DJ Dan wants you to dance. It's actually kind of strange when people stand around watching him rather than dancing. Yes, some DJs put on a show, doing cartwheels or fist-pumping the air and whatnot but that's not DJ Dan. DJ Dan is not DJ Pauly D.
Do you see? DJ Dan is DJ Dan. And he wants you to dance.
"I'm not a DJ who's an entertainer. I'm there to play music for people to dance (to)," he says from Austin, TX. "I know some DJs entertain and that's cool but I personally prefer people to be out there dancing."
The question shouldn't even be how DJ Dan (born Dan Wherrett) feels about gawkers in the crowd, but rather how gawkers can exist in any great numbers without, you know, gettin' bizzeh. It seems virtually impossible to resist the urge to shake them hips.
Wherrett's brand of funky house has been rocking clubs for 20 years. He's dominated so many dance floors, resulted in so many sweaty t-shirts and (one can only assume) nightclub hookups he should be given some great honour from his hometown in Olympia, WA., like a statue, or the key to the city, or even a plaque on a park bench to commemorate his impact on great nights around the world.
Growing up in Olympia, he grew up on local DJs like Randy Schlager and Donald Glaude, absorbing with ever-growing fascination the funkier side of house music. Wherrett moved to Los Angeles in '91 just as the rave scene was starting to spread. He was a regular on that scene, throwing Public Enemy records over the techno records typical of the scene at that time.
"I was the first one to ever do that, and you know I got a lot of shit for doing that from other DJs but, you know, the crowds loved it," he says.
It was through these early mashups that he pioneered his signature sound, throwing hip hop and funk elements into house and techno. It's that sound that has sustained him as a mainstay on the international touring circuit for two decades. He says the key is to incorporate new trends in electronic music while maintaining his "signature vibe" for every show.
"I created my own sound a long time ago," he says. "I do definitely go with some of the current trends but I always try to pick and choose very carefully of all the new stuff coming out to make sure it fits with my sound, and I play tracks that I've been playing for years."
He says a lot of DJs who find overnight success will often disappear once the particular trend they're peddling in goes out of fashion. That's why Wherrett has always stuck to house music.
"No matter what trends come and go, everybody always comes back to house," he says. "Even if I dip into a few breaks here and there, I always make sure I come back to house."
In the past year, he says he's returned to his roots, dipping back into the funky house he's known for. It's resulted in one of his most successful years so far, with seven tracks in the charts over the last seven months. In February, four of his tracks, including his remix of Bryan Jones's "Part of the Game," were on the Top 100 chart."That's a milestone," he says. "I've never, ever had that happen in my career."
All these singles will be compiled and released on his upcoming, as-yet-untitled second album, which Wherrett hopes to have completed in "a few months."
"We're releasing the singles first to give them a little time to chart and for people to get to know those tracks. Then once most of the album's out I'll probably mix it at a club live and put that out as the actual album," he says.
No word on when or where that club date will be but one thing's for sure: it's going to be a hell of a night and gawkers in the crowd better get dancin'.