A Sit Down With DJ DaGeneral
Hes a Scottish Techno DJ, an accomplished producer and the co-owner of General Surgery Records, a prestigious label that supports underground music artists.
DaGeneral has played with a myriad of other top DJs and producers including Mark EG, Mike C, Chuck-E, The Producer, Jon the Dentist, Phutek, Blue Amazon, Shades of Rhythm, Oliver Lieb, and many more. Hes traveled and played all over Ireland, the UK, and the Czech Republic.
He also co-directs Iconic Underground Magazine, a monthly underground dance music magazine, and Se-Lek Music Group. Se-Lek Music Group is a joint venture involving DaGeneral, Lee Softley (Blue Amazon) and Victoria Ball (Perfect Promotions). It is a multi-disciplined venture that includes a record label, a compilation album label, a weekly radio show, and branded club nights.
"I became a producer because I love playing music, but there is nothing better than playing your own songs to a crowd and feeling the reaction that it gets."
How has the dance music industry changed since the 90s?
The industry has changed a lot and seems to be a lot more accessible thus making it more saturated. This is good in some ways but also makes it more difficult now for an artist or DJ to get noticed. No longer does being a good DJ stand you as having a chance of getting booked. Seems now that you need to be a DJ/Producer/PR/Sales to just look at the bottom of the ladder. Its a shame that the days of carrying about your demo cd and sending them everywhere has died. However, one thing that hasnt changed is the need for extreme hard work, as the saying goes you get nothing in this world for nothing and the output you achieve is a direct result for the effort and input you put in.
Who has been the most influential Musician in your life?
This is a difficult question but from the earlier years of listening to dance music through the late 90s through the noughties, it would have to be Mauro Picotto and Jon The Dentist. These guys had many massive tracks that I loved that gave me that urge to do what they do. If you think, between these guys they released some massive hits that will be, in my opinion, all-time favourites. Jon The Dentist with Global Phases, Feel So Good, Imagination. Mauro Picotto with Iguana, Lizard, Komodo. But on a different level now the influence and support I get from the legend that is Blue Amazon is unbelievable.
You took the route of being a DJ first then becoming a producer afterwards. Do you think that being a DJ first before starting music production helped you?
Of course for me it did yes, I think havent the understanding of what DJs like to hear and how I as a DJ would like a track to build was a big help for me. I am not saying that it is better to start as a DJ then become a producer second, but in my opinion it helps understand what you like in an end product before trying to produce it. I guess this is all relative to each person and what is good for me is probably not good for the next person. I guess now that a lot of it is digital, it is more readily available for everyone to have and purchase the equipment required to start learning their trade rather than needing to book studio time and engineers to get the result they require. However, this doesnt mean you should just throw music out there and it is a lot quicker, you still need to learn the key elements of making a track and have the skills to create and mix down your track to a professional level to get anywhere with it.
Whats the best party youve ever played in the UK?
Had a few favourites over the years, supporting 808state at CIRCUS was great, but I also have some fond memories of Judgment Day, and of course Sensations in Glasgow was a great residency to be involved with. Its hard to choose a stand out night or event as each one has its own quirks and the crowd are always awesome so it wouldnt be fair to choose favourites.
Do you also manage live DJ events?
Yeah keeping busy of course I co-own This Is Techno Live with N.K.D. we have a monthly techno radio show running featuring some massive guests 2015 already we have in store UMEK, Goncalo M, Dualitik, The Anxious, and Skober. And that is all before easter! Of course to compliment the radio show we now try to put on 2 club nights per year to make it a great all around show. So far the feedback has been awesome and we have no plans to stop.
How do you keep up the relentless energy levels?
There is never enough time in the day, I have to try and split my time between various things. I am fortunate to have support in all things I am involved in! I have Victoria Ball (Perfect Promotions) who looks after all the PR/Press stuff for DaGeneral and manages the social pages attached, and of course now manages my bookings for me. The biggest benefit is Victoria ensures that I am always keeping things in place and organized and probably saves me on average around 12 hours per week I didnt have before. Of course Lucy and Michael (Paul Rodriguez Music Ltd) look after all my publishing for DaGeneral and General Surgery, and have been key in ensuring that all contracts are tight and correct, once again saving me time which of course is like gold. This all round helps me to free up time to spend more time in the studio working on new tracks and remixes. But the secret is I dont get that much sleep, I spend a ridiculous amount of time on music based work! I am a believer of hard work pays off and you get out what you put in.
Does it take a toll on your private life, DJing must take up a lot of your time and at unreasonable hours?
Yeah going back on the hard work statement, I generally dont have many free hours in a week between the production, networking and radio/gigs. Luckily my partner is well aware of the hard work and supports the amount of effort and time I put in, but in turn can celebrate my achievements with me. The hardest bit is learning to say no to the extra workload at times when flat out, but its always nice to be nice isnt it? Therefore I have to take the rough with the smooth on that one, I still wouldnt swap it for any other job in the world.
How big is the Techno scene in the UK?
The techno scene in the UK is flourishing, the crowds are awesome and they love good music. I think a lot of people are sick of the commercial storm that EDM has been giving them. I think the enthusiasts want to enjoy some good underground sounds rather than the generic hands in the air breakdowns, thrown in with vocals which seems to be the norm at the moment.
How do you feel about the production of dance music these days?
I think the production of good dance music has improved and the quality coming out of the digital era is awesome. It has given a great platform for people to express themselves in new ways of course without the need for expensive studios to produce a track. Of course people are having a dig at the EDM scene at the moment, but although its not my cup of tea its there because the kids want it, just like pop music and chart hits have been for many years. But back onto the production of underground music, its still exciting times with some really impressive guys out there putting their hearts into creating some of the best music available.
As mentioned earlier, you have a monthly radio show called This Is Techno LIVE. Please let us know what This Is Techno LIVE is about.
This Is Techno Live is a monthly radio show that I run with the founder N.K.D. with resident Jon The Dentist, and we endeavour to get get some of the best techno and tech-house music each month to our monthly listeners. We have grown over the last couple of years and have a really great set of listeners that tune in to the show each month. Without the listeners though the show would be nothing so I would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who tunes in. Of course the latest addition to this is that we now have a This Is Techno Live compilation series starting November in association with Se-Lek-Shuns album series. You should be able to expect the compilations to come out bi-monthly with some great underground music for your listening pleasure. Separate from the monthly show I also have just tied up a new deal with a radio station in Ibiza to have a weekly show also named DaGeneral presents This Is Techno Live. This will be on 6am Ibiza Underground which also hosts some awesome artists including: Tom Hades, Jewel Kid, Lisa Lashes, Marco Bailey, Eric Sneo, and many more. So keep an eye out for the weekly sets featuring on the weekly show which will have the same ethos and ideas that the monthly show currently has.
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