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Danny Daze Became a ‘Total Diva’ For Menacing ‘P.O.P. (Dub)’

Danny Daze almost didn’t make it to our interview because he nearly died. “My life just flashed before my eyes,” the Miami bass-blaster tells SPIN over the phone from Poland, where his taxi driver momentarily fell asleep behind the wheel. “He snapped out of it, but I had to jump to the front seat.” The other major event in his life for the past few days — and the real reason he pushed our chat back a whopping five minutes — is because he was up against the clock (not an uncommon scenario for the producer) to finish a remix of Tiga and Hudson Mohawke’s supernova “Planet E.” “I’m not even sure what I did with it,” he adds, as if still reeling from such an action-packed weekend.

Just another day of life, death, and deadlines seems to be one of quiet a few for the producer born Daniel Gomez, who currently splits time between his hometown and Berlin. His career reads as if James Dean starred in an EDM-themed Miami Vice: In the mid-’90s, a then-13-year-old Daze started DJ’ing weddings and all-ages raves. At age 17 a few years later (he declined to give his current age for personal reasons), he was put under house arrest for selling drugs as his only source of income. By the time he turned 23, musical luminaries like Kanye West and the Rolling Stones were hitting him up for remixes.

It wasn’t until the warped sizzles of his 2011 breakthrough “Your Everything” were picked up by tech-house tastemaker Jamie Jones that the Daze’s dream of DJ’ing full-time became a reality. “It was pretty crazy doing this nine-to-five crap [remixing for hire] that I absolutely hated, to saying, ‘I’m not gonna do this anymore,’ to producing one track, and now I’m traveling the world,” he says.

His forthcoming Miami EP, out February 22 via his own imprint, Omnidisc, is a testament to his aesthetic omnivorousness. “In one set I’ll play disco, techno, electro — that’s the message I’m trying to send with this record,” says Daze. “I don’t have a sound; I don’t think I’ve ever had a sound.” He’s so committed to shaking up preconceptions that he begins tracks on a different synthesizer each time to purposefully “mess up the workflow,” resulting in such disparate outputs as 2014’s pummeling, Drexciyan “Freeze” and sultry “El Ritmo.” Likewise, his latest four-track effort surges with the unpredictability of its titular city’s tides: Retro-futuristic Model 500 arpeggiations spin out on “Miami,” and his growling vocals rough-ride a murderous low-end through “P.O.P. (Dub),” which you can hear below.

“What I usually try and push as an artist is non-conformity, and just doing what you do, and that’s it,” says Daze. As SPIN learned, he’s certainly lived the life of someone who doesn’t play by the rules — especially while drunk in Bali putting on a diva voice.

When you previewed “P.O.P.” in Brazil, was the track finished by that point? Or were you testing it out on the audience?
I actually play records when they’re 30 percent done, when I just have a groove. I take a mental note of what I’m gonna do as soon as I get back to the hotel room, because even if it’s seven in the morning and I just finished playing and I have to catch a flight in three hours, I’ll go back and make these edits that need to be done. At first “P.O.P.” was an instrumental, and then I was in Bali, and I was drunk, and I was watching some old vogueing videos I said, “F**k it, I’m just gonna become this total diva.” So that’s me on the vocals.

What was it like being 13-year-old getting into the Miami electronic music scene?
I would DJ this party called Full Moon at Malibu Castle Park, where I was surrounded by kids that were my age as well, but everybody DJing was 23, 24. I learned a lot. I was a breakdancer, so I listened to the broken-beat electro by Afrika Bambaataa, old Egyptian Lover stuff. Thankfully, I didn’t get caught up in the wrong scene. I’m scared s**tless of drugs, I have heart problems and I know I can just die. I do cocaine, my heart rate goes up. I have a Cuban mom who told me “If you smoke weed, you’re gonna die.”

I went from that to selling drugs, but the only reason I did a transaction was because I crashed my car and I couldn’t get to my job. I had no form of transportation; my mom couldn’t give me money. Had anyone told me I should’ve robbed a bank, like, “This is the way you can make money right now,” I would have probably robbed a bank. I didn’t care how I was going to make money. It was just complete stupidity and desperation.

It seems like you’ve had to steer your career from where others have wanted it to go, like when you were in DiscoTech and doing remixes for Kanye West and the Rolling Stones, and then later when you were on [Jamie Jones’ label] Hot Creations.
The DiscoTech stuff for me was simply money, my version of selling out. But in 2004 and 2005, there were guys out there killing it, like Danny Tenaglia, but I never thought that I could actually accomplish it. I made one record, one of my friends was like, “I know this guy Jamie,” and they ended up giving him the track, and then all of a sudden I’m traveling the world. It was pretty gnarly, coming basically out of house arrest. I noticed very quick how pegged I got for being “deep house,” while deep house to me means something completely different. In 2009 and 2010 when I was producing some tech-house records, I would ask myself, “Is this gonna work for the ladies, is this gonna get people laid, is this gonna sell?” Now, I don’t care.

How have those goals changed? You’ve mentioned you want to “grab the audience by the balls.”
I don’t think they’ve ever changed. What happened is that it became popular, that sound: There’s YouTube videos of how to get the Danny Daze bass line. Once I saw that, I was like, “That’s not a good thing.” I can’t stand popularity. I can’t stand fads, and things being cool at the moment. Don’t try and copy a sound, don’t try and copy a sort of art, a sort of installation. That just drives me insane. Most people would tell me, “Keep doing this sound, and you’ll have more traction.” To me, that’s suicide.