Dan Ghenacia is an artist who seems to keep getting better.
The Frenchman was a vital presence on the Paris scene in his early years, running and playing at key parties that inspired younger artists. Amongst those were Shonky and Dyed Soundorom, with whom he went on to form celebrated house trio Apollonia, who play all over the world, most famously at DC10 in Ibiza.
Nowadays he is a bastion of house knowledge who also curates the Apollonia label and has just started new project GoDEEP. He continues to turn out essential and timeless records and the latest is a tribute to his young son.
Can you remember what made you initially fall in love with house music? Where it was and when it was?
My first experience of house music, that I was actually conscious of, was the first time I went to a rave with Terence :Terry:. I was at high school with him and one day he was telling me and some other friends about raves. He said, “You have to check this out, it’s amazing. It’s a new way to party.” It was in 1992, the event was called Spasmes at the Porte De La Chapelle in Paris and it was at a big warehouse - of course, we arrived way too early, and it was a bit too cold inside. After a while we started to see all the different crews from Paris arrive; the skateboarders, models, gays, skinheads, hip hop guys - all these alternative people were in the same room partying together. It was amazing, I went home at, I don’t know what, probably 7am or later. From that day onwards I went to raves pretty much every weekend, that’s how it started. But my actual encounters with house music came through the radio, although I wasn’t aware that it was house music at the time. I had no idea it was electronic music created by artists with machines; bands like KLF, Lisa Stansfield, Mel & Kim… groups and artists from the late eighties and early nineties.
Look out for the red sign at 11:40 in the video below.
Does the genre still excite you and shock you as much now as ever, specifically new music? Or do think you prefer a golden era sound?
I’m still amazed by the great music that’s being made, there are a lot of cool things going on and the genre is evolving all the time, especially when the minimal sound arrived. Music started to become emptier than ever, groovier and hypnotic - now we’re moving into a period where the very underground breaks sound from the nineties is becoming more prominent. Music that didn’t really work at the time, I’m enjoying seeing DJs play this kind of style - there were few DJs who could get the dance floor moving with this kind of style, and now it’s quite trendy. I like the evolution of the genre, it’s all cyclical - sometimes a sound that doesn’t necessarily work at the time, will eventually come into favour. Everything has its time.
What has it been like being so close with the two guys in Apollonia? How different has it been than playing solo? What have been the highs and lows of that project?
The success of Apollonia is based on friendship and we keep it fresh because we have a lot of fun - this is the engine of the group, the catalyst behind our energy. The cool thing we Apollonia is that there is no stress when we’re together. You’re way more concentrated when you play on your own, you deliver a different story. I like both, one feeds the other - I need to play on my own to feel good with Apollonia, when I feel good with Apollonia I feel good performing solo. Something that a lot of artists are looking for is balance and I think I found it. There no lows, Apollonia is a slow burner and I can predict a long future… it’s too good!
What do you think has been the best time in your life, your favourite period?
I’ve really enjoyed most periods of my life; from the first year with the first raves in California in ‘96, to my first after hours at Batofar in Paris in ‘98. 2004 the beginning of DC-10 in Ibiza, my first experiences there. Now I’m living in Lisbon, I started a new life here - my weekends can be long but it’s a very good life here with my wife Sofia and our baby Isaac, so I would say this is the best time of my life, right now.
What has been the most challenging part of your career, running labels, staying current as a DJ, running the record shop?
Running a record shop was easy because I loved it. Running labels, I go with the flow, it’s pretty natural and organic. Maybe running my career is the most challenging… it’s something you always have to think about and pay attention to, making sure you make the right choices. I’m lucky that I have stayed relevant all this time but I really try to be there at the beginning of things, not purposely for my career but because I’m genuinely excited and interested by new things. For example, I didn’t want to produce music for many years because I was pretty sure that I would start living the studio life. I didn’t make any music for 10 years, perhaps a few collabs where I contributed my ideas, but I didn’t really know how to produce. I feel like I’m at the beginning of my producer career…
What have been the biggest changes in your 20 year career, how do things run differently now compared to when you started?
Well, the biggest change is the arrival of the digital way of DJing, which began with Serato and Traktor. It changed a lot of things, especially sound-wise. I tried Serato and Traktor but they were not really my thing. The main consequence is that some clubs don’t have soundsystems that are properly configured for vinyl anymore, sad to say, which means I need to have a plan B. I have to adapt myself regardless. No other choice than to spend time recording my records digitally and loading them on to a USB so I always have a back up. it’s boring and time consuming but If the turntables aren’t working you have the music you want to play in your pen drive.
You are closely linked with DC10 and Circo Loco - what is that club like? Whats makes it so special? Why have you played so much and kept going back?
It’s very simple. I went for the first time in 2000, as a raver. The year after I met Tania Vulcano, and they invited me to play the closing, the same happened the next year and the one after and in 2004 I became a resident. It was the best party in the world, I have to say, the club everyone wanted to play - so it was a real honour to become resident and a real, real, real help for your career to be resident at this club. This is what happened to me. I will always be grateful for this honour. It’s still one of the best places in Ibiza. You have to understand that, 20 years ago, Ibiza was fully commercial music, that’s it. DC-10 was the only place where you could hear deep house, the underground genre at the time. I thought Ibiza was crazy and the clubs were amazing but the music was shit. The vibe in Ibiza is amazing, no matter what the music, the atmosphere is unique, even at commercial parties, people are dancing and expressing themselves. For me though, the only way I could see myself evolving in Ibiza was through this club. There were no other options and I’m very lucky they took me on board.
What tunes really define the place for you and remind you of it?
The first one is the tune that got me the residency, it was on my Kwality compilation - I gave them the mix and they were so impressed by this tune, I think that’s what got me the residency. It’s called ‘Key Of Love’ by an artist called Sleaz.
The super super classic track that I never played at DC-10 (because it was the one all the DJs played when I was a punter) is Depeche Mode - ‘Enjoy The Silence’. Another very important track, when DC-10 reopened, there was a track by Franck Roger and Mandel Turner called ‘After All’, that Dyed and I would play a lot during that era. Here’s a video of us playing at a DC-10 afters had on the beach from that time
How have you managed being a father and an artist? What have you learnt, what has had to change?
To be a dad you have to establish new priorities. Im way more inspired at the moment, what I have learned? I’m not sure, it’s still early days what I will say is that it’s true that I do less after parties and more studio sessions these days.
Tell us about the new EP that is dedicated to him, how does that work?
Every track was made during a different stage of my wife’s pregnancy. ‘A La Coque’ was made when we found out she was pregnant, ‘Mykonos Huevos’ was when we could tell everyone the news and ‘Sunny Side Up’ is from when Isaac was on his way…
What are you looking forward to and working on now?
I’m looking forward to more studio sessions and more shows with Apollonia, while I’m also developing my own personal project GoDEEP, which is back in Ibiza this winter. The next party is 6th December at Bora Bora, I have to say the vibe is really really strong - what people say has been a little bit lost in Ibiza during the summer, you can find in the winter, I swear…