As a producer (in the traditional sense) Phil Spector crafted a production style called the “wall of sound,” which uses recording techniques and instrument arrangements to create a dense fabric of sound, which is defined by its excess. Every instrument is at least doubled, if not quintupled, as in the case of the guitars, creating a harmonic cacophony designed to grab you by the ears and shake you into paying attention to it.
If the Wall of Sound technique sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. You’ve probably been beat upside the head on the radio, on SoundCloud, in any number of podcasts and at pretty much every festival under the guise of Big Room. It may not be quite as sophisticated, but the principles are very much the same. Another genre that utlizizes the technique is progressive house, which is what most producers, including Dannic, would rather call themselves.
Dannic is an electronic music producer from a small town in the Netherlands called Breda. Perhaps there are socio-economic explanations for this, or it could be that there is a regional focus on creative arts, or maybe there’s just something in the water, but this is the same town that produced Tiesto and Hardwell. Dannic’s real name is Daan Romers, and he releases music through his long-time friend, Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings.
Last year, Dannic joined Dryo and Hardwell on a bus tour of major cities across America. This year, he’s on his own tour, and flying, to an interesting list of stops. The only thing more random than starting your tour in Minneapolis (which happens often, oddly enough), is his stop in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Fresh off a couple big shows in Europe, Dannic agreed to sit down with ElectroJams before his tour kickoff at Rev Ultra Lounge in Minneapolis to answer a few questions.
As fortune would have it, Dannic was also late for my interview, so after a quick handshake and pleasantries, we hopped right into questions. (As misfortune would have it, the “green room” was the back of a bar, separated by the music and bar noise by a thin curtain. I decided to forgo the recording and wing it.
“What is it like to play in front of tens of thousands of people at TomorrowLand in Belgium, then a beautiful beach club in Croatia, and finally a tiny club in a basement in Minneapolis?”
“TomorrowLand was great. It’s always such a good time, such a huge crowd and a huge stage. It’s too bad – you know, because of the rain, but we still had a good time. And I got to play, like 90% Dannic. We had a lot of fun,” He continued, “every show’s a little different; it’s great to get to see all the different people at each of these venues and play music for them. It’s really great.”
Before Dannic the producer, there was Dannic the DJ (as DJ Funkadelic) for about ten years. He got his start playing a small pub in Breda, then house parties, and bigger venues, until he got to the point where he decided to involve himself more with the music. He began making mashups, aka the gateway drug to music production, and eventually learned how to make his own music.
I asked about his background as a DJ, and how it informs his setlists. He laughed and told me about the times where a stage manager will ask him to go five minutes longer because the next guy is late. He’s all for it, but there are other performers he’s seen get asked the same question, who kind of freak out because all they have is their sixty minutes already setup on their USB stick.
“Every set is different, for sure. I have set songs, Dannic material, that I know I’m going to play, but everything in between that, I don’t even know. For example, a couple weeks ago, I just dropped ten minutes of hip-hop, because that’s what I was feeling, and the crowd loved it!” In talking to Daan, it’s easy to see he has a lot of enthusiasm for his craft, and especially for his fans.
Keeping on the topic of his decisions in terms of his sound, I asked him about his sound, and if it was a conscious move to big room, or if that’s just where he wound up.
I’m not sure if he forgot he’d described his music as big room, or if he chose to forget, but Daan actually winced when I said the words, “big room.” But he shook it off, and explained he likes to keep his sound close to house, and to use the groove of the music to set himself apart. The groove is what he focuses on, and in turn that groove sets Dannic apart in a busy crowd. He’s not a fan of big room’s trademark monster kick, but sometimes, he said, that’s just where he’s found himself.
Dannic’s schedule is very much typical for an electronic music producer: hectic. He’s talked before about how important family is to him, so I asked how he keeps that up while he’s quite literally bouncing around the world:
“Oh, you know, Facetime and Skype, mostly. Lots of phone calls and all of that.” He said, adding, “But you know where the real problem comes in is when I finally get home, and I have all these songs I’ve started that I really want to finish. I just want to lock myself in my studio, but then my friends call and text and they want to hang out. My friends usually win.”
Not only is Dannic a have a consistent output of songs, but he’s also quite proficient at lobbing softballs if you’re looking for a segue.
I told him I really like both of his collab’s with Bright Lights, as well as his song with Shermanology. “Are there any more collaborations on the way?”
“Yeah, I have a song coming out with a singer I found on YouTube, actually. And as it turns out, we’re both from Breda. We didn’t find that out until after [we agreed to work together.] I also have a song coming out with Sick Individuals, who were really easy to work with. Sometimes, when you get into the studio….it just isn’t right, you know?” I shake my head yes, as if I understand, but I am lying. “But with them, it’s very good energy, it’s very easy. I have one more song I’m doing with Mako, again. We worked on Beam together in 2012.”
Between the touring schedule, producing new music, and in his self-produced Front of Stage TV Dear Life documentary series, it’s surprising that he’s got time for interviews. But Dannic makes time, not only for press, but also for his fans. He regularly sets up meet and greets with his fans around his shows, as evident in the latest episode of his documentary series. It’s comforting to know that in some cases, person behind your favorite music is the same person up on the huge stage, is also the person reading your comments, eager to know what their music means to you. Dannic is most definitely one of those people.
Speaking of collabs, I asked if there was a dream partner he’d like to work with. He answered definively and quickly, John Legend. Dannic is impressed by Legend’s versatility as a vocalist. I noted that you could plop John Legend into any style of music in the the past sixty or so years and he’d sound natural, and to my delight, Dannic enthusiastically agreed.
I’ve shaken hands with thousands of people in my life, predominantly males, and I’ve learned that you can learn so much about a person by a simple handshake. When I was first introduced to Dannic at the club that night, his handshake was on the softer side, but not too soft. It was simple, straightforward, and not aggressive in the least. By the end of the interview, I realized those qualities summed up his personal qualities perfectly.
Catch Dannic on the rest of his tour dates listed below, and you can find more information and tickets at djdannic.com.
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.