"I played in a rock band in high school because it was cool not because I like rock music"
After being stuck between the gears of corporate pocket filling, meat-grinding machine and wannabe scientific paper making for good months, one night I found myself hanging out, riding high in the realm of colorful, photon filled concrete walls and banging beats. IT just happened so, that I've stumbled upon Danaga. I've been kind of aware of the fact that he has earned a name for himself in Romania's second most vibrant electronic stronghold, namely Cluj. As our paths crossed on the stage, this interview was bound to happen. We met for a coffee to have a pre interview chat, we weren't even sure how does the other person exactly looks like, but luckily, both of us were late in the best way, so we didn't had to ask stupid questions from total strangers The "chat" that followed was aimed to be a rough sketch for the interview, but it turned into a long and layered discussion, leaving the written interview to feel like a sketch, giving some space up to your imagination to link the floating dots.
• The M-Pill: You've mentioned that you stared off by playing classical music and rock, and then moved on as computers became available on a large scale, being suitable for productions. I guess that wasn't the only reason why you've made your transition. How do you see the relation of contemporary culture and the behavior of music in it? Do you think there's still a place for rock on the scene at large?
• Danaga:I played in a rock band in high school because it was cool not because I like rock music. I wanted to experiment more back then but didn't had the means and people discouraged me. I grew up in a low-IQ, low-culture, low-anything-small-ugly-city. I studied classic guitar with a crappy guitar and my piano was a kitchen table with the keys drawn on it. And it worked. I just had to imagine the sounds. Now I still think that's a good exercise that develops your musical imagination. But I have always felt that composition is more suited for me than being a good player of a particular instrument. I think that computers helped me a lot on that. I don't see it as a transition, because I still use traditional instrument like guitar, piano or flutes on my music.
• The M-Pill: All of your productions have a relaxed, dream like layer, like looking movies through a specific filter. Can this be considered as your stylistic signature or it just happens that tracks turn out this way?
• Danaga: This happens because I have a tendency to dream a lot. I have also studied graphic arts, played a little with photography, maybe that's why sometimes my music sounds like a soundtrack. A soundtrack of my imagination. I don't believe in style.
• The M-Pill: Your craft seems to have a strong bond with folk music ranging from Romanian popular music to African tribal sounds. What was the spark that ignited this passion?
• Danaga: It's a quest for that ultimate sound which the first humans that got out of Africa brought with them to the other continents. In other words, music is like an international language and it's a challenge to seek a common denominator that unites all cultures around the globe. Do you know that the first song we hear is basically the same everywhere? It is the beat of the mother's hearth.
• The M-Pill: "Paparudele, Samanul si Artistii" with Surorile Osoianu and Terence McKenna feels like The Track that represents who you are, musically speaking. Can you tell us about the underlying story, and how it implements itself into the story of "Am N-Aripi"?
• Danaga: Five years ago I was invited to play at an art exhibition of a friend. I was working on that track, playing with Surorile Osoianu sample and in a moment of rest I was listening a Terence McKenna speech about creativity. Suddenly it hit me. Not only that it goes perfectly with what I always thought about the shamanic role of the artist but his words sounded like they were embedded somehow on my track. The artist job is not to entertain but to enrich and expand your consciousness. By exploring his own and make his art out of that.
• The M-Pill: What you produce hardly fell into any genres. If someone would ask, what type of music do you produce, what would you say?
• Danaga: Usually I don't say anything. But, if they insist, I say things like Euro Trip dop, Balcon Muzik, Melodramatic death metal, Hard listening electronica. It's very easy to make new genres.
• The M-Pill: "Am N-Aripi" feels like it has its foundation on new, contemporary sounds, with a bit of spicing from the past, while your newly released album "Remixes and Edits" is the exact opposite, a dominating retro soundscape with cutting edge bits added here and there. What is the reason behind this difference? Moreover can we consider "Remixes and Edits" as an album that wants to tell a story, or you just felt like the time has come to release those tracks?
• Danaga: No, Remixes and Edits is not an album, just a collection of remixes and edits. No story, no retro, no soundscape. Just remixes I made during my sets. I don't see that difference you are talking about.
Danaga's new upcoming album is a textbook example of deception, as it manages to eradicate the boundaries that were believed to define the wrold of producers. While his earlier albums were more electronic in terms of production, he used quite a few samples that made it sound organic. In contrast with that, he's new album sounds contemporary, electronic and yet in terms of production, it is more organic than anything else he did before.
• The M-Pill: Your new, yet to come album sounds like there are fewer sampled elements and it feels more electronic compared to your previous productions. How it will compare to the rest of your work?
• Danaga: I think it's more organic than electronic. I played and recorded instruments like guitars, flutes, electric pianos even saxophone and match them with synthesizers and digital effects.
• The M-Pill: How do you make the ends meet, as your productions are anything but dance music, while you have many gigs at the same time? Are you planning on merging these, let's say, different identities, or it's fine having two sides?
• Danaga: Why you keep saying that? I may have a few downtempo tracks at the beginning of my album but there are some other more uplifting. Usually people do dance on "Paparudele", "Oile in Africa" or "Zana Zorilor". Also at gigs I play some other stuff, remixes or tracks made on the spot, and I like to play with tempo as well as people expectations. I don't like boring dj-sets that sound like a single track extended to one or two hours. Why do that? For me the word 'Dance' has a wider range than what you see now in clubs. You can dance basically on anything that has rhythm. No matter the tempo. But people are afraid. They need huge baselines, higher tempos, alcohol or drugs or combination of those to cancel that fear. Music does it all by itself.
• The M-Pill: Many of your track titles and lyrics contain Romanian language. Do you think that it might work internationally or do you have any specific plans to break out to reach a worldwide audience?
• Danaga: I don't think you have to name a track in English to break out internationally. I just have to make better music maybe. Apart of that, maybe an exotic language adds a little more 'interestingness' to the music.
• The M-Pill: Is there an ultimate goal in music that you'd like to achieve?
• Danaga: No
You can download Danaga's albums from his Bandcamp profile here for free and as always donations are highly appreciated. Cover photo credits: Maria Brudasca Written by: Kado