by Gauraa Shekhar and Mary Morgan Craig
It the midst of a cold Thursday night in the Windy City, the 17-year-old EDM sensation Danny Avila hops off his plane and into an interview with Morgan and Gauraa from UpstateLIVE to dish on his US tour, Fedde le Grand and his new haircut!
Mary Morgan Craig: When did you fall in love with house music and was there a first track that got you enamored with the genre?
Danny Avila: Um, I don’t know, I was probably like 12 years old, and I was still listening to other music genres like R&B and stuff and probably the track I heard for the first time that made me go like, “Wow, what kind of music is this?” was Put Your Hands Up For Detroit by Fedde le Grand.
Gauraa Shekhar: That’s a great track! What was it like to have Pete Tong open his essential selection with Breaking Your Fall?
DA: Wow, that was crazy! I had no idea at all. I was just checking my Twitter and I was just getting messages from people saying, “Wow, Pete Tong played your track” and I just called my manager and he was like, “Pete Tong just played it–it’s massive”. I couldn’t believe it, it was crazy.
MMC: I bet, I would have the chills, too. It’s amazing that you have already had three residencies. Did you have a favorite residency? And why was it your favorite?
DA: I would say the residency at Pacha, Ibiza. Probably because I have been following Tiestö since I was 13 years old. You know, for me, it has always been a dream to perform with him and get the chance to share food with him and be part of his family. It was incredible.
GS: That’s so cool. Is it Amba Shepherd who does the vocals on “Breaking Your Fall”?
DA: (Laughs) No, no, it’s not her. She’s a vocalist from Holland but you know, she’s working on different projects right now and she didn’t want to appear in the title.
MMC: How do you choose the tracks for your set?
DA: That’s a really good question! You know, I have so many tracks. I mean, my library is huge. I always arrive at the venue a little bit earlier…about half an hour earlier so I can feel the vibe a little bit. I see how it goes. I don’t usually come in prepared with the titles that I will play that night.
MMC: Does that make you nervous?
DA: I’m never nervous, I’m always excited!
MMC: So you’re just a natural born DJ then, ha.
GS: Is there a DJ that you would love to get the chance to meet that you haven’t met yet?
DA: I have met a lot of artists but one person that I really, really, really want to meet is probably Skrillex because, you know, he’s so talented. His music is just awesome and he’s been a big influence on me.
MMC: That’s great. I would have assumed that you’d already met him because he’s so popular. Do you have a favorite music blog? How do you find new music?
DA: The website that I regularly access is Billboard. I check it everyday to see what’s going on but also, I get a lot of promos…a lot of friends who are producers also send me tracks that are not released yet. Then I have a couple of blogs like Bacau House Mafia. They’re pretty cool.
GS: Do you have any advice for aspiring DJs?
DA: Yes, of course. There is so much going on right now. Especially in the States, it’s crazy, there are so many parties and usually about five DJs on a Friday night in New York City. There are also a lot of producers out there so my advice is to be unique and have your own personality. Just try to do what they want and not be what they want you to be.
MMC: When did you get your first equipment and what did you get?
DA: It was ridiculous, ha. It was a super cheap small consoler which cost me about $45-50. I don’t remember the name but it was like Erklos NK2 or something. It was nothing, really. At that point, I didn’t even know how to mix tracks with that but I was so happy and I enjoyed it so much. I spent so many hours trying to improve a little bit. I used to teach tennis when I was 12 or 13 so I could earn enough money to buy Pioneer C800 on eBay. That was basically how I improved my skills. I practiced for hours and hours.
GS: Have you ever changed a song in a set based on how the audience was reacting?
DA: Yeah, well, I kind of have my own style of playing. I mean, every DJ has their own way of playing. If the audience wants commercial shit, I will play commercial music with my own sound in the sense of dropping more vocals or whatever.
MMC: That’s very cool. What do you think is the craziest/weirdest fan experience you’ve ever had?
DA: (Laughs). I was kind of trapped in Spain last year and two girls went to the booth totally drunk and crazy. They jumped to the booth and broke the mixer. It was crazy. The staff had to go get a new mixer.
GS: Yeah, I’d be pissed, too! So how does it feel to be playing Ultra this year?
DA: I can tell you a quick story, actually. When I started DJing, Fedde Le Grand was one of my biggest inspirations. He even has a ten minute documentary on YouTube about Ultra and I was like, “Man, the day that I play a main stage or whatever, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world” and then I didn’t now I was playing ultra and my manager hadn’t told me yet and he had no idea. I was checking my Twitter and I got so many mentions and I was like, “no way”. I was almost crying. I was so happy.
MMC: I’m glad! That’s so insane. So who are your biggest musical influences? Was it always house music or did your parents bring you up on something else?
DA: I listen to and love so many different music genres. I play a bit of electro but I also listen to Maja Jean who is a big House music producer. She is amazing. Also, Solo Moon is a house producer whom I love.
MMC: I love listening to your sets because they have a lot of the popular songs and also a lot of the deep cuts and now other people can pull that off really well.
GS: Do you ever get nervous in front of so many people at festivals?
DA: Um, not really nervous…but sometimes I get butterflies in my stomach and you know, sometimes I get really really excited. The five minutes before my set, I go nuts. It’s like getting really excited.
MMC: Where you see EDM as a genre going?
DA: That’s a very hard question because in the last year and a half, it blew up and now it’s blowing up even more. It’s changing a lot and there are so many producers coming up as well. I hope it continues to grow bigger.
GS: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
DA: I have a remix for Skylar Gray coming up in six days. I did a remix with my friend and it’s dub step. I also have new original Danny Avila track coming out and then I have this crazy tour this month in the States. Also, Coachella with Tiesto and my Ibiza season tour this year. I don’t know, I guess just working on music and playing!
GS: That sounds great! Have you ever been to Upstate New York before or would this be your first time?
DA: This would be my first time! I’m so excited!
MMC: Well welcome! Bring a jacket!
DA: Thank you, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
MMC: Well what do you think of the touring life? Traveling all the time?
DA: Well, you don’t start traveling every single day in the beginning. I started with a few gigs maybe once a week, then twice a week and you go out of the state. It’s a process, you know. Then you get used to it. I mean, it’s crazy right now because I’m touring every single day. If I had started doing this every single day of the week in the beginning, this would have been exhausting. It is still exhausting but you get a bit used to it.
GS: How is the EDM club scene different now than it was when you were 12?
DA: It is crazy, ha! Four years ago, it was like a house music scene…a bit more tech-house…a more vocal sound but now everything is really electro and dub step. You know, people just go crazy. It has changed a lot but that’s what I mean…in five years, it’s gonna change even more.
MMC: I’m excited to see what happens.
DA: Me, too. I can’t wait!
GS: We love your show Ready to Jump–could you t