Danny Tenaglia: 30 Years Under 130
My first job was actually at the music section in Best Buy and I remember how we had to frontline everything and how music was marketed by in-store displays. You also had the customer service element as well that is missing from Itunes and Beatport. On the plus side, music is now more accessible and ubiquitous than ever. Have you ever thought of opening up your own record store in the past?
I haven’t. That is an interesting question, nobody has ever asked me that before but people have asked me “how come you don’t open you don’t open up your own nightclub?” but this particular question is probably more apt because I feel like I love music so deeply. It is interesting that I just mentioned Michael Jackson’s name because he was just 2 years older than me. I saw when I was a young kid, how I grew up with the Jackson and the Motown sound and Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and I was so influenced by that and a lot of rock ‘n roll. Having lived in New York all my life and seeing stores like Discomania and Vinylmania – it was a cutthroat business because you were competing with other record stores and it was all about who had it first. Then there was also dealing with distributors. For me, it was all about sales, it’s not about music.
So to return to the question of people asking me why I’ve never invested in a nightclub – aside of that I have no money to invest in a nightclub – the problem is that a nightclub is a business and it’s all about sales and has nothing to do with music. I would get no joy in being a club owner, I would probably see myself being in an office worrying about who might be stealing and worrying about! I would put my love and devotion in the sound and the sound system but at the end of the day – just like I’ve witnessed because of my knowledge of doing this – you see clubs opening and their intention is pure at first but then eventually they have to give into the commercial-ness; the Lady Gaga types of music – because that’s what selling, they need to sell bottles and have bottle service in order to pay their rent and pay their bills and in no way would I want any part of that. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not a very good business man – my passion is music! Thank God for the people who are accountants and agents and so on. They allow people like me to do what we do.
Back in the days when I was aspiring to get past making 3-500 dollars a night as I could barely afford my rent. When I did a gig here and there, I would always know deep in my soul from having watch Jellybean and Pettibone, etc. that in order to get noticed you needed to make your own songs. Now it’s more meaningful than ever because you can just watch the history of it and the evolution of a DJ and you didn’t get recognized because you knew how to mix records anymore – you got recognized for your artistic expressions in the studio and production skills.
I’m not a good business guy. I’m a music person and I think that I would be able to help bring out the productive side of aspiring producers or maybe help them in expressing themselves as entertainers. There’s no school for this and I’m not learning from anybody and I would love to teach what I’ve learned from so and so. I’m going to pass these lectures on to these young guys and girls – it would just all come from my heart and my experiences in doing this since the 70’s. I do see this place as an educational facility one day, I’m not giving up on that. I would love to see it become a place for consistent Boiler Room type events. That is what I want this place to be open to – mature minded people, daytime, daylight, social – not being a draw the curtains, dark kind of place and worrying about who is in a stall snorting ketamine, that is my biggest fear.
It’s much bigger now. This room right here where I’m sitting was 1900 square feet and having knocked down that wall, it opens it up all the way to the back where that entrance is, so it is over 3000 square feet now. So it’s a whole different feeling now – that doesn’t mean that this wall is down now and we invite over 300 people, no that would be overkill. I like it the less is better theory, because it being a place where I’ve rented for the last 11 years. If people have never been here before then there is a certain mystique. Perhaps people haven’t had have the opportunity to speak to me if they see me at nightclubs or they see me at the DJ booth but now they are up here in a social environment. Say Eat’s Everything is in town and they are going to do a Boiler Room type thing with him. Maybe I’ll be working in Ibiza that weekend and I can’t be here, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.
You say Techno is more soulful, swinging, and bouncier under 130 BPM. I know some of your fans like that harder, darker sound. Do you feel it necessary to tinker between both sounds in order to appeal to the masses? I can tell that you did exactly just that on “Balance 025”.
I think that a darker sound is its own genre but at the same time it’s still not above 130. If anything, it’s even closer to 126. I think a lot of New Yorkers like when it’s tough – like Alan Fitzpatrick and Joseph Capriati and Sasha Carassi and the kind of records that they make. It’s more of a proper Tech House as opposed to Techno or Deep Tech. I think that is something that is been around for quite a while and started peaking in the last few years. Even that’s starting to find its way on the decline because you can hear pretty much anybody start to play Tech House and they are making them in a cookie cutter kind of way where they are just going and going. The big crescendo part of it all is when the open ride came in with that sizzle and just added the elevation of it all and it was similar to what I was saying about acid house before. If I’m going to play Tech House, I don’t know if I necessarily need to go by the latest 200 best Tech House records on the Beatport because I have so many great ones that have somewhat of an original methodical arrangement to it. I rather revisit those but New Yorkers like a lot of that and I think that comes from the dark clubs like Tunnel and Twilo and the atmosphere you can create with a good visual specialist. Atmosphere is so key at any party.
I was able to create a dark atmosphere with songs that weren’t even very dark. You break that record down into the dark and you might find that record in the intro and you are recreating that intro until it builds up again and then a light guy plays along with you but that is missing man – that consistency.
The lights can aid you in molding a set into a dark context even if It is not at all meant to necessarily be dark, so if you are working with a good light man then he can help you with those buildups and breakdowns which the song will naturally do by itself. If you’re put in a dark atmosphere then you are more likely to play that darker more metallic sound. It is like doing a rooftop party, you’re not going to play heavy Techno up there because it is a rooftop party. Apples and oranges.
‘Balance 025: Danny Tenaglia is out now – Order your copy here
Words: Saxe Coulson