Denis The Menace

The German dynamo bringing it home with the world in his hands

Welcome to DMCWORLD dude – and wow what an incredible year you have brought us. ‘World In Your Hands’, ‘Love In Me’ and now the Darko De Jan collab cracker ‘Back Home’ smashing up dancefloors everywhere. Roger Sanchez was the first out of the blocks to sign this for his Stealth label, talk us through the history of the tune…

“Thank you Dan. Yes it was great to see the great feedback from all over the world on this one. Darko and myself first met at the Armani Club in Dubai, he is the resident DJ over there and I have been playing there for two years every few months. We became good friends and had lots of fun over there and decided to work on track together. Darko showed me his idea and I fell immediately in love with it. As we were both working on Locic Pro we sent the music back and forth until we were happy with it. I finished it in my studio here in Berlin and then sent it to Roger Sanchez for his radio show when he played it and immediately got back to us that he would love to sign it for Stealth Records.  He was a huge supporter from day one and we have had so much love from all of the big DJs around the globe. ‘Back Home’ this week hit #4 in the daytime DMC Buzz Chart and the pole position on the Music Lounge chart. Back Home’ is available exclusively on Beatport on Stealth Records right now.”

You started your DJ career way back in 1988. Tell us how this incredible journey began…

“I’ll try and keep this short! Everything started in my hometown of Stuttgart where i was born back in 1988 where I was a resident in a club on a Friday night. Actually it was before electronic music was popular or even known, we mixed every genre together from Hip Hop, Funk Disco and Rock tunes. We BPM counted every vinyl manually and put stickers on the covers which gave us a route to which track was mixable and which not, pretty funny as I remember! In the early 90´s house music came to Germany and beside there was this huge techno and trance scene developing in German clubs and cities like Frankfurt’s Club Omen, Stuttgart’s Club Oz and of course Berlin’s Tresor Club. All the American house DJs and producers like David Morales, Frankie Knuckles George Morel came over and were a big influence. I put all my money into studio equipment which was pretty expensive and also renting a small room in a friend’s big recording studio where I started producing my first tracks. It was a great experience because I was learning a lot from the pros about editing, programming and recording the whole thing. We then had the Love Parade come along which was a big cultural phenomena where I played three times – the event inspired  a whole generation around the world, it was an unforgettable memory and still is a significant part of electronic music history. At the end of the 90s I moved to Hamburg, built my own studio and in 2004 the track ‘Coracao’ was released which I co-produced and co-wrote…the tune was a huge international hit and I began touring around the world….”

Who were your early DJ heroes?

“Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, DJ Pierre, Derrick May, Roger Sanchez, Geaorge Morel, Masters At Work and of course Erick Morillo. All these guys have been a big influence to myself and to house music in general I think it’s fair to say!”

What was the first great club you stepped foot in, back in the day?

“That´s a pretty a tough one. Probably Pacha in Ibiza for it’s special vibe and spirit. It’s magical every time I play there.”

You are one of the few producers out there who combines his worldwide DJ touring schedule with producing on the move – tell us about your mobile set up…

“Coming from tape recording back in the days and collecting the finest analogue outboard gear over the past 18 years, I took a decision two years ago to give up my analogue environment. I have just kept my recording set up for vocal and instruments recordings. For travelling, I only needed to have a system which allows me to deliver masters on the fly, now with the latest i7 Mac Book Pro´s I am able to do everything in the box. Even in the studio the laptop is my main computer, I do work on Logic Pro and Reaper for mixing and mastering. Reaper allows me to build my own virtual mixing consoles with the Acustica Nebula engine technology, I can easily build an SSL Console, Neve or and Old German Mastering console within the box. If I need the analogue balls in a mix, I have the option to do this. All my projects I´m working on are on the Gobbler Cloud which is the most professional way to backup my Session Files beside working on them back and forth with other producers around the globe. I have always three headphones for mixing and mastering on my travels: 1. Bose On Ear.  2. Sennheiser HD 25 3. AKG K702.”

Where have been the stand out gigs of 2012?

“There have been many great ones, the Brazil tour this summer at El Divino in Floripa was a huge night.”

What is the current top 10 you are spinning…

1. Denis The Menace & Darko De Jan – Back Home (Original Mix) – Staelth Records
2. Shawnee Taylor, Denis The Menace & Sandro Monte ft. Erick Morillo (Sympho Nymhp Mix) – Subliminal Records
3. Denis The Menace & Syke ´n Sugarstarr –  World In Your Hands – (ClubMix) – Subliminal Records
4. Paris & Simo  – Time (Sultan & Ned Shepard Edit) – CDR
5.  R.O.N.N, Emilio Hernandez ft. Cormack – World Summer (Maxime Zarcone Remix) – EDP
6. The Aston Shuffle vs Tommy Trash – Sunrise (Tommy Trash Mix) – Axtone
7. Dubvision – All By Myself (Tujamo, Sesa Intro Edit) – Tiger Records
8. Jay C – Descisodo (Denis The Menace Remix) – Haiti Groove
9. Prok & Fitch pres. Salome De Bahia –  Outro Lugar (Festival Mix) – Floorplay
10. Syke ´N´Sugarstarr & Rasmus Farber – We Go Ohhh (Jhon Dahlbäck Remix) – Farplane Records

You have a great affinity with South America, Brazil in particular as you have already mentioned. What do you love about the scene down there?

“They are very warm and friendly people. Brazil  has lots of great clubs and festivals, the scene there is very big. There are open airs on the beachside, on islands, inside the jungle and on the other hand you have these big cities with great clubs. The nature there is so impressive where you have all these events going on and they celebrate EDM Music with all their passion. I´ll be there again in January which is always a highlight in my tour schedule.”

Your discography is stuff of dreams – releases on the likes of Subliminal, Nero, Joia, Axtone and Ministry of Sound – remixes for the royalty of music and production work with a-lister after lister. Looking back, what are some of the proudest moments in your recording career to date?

“A highlight was defo remixing Madonna & Britney Spears ‘Me Agains The Music’ for Jive US – and others such as George McCrae, Earth Wind & Fire and of course Axwel´s ‘Feel The Vibe’. Right now I’m working with Shawnee Taylor and Erick Morillo which is a great project.”

What is also coming next from the Denis The Menace studio…

“Plenty of releases. The ‘World In Your Hands’ remix package is on it´s way with great mixes by Antranig, Marco Farouk, Mikael Weermets & Alexey Romeo as well as the ‘Love In Me’ remixes which are in the making. Syke ‘N’ Sugarstarr and myself have the follow up ready called ‘Back To Life’. I have been very busy in the last few months with songwriting and recordings finding the right voices and songs for each track here. Most of them are full songs which have kept things a bit intense in terms of production as I prefer working and recording with the singers in my studio. Another new one from myself is called ‘Talkin About Love’ with great male vocals from Daniel Hall. A follow up of ‘Back Home’ with Darko De Jan is  in the making as we speak.  And finally, more remixes coming this year like Jay C – ‘Descisodo’ on Haiti Groove and also for Kora – she is a legendary rock artist from Poland.”

Who are the new up and coming producers we should be looking out for in 2013?

“There are some really great guys to watch out for; Sandro Monte from Stockholm who has some hot stuff coming up with next year! Another great guy is Marco Farouk, he did a great new remix on ‘World In Your Hands’ and also Maxime Zarcone from Londo…I´ve been playing lots of his stuff in the summer. I am sure we will hear massive things from Mikael Weermets in 2013 as well as Darko De Jan who has some great stuff in the pipeline.”

Away from dance music, who are the artists you are listening to at home?

“I listen to all different kind of music from pop, funk, rock, jazz, classic or  world music. There are so many great pieces out…I don’t care if its 60´s, 70´s, 80´s, 90´s or current music – a great song stays a great song. It can be The Beatles, U2, George Benson, Alicia Keys, Pink Floyd or a classic piano piece from Chopin. One artist I am a big fan of is Gotye from Australia, he did everything by himself; the writing, the production and singing. You gotta check out his album ‘Making Mirrors’ – pretty impressive.”

It may not be good for my image, but I really love…

“I never learned how to drive and I have never had an interest in cars. But I really love drinking tomato juice 30.000 feet up in the air – luckily I have no fear of flying!”

What is the one record in dance music history you wished you had made?

“Snap ‘The Power’ or Daft Punk´s ‘Around The World’ – both records are milestones in dance music.”

What are your thoughts on the EDM explosion in America – Sander Van Doorn signing to Jay Z’s Roc Nation, the Sensation club brand being offered $100 million by a big American company…casinos paying six figure sums for artists to DJ in their clubs. Is it healthy or is the dollar going to ruin things before the scene really got going?

“Finally it explodes over there, it is the right time! There will always be criticisms, there will always be a camp saying this is good or this is bad. It will be interesting to see how much this industry can gain out of it. At the end of the day, the audience will decide the future and whether they are willing to pay these high entry fees for a DJ show or a festival. I think the fame and recognition for electronic music artists has to be a positive thing for the scene.”

What was your summer anthem?

“Denis The Menace & Syke ‘N’ Sugarstarr ‘World In Your Hands’ (Subliminal Records).”

What is the best and worst thing about living in Berlin?

“I love the vibe and international flair here. You meet people from all the around the world, lots of musicians, artists and creative characters. I´m trying to escape the cold Berlin winters as much as I can because they are just very uncomfortable. I’m always touring South America in the winter which is great. But the worst thing about Berlin right now is this: when do we get our new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport? Nobody can tell you right now, they just messed it up!”

And finally, to all of the thousands of aspiring producers  and DJs reading this, what advice can you offer as a leg up into this crazy industry we all love…

“Focus on one thing…work hard, do what you feel and find your own trademark sound. The quality will always shine through and get to the right people.”