|Danny Krivit: A look at the past and present
Danny Krivit has been one of the main stays of the house music scene since the late 70’s. He has come along way since Djing at Roller Rinks and entertaining his friends in his bedroom.
Riding the crest of the house music rising wave he has played throughout the world and with the release of an upcoming album on Defected Records RA spoke to a man who has crafted a career from a time when Djing was not looked upon as a sustainable career option.
1. How would you best describe your personality?
I am very easygoing and pretty laid back. Not much gets a rise out of me. I seem to get along with everybody and am pretty happy about most things.
2. You have a stupid lot of records? Are you a hoarder or do you have a problem? How many records do you have?
It’s definitely a problem. I have been collecting now a long time, since the sixties. Often I am playing in many different places, so it’s nice to have many clean copies of a record. I go through them pretty quickly.
It’s been a long time since I took a current count, but it’s got to be between about 50 and 60 thousand.
3. How would you best describe your musical style?
It’s a little eclectic, but I would say Soulful. I have been DJ’ing for over 30 years so I would have to say that I incorporate that whole time in my style. I think that most of what I try to play is classic. It doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily old, it could be in a record I got this week, but it has to be something that’s tangible and has substance to it. It cannot be discard able or disposable music.
I know is sounds strange, but this is my answer really. It’s more broader based than what the question asks for. That’s my problem with the way a lot of people write things and what maybe some other people are playing. It’s that they are a little more specific than I am. My specific thing is that (the music I play) is soulful and it has substance and is not disposable. After that I am pretty wide.
4. Do you come from a musical family?
Not musicians. Well, my mother was a singer. She had a group with members of the Chet Bakers band. My father, before he started “The Ninth Circle,” was Chet Baker’s Manager and then on to a hotspot in Greenwich Village in New York.
5. What is the ninth circle?
“The Ninth Circle,” was the hot spot I was referring to with my father. It was started in 1962 and then after he passed away I took it over from 1990 till it closed. It ran for 30 years. The name comes from Dante’s Inferno and the ‘nine circles of hell’ where the ninth circle was reserved for the worst sinners. It was a really cool thing in the 60’s and a lot of cool people passed through there. It was also the discothèque that provided me my first DJ’ing job.
6. Who did you meet there?
As a little kid I had a lot of odd jobs there, maybe waiting on tables or cooking. I remember meeting Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Charles Mingus and some others that I probably can’t remember.
7. Which DJ's did you grow up listening to? (Groovin Veteran)
Many when I started. I would say at the centre of that was David Mancuso who was the most influential for me in the beginning.
8. Where did you become an amateur DJ?
I started in my room actually. (Laughing) My house was a bit of a hang out for the neighbourhood. I had these huge speakers in my room that covered the windows. They were so huge that I am surprised to this day that my neighbours put up with me. I used to play records there for my friends and that was my way of kind of testing my DJ’ing skill choice of music. My room was where I got my beginning.
9. Was there any particular person that made you believe you could turn professional?
There are two situations that helped me think of making DJ’ing into a career.
One was that I was a big fan of James Brown. I went to visit a neighbour and friend of mine – Vice pres of Polydor Records – and he introduced me to James Brown. James gave me a promo copy of ‘Get on the Good Foot’ and it was on a white label. I was quite impressed with not seeing the usual red label with his face on it that I was so used to seeing and I thought to myself, “Wow! I think I’m a DJ now, I have this promo from James Brown.” After that I took it a little more seriously.
The other situation involved me often visiting David Mancuso at The Loft. It was there that I realized my taste for music. I had lots of doubts when I played in other places, but in my visits I began to realize that there was a market for music that I liked. When I heard it at The Loft it made me feel like “I am doing something professional here.”
10. Were you a big clubber back in the 70's? Where would you find yourself on the weekends?
(Laughing) I was a big clubber. I was a bit young so I didn’t get in everywhere. At least I looked a bit older for my age and got in to see a lot of live concerts. I saw a lot of the acts there that we were also playing in the clubs at that time. I went to the Fillmore East every other weekend or the Beacon. The clubs though that I went to back then were the Loft and the Gallery.
11. The Loft was a legendary Mecca for DJ's and you were there! Tell about what it was like.
It was very unique. It wasn’t like any other club. It was like someone’s house party on a large scale. They had a very high end sound system. It was very home-like in a way. One could hear a really different set of music. It was always very unique in its sound and not like anywhere else.
12. I heard that you used to Roller skate at the paradise garage - who let you do that?
(Laughing) I was a very good friend of Larry Levan. In the beginning he actually lived in the back of the garage while they were doing the construction. I would call him up and come by in the daytime with my girlfriend and we would roller-skate over there. Larry would get up and go to put on some music and would put it on the main sound system. It served as his home stereo! As he was checking out the new records that he got in the record pool that week, my girlfriend and I would just roller-skate around the dance floor as they played.
13. Did you ever DJ at Roller Rinks?
Yes, quite extensively. I was the opening DJ at Roxy when it was exclusively a roller rink. I was there for about four years. Then I DJ’d for 10 years at another place called Laces. So, I was very much into Roller skating and DJ’ing.
14. Was Larry Levan a big influence for you?
Yes, very much so. Larry was probably the biggest influence on me of all the DJ’s I knew. Larry had a real intuitive sense for good music and also had a great place to show it at the Garage. He really showed me how much mood was involved in playing music and he helped reinforce the messages behind the music.
15. Do you remember what it was like when the Paradise garage finally closed in 1987?
Well, when the garage closed, it was a little anti-climactic. No one believed it was really going to close. Everyone really felt that it was going to be there next week or next year. So, everybody was left kind of scratching their heads when it wasn’t there. It was a big deal and every one came to the ending. Still, everyone felt something else was going to happen, it was too good just to end.
16. Did you ever play Studio 54?
No, not actually the main Studio 54 on 54th St. A friend of mine, who’s now here, Burt Bevins, had a residency in St. Thomas Studio 54 and he got me to come down there and play. So, that was my Studio 54 experience.
17. When did your studio work start?
My first remix was in 1982 for Sleeping Back Records, which was their first release. That also led to my first re-edit because the session experience was wasted on an engineer who couldn’t re-edit. When I got home after that session I was pretty frustrated so I spoke with a friend of mine who was an editor. He then gave me some advice on re-editing. So, I tried to do a re-edit of ‘Funky Drummer’ from James Brown, which led to a medley I made called ‘Feeling James, ’ which was my first edit.
18. What can you tell me about one of your most famous recent edits?
My most famous recent edit would be ‘Strings of Life.’ That came about almost a year and a half ago. Jerome Sidonum (spelling) from Badden Records gave me a compilation he did using that version on it. It was very short - under 3 minutes. We were just about to do a Body and Soul in Japan and during that party I decided to just play that song and do a live edit looping it with the CD player. It was by far the hugest song of the whole party. From that point on it seemed like I couldn’t play a night with out it. It definitely had a life of its own.
19. What would you consider yourself most famous for?
Mostly for my re-edits and definitely for Body and Soul
20. What can you tell me about the Body and Soul parties that I don’t already know?
Let’s see.. Our first party had about 30-50 people and it was never really intended to be as successful as it ended up becoming. It was solely for fun and for those people who liked the same music as us. It took several weeks before we got it up to 70 – 80 odd people in attendance. It took quite a while for it to happen. Most people don’t realize that.
21. Why were they so important for you?
The whole experience was very special. If I wanted to say one thing in particular (about Body and Soul) I would probably say it was the time when we did the first summer stage, which was maybe for about 15,000 people. (Remembering) It was a beautiful sunny day. No, in fact it didn’t even start out a beautiful sunny day. I went to play a song called ‘Sunshine’ and somehow miraculously the sun came out on that song. It was a very magical day.
22. Who were on the line-ups at Body and Soul?
Basically, the DJ’s at Body and Soul were Joe Claussell, Francois K and myself. We did have some guests, but more in the beginning. Some big names played with us, Frankie Knuckles and Nicky Ciano for a few. But more locals played, one’s who were really good DJ’s for our party. For example we had people like Kim Lightfoot and MKL. It’s really a long list of DJ’s, but I’m sorry I don’t have the list in front of me.
23. You are known for buying multiple copies of the same record when out digging. Why? (NSB - Manchester).
I’m a chronic collector. I tend to, after playing this many years, want to have a clean copy of a record so it’s nice to have a little supply. Sometimes it also feels good to be able to share a record with somebody and not feel like “that’s my only copy and I can’t give it to you.” When I see records for cheap sometimes I tend to buy quite a few copies!
24. What is the most important record in your collection and why? (Kwane Southport).
(Laughing) You know, I have got so many and there are so many important records to me out there. There isn’t just one record that is most important to me. If you asked a women with 11 kids who her favourite child is, I am sure she wouldn’t say “this one!” So, the same really applies for me. I really have a lot of favourites and I can’t point to just one.
25. Do you think house music can progress any further than it has in the last 15 years? (Big Blue - Manchester).
(Laughing) It must! No, it definitely will progress. I recall being asked a long time ago, maybe in 1980, in an interview about what I would be doing in 20 years: I think I said, “Well I won’t be DJ’ing. I’ll be ancient!” But then next I said, “If I am playing music for a young audience, I would imagine that I might be playing something with just a beat and a squeak over it and everyone would be yelling that’s the record they have to go out and buy.” I don’t think I could have guessed what the next 20 years would be like as accurately as that (interview) turned out to be.
26. What do you think you have achieved with this compilation?
I think that most the time my compilations and my tastes are pretty eclectic, using my whole career as something to choose from. However, for this particular collection, I tried to keep it a little more towards, but not exclusively, a house direction. Hopefully I can introduce myself to people who are not aware of my music.
27. Is this reflective of your DJ sets?
I think in part it’s representative, but my DJ sets are probably a little eclectic and retro, a little bit of everything. This is a little more centred towards one direction and a little more in the house vain.
28. Are there any special Danny Krivit re-edits on this compilation?
Certainly. I definitely wanted to include some of my edits in this. I have a few in there.
29. Where can you see this album being played?
Well, I really wanted this album to be across the board - something that could be played in a club, in a car or even a softer setting.
30. Are there any special edits that you used for this album? Are there any particular tracks that you are proud of?
Well let’s see. There were some tracks that I felt I wanted to get on this compilation because I thought they would make it very special. There were some tracks that were really difficult to get, and I am really happy we were able to get them. One would be ‘High Tech Jazz’ by Galaxy People. It’s one of those tracks that I was looking to get and is difficult to get on a compilation.
‘Stay this Way’ by the Brand New Heavies is something I edited. It’s a very warm track and I am really happy to have that included. ‘You give good love’ by Diane King. It’s kind of a difficult record to find. Also, a version I did of Missy Elliot, ‘For my people,’ was a version that I did that really didn’t come out correctly. Nonetheless, I am really happy that it was able to appear on this collection.
31. Have you achieved a musical balance between old and new tracks on this compilation?
I feel like I have achieved a good balance. It’s difficult for me to say in any one thing really. I like to vary things a little bit. I try not to go back to far. This one is more of a contemporary compilation.
32. What’s next for Danny Krivit?
(Laughing) This year my main focus is on my party in New York City - 718 Sessions - at this club called Deep in Manhattan. I do it once a month and it’s been my main focus as it’s a great party. I am also working on some remixes and maybe some productions.
'Danny Krivit In The House released April 05 on Defected'
Published / Sunday, 20 February 2005
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