Dan Ghenacia is an individual who is widely considered to have been pivotal to the evolution of the music scene that we enjoy today. He is one of the innovators of all that is Parisian Chic in the electronic world. Alongside friends and musical cohorts such as Ivan Smagghe, Jef K and Didier Sinclair they carved a sound that is unmistakable and earned a place in recent musical history that is undeniable. Dan’s the man that, without whom, we would not enjoy the audio delights apportioned to us by the trop cool stream of credible French artists that Freak n Chic have introduced us to over the years. Individuals such as Anthony Collins, Seuil, Mayaam Nidam, Djebali to name a few. The time and effort invested by Dan and his imprint over the years sculpting and moulding their artists are paying dividends today as each have spread their wings and sound far and wide.

Groovecast 010 – Djebali – Winter Garden Mix by UGroove

When we meet Dan it is a quick handshake a we all bury our heads in a menu at a Japanese food joint in town. Our first impressions are that Dan is a person who is comfortable in his own skin. He has an air of Gaelic self assurity about him, he is wearing a comfortable pair of jeans, understated kicks and a t-shirt with a ghost on it that is well worn in, clothes definitely selected for comfort that are at the same time effortlessly cool. Dan is also sporting a moustache that sits atop his slightly furled French top lip. Dan pulls it off effortlessly, he wears his ‘tache like he means business. He is the type of person that gives off the impression of being comfortable with who he is, and that is the impression that he has given throughout his musical journey; someone who has been comfortable enough to stick to his own agenda, his own sound throughout, someone who has been brave enough to conservatively stick his finger up and make career decisions that some would not be brave enough to do. Par example, pulling the plug on his infamous Batofar after-parties at the height of their popularity and more recently calling time on Paris’ most industrious and influential label Freak n Chic. These decisions are ones that reflect an individual who is not afraid to step outside his comfort zone and push his own boundaries. Our guest is quietly reserved as we all order a refreshing pint of Japan’s finest brew Asahi, (thankfully not glowing green), Dan on the other hand opts for a water. When asked if he has opted down the health conscious route he merely cocks his head and expires expressively out of the corner of his mouth as he pats his stomach. This is met with an understanding nod from the other artist at our table, Burnski. If every beer that was on offer during a busy schedule was supped up then the Frenchman’s trim waistline would almost certainly be compromised. Dan then began to come out of his shell and Miami was talked about for a while, the fact that the conference itself has been shifted to the week after and the week before if for parties. “Is this good?” Dan is asked, “Good? For Miami maybe, but for us no” Is this the case? Do you know when the conference has been moved to? When asked about his sets and favourite parties Dan picks out a few that spring to mind.

The impression we get is that Miami is far from merely a week of hedonistic parties in the American sunshine, but a place where a lot of tracks get broken, a lot of networking, conversations, detail swapping and deals happen here, this makes this week an important part of the industry calendar. That and it’s a week of hedonistic parties in the American sunshine. As the food comes we tuck in, one of our party has carefully selected a sizzling Wasabi steak (extra hot no less) that is brought to the table by a small japanese girl who fry’s it off in front of his bulging eyes as he licks his lips, Burnski is still feeling slightly fragile after a gig in Tunisia the night before so goes for the lighter option of some noodles. When the topic of Tunisia crops up this seems to ignite Dan’s interest, he sits behind his box of Japanese food elegantly clutching his chopsticks with a sparkle of interest in his eyes. “Is there much of a scene in Tunisia?” he quirks, “aye mate” replies Burnski in his broad North eastern drawl. Burnski tells of a hairy moment he thought he was going to be kidnapped in a country that was pretty much a war zone until a few months ago and sparked a political revolution in the region. Dan laughs and seems amused that people seem to be touched by the music he and others play “maybe the music played a part in the revolution” he quips.

The conversation turns to Basics, as Dan shakes his head in disbelief when we talk of the fact that the World’s longest running weekly night turns 20 this year. Dan seems truly happy that Basics has been providing generations of club-goers with a place to party for 20 years now. “That really is something” he retorts as he shakes his head in disbelief again. Dan of course has played at Basics a handful of times and has always enjoyed a close relationship with the club, to us he seems proud to have borne witness to Basic’s evolution and longevity. As we leave the restaurant we accompany Dan to his hotel and part company before arranging to meet in the club and interview him. We shake hands and go our separate ways. The impression we get as we leave is that Dan is a rare breed, a DJ with a self depreciating personality, not a massive ego. There is something refreshing and different about him as an artist and this is evident throughout his career. The story goes that Monsieur Ghenacia had been reluctant to make the trip to Ibiza during the time he was being propelled to the top of his game, the reason behind this was his reluctance to get involved in what he viewed as a “shallow, fake” scene. Thankfully he decided to eventually take the plunge and as we all know nowadays he is know a DC10 stalwart with quite a few years residency under his belt. He is an artist that has kept his musical vision clear and un-corrupted, he isn’t an artist that chases the next big thing or is swayed by trends or fads, he has stayed true to his vision and this has in turn enabled him to rise to the top of the dance music tree unperturbed. As these thoughts swirl through UGroove’s mind a prickle of anticipation swathes over us as we look forward to getting him sat down at the club and of course enjoying his set. As we get to the club we are greeted by the same friendly faces that make Basics what it is. As we stroll into the club resident jock Jon Woodall (nicely satisfied after his Wasabi Steak) is getting to the end of an enthusiastic, animated set, whipping the crowd into getting their groove on. By the time Dan steps up to the plate it is clear that he has drawn a crowd of punters eager to see him and hear what treats he has to offer. As a DJ very much at the forefront of the vinyl revival, as we see Dan delectably picking out shiny black records and lovingly placing them on the platters our mind harks back to a conversation over dinner. “For me, when I go to the record shop it is like a break or a release. We all spend too much time on our computers everyday, when I go to the shop and listen to maybe 20-25 records it is refreshing. I do not want to pollute, you know, my brain listening to so many records that are about everyday.” This reference to the oversaturation of the electronic musical scene rings true, the ability to take yourself off to a “real shop” and actual physically select and listen to some records is a concept that is all too quickly becoming lost, a complete foreign concept to a new generation of digitally based artists. As our mind is brought back to reality Dan eases into Leeds’ native’s Laura Jones’ Love in Me, a delightful melodic number that features her own vocal talents and is out on Leftroom later on this month. Dan’s relationship with the crowd is a personal one, he seems the type of DJ that builds a specials repaux with the crowd, we thought this at one of his DC 10 sets last summer and this is certainly confirmed at My House, a club that is conducive to such a symbiotic relationship.

As Dan wrapped up his set we feel that this is an individual who has played a seminal part in House music history, he has been at the forefront of a era which has help to mould the house music scene, the mid 90’s to early 00’s in Paris and this is a wealth of musical experience that Dan transposes into his music, both productions and sets. It is for this reason that Ministry Of Sound have asked him to kick off their series new series of mix cd’s Sound of the City. According to a press release each Sound of the City compilation will hark back to the musical « golden era » of a different city, beginning with Paris circa ’94-2000. The fact that Ghenacia has been selected to mix this compilation is a priveledge for him and when we ask him about it, he seems to puff out with pride as he tells us about it. You can tell this is a man who has been around the block and always has an keeps to keep it real, this is where the secret to his success lies. He has never been afraid to make desicions that others would think twice about, he seems to thrive in the face of adversity. When we begin to talk about what the future holds Dan’s eyes glint once again. His new Project Apalonia will rise from Freak n Chic’s ashes, like a Phoenix, stronger and twice the beast it was before. It is UGroove firm belief that Dan and his influence will be around for a long time to come.

Words by Pedro Vila
Video by Will Anderson