Photo: Dan Medhurst (Dan Shake)
What they don’t really tell you in school is that about 98% of success is being in the right place at the right time. The origin story of Dan Shake is already the stuff of legends in that respect: while working for the Dimensions festival in Croatia, the budding British producer handed a CDr to Moodymann, received an e-mail a few later and became the first non-Detroiter to be signed to Kenny Dixon Jr.’s Mahagoni label. It seems less like the straight stories we nowadays are used to hear from social media savvy newcomers but like a downright dance music fairy tale. However, Shake being in the right place at the right time only once didn’t make him the artist he is today – the hundreds and hundreds of hours spent working hard in his studio and on the decks did. It took the producer only a short amount of time to master the art of DJing, while also releasing a slew of records on his own Shake imprint and other labels like Denis Sulta’s new Sulta Selects Silver Service. With his new EP Mosquito out today, Shake proves with his mix for our Groove podcast that also as a DJ he’s giving it more than just the usual 100% anyhow. It’s brimming with old classics that come alive again under the hands of a unique selector.
Your first record was released by none other than Moodymann through his Mahagoni label, however directly after you started your own label Shake and to this day put out most of your music through it. What made you go fully independent so early in your career as a producer?
It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do – run my own label. I love having a creative input on all parts of a release, from the artwork to the way it’s distributed.
While most of the Shake records feature your own productions, you’ve occasionally invited others like XOA and Dirty Channels to release their music through the label. What is the overall concept of Shake if it’s not just dedicated to your own releases?
It doesn’t have to fit a certain genre or style, just music that I love! That’s the concept for releases that aren’t my own. This year I’m going to start releasing a lot more records from other artists.
With Shake Tapes, you also launched a sublabel specifically for edits in 2017. What was the idea behind this series as opposed to the main label?
Shake Records is for original music, whereas Shake Tapes is a limited run of records for my own (and occasional others) edits. I make so many personal edits to play out that I thought I’d share a few!
Many of your own productions rely heavily on sampling. What role do they play in your working process? Do you deliberately seek out specific sounds or rhythms to build your tracks around, do you have a library that you refer to while working on new music?
They do, yes, although my forthcoming release features very little samples. I wouldn’t say I have a certain routine when it comes to production, I have no library. Sometimes I will hear a song down the pub and be like “I need to sample that”! But in terms of starting and building on a track it’s always been a natural flow, I usually start with drums and then see what happens afterwards!
Tracks like “Freak,” released a year ago on Shake, or “Claudia’s Trip” from 2016 bring together disco samples with acid lines. What draws you to this rather unusual combination?
It’s never planned, but I love to mix things together which don’t usually fit. I think it makes a track more exciting, and definitely more fun to work on.
You really only started DJing seriously after your first release came out. While you have certainly mastered the art since then, how do you prepare for your sets nowadays? Stylistically, your sets are quite varied.
It’s funny, I actually never knew how to DJ before my first release… and then I started getting bookings and was like, “oh shit, I need to learn how to DJ fast!” It was a crazy couple months of locking myself in my room and teaching myself. But to answer your question – although I’m constantly looking for new music, I try not to over-plan my sets. Quite like my production, I let it flow. I think this lets me be more in tune with a crowd, I can see what they are / aren’t reacting to and base what I play from that.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
Some of the tracks are what I’ve been playing out recently, but I wanted to try and bring together a variety of styles and genres, ending with my massive love for broken beat.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer?
Oh it’s a very hectic year, lots coming up! Some of the shows I’m most excited for are my five-hour Love International set, Nuits Sonores, Australia and Asia tour. As a producer I have a release lined up with Amp Fiddler and some very exciting projects I can’t wait to share!
Stream: Dan Shake – Groove Podcast 247
01.Brothers Of Peace – Come On, Move With The Beat
02. Joe – Tail Lift
03. Opolopo – Spray Tan
04. KX9000 – Pouvoir Magique
05. TV Babies – Funkin Situation
06. Kerri Chandler – Bar A Thym (Foremost Poets Vocal Remix) DS Cut
07. Cobra Edits – 002 A1
08. Cobra Edits – 006 A2
09. Kito Jempere – Gas Station (2019 Edit)
10. Wildchild – Jump To The Beat
11. Grant Nelson – Rhode House
12. Disco-Tex – Keep Holdin’ Back
13. Josh Wink – Selecta
14. Musique – In The Bush (Dan Shake Cut)
15. Shadee – Disco Hall Of Fame (Dan Shake Cut)
16. Uptown Funk Empire – You’ve Got to Have Freedom (Patchworks Rmx)
17. Mark De Clive-Lowe – Twilight
18. Dego & Kaidi – Treasure Beach
19. Bugz In the Attic – Inna Row
20. K15 – Sunbeams