In the fast-paced game of D&B, two years of release-silence could kill a career…
Yet for Calgary-based Dan Dakota, it’s actually helped him create a buzz and develop a sound. Having emerged in 2014 on Liquicity and local label Supreme Hustle, Dan was instantly championed by Fred V & Grafix on Radio 1 and enjoyed a rapid shove under the spotlight… Only to starve his Soundcloud page of content for almost two years.
Following one stealth-like Supreme Hustle release earlier this year, he’s returned with his biggest release to date on Liquicity and promises he won’t leave it so long next time. Here’s why he went quiet, what he achieved during that time and why he’s likely to become unavoidable on both sides of the Atlantic for the foreseeable…
Fred V & Grafix have been flying your flag hard!
They have! They’re the first big international guys to have supported me. I played before them at a Hospitality night, we became friends, I gave them some demos and they asked for a remix. We’ve been lucky to have three Hospitality events here in Calgary and I’ve been lucky to play them all.
Your Liquicity release is your biggest release to date, right?
Oh definitely in terms of scale. I’m not used to all the promo that’s gone with it. But also I haven’t released much music. I’ve been very quiet for the last few years trying to find my sound, it’s been a slow process. Besides the release on Supreme Hustle earlier this year which I really needed to get out as it had been with me for so long. But yeah, I’ve been very quiet on the release front.
It started with Telecaster on Liquicity a few years back…
That’s right but I wasn’t sure about my sound. I’ve been trying to find it ever since and I’ve thought I’ve found it a few times and made EPs of material in that vein and then I’ll have another thought and want to take it in a different direction. I still don’t think I’m there but hopefully I’m on the way!
So what sounds have you stumbled on along the way?
I’ve been through so many sounds. When I’m working on a bunch of tracks I do a bit of everything and try lots of ideas and sounds and approaches. I kept coming back to a more minimal, stripped back feel with clicky transienty claps, I thought I had it nailed then but it’s developed into a bigger sound again. When I started it was very liquid, breaky, loopy sound. I also make a lot of heavier stuff and halftime stuff too so I don’t think I’ll ever settle on just one exclusive sound.
There’s a big British influence on your sound and I know you’ve been over here a few times. What do you make of Brits and our wonky teeth?
I’m British myself and my teeth are just as wonky! Going back is amazing because it’s still home. I moved to Canada 10 years ago when I was 12 so I’ve done most of my growing up here but the UK still feels more like home. The fact I’ve fallen in love with such a UK-based style of music and made that my focus is extra special. British music full stop has been a big inspiration, especially with bands. More so than the D&B in a way as I’m also really inspired by European D&B.
Back to your current location…. It really feels like North America is enjoying D&B more than ever.
It is. The EDM explosion opened the doors for all genres, people are much more open to genres and different sounds. Couple this with the internet so people can find out more about the genre and hear it readily and it’s set the tone for a very healthy scene. I don’t think it was possible to have a drum & bass career here 10 or 15 years ago. Every day I notice D&B is catching on to more and more people who are into the more popular genres. People are giving it more of a chance as it has such a good representation at festivals. The shows are incredible out here and the guys involved are all helping each other out and working together. There’s at least three or four D&B Calgary every month and I can’t think of any big European DJ who hasn’t come over here in recent years. I’ve been lucky to warm up for a lot of them, too.
So you’ve been on this for some years now but you’re only 22…. You must have been playing in clubs before you were legally able to get through the doors?
Ha! I just turned 19 when I played my first show. But the first show I went to was Netsky at the age of 17 so I had to make a fake ID which was pretty scary.
So Netsky made you break the law?
Oh yeah totally. He should be held responsible! That was my only show I went to before I started playing shows myself.
You’re not a seasoned party head then?
No not really. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the club side of things unless I’m actually playing there. I would rather be at home making music!
Classic studio recluse eh?
I guess! I love being social but I do really love being on my own and doing my own thing. I think I wore myself out as a kid – I didn’t go to school much and was a bit of an animal but then I started making music and found I really loved staying in and being productive!
I hear you man. So… Your Twitter account is Spyhill. Sounds like a really cool name. But I looked it up and it’s your local landfill site. What’s up with this?
My music is just a pile of garbage so I thought it would be fitting haha! No seriously I thought it would be a cool name too. There’s a Spyhill Prison here, too. So I used the name and I didn’t think I’d ever make it for real. Then around two years ago I realised I could make a serious go at this so picked a more sensible name I’d be happy sticking with for the duration.
Fair play. So… What’s coming up after this EP?
I can’t be too specific but I do have a lot of new stuff coming on Liquicity and another single called Glow on another label. I’m finishing a lot of tracks and we’ll see who’s up for releasing them. The silent period is well and truly over though… So watch this space.
Watch these spaces: Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter