Danny Tenaglia: 30 Years Under 130
Naturally you best known here in the States. How did you feel about releasing on an Australian label such as Balance?
Over the years I’ve had many offers to do projects – whether it be compilation CDs or remixes for certain artists but I’ve always been very selective. My feeling is like…how will this make me look or what will people think? Am I going in this direction or that direction? It could be a cheesy label where I didn’t want the association with because of all the other artists and how they keep flooding the market and I would just back off. When Balance approached me to do this through my management of Safehouse Management in England, I did my research, saw all the other artists that were on their roster and I just felt like that it would be something that I would like to associate myself with. It’s more about quality than quantity with Balance and that’s something I can definitely identify with. We discussed it and they didn’t have expectations of me sounding like this or sounding like that so I just went with it and said “alright, I think it’s time!” I appreciated the offer and the guys over at Balance are great, Tom Pandzic is great, and Australia is great. I’ve toured Australia 5 times already. It is so far away from New York but once you get there you haven’t traveled at all. The people are just incredible. They are up for it, intelligent and they have really made an impact on me whenever I’ve been there.
It’s interesting that you describe Balance Music as a quality, not quantity record label. Do you worry about the lack of quality control within the scene today?
I liked who Balance was working with and I looked on their roster who had everyone from Timo Maas to Nic Fanciulli. I just felt like I related to these people, I know a lot of them and I have great admiration for a lot of them. I just can’t say the same for a lot of the other labels that had made me offers. It’s similar to saying they wanted to put me on the main stage with David Guetta, Avicii and Eddie Halliwell. Don’t get me wrong, I know these guys and we’ve met along the way, even Erick Morillo…do I really fit there? What am I supposed to do? People are going to expect me to sound something like them and I it felt like I was going to be pigeon-holed into trying to sound something like I’m not, not fully expressing myself as an artist. So I felt like Balance was a better canvas so to speak.
I’ve turned down so many remix offers in the 90’s when I was really doing tons of remixes between 88 and 2002 but especially the 1990’s. I had gotten offers to remix so many famous people but the songs just weren’t there. It could of been like “oh we want you to remix so and so” and I get excited and I hear it and it was nothing short of being a ballad. I was like…what am I supposed to do to this? It could have been a Mariah Carey record, and I’m like hooray! wow! Mariah has a great voice! Do I do a dance version or dub version? Whatever… then you get it and it’s a slow song or it could have been – and don’t get me wrong – I have done a couple where you listen to it in its original form and at first it’s like what the hell am I going to do? Blondie is a good example, “Nothing is Real but the Girl” – Garbage when I grew up which were like rock ‘n roll songs and they were really fast but when you strip it and you hear the a cappella you can see how it could lend itself to a dance version. There were many where it was like, “No way! There’s no way I can do it.” No matter how much money they offered me – I’m not going to associate myself with this because I’m going to look like a fool and people will be like “oh he did this for the money”. That was always first and foremost for me and that ended in 2002 – the residency. So all those years I was doing remixes, my first career was always being a DJ and that was my first love – being a producer and remixer was an extension of that. So if I got an offer to do something I really had to feel it to get persuaded into doing it.
I’ve always felt you have to continuously increase your value instead of just trying to gain money. The more valuable you are, the more you are worth. Some people sit there and just take money to do anything and it ends up making them less valuable if you are just taking any gig.
Exactly. That is what I meant by saying 2002 being the end of it. I had done in 2002, Depeche Mode – being who they are as a famous, alternative 80’s, legendary genius rock band to the flipside of doing something soulful which eases into tomorrow. Finally a very deep, soulful, meaningful song about a woman dying and meeting her partner again in heaven and that was the kind of song that gave me goosebumps and people were singing along to it. I said yes to both of them and both were very successful remixes for me. After that I declined everything, everything was changing, the labels were closing, budgets were going from really good fees to basically nothing – practically asking you to do it for free. Record stores were closing, the digital days were arriving and I was just like “No! I’m not going to do this just to get my name on another record!” My first love will always be DJing. I’ve turned down Michael Jackson records. This was recently, just after he passed away. I was like “No! I can’t do it! It’s like Michael Jackson is singing and all of a sudden a rapper comes in and it’s like…what do you want me to do with this