DENNEY is a rare breed, making forays into the mainstream while retaining club land integrity and a cool underground spirit.
In a relatively short space of time he has achieved an impressive number of accolades including a BBC1 Essential Mix, his track ‘Low Frequency’ sitting at the top of the Beatport charts for over five weeks along with it gaining a re-release on Ministry Of Sound and breaking into the UK top 100 chart.
Furthermore, the start of this year saw Denney release an EP on Heidi’s Jackathon Jams label featuring dance music legends Derrick Carter and Roger Sanchez.
This summer saw Denney collaborate with Mekon reworking his classic ‘What’s Going On’ which became one of this summers biggest dance floor tracks gaining the ultimate recognition from BBC Radio 1’s Pete Tong and Danny Howard. The track has since been given the remix treatment by Second City and Detlef.
We caught up with Denney to find out more about his career to date, the importance of his residency at Back2Basics in Leeds and a busy summer. He has also curated Youtube playlist for our listening pleasure which you can check out at the end of this interview.
After your first big record Ultraviolet you received praise from all corners of the dance music scene from some of the best and most established artists. This must have been a huge deal at the time and a big motivation?
That record was a big turning point for me, I was able to leave my day job and follow the music dream full time so it really was a huge deal. It was crazy as it opened me up instantly to an international crowd and also pricked many different labels ears up with whom I later released with.
Have things settled down now you are pretty established in your own right?
I wouldn’t say they have settled down, more like things have gotten busier in terms of touring, releases and remixes. I don’t like to think things will ever settle down as you never stop learning and most importantly I love what I do, so will never stop doing it and always strive to do more.
Hot Creations is a big label. How important was it being on that imprint and the part it played in your ongoing success from there?
I would say that label and specifically Jamie Jones has been the most important catalyst in my career. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to be involved in such a great label and was just lucky my music had that platform to help showcase it.
Do you still have a good relationship with the guys at Hot Creations and are there any plans to return to the label any time soon?
I’m very close with all the guys at Hot Creations and an old friends with them (before Hot Creations even existed). I’d love to get another release with them and know the door is always open, so hopefully it will happen in the near future.
A Radio 1 Essential Mix soon followed and your huge hit ‘Low Frequency’ was everywhere crossing over into the UK charts on MoS. With commercial success like that did the gig offers change much from cool underground shows to commercial promoters wanting to cash in on your chart success?
I did see a change in offers but we were very careful to balance those type of gigs with the underground shows, which I think we have managed to do. Low Frequency came out on Ministry of Sound and charted then we released on Pokerflat straight after to come back to the underground world. Mainstream success is nice when it’s unexpected but underground house music is what I want to do.
You’ve held down a residency with Back to Basics which must be very influential on your career. How did it all happen there initially?
Back to Basics has probably been the biggest influence in my life. It’s a long story but basically I was offered the job to do the bookings in the office on my last day of Uni (as I had been promoting my own parties for a few years prior). This then opened me up to playing the back room and the odd main room warm up. I then left the office and concentrated on the music properly. They then offered me an official residency in 2011 and the rest as they say is history. The place is an institution and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Do you think the importance of a good residency is being lost in the modern era?
I think so, when you have a residency you learn to hone your craft properly as a DJ. From setting the night up properly doing a warm up, to playing a peak time set, to finishing off the night and really being able to twist and turn musically. I think the art of DJing has really taken a knock, as now to be a DJ you have to produce and also line ups try and put as many acts on as possible for short hour sets rather than letting a single DJ play properly over a long period of time.
You’ve just released ‘What’s Going On’, a rework/collaboration of Mekon’s classic. Can you tell us how the record came about?
I had always loved the original and had managed to spend a year blagging Mekon to send me the vocal so I could do a new version (which he eventually caved in and did). I tried to do a few versions over the years but they were never right so decided to shelve it for a while. Last year I revisited it and managed to nail it which is the version that got released. It took 6 years in total from initial idea to release so was a long process.
The SecondCity mix is a bit special too right?
Yeah it’s great, I love the direction he took the track in! To be honest I’m really happy with the whole remix package.
How has the record been received amongst your peers and on the dancefloor?
It’s been amazing to see how across the board it’s been, from all the Radio 1 DJs playing it to people like Seth Troxler. Some people remember the original track and love the new version and to some it’s totally fresh which is great!
I understand you are touring the US right now?
Yes I’m currently on tour over here, I’ve had a crazy weekend starting on Friday at my residency at Heart in Miami where I played with Roger Sanchez back to back, then straight to Las Vegas where I played a sunrise set, then on to Dirtybird Campout in California. I’m just sat by the pool in Newport Beach doing this now before tonight’s gig here, then onto LA tomorrow for a few days and finishing in Chicago and San Diego on the weekend…it’s been full on!
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given for your career?
It was by my friend James Holroyd (fellow Basics resident and Chemical Brothers tour DJ) who told me as a DJ to “just be fearless”. Meaning play what you want to and throw in musical curve balls. It’s the greatest advice I’ve ever had.
How has your summer been overall?
It’s been good fun thanks, the usual craziness of festivals and Ibiza etc. As a whole it’s been really productive as have managed to get lots of new music done in between shows so have a balanced it well I feel. Along with “What’s Going On?” I have just had an EP out on Green Velvet’s label Relief and have music upcoming on Crosstown Rebels, Knee Deep In Sound and Saved Records. I’ve been lucky enough to play some amazing shows and festivals too, so I’m happy!
DENNEY’S TOP TEN TRACKS
Chis Stussy – Crate Diggin
Joeski – Lost Drums
Enzo Siragusa & Seb Zito – Shades Of Riddim
Denney – OOLA
CJ Jeff feat. Seven Davis Jr & Honey Dijon – Shots In The Dark
Reboot – Pollo al Sillao (ANNA Remix)
Carlos Manaça Chus & Ceballos – The Strong Rhythm (George Privatti & Guille Plasencia Remix)
Yousef feat. The Angel – Vanity
Henrix & Celeda – The Underground (Raumakustik Remix)
Denney – Back To Basics
Huxley & Mark Fanciulli – Heat
Cratebug – Melondrop (Chicago Mix)
John Creamer and Stephane K – Forget The World (Ismael Rivas Factomania Remix)
Mihalis Safras & Roger Sanchez – Baracunda
Hammer – Love Somebody (Bass Edit)