Danny Tenaglia: 30 Years Under 130
Danny Tenaglia is one of the most respected and consistently looked up to DJs in the game. Hailing from Brooklyn, he has been DJing for over 30 years. From the early years of disco to the dawn of tribal and progressive house to the more recent Tech House and Techno sounds, Danny has been a steadfast force in electronic music.
DT caught up with Danny following his magnificent set at Electric Zoo right before the release of his first compilation in six years on Balance Music out of Australia entitled Balance 025. During the hour long interview, we spoke to Danny about festivals, the old and new New York electronic music scene, Acid House, Techno, and everything in between.
How would you say the New York electronic music scene has evolved since the start of the festival? There has definitely been a big movement in your hometown of Brooklyn as of recent with clubs such as Output and Verboten bringing massive line-ups and now Sankeys turning SRB’s into their new home.
I go back to the 70’s and even in the early 70’s, I watched my older brothers and some of my relatives going to nightclubs long before I was old enough to go. I already had that bug in me that I wanted to be a DJ, its crazy! Output is on N. 12th street and my dad was born on N. 5th street 85 years ago! My mother was born there. Our whole history is in Williamsburg and I lived there for 25 years before I moved to Miami. When I moved back to New York a few years later I moved to Astoria, but I always keep visiting because all my relatives are there. The change is only recent and I welcome it – I would have never imagined a few years ago that Williamsburg was going to blossom into this mecca of condos and hotels and restaurants and be trendy and earthy and very musical with the club scene. I think it is totally thriving again, I think we all started to ask the question, when is going to get better?
After so many of the mega, massive venues closed and we lost the residency I was doing for 5 years, Vinyl – which was the best residency ever! I was there for 5 years and there was no liquor and people were truly there to party and hear the music from 12 midnight until noon. Once that closed and Sound Factory and Tunnel and Twilo and Crobar and Spirit we didn’t have much hope. Many years passed and the only club that remained open was Pacha. I think now we are just into this new phase where we are between Williamsburg and other parts of Brooklyn – but even the rooftop events, daytime parties, PS1, a lot of it has come to this side of the bridge. I love how people are hungry for it and welcoming it. I could never predicted 5 years ago that we would be seeing this kind of activity and welcoming of pioneering DJs – I’m talking about the likes of Adam Beyer and people like that – that never really had the right luck in New York. They were making some of the best music ever, but now they have proper places to play in – long after we lost the mega venues where you would think that would be the right place for them. I have no complaints, I think it’s awesome where we are at right now in clubland.
It is definitely awesome! I think the scene is getting better and better as time goes on. With new and talented artists continuously developing and younger ones becoming more prevalent than some of the older ones, would you say fans are becoming more demanding and expect more from veteran artists such as yourself?
Yeah, I mean I would say that because we are living in this generation of post rave mentality where people are really, really becoming in admiration of the DJs to the point of fanatical. They are really expecting that journey from them but they want it quick and they want it fast and they want their money’s worth. Everyone is looking at their watch because they want to go hear another DJ – that applies not just to festivals to nightclubs too. We are living in this age where they are raised on instant gratification and that crescendo and climax the song can bring you to and then it’s really really extremely distant on what I was raised upon. I’ve been in nightclubs where the song itself was the journey. It should have some heights and breakdowns but it’s really become a little bit where anybody that’s between the ages of 15 and 25, their previous clubbing experience and musical knowledge and what they might have been raised upon could have been hip hop or trance. They have those elevations and now they’re coming to nightclubs and festivals and they want someone like me to do it to them like Armin Van Buuren does but it’s hard to do that. If I did do that – ‘cause I can fake a crescendo in any record I play with effects, reverbs, delays, just to get that da da da da boom, bring it back in. To me that’s faking it, you have to do it when it feels appropriate. So yeah I feel that audiences today are expecting something from DJs that just isn’t appropriate for the music. Until they mature having lived to the point where it’s like… “we are sick of that, we are going to learn something different, we are going to learn about deep house and the roots of House and Techno and New York, Chicago, New Jersey, about certain DJs” and until then I’ll take it one day at a time.