With one member proving a tremendous asset to the thriving UK Drum & Bass scene and the other boasting an extensive commitment to the realms of soulful House music, Cambridge collective Danism appear something of an odd couple at first glance. But under the guise of one of Britain’s most beloved House outfits, the Defected approved duo have not let simplistic genre boundaries flatten the global appeal of their music. Welcoming their debut album ‘Sine of the Times’ to the world on Nocturnal Groove earlier this month, productivity and balance evidently haven’t been an issue amid their inherently chaotic careers. Dan Carter grilled the melodic maestros to find out how the pieces fitted together for the eccentric duo behind some of the summers most pertinent vocal anthems to date.
Finding each other courtesy of mutual friends and an ambition to recreate the soulfully refined music that was fuelling club culture throughout the UK, Dan Gresham, better known as Cambridge’s Drum & Bass boutique master NU:TONE and ex-House promoter peer Dan Liquid spent little time musing over the logistics of their impending studio bond. Infact, their matched wits made for a sound somewhat mutual yet inherently fresh on the national front. ‘It turned out that we pulled from quite similar influences, so when we came to work together it was surprisingly easy as far as the directions we were interested in,’ explained Gresham. ‘The hardest thing from my perspective was that I had to approach the production side of things like a beginner. House production and D&B production are so completely different – everything from the arrangement, groove, right through to the mix down. It was challenging, but ultimately, really rewarding.’
The proof of this unique bonding of genre-torn talents is aptly reflected in the duos fine discography of modern yet soulful House gems. Waving in M2NS and eventually Simon Dunmore’s Defected Records for the formidable ‘Say Yes’ and last year’s summer stormer ‘Love The Way’, Danism not only refined the mood-set of overtly melodic House with a firm vocal stimulus, but championed it on a national level. But with four albums already behind him under his NU:TONE alias, Gresham was keen to give Danism a well-overdue full-length injection that collected some of the nostalgic moments that the duo have committed to British House music. Add a slur of exclusive new cuts and an array of material that has reigned in as the spawn of their scattered studio etiquette, the album was something of an achievement for Gresham. ‘Given the way that we work, it was always going to be difficult for us to sit down and pen an entire album from start to finish, so we had the idea of combining a retrospective concept together with a bunch of new material,’ he explained.
For Liquid, the sole DJ of their Danism moniker, Sine of the Times was an equally retrospective and increasingly definitive celebration of that drive that has made the juggling of musical alias and genre boundaries work so incredibly well. ‘It was really enjoyable to put the mix together, to sit down and listen to all of this material in one go. To be honest, that’s one of the most satisfying elements of putting together an album – you can present this single body of work, a collection that really defines where you’re at this specific moment in time.’
If retrospect can teach us one thing, it is that Danism’s diverse melodic styling’s have grown stronger with age and experience. Aside from their various instrumental endeavours of uplifting and unpretentious House cuts, the two Dans have certainly given some pretty prestigious vocal assets their musical calling card over the years. From Lisa Millet for infamous summer sizzler ‘Say Yes’ to Defected favourites Rae and Yasmeen, there is something in the duos ability to craft killer top lines that has brought a streak to their music as timeless as that of their earlier soulful influences. ‘Not everybody is as into vocals as we are, but whether you like it or not, it makes an instant connection. There is an unbelievable amount of new music out there these days, and a strong vocal is a really good way to help your track to stand out from the crowd.’
To the duos mind, however, there was only ever one label that could take their vivacious full-length debut other than previous bed partners Defected Records. Proving faithful followers and peers to The Shapeshifters and their Nocturnal Groove imprint, their utilization of the purebred modern House sound has kept them firmly footed and showing very few signs of setting off elsewhere. ‘Our relationship with both labels has quite some history so we feel really comfortable dealing with them – there is a family type vibe that has developed over the years,’ explained Liquid. ‘Nocturnal Groove has been really supportive of us and works in a way that we feel comfortable with and, most importantly, is happy to let us express ourselves through our productions.’
But while times may be challenging country and scene alike, Danism is still looking buoyant on the grand scale of things. Set to build on the excitement of their overdue album throughout 2012, further material alongside fellow Nocturnal groover Jason Chance and familiar vocal gem Michelle Weeks is sure to instil a little more positivity in a scene engulfed by the country’s social and financial tribulations.’ Far from throwing in the towel, the two Dans remain positive that with a little enthusiasm and a lot of soul, British House music can expect the same ongoing development as that of its club minded European peers.
Gresham explained: ‘We’ve lost a few big clubs over the past year or two thanks to the global financial situation, but we still have some of the greatest events and festivals around. When you look at the number of truly innovative musicians across all genres that are coming out of the UK, we must be doing something right!’
Times may be tough, but in a devout nod to a genre that transcends social volatility and fashionable genre conveyance, Danism can do little wrong for British House music.