all be brand new music that people won't have heard before, partly down to the artists being new to the scene, but that's what I like about it. I'm trying to uncover the unique talents that are struggling to be heard from their bedroom studios that people don't ever think to listen to. Of course some of my own tracks are going to be released on Fonk. I have some solo releases as well as a collaboration with Fedde Le Grande, but that's not 100% finished at the moment. Following that I have another collaboration with Merk & Kremont which is coming out next month called 'Music'. It's much more of a disco influenced track than my usual style. I think people can expect new releases every month and I just hope we are able to blow people's minds with the music we come up with.
As we've mentioned, you have appeared at a lot of huge festivals so far this year. From experience, do you feel your sound is better suited to open air spaces or clubs?
Well actually I’ve always told people I’m more comfortable in a club as I can really tell a story and build up a night in there. But when it comes down to it I’m a DJ, and that means I like having to adapt to where I am playing. That's what DJing is all about: reading the crowd. A festival is always different because not everyone is there to see you. In one way you have to educate them with track selections while also entertaining them. It's all about finding the right balance.
Which of the two do you prefer playing?
Well playing in clubs is something I really enjoy, especially with all the new Fonk material to play. Although, there's no better feeling than when 10,000 people jump up at the same time and are loving your tracks. The view is just amazing. It's really hard to choose between them, but I think the energy you get from playing the big arenas is really addictive.
(Reading the crowd - Photo courtesy of Dannic)
In terms of the energy you have just mentioned, did you find it easier to feed off the crowd when breaking through in small clubs, or since you've taken the leap to playing front of thousands?
I think it's a little different. The intimacy of a club, looking people in the eye and seeing if they are having a good time, is a raw form of energy. At a festival I’m always overlooking the crowd, so I have to read them by picking up on the movement amongst the thousands of people. They are both different in their own way.
In a couple of weeks, you will be here in the UK for Mint Festival. UK electronic music and club culture has been a hot topic in the news of late, so I wanted to ask what you view is on the electronic music scene here in UK compared to the rest of Europe?
Well, I have only just got back from Creamfields! The UK crowd has been supporting me for years which has been great. In the whole EDM scene right now in the UK and Europe there are more and more genres, so there is more differentiation between the music. I think it is a good thing for DJs as we are able to change up the style of music we play in our sets without turning off members of the crowd. We are in a really interesting phase with more open minded people listening to music which I really love.
Interview by Elliot Ryder
Photos courtesy of Urban Rebel PR