Danny Krivit Talks


Danny Krivit, really should need no introduction to anyone with even a whisker of an interest in this incredible thing we call the world of 'dance' music. 
Growing up in Greenwich Village, New York City, in the 1960s, his mother was an accomplished jazz singer and his father was the manager of legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker before going on to open up “The Ninth Circle”, a Village hot spot.
Starting DJing at age 14  and learning from all the greats, including James Brown, David Mancuso and Larry Levan he became synonymous with his funk, soul, and disco edits (under the Mr. K name).
His list of residencies and associations read like the dictionary of music he is. Responsible for the immensely popular 718 Sessions and one-third of the Body & Soul collective, we caught up with Mr K over our increasingly dodgy skype connection ahead of his sidexside appearance this weekend with Horse Meat Disco for an insight into the mind of one of house music’s living legends.

You worked as a boy in your father's The Ninth Circle where you met some of the greats of the time; Hendrix, Mingus, Lennon et al. Do you think the music world today still produces artists of this calibre or do they get lost in a pop world obsessed with celebrity?
Well It was reallly a different time and the timing of that period it was more natural to put out artists of that calibre. In the current situation where there's such an emphasis on making money, the short versions of things then it seems less frequent to find artist like that, especially to find what the early artists were saying. The format today, if you're in that position you're trying to make a lot of money. 
Your biography says that The Mothers of Invention lived down the hall from you in your childhood… did this include Frank Zappa? Can we talk a bit about them. I find Zappa one of the most interesting and intriguing characters from that period producing some of the most wayward and downright mind melting music of their time. I've always thought this could be edited into something incredible and dancefloor friendly; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0ysRH1Dxyw
Ian Underwood in Greenwich village. Ian Underwood lived down the hall from me.  All the members including Frank Zappa used to come up there all the time and I'd frequently be in an elevator with them and they seemed to enjoy the fact that I found them so interesting. They always seemed like they were performing. They would always do outrageous things to get my attention. Where I was living in Greenwich village, music people and artist people were everywhere. 
It must be boring for you to always tread the well worn interview question trail of The Loft, Roxy etc 
It's not boring for me, they were good times and it was an important times. I really like spreading the word for people who weren't there. 
Ah, that's a shame, I'm always conscious that people of your 'stature' shall we say can often get a little weary of answering the same questions over and over again so I've skewed the questions away from that… 
Never mind, we can always go over that at another point… 
Would be great, I'm keen to ask with the renewed interest and re-appraisal of disco over the past 5 years I wonder if there's any club of recent times that you've played which comes close to the energy of these legendary institutions and indeed Body & Soul… I was at Santos Party House last year when Harvey was playing and was amazed at the incredible intensity and feeling this place evoked.  
There are certainly some great places now, Santos being one of them. At Santos I've had some incredible 718 SESSIONS parties and also at Body & Soul. But there are only the few that really stick out on the landscape in these times. I can't compare them really… 
As good as the things are now, it was a very different feeling of open-ness back then. 
You can go to a party and have this great energy but it's very difficult to compare that to the clubs of the 70's and the first period of that music where it was a different atmosphere and a different attitude about clubs where either low admission or no admission. Rents were so low, people could really form clubs the way they wanted not based on 'we have to make money every day'. There was a lot of freedom in the air and along with the whole scene itself and the participants it all was a very new, fresh thing. People had a lot of leisure time and that's something you don't hear of these days. People could go out for an entire weekend and not think about time. They didn't have cell phones or computers or distractions of things they had to do. They might have had their 9 to 5, 5 days a week but when they were out clubbing they had a different kind of freedom. So it's a little hard to compare the two, that was a golden period. There are some very good clubs now but I don't compare them. 
I've heard you can't pass up buying a good/cheap record so have doubles or triples of everything and even the kitchen in his apartment full of records. Would love to know that's true?
… well let's see, if we go back 4 years before I was married, the kitchen was loaded with records… now I have a wife (laughs) we do use the kitchen so that no longer exists. I also now respect the fact it's a home… there's a lot of records everywhere but not to the extremities there used to be! I'm right in the process of moving to another place actually. We just moved out of my apartment 30,000 records and I have about maybe 80,000 total in storage… and I'm hoping that I don't put another 30,000 in my new place! It's great to have records but not to that excess. 
But you still buy and use vinyl…?
I still always buy and after collecting for all these years I’m always trying to get rid of stuff but you know… I’m always buying music and not just vinyl. I’m just always trying to acquire new and old music. A lot of old things that are sometimes new to me. I feel like the more I learn… the more I learn I don’t know. It’s more of struggle these days tho. It’s not just walk down to the local store and buy some vinyl. And it’s not as rewarding as it used to be. Before I used to go and find all this new stuff and now it’s maybe a couple here, maybe one there… maybe none there. It’s much more of search these days!
So what’s your opinion on Traktor/Serato and the computer in general on production and I guess in turn edit culture… 
Well there are a lot of obvious advantages & disadvantages to it… Let’s say my whole experience of going out to stores and chasing down vinyl and the interactions with people and places… I can’t compare that! And if I spend a lot of time on the net, whether I’m rewarded by great things or not, the actual act is just not as rewarding. I used to sometimes come home with no records and still feel rewarded. I could go on the net and get everything I went out to look for but after still feel like “ah, I’m glad I’m off the net”! 
That whole instant gratification isn’t that gratifying! 
It seems that’s the draw is a lack of patience… but it does seem less gratifying to me.
Do you travel with vinyl still?
I pick and choose where I travel with vinyl depending on the travel arrangements. If i’ve been there before and know what the situation is… sometimes I will just take a chance. I might bring some on this trip but this is not Horse Meat Disco’s club and I really don’t know what I’m walking into. And it’s not a great feeling when you drag around that crate records and you don’t play any or just play one. It’s a little tough… but I love to play records!
How do you even prepare for something like this? It’s quite a serious undertaking.
If i was only playing vinyl, it would be a problem just limiting myself to what I can carry. I pretty much go about these things as I’m playing somewhere just being myself and what I usually do I might lean more to this or to that. But I’m basically bringing all of what I’m just into at the moment and what I might feel like doing. I’m never going to get to all that, I just have that at my disposal for what I feel like at the moment. 
I guess that’s the beauty of technology, that you do have that luxury at your disposal and these sorts of things wouldn’t maybe happen if you came to London. It would mean having to ship all your records over…
Well that’s a double-edged sword because there was a simplicity of ‘This is what I have, this is what I’m going to play.’ with a few variances and it’s right there in front of me visually. As opposed to this is digital and reduced to just text, it’s like looking at a dictionary for inspiration so you really have to know what you have and have an idea of what you’re doing, which is not so easy to say for a lot of people. So, I’m drawing on a lot of experiences. I do play off the people I’m playing for. If I’m stuck with a lousy crowd, I’m sorry it’s not going to be a great set. . I’m playing off them. If I get a great crowd it can be remarkable.
And I guess turning to Horse Meat Disco, their crowd is amazing… what’s your relationship with them?
All my friends know them and I know the similarities and honestly the music they play, you can’t be into all that music without having some similarities and I feel like we have a lot of similar paths… I met one of them at a party in Manhatten, laughs, unfortunately he’s not going to be playing with us on Saturday. But we’re going to talk on the phone this week. 
Where have all the DJ residencies gone?
Probably with the lack of weekly parties… maybe they all went to Twitter! Y’know if things are reduced to somebody feeling like they don’t have time and it’s too much money and they don’t have the need to go out because they saw the 30 second youtube and they read about it on the net and they talked about it on facebook… and uh, they’ve experienced it! You can’t tell them anything. So, that’s a little hard to overcome worldwide. Compared to “I heard this song on the radio, I have to go out to the club tonight to really hear it and feel it with other people.” So I would say residencies have definitely suffered over that. 
You have a new surge of EDM, which is… well I guess it’s what needs to happen but it’s not relative to me. It’s a little more festival type. It’s not what you would relate to as far as residencies were concerned.
Because residencies were such an important part of things weren’t back then… 
Yeah but it’s a support system. It doesn’t happen with just a guy being there every week. He’s got to have the people coming. They need to be related to the music scene and why they need to be coming y’know. So a lot of that has disappeared too!
Yeah, They’ve all disappeared onto Twitter great quote! 
It’s like the eco-system; well you kill this tiny little insect and you’ve just killed off all this stuff that’s eating, all the stuff that follows after it. It wasn’t a little thing but basically all this part of the music industry has ended or downsized till almost be extinct. And it’s like how do these things survive without that?
You have a special relationship with London clubland… what do you love about the place?
London and the UK in general has always had a real long lasting love for music. They go a little deeper and have this rich history of music. Just like I enjoy record shopping in London I think people are a little deeper and more passionate about what they love. You find pockets of that in other parts of the world but I think London culture supports that. And just like I was saying before the support network really makes a difference. 
There’s a very strong community here…
It reminds a little of here (New York) of times that I appreciated here that have left. There’s less stores here than London to buy to records, there’s less of community that is regularly trading music and thinking music. 
There’s a real obsession with it here. I was talking about this with someone the other day and I think it’s weather related. The weather’s so shit here that it drives us indoors to make music, collect music, obsess about music…
Well I guess we have to ruin the weather in New York so we can get it back!  
I think you have a little more going on than that tho. It’s related to the history and culture of the place too. I go to some places where even tho they’re open-minded, two years earlier there was nothing, no neighbourhood, no club, no following. And you know as open-minded as they are and like sponges they want to absorb things as everyone does, it’s not comparable. 
Having the history and the culture that 
Stuff likes that makes you appreciate an acquired taste gets you to the point of something else. If you don’t have all those other things to build on then it changes the depths of things. 
Something to be thankful for! 
Very… and I'm looking forward to playing there again! 
Should DJs educate or entertain. 
I think the emphasis there is should. It’s nice that they do and I appreciate that other people do. It’s rewarding for me. For me to say that about someone else… that’s not my place. It’s either something they  come up with and want to do, or they maybe shouldn’t. I feel that it’s important for the scene and for the people to be educated. It’s a lot more important than fulfilling their needs like the radio playing what the hits are. Especially if you’re going to think about it long term, it’s important to educate…
You’re one of the pioneers of edits, please don’t take this the wrong way but are edits actually bootlegs?
Ummm… no. Edits were around before me, and they were functioning as “we need a shorter edit of this, we need an extension ” and I’d get hired by the label, the artist to do these and there was no reference to bootlegs…
Sorry, I wasn’t actually referring to you in particular…
No, no I’m not taking it that way. Let’s say everyone instead of me. It’s not a given. For me, what I see when I started editing, I had a series of things that I was solicited to edit and there were others where I was just making them for myself and for the dancefloor. Some of them came out in different ways. But over a period of time, now you have this edit culture. And the rise of edit culture is a rise of the ease of technology. There wasn’t really that rise associated with the reel-to-reel. The technology is now so easy, almost anyone can really do it. And also more recently, a real rise in lack of new material that’s rewarding. I go to a record store and I find myself buying a few edits and nothing new because at least the edits real bands, real musicians and productions even if it’s rearranged had… some of them good some of them not so, I’m not going to pick out the bad ones. As opposed to this new production that I’m going ah it’s kind of interesting but am I even going to touch it in a month and I’m like why am I buying this? So I find myself doing that… and yeah there’s this big rise of acceptance of just edits in general. They’re choosing from a full gambit of all the best music to  choice from, and not limited to their own talent as a producer and you have a full spectrum: I could put this producer and this producer together and what’s missing, I can add! Now a lot of edits are much more than edits. They say edit and they’re really a full on remix…
I didn’t realise that you’d mixed the first Sleeping Bag record…
Well the guy who owns Sleeping Bag records is a childhood friend. He called me up saying, I want to get off the ground and as much I want this guys mix and that guys mix, I can’t afford them. And he said I have this record, could you do me a favour and work with me on the price and do this mix. And I did it… it was a very early rap record. It wasn’t that great. And I had an idea of what I was going to do… and it didn’t happen in the mix. I’d never mixed before, and the engineer kept saying “well we’ll fix that in the edit later”. And when later came, I didn’t know how to edit but I knew what a bad edit was and y’know we wasted a whole mix on this guy’s bad edit! So I left there, salvaging it so that it wasn’t an embarrassing mix but I didn’t get to do what I intended to do. And after doing another record like that, I learnt from an editor/friend how to really edit correctly. So I was like “let me try this edit, I can’t be any worse than these guys…” and that was my first edit of ‘Funky Drummer’
This is probably another whole interview all together but what’s your relationship with Hip Hop? At the time you were one of the only non-Hip Hop DJs to scratch at the time…
Well, when I started doing that, Roxy was bringing the Hip Hop from uptown to downtown and it was really the opening of the door to the masses of Manhattan… and I was really into it. And I realised a lot of it was stuff that I grew up with, these were beat records that I collected and breaks that I was always into, so it wasn’t a stretch for me. And I was around these guys who were the best at what they did. And I was starting to learn how to scratch and I got noticed by doing this. Not many guys around me were doing this and they gave me the name Danny Rock back then and I think towards the end of the late 80s, early 90s where I had several jobs a week where it was completely Hip Hop. I love that era of Hip Hop.  
The energy of Hip Hop around that time has so much life and energy.
Yeah, that time of Hip Hop these were people that had something to say. A lot of these people had messages, had a voice, it was rising. And soon after that, it became a money thing where it was like well we have success, we have to keep it! . It became very watered down and very disposable after that. I can go back to those records and appreciate them, even if I don’t play a full hip hop set I can appreciate most of all those records. And the stuff that followed I kind of took it as just disposable music, good for a moment… and then I never want to hear it again!
Back then it was really imbued with this raw positivity and energy…
Even in it’s negativity it was positive. They were saying a lot of negative stuff but it was still very positive in its honesty and whole approach and scene.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
After 41 years of DJing, it sounds like I’d move onto something else… but I’m obsessed with music. The more I learn… the more I learn I don’t know, it seems like a race to catch up on all the stuff I’m missing out on.
Thanks for your time Danny… it’s been a pleasure.
You’re very welcome… see you in London.
Danny Krivit plays sidexside this weekend with Horse Meat Disco at  Factory 7.
Full details and tickets here.

W with thanks to Dan B for questioning inspiration.
We're also giving away 3 pairs of tickets for the night, to be in with a chance of winning a pair simply email comps@theransomnote.co.uk with Horse Meat Sandwich as the subject header. Bonne chance.