After his recent visit to London, it’s clear that Jay Daniel is a name to look out for. An exceptional talent hailing from Detroit, he joins us here on Tela Bianca to speak about his craft.
When did it all start out for you musically and how did growing up in Detroit affect the music you make?
Well, I initially started out playing the drums. I don’t think growing up in Detroit particularly had an influence on how I produce or DJ. It was more the life experiences that took place that shaped my zeal for music. People I’ve met, places I’ve been, meaningful conversations I’ve had, etc.
Could you speak a little about your mother, Naomi Daniel and her Planet E records? Were tracks like, ‘Stars’ a big influence on you growing up?
It had a huge impact on how I perceive music. The label, I Ner Zon (a sub-label of Planet E used by Carl Craig) is defunct now; it was made only to release ‘Stars’ & ‘Feel the Fire’. Those records definitely acted as a foundation for my musical endeavours. Big up my mother she birthed me!!!
What was your first musical memory?
My Mom’s tracks!
Having played in London now, what differences have you noticed in the scene over here from back home?
I think they have a different appreciation for art in Europe as a whole. Here, music is sometimes viewed as more of a commodity. From what I noticed, going to the club in Europe is sort of an experience, whilst here it’s more of a thing to do. I think Detroit tends to take its musical products for granted because the city has such a rich musical history. It’s the gift and the curse.
When did you start playing and what does DJ culture mean to kids growing up in Detroit?
I started when I was 19, not really that young. I don’t think DJ culture or music in general plays a big enough role in Detroit right now. The media has done everything in its power to make the youth afraid of anything they’re not familiar with. A lot of the youth here in Detroit, and in other major cities are now much more consumed by material goods. Anything abstract, whether it’s House music or visual arts, are neglected because they don’t match the images portrayed on TV or even on the Internet.
When did you start producing records and what method do you often take when starting on a track?
I started producing last summer. To be honest, I have no true methodology to producing. I prefer to just play around with sounds.
What is your favourite record?
I’d have to say Les McCann – Sometimes I Cry is my favourite record ever.
Everything else is irrelevant… Well, there are others but nothing else comes to mind right now.
What record labels do you feel are the most important in Detroit right now?
Wild Oats & Sound Signature.
Could you speak about your collaborative relationship with Kyle Hall, such as with your Fundamentals nights? How did it all start out between you guys?
Yeah I met Kyle in 2009 through our friend Ajamu. We met before I started DJ’ing or producing, so from time to time I’d go over his crib & he’d work on stuff with me. Working with Kyle kind of helped shaped my ear as a DJ. It wasn’t until 2011 that we did our first Fundamentals & it kinda just took off. People were feeling the energy we brought so we made it a monthly thing. The next one is June 16th at Division St Gallery here in Detroit. We haven’t done one in awhile so I’m excited to get back to it.
It was a couple of years now that Kyle was pushing your name over here. Are there any new artists from Detroit you feel could be big in a few years?
Yeah my boy John Lawyer is an up & coming DJ/producer, David Robinson is another one. Oh and Big Strick’s son Generation Next.
Outside of electronic music, what other sounds do you draw influence from?
I like a lot of dub, spiritual jazz, & soul.
What artists are you listening to from over in Europe now and do you think there are any influences from here being taken back to Detroit?
I like Funkineven. Yes, Stevie has single-handedly influenced Me & Kyle’s gear buying decisions lol.
What were your conceptions for your Pervasions mixes?
The Pervasions mixes are kinda selfless promo mixes. I’d like to introduce people to as much new music as possible. The title Pervasions itself suggests that the music works thru the DJ; whereas the DJ is more of a vessel. I’d like to keep DJ’ing as impersonal as possible because it’s all about the music.
What do you feel characterises the Detroit sound right now?
Being in Detroit! To be honest, I don’t feel that there is anything concrete about Detroit that constitutes an overall sound. What makes a city a city is merely an idea; the city’s boundaries act as a limiting factor in that idea. Detroit is not a dense city; it’s vast & spread out. So on a day-to-day basis, I don’t think that interpersonal interactions play that much of a role in the creative process. I think the lack of propinquity shapes Detroit in a unique way.
Images: Charlene Lipkins