Global Underground continues to dedicate itself to developing new artists with the fourth back-to-back Nubreed release due out in October. Rising star, Denney has been secured to helm the twelfth installment of the highly esteemed, groundbreaking, and genre-warping DJ mix album series.
Denney’s aural adventure began on Teesside, influenced by what was happening at Middlesbrough’s long-running underground club, Sugarshack at the Empire. From his beginnings as a teenage DMC finalist and the youngest Mixmag ‘Future Hero’, James admits he was destined to be a DJ, which was played out by his childhood dream of being asked to record a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. After performing in the clubs of the North East and landing his Basics residency, the release of his single ‘Ultraviolet’ on Hot Creations, the label run by Jamie Jones and Lee Foss, helped take him to the next level. This included signing tracks to Heidi’s Jackathon label and Damian Lazarus’ Crosstown Rebels and releasing the Annie Mac supported remix of Mekon’s breaks classic ‘What’s Going On’, leading to a residency at Steve Lawler’s Viva Warriors in Ibiza.
This year has been equally exciting with Denney recording tracks for Nic Fanciulli’s seminal Saved Records and Hot Since 82’s Knee Deep in Sound. He also took on a South and North American tour, plus played key gigs at Elrow, Ibiza; Miami Music Week with Green Velvet, Mark Knight, Crosstown Rebels and Roger Sanchez, and festival dates at Gottwood, Hideout, and Snowbombing, However, he took a break from his 2-year global touring schedule to curate his Nubreed album and considered over six thousand tracks from his iTunes database as well as rooting through his vinyl collection and inboxed new promos.
We check in to get the lowdown on the album and everything else in the world of Denney…
Denney, welcome to DMC World. Where in the world are we catching you today?
I’m at home in West London. After many years being based in the North of England I succumbed to the bright lights, because it made international travel for DJ gigs so much easier, especially long haul. When you’re travelling almost every weekend it makes it a hell of a lot quicker to reach gigs being on a tube line to Heathrow and mainline to Gatwick. I’ve also got a studio set up so I can work in relative comfort.
Great news about being signed up to complete the Global Underground Nubreed#12 album. How did this materialise?
There was a North Eastern connection as I’m from Middlesbrough and they’re from Newcastle, where I’ve regular played since I lived at home, however it’s nothing that parochial. They liked my music, I liked their albums, they got in touch, and it was a win-win situation.
Tell us about the feel and flow of your Nubreed album?
I’ve just spent three months piecing it together, coming at it from many angles, while looking to maintain the integrity of the series and my own personal musical journey. Although I’m largely an underground house DJ, I wanted the musical sweep across the double CD to feature tech-ier elements as well as more mellow vibes. I wanted the listening experience to be epic without being pompous or pretentious. It’s a balancing act, adding in my favourite, dare I say signature tracks combined with some beats that are exclusive to the album. I’m happy with the result, which I’m equally pleased and relieved about, as I wanted it to be the best showcase for my musical style.
You have other releases in the pipeline, please tell us about them?
After a relatively quiet patch on the release front, I have a whole schedule of key tracks coming through. One of the key releases for me is a track on FFRR called ‘Empire’, which is a nod to Sugarshack, the legendary house club in Middlesbrough – run by the two Barrys, where I cut my teeth. I also have an EP coming out on Moon Harbour called ‘The Woozle’ and a track coming out on Alan Fitzpatrick’s We Are The Brave label. I also have a single released in support of N Nubreed#12 album entitled ‘Genena’, which Global Underground are releasing on a 12” as well.
You came to prominence as resident DJ at Back To Basics. Where did it all begin?
It began hearing The Prodigy’s No Good (Start The Dance) in 1992, when I was 8 years old. I was bought decks when I was 13 and was deejaying at Sugarshack in Middlesbrough when I was 17, having been a regular clubber for a couple of years. I’ve always been a house DJ and although I’d enjoyed raving to The Prodigy, happy hardcore, Gatecrasher trance etc as a young teenager, after hearing Roger Sanchez playing at The Empire in 1999, I knew house music was my calling. Funnily enough I ended up playing in house rooms at hard house and trance clubs and scored other gigs early on including at Tall Trees in Yarm, Good Greef in Newcastle, North and Sankeys in Manchester. Obviously scoring a BBC Radio 1 Essential mix in 2016 when I was 32 was a major breakthrough, as had been winning the Northern Technics DMC Mixing Championships when I was 17. Back To Basics came about during my music degree course at Leeds University. I loved going there and was introduced to Dave Beer by Norman Cook, after I warmed up for him on the Palookaville tour in 2004. I’d also won Mixmag’s Future Hero 2004 and was the youngest ever! Ralph Lawson called me in for a meeting with him and Dave Beer on my last day at University and I jumped at the chance to work and DJ for the club. We continue to work together to this day and Basics are a truly pioneering house club, responsible for giving so many opportunities to deejays over the course of its 27 years!
Which artists would be in your DJ producer dream team?
I’m pleased to say I’ve worked with some of them already including major influences Roger Sanchez and Derrick Carter, however although I am a fan of collaborations, I’d prefer to leave it to chance and organic chemistry.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your life and how did you overcome it?
I don’t believe in ‘mistakes’ per se, everything that’s happened to me has been a learning process; it’s all life experience and makes you stronger and more individual as a human being. I have always been pretty sure about what I wanted to do in life. I knew I wanted to be a deejay and a music maker. I just had to work out how to navigate the choppy waters of the DJ and music industry. There is a process with each musical genre, which you have to observe but not necessarily follow to achieve notable success and the means to carry on and turn it into a living. I’m very focused on my own taste and strength as an underground house music artist and I prefer to furrow my own plough in this field than sell out to the mainstream.
Tell us something about your 3 favourite tracks on Nubreed #12?
Tim Weeks – Illuminate This was an exclusive track I signed for the album, it’s without doubt the best track Tim has done in my eyes. It has a Laurent Garnier-esqe vibe to it. Killer! Denney – Genena This was a track i wrote especially for the album, I have no idea where it came from but it is the most emotive record I have ever written and I feel finishes CD1 perfectly. Richie Blacker & Loeca – Angel This is a timeless incredible record and I couldn’t believe it was unsigned when I asked Richie if he had anything for the album. I think I signed it before I had even finished listening to it for the first time. Beautiful!
Obviously artists who’ve scaled to dizzying heights have graced Nubreed before including Steve Lawler, Sander Kleinenberg, Lee Burridge, and Satoshi Tomiie. Do you have a favourite GU album?
It’s impossible to pick just one but my favourites are Danny Tenaglia ‘Athens’, Sasha ‘Ibiza’, Sasha ‘Involver’, Steve Lawler “Numbered” and Anthony Pappa ‘Nubreed’. I also have to give Seb Fontaine a mention here for ‘Prototype 2’, which I used to hammer.
Okay – 5 big tunes that are in your box for the weekend?
– Joeski feat. Rachel – A Story Of Love (Maya)
Joeski sent me this about a month ago, it’s an absolute bomb. Maya has been one of my favourite labels for the best part of 20 years.
– Dusky – Amongst The Gods (17 Steps)
This ticks every box for me in what I want to hear in a club record, it’s melodic and ravey but not in your face. One of my favourite tracks Dusky has ever done. Cristoph & Camelphat feat.
– Jem Cooke – Breathe (Pryda Presents)
I put a tweet out last week saying I bet this will be tune of the year, simply enormous!
– Leon & Dennis Cruz – My Hood (Crosstown Rebels)
This sounds massive when you play it out and is pure groove. Crosstown Rebels on fire as always!
– Andrew Meller – Godfather’s Dance (Saved)
Not much to say other than just a wicked House track, amazing groove and full of energy…dope!
‘Nubreed#12: Denney’ is due for release on Friday 12th October 2018 as a double CD plus digital and streaming formats
Nubreed #12: Denney – Tracklist
1. Andy Cato – 7AM Drop
2. Timmy P – Harv
3. Kled Baken – If Ya Don’t Know (James Dexter Remix)
4. Artes – Bright Side (Lauren Lo Sung Remix)
5. Prunk – Sexy Brasil
6. Son Of Raw – A Black Man In Space (Sax Mix)
7. Dee Montero – Aeon (Drums Mix)
- Joeski & DJ Chus – El Amor (A Capella Do Amor)
9. Danny Howells – Isolar
10. Kerri Chandler – Checkmate
11. Tim Weeks – Illuminate
- Brian Cid – Pitch Black
13. Chicola & Sahar J – They Made Me Do It
14. Made By Pete ft. Jem Cooke – So Long (Audiojack Remix)
15. Denney – GenenaCD2
1. Jerome Hadey ft. Qendresa – I Wonder (Ninetoes Remix)
2. Chus & Ceballos – The Sun (Drums Mix)
3. Layo & Bushwacka! – Delta Ahead (Maher Daniel Remix)
4. Audiojack – Reverie
5. Re.You & Floyd Lavine – Humanity (LAWLER Remix)
6. The Soul Man – Dirty Waltzer (Denney’s Exclusive Nubreed Edit)
7. Serge Devant – Frenzy
8. L.O.R.D.I.E – Alpha (Darius Syrossian Remix)
9. Franky Rizardo – I’m Feelin
10. Catz ’n Dogz – Elixir (Jonathan Kaspar Remix)
11. John Creamer & Stephane K – I Wish You Were Here (Omid 16B Revisit Remix)
12. Jacobi – Hov Areq
13. Eelke Kleijn – The Calling
14. Richie Blacker & Loeca – Angel