New York producer Dank’s “Blow Me” stayed in our dubstep top 10 for more than six week after its release, pretty much blowing the doors off of what most expected from the relatively new-to-the-scene multi-genre artist. And it’s just one slice of a larger musical binge on his part as of late, which has seen him spit out a dozen originals and half a dozen remixes since the beginning of the year. A high frequency of releases and running his own label, Funky Element, all seem to be part of his work ethic. We checked in with him to learn a little bit more about this prolific new star.
Can you tell us a little about your background? Where did you grow up, and where are you based now?
I grew up in Nassau County, NY, on the south shore of Long Island. I started playing percussion and violin at the age of 12 and was exposed to all types of music at a very early age, because my father was a musician. These days I live a half a block from the beach in Rockaway Park, NY, which is on the border of Queens and Brooklyn.
What was your first introduction into electronic music?
My first introduction into electronic music was around 1996 I am 100% a product of the New York City underground rave scene. We used to listen to old cassette tapes of pioneers like Frankie Bones, Lenny Dee, Rob Gee, Charles Feelgood & Scott Henry, DB & Dara, Andy C, Micro & X-Dream, etc. The music was so new and still underground, you couldn’t hear it on the radio or in most clubs. You had to go to a rave to hear good EDM back in those days.
How did you get started producing?
Well, I had been DJing since roughly 2000 and realized this would only take me so far. Shortly after I started DJing I realized this music and this culture was something that I wanted to be a part of my entire life. I went to school for Business and Audio Engineering in ’03, but really didn’t heavily get into producing my own music until ’05, when a local friend and producer helped me build my first computer predominately used for producing. I was using Cubase back then, however didn’t fully grasp the idea of the program and integrating VSTs, etc. At the time my mind was focused in other areas, if you know what I mean.
Was there a point where you recognized that you had finally developed your own sound?
I stepped away to do the “life thing” in ’06, and slowly came back to my passion in late ’09 and dove head first into production all speed ahead. This time I had a clear mind and one piece of software, one concept at a time, was able slowly start moving forward. It wasn’t until roughly late 2011 where I realized to myself, “Okay, I like what I got going on here,” and I was able to create the overall sound I was looking for. With that being said, it’s always constantly changing and adapting, which I think is a good thing at the end of the day. I love diversity and I don’t like remaining stagnant.
Do you DJ or play live? How would you describe your sets?
I DJ using two to three CDJs and a mixer—end of story. I also have a basement full of vinyl, so with the turntables you know how that goes.
Are you the type of musician who knows what kind of track you want to write before you sit down to make it, or do you create music more from a process of experimentation?
A lot of my sound design is experimentation and much trial and error. When I first started producing, I would be all over the place. I would have three different genres in one track [laughs]. However, these days I would say I’m definitely the type of producer that sits down and says, “Okay, I’m going to make an electro-house track or a dubstep track,” and as I matured as a producer, I was able to stick to that. Remix work, you have to totally stick to that if you want it to be on spec.
When you sit down to make a track, what’s the first thing you typically do? How long does a track typically take you to make?
It all starts with the kick. It depends. A lot of my better—or in my opinion, better-sounding—productions are tracks that I make quicker and don’t always change 1000 times and second-guess myself. I mean, I can make 75% of a track in a couple hours, or it can take a month if I start to go crazy with things, in which case I usually have heard the track so many times that I start to hate it [laughs]. On average, I feel comfortable banging out a quality track start to finish in about a week. That’s of course if all goes well and, again, I don’t sabotage myself.
Is there any specific track whose production amazes you?
Theres a track by Squarepusher titled “Do You Know Squarepusher?” Listen to this track loud and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and why it amazes me.
Where do you record?
I’ve modified and turned my basement into a custom studio. It’s where I spend most of my time.
Do you currently have a favorite piece of gear or software?
I’m not much of a gearhead anymore, however, software-wise, Massive takes the cake for me.
Is there any gear that you don’t currently have but have been obsessed with owning?
There’s a synth that is half-analog, half-digital called the Andromeda. This synth is a beast and I would definitely not mind owning it.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
When you’re not listening to electronic music, what do you listen to?
Everything from classic rock, old-school hip-hop, jazz, metal… The way I look at it is, good music is good music. I don’t like genres, however, even if it’s some dude on a mountain up in India beating on tabla—if it’s got a funky groove to it, so be it. Good music is good music and it was, is, and will always continue to be all about the music.
When you’re not making or playing music, what’s your preferred pastime?
When I’m not producing electronic dance music in my boxer shorts, my favorite pastime would have to be sex with my beautiful girlfriend, eating, and, of course, sleeping. I like to keep things simple.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing with your life?
I have a union book with Local 147 NYC Sandhogs, who build tunnels underneath Manhattan. I always said I love the underground [laughs].
Tell us about your upcoming gigs and releases…
I’ll be touring in October and November, playing at some great venues all over the states. Release-wise, I have a lot of exciting stuff. I just had a big dubstep remix I did for Kairo Kingdom’s track titled “Crazy Rock,” on Big Fish Recordings. I have an electro-house original I made out on my label, Funky Element Records, titled “Punish the Wanker.” I have a dubstep remix for Rednek’s EP coming out as well on Funky Element. Sometime in October I have another dubstep remix coming out with a big upcoming R&B vocalist whose name I will not mention at this time. Right now I’m in the studio finishing up a remix for Calvertron’s #1 dubstep track “8bit Dreamz,” as he remixes my #1 dubstep track “Blow Me”—so excited about that. I just finalized another remix for Play Me Records, so a lot of big things in the works. I’m happy and grateful for all the opportunities that are going on and am just keeping my head down—and keeping it moving.