One of America’s original junglists is at it once again.
Danny the Wildchild has been a name synonymous with U.S. drum and bass since the ’90s. The Chicago based DJ and producer started spinning at the age of nine and earned his moniker when he won his first DJ contest at the age of twelve… and he hasn’t calmed down at all since then. He’s played alongside almost every major DnB artist you can think of not to mention non-dnb acts as well including Eminem, Method Man, The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Moby, MixMaster Mike, and The Pharcyde.
With his latest studio EP “My Style” dropping today, September 11 on Digital Terror Records, we thought we’d catch up with this living legend to talk about his new album, how he gets down in the studio, his influences, and his plans for the rest of the year.
You kick off your latest EP with the title track “My Style” so let’s kick off the interview talking about just that. How would you describe the music you make? What influences your sound?
It’s my background and upbringing. I was a DJ at an early age and was really into hip hop and b-boy breaks, scratching, etc… In the early days of drum & bass, it was record labels like True Playaz, Joker Records, Urban Takeover to name a few. They all had them hip hop funk samples incorporated into the tunes. Jump Up is my style of D&B and in this year of 2020, that style has changed for the better in my opinion.
What influences my sound? Using analog synthesizers for bass sounds, Phat drum breaks, and dope hook samples as I consider myself a turntablist. Dope hooks = Scratch material haha
I know you got into DJ’ing at a very young age. Who can we all thank for that? Who got you into it in the first place?
My older brother always had decks but when I showed interest our beloved grandmother bought us Technics SL 1200’s. I was the Wildchild trying to get my scratch on!!
Which song on the release is your personal favorite? Why?
Hmmm. that’s a tuff one. That’s not fair. I don’t have a favorite cause they all are!
On ”My Style” I was geeked after I found the hook sample so after that it all came together. “Bust It” – is a favorite cause of the drum pattern and how it punches through the mix. “This Is It” – I was super happy with the intro and Salt & Pepa hook. “So Naive” – The sample I chose was a soulful Chicago House music type sample. And being single at the moment, the track is a favorite cause it was a personal feeling when I was producing it. “Vibrations” – A favorite cause of all the extra hip hop funk samples and dark analog bass lines on that one.
You’ve been in the game for a long time. How did you get started and what do you attribute your long-lasting success to?
I fell in love with the music when it all started. I was there in the beginning and have seen all the changes, the good and the bad. As mentioned before, I came from a background of DJing basement parties and high school gyms. Nobody ever danced and I was a human jukebox. After going to my first raves where I heard DnB everybody was dancing and the DJ was a god!
At this point, they’ve coined me a Legend so I guess I’ll accept it and would just want to contribute as much as I can. I’m no longer happy being a Chicago Junglist. I am now focused on the BIG picture and want to be America’s Junglist. Boh!
Love that! I think all of us who have been around forever all want to do everything we can to contribute to our stateside drum and bass scene. Biggest of BOH’s to you, sir. Let’s move it into the studio. What D.A.W. are you using for production, and is there any tool/instrument/effect you can’t live without?
I’m still in Logic 9. I know lol… everyone will laugh at me. But it’s solid and works perfectly for me. I will upgrade someday but the thought of transferring my sounds and making sure I don’t lose anything gives me anxiety. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
I’m blessed with having hardware synths so I just pick one and start a vibe. If the vibe works, I warm it up and record it into the D.A.W. I love vintage analog mono synths, playing with a mouse doesn’t do it for me.
On the topic of production, what is your workflow like when you are in the studio?
I try to spend at least 2 hours in the studio every day when possible. My studio is in the basement of my apartment so it’s just a few steps away. Sometimes those two hours are just spent searching for samples and playing with keyboards, nothing gets recorded. And sometimes those two hours are spent just cleaning. If everything is going well and I’m having good vibes, I like to say I went all in last night, and that’s when I had a 5 to 6-hour session but it felt like a few hours. I also will spend 2 hours just scratching. I wanna stay relevant with the turntablist scene as well as my jump up scene.
And now a VERY important question… what are your studio snacks and what do you sip on?
Being the stoner that I am, when solo it’s coffee, and when guests are over it’s Lagunitas as my cousin works for them and sponsors me. #Blessed! I guess I always have Jolly Ranchers to take care of the cotton mouth and they last long too. I love fruit so Cuties for the win!
How has it been working on this EP with Digital Terror Records?
I’ll just say I’m achieving all the goals that I set for myself and being on DTR was one of them. Maximum boost out to DTR for giving me the opportunity! As mentioned all I want to do is contribute. I want my music to be around when I’m not.
When people think of Chicago, they usually think of house music. What is the drum and bass scene like there… you know when we can actually have raves and clubs back?
Chicago is important for the midwest because I was raving in 1993 when I first heard this music. So we are responsible for exposing the music to surrounding states. Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, etc. Nowadays, it’s a tight family and everybody knows everybody. I still see some people from 1993 today! Junglist like RP Smack, Ben “Dr.Groo” Baez, Phantom 45, DJ3D. All of them are still my jungle brothers today!
Who are some of the artists that influence you the most? Who are some of your all-time favorite producers and why?
The first artist would have to be DJ Hype due to him paving the way and incorporating turntablism/scratching. It was unheard to scratch over jungle at that time. I’ve loved scratching from the start. Not to mention his powerful True Playaz label that he runs to this day.
Fast forward to today and I’ll have to say Ego Tripping inspires me the most for his use of analog basslines, tight drums and funked-out vibes.
What have been your top 5 favorite tunes this year?
Mass – Gats In Ya Raps – Liondub International
Replicant – Smooth Operator – Organized Grime
Filthy Habits – Take The Lot – Bites
Danny The Wildchild – Murder Dem (dub)
DJ Sly – Old Ways – Higher Stakes
A solid list of selections! If you could collab with any non-drum and bass artist, who would it be and why?
Probably Herbie Hancock because he introduced the world of scratching records in his pop hit ‘‘Rock It” and he’s also one of the best jazz keyboard/synthesizer players today at the age of 80. not to mention he’s also from Chicago.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
Staying healthy and safe. Keep writing music and release as much of it as I can. I have more labels on my goal/wish list. I do have another EP in the works and hopefully, it’s gonna drop this year as well. Can’t mention much more but watch this space and hold tight!
You big tease! Anything else you’d like to add?
Big up all my junglist supporters and I hope to see you all again on the dance floor real soon!
Danny The Wildchild’s “My Style” is now available on major platforms. You can grab your copy here.