INTERVIEW: Dan McKie

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Dan McKie has been quietly making a name for himself over the years through his labels 1980 Recordings and 33 Music. His sound ranges from house to techno, with strong emphasis on groove, and has previously worked with household names like Bushwacka! and Roger Sanchez. With an EP lined up on 33 Music, including a remix from Brighton local These Machines, we caught up with Dan to find out more about his life in dance music.

Hey Dan, how are you? Whats good in your world right now? 

My child, life and sunshine ha 😉 And the production levels of my music I am currently making, I think I have never been happier than what my sound is like nowadays.

You’ve worked with giants like Roger Sanchez and Bushwacka! before now. How did that come about?

Roger Sanchez I have know for a good few years now, he has always been a supporter of my label 1980 Recordings and my own productions. I was in talks to get him in at a residency for the summer of 2014 when I was a Music Director at a restaurant in Ibiza. Unfortunately it fell through but we have been in contact ever since. Last year he eventually signed some of my music (a collaboration EP with Dimitry Soul) and released them on his Stealth Recordings imprint. I hope to get him on a remix of one of my tracks on 33 Music and you never know do a collaboration, we’ve talked about it for years!

As for, Bushwacka!, I have been a fan of his music from the late 90’s, I have many a vinyl from him. I met him back in the winter of 2013/14 in Ibiza. Then when I started my new label last year with Xelon in Australia he was one of the first people I contact with regards for making a remix of one of my productions. That’s when we have his Bushwacka! remix of ’The Punisher’ on 33 Music. It’s a scorcher.

How different are you when collaborating vs solo? Do you sound different? Take on different roles?

Not sure, I don’t really think about it. I just make music I want to play out and i want people to enjoy as much as I do. I think sometimes my experience helps when collaborating with young fresh talent as they are over keen to get it out there on whatever label possible. I would rather sit on it, get it out on the right label and with the right promotion behind it as even if you sit on music it is only old to you the producer not the end listener.

What sort of studio setup do you have? Are you a hardware or software guy?

I was never really a hardware guy as I started off in a duo in the early 00’s and he was the hardware geek. I was more the digital, networking, DJ and idea’s person. When I went solo and started doing my own thing I started all in the box. I suppose I do have some hardware now.

My set up is simple. 1 x Pair of Dynaudio BM6A + 1 x Apollo Twin Audio Card (which I use a lot of plugins from) + Virus TI Snow & then lots of virtual synths. Don’t get me wrong if I have the opportunity I will expand my studio with more hardware for sure.

What the scene in Barcelona like? What good and worth checking out?

As I spend a lot of my time here, amongst other places, the scene is super cool and underground. You have over 100+ festival like events in the summer. You have various cool clubs from Macarena, Nitsa, Input, Red58 and more. It is a great scene to check out. I would say as a DJ it is like many other places, i.e. London, Ibiza, etc… It can be very clique-y and requires a lot of networking. Don’t just expect to roll up and get the gigs.

What took you there from Newcastle?

I lived and live in various places as all my work is online. I first moved to London for several years because my then girlfriend got a job down there, I thought why not. We broke up I then tried out Ibiza, Andorra & Barcelona. For me Barcelona is the perfect mix of all these places. Sunshine, Spanish mentality, coastline, heat and it’s a city. Perfecto!

You run two labels – why two? What are the differences and similarities?

1980 Recordings – This is my baby. I first started this in 2007 for my own productions and some demos I received as a DJ. This has now evolved to a platform for talent. I release a lot of music that is not my own on this label but all the music I have to be comfortable with and want to play out. The sound of it has changed over the years, a bit like my DJ sound, but I feel I have a good sound to it now as I do for my own DJ sets etc. I still release an odd track from myself on here but usually with some remixes from talent I have released on my label already or I want on my label.

33 Music – Because of what I explained above I wanted to have a label more focused on ‘Dan McKie’ output so I was searching for the right partner for my new label. I met up with several distributors at ADE 2018 and chatted. The people I went with, Xelon (Who I had know for many years), loved the idea and where happy to back it. So we began setting things up. I A+R it with new music and new remixers of my choice and they label manage it. It’s taken a bit to get it gelled but we are for sure getting there and have some great artist released and ready to be released from Bushwacka!, Luca M, Aki Bergen & Richter, Lazarausman, Betoko, Onur Ozman and more. And of course each release has myself on it in the form of an original or a remix.

Are you looking to develop artist on either platform or is it just about the music?

All about the music. I don’t care if you are newcomer or established. I have to like the music and want to play it out.

Do you do music full time? How long have you done that?

Yes I do it all full time. It can be stressful but I’ve managed to stay away from the 9-5. I have a Music PR Agency which has helped fund my label and DJ/Producer side of thing. It’s beginning to shift now though, which is good. I have been in this industry technically since I started DJing in 1997 and then producing from 2003.

Does the pressure of needing to create in order to make new music and get gigs ever get to you?

Music side, not so much I am constantly making new music and am very creative. DJ gig wise, for sure, always on the hussle. The most thing that gets to probably me and a lot of producers/DJs is the constant rejection from demos sending, to pushing for DJ bookings etc. That’s what gets to me sometimes, I have hard skin but sometime I get some anxiety from it all as I am only human at the end of the day.

What else have you got coming up?

I have a release with vocalist ‘King Hitz’ called ‘Dance’ coming with a remix package on 1980 Recordings. The original has already been supported on BBC Introducing. I also have my new release ‘Her’ on 33 Music coming on the 27th March with a ‘These Machines’ remix (aka Steve Mac). And then our label managers under his duo alias of ‘Common Underground’ and my techno remix of that on 33 Music in April. I also have a track called ’Song For Baby D’ inspired from the birth of my child which is due out on BlackHole Recordings in April too.

Gig wise I am playing Luxembourg this Friday & Saturday (13th & 14th March) then straight on to Andorra (16th – 22nd March) for a week long event & residency, then TBC a gig in Ghana (fingers crossed).

Dan McKie, Her EP is out on 33 Music this Friday. Pre-order here

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