When Danny Tenaglia comes to town, true lovers of cutting-edge dance music will flock to see him. The Godfather of House is renowned for delivering killer sets – sometimes 16-hour marathons - that mix the freshest beats with his trademark deep percussive elements. Seeing Danny T live is unlike any DJ experience you’ll ever know, so prepare yourself for a new level of intensity at his appearance at Story on Saturday night. Tenaglia talked to the Miami Herald about his set, rumors that he retired, and why he wants to simply give music away.
What can we expect from your set?
I’ll just go in there and do my thing with somewhat of a progressive, techno sound, but always with a classic approach. And I’m always prepared to go in a certain direction, if I’m feeling it and the crowd is feeling it. I do tend to play the chunkier swing house stuff with progressive elements, with my signature edits and things that I’ve done, remixes that I keep to myself.
How long will you play? It can’t be a marathon set, right?
No, I’m gonna play from 2 to 5.
Do you still ever do those 16-hour marathons?
I do, but I don’t get to do them that often, because a club like Story, they have to close at 5 a.m., so mostly it’s for legal reasons. The place that I do get to play really long sets is usually Stereo in Montreal.
Have you performed at Story before?
I played there last year during the Winter Music Conference, but it wasn’t Story yet – it was Amnesia.
Have you changed your approach toward performing over the years?
I think so. I’ve been through so many different stages of a DJ career, starting with 30 years ago at a roller disco. But as far as the last 10 or 15 years, it has changed a lot, because I come from the school of residencies, where the DJ performs 3, 4, 5 nights a week, and then even if it was just one night a week, that lasted me until 2004. That’s when Vinyl [in New York] closed, and once that was over, it changed everything for me in many ways – the long sets, the consistency. I was able to have a specific crowd come back time after time, get to know certain songs, anticipate hearing them again, sing along, that kind of stuff. It’s so missing. And of course with the technology changing as well, I’ve adapted to that. But I just wish the sets weren’t so short.
Did you actually resign from DJing last year?
I took time off. I did use the expression “resigning,” not retiring, but I guess I didn’t realize how popular I was in a global sense, because the word retirement spread like wildfire. With language barriers, I had to keep clarifying that I wasn’t retiring.
So what happened?
I was getting frustrated, after traveling for more than 20 years. And coming back to Miami in May of last year I left a bag on the airplane, and it left me so frustrated on top of some frustration that I was already having with the flight and delays and all that. And I just felt like that was my rock bottom in the sense that I just had to stop traveling for a minute. Because I wasn’t able to enjoy my apartment in Miami, and I felt like I had two beautiful places between New York and Miami, but I’m living out of a suitcase. And it was just getting really tiring.
And I love it, once I’m in that moment, you know, you get to the club and you look at the people’s faces – I could be anywhere in the world. That’s my passion. I don’t really think about where I am – I’m just doing my job and loving it. But it really does take a lot, the transportation, airports, airplanes, checking in and checking out of hotels. I just felt like I needed a break.
So I made a commitment to myself that I would cancel what I had said I would be doing in Ibiza from June, July, August and September, as well as other stuff in the region – Italy and Germany, I’m not exactly sure where. I just said I’m not gonna do it.
I continued to do local stuff, but basically the point was, if I wanna do a gig, I get back on my own pillow the next night. So it worked out.
Were there any other reasons for the hiatus?
I also had many things I needed to accomplish. You know, for many years, you put stuff on the back burner, things that I’ll do when I get back, but you never get around to it. So I was really rummaging through my collection – records, DATs, masters, studio projects – cleaning up stuff that was really long overdue.
So I’m back in it now, but I’m doing less of the traveling part of it.
Will you bring your “Be Yourself” party to Winter Music Conference this year?
Yeah. We’re actually working on that right now. I’ll do a classic-type party again at Score, and something else on South Beach: My friends are taking over the club formerly known as Liquid – I don’t know what else it became after that.
Your last compilation mix was the excellent “Futurism” in 2008. Are you planning on a new release?
I don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon, because with all the free downloading I don’t see anybody looking at sales anymore, especially of physical CDs.
I just wanna give away music – I don’t wanna charge for it anymore. I just think I should just do Soundcloud and just let people have it.
Danny Tenaglia plays Wednesday at Pawn Shop and Friday at Ultra.