A perfectionist finding himself on an unlikely career path, Daniel Avery doesn’t classify as your average dj. Drone Logic was one of the best records released in 2013 and will undoubtedly change how people think about techno.
Unlike many djs and electronic producers who spend their formative years daydreaming of playing shows in Ibiza, scoring a residency at Fabric or topping Beatport charts, Avery “had zero idea” he wanted to be a dj.” As a teenager he “wanted to be in a band and even then, it was just a weird dream… it wasn’t a likelihood.” But what exactly is the likelihood of going onto becoming an internationally acclaimed dj and producer, by responding to an advertisement in a record store for a warm up dj? “I’m not making fun when I say this [but] I had zero idea I wanted to be a dj. I just thought it would be kind of cool to try when I saw the advert.”
An unremarkable start for some, Avery was quickly enamoured by his first experience and says “the second I started doing it, it felt like sharing music on a larger scale… I saw the reaction that people were having [to the music] and it’s an amazing feeling.” Speaking with Avery, I got the sense that sharing music was about more than just updating his Spotify playlists or linking a cool track to a pretentious Facebook group, and unsurprisingly it all started at home. “My parents have quite regular jobs but my dad is obsessive about music [and] still now, he’ll be telling me what music he’s listening to.”
Drone Logic is a peak into Avery’s teenage years, with “elements that I love from certain styles of guitar music, like shoe gaze or psych rock” seamlessly woven into the album. Hardly a mash-up of the two, Avery insists that “it’s still very much a techno album” and his intentions were never to make a record that was “rock meets rave in any way“. Humbly accepting my glowing praise, Avery beams, “I just made an album that sounds like me, I think and I’m pleased in that respect. I think it represents a few different sides of my brain and it’s definitely a record for the club.” It isn’t your average club album though, and this pull away from dance music cliches was influenced heavily by his favourite djs, who “don’t come from the centre or mainstream of dance music, they’re kind of the outsiders.” Andrew Weatherall, Optimo, Michael Mayer and Erol Alkan are all of major significance in Avery’s dance music career but he was really “inspired from an early age by people who take an alternative approach to dance music and I wanted to put my stamp on that idea.”
Undoubtedly Erol Alkan is paramount to and a pioneer of indie dance music, releasing remixes of Tame Impala, MGMT, Metronomy, Eurhythmics, Hot Chip and countless others alongside uplifting house tracks like A Hold On Love. Taking Daniel under his wing after meeting each other in London, Alkan signed him to Phantasy. “One of the best things about Erol is his pace, I trust his pace and how he does things, he does things properly.” Becoming good friends over the years “it feels really natural to be on Phantasy” and Avery is in good company. “Phantasy is much more than a dance label, it also puts out acts like Babe Terror, BTU, Connan Mockasin… but everything has a psychedelic edge to it and that comes from Erol’s tastes.” His fascination with dance music beginning with Erol Alkan at Trash, Avery still finds as much time as he can to admire the work of other djs especially “at a time now where I really still love going to nightclubs. Whenever I go and dj somewhere, I try and spend a few hours in the club listening to people play. I’m interested in all types of dance music and anything that can have an effect on people.“
Daniel Avery’s fascination with people’s reactions to music is fascinating in itself, especially in the ‘everyone’s a dj’ world we live in, the excitement he brings to his sets is admirable. Repeating a number of times how it is the “reactions” of people and seeing “how it affects the moods of people” that allures him , he beams “it’s beyond surreal [and] an incredible feeling to put on a record that you believe in and see everyone react to it.”
Rather than adopting a facade of nonchalance, Avery wants to “show that I know what I want.” The electronic music scene is filled with a “throng of djs” and producers where everyone is trying to make a name for themselves but in a moment, letting his guard down Avery admits, “I am a perfectionist… and the last thing I want is to kind of fade away like everyone else.” Maybe it’s nervousness, self deprecation or realism, but critics will be waiting for his second LP, which will be dubbed his ‘much anticipated second release’, I’m sure. “I’ve got this idea in my head that the next record’s going to be, not one long piece but I have this idea of it being a continuous trip. The reaction to the record has been so great, right across the board and its given me a lot of confidence to push things further.”
It will be interesting to see if Avery’s career will take him to places which will cement his mark in dance music or if he himself has prophesized his own unremarkable fade into dj mediocrity. Although, someone with so much passion and humility should go as far as they want to.