Manchester’s Finest meets… Danny Drive Thru
It’s a big city out there, boasting one of the more serious music scenes this world has to offer. Obviously then, cementing a place in the local common conscious takes some perseverance.
For Danny McDonald the hard work looks to be paying off, over a decade after the first seeds were sown. His DJ moniker, Danny Drive Thru, has now graced line-ups across Mancunia and beyond. Meanwhile, his production work continues to garner praise, turning heads and making ripples amid the web, air and radio waves.
The coming months will see his new 12” arrive via Manchester’s homegrown, genre-defying imprint, Mind On Fire, and beats dropped everywhere from the Northern Quarter to Croatia’s Soundwave. But before all that there’s Badman Ting at Moho Live on May 20th, where he’ll join jungle and drum n bass dons Kenny Ken and Doc Scott. As such we thought this would be a good time to ask some questions…
MCR’s Finest: You’re a pretty familiar face on the local circuit, how did the whole DJing thing start for you?
Danny Drive Thru: “I think it was just a logical progression for me because I’ve always been musically minded, but I’ve never had the patience to formally learn an instrument. Someone once described me as ‘a frustrated musician’- a musician who can’t play!
“I went to the Technics DJ Academy about 10 years ago (the first time it was run actually)- I was into drum & bass at the time- but because I’d already been messing about with samples on an Amiga I already knew about beat-matching, so just got straight into learning to scratch… After about 6 months I’d learnt all there was to know, or so I thought, and was getting bored, until I saw DJ Craze at The Music Box (RIP)… He just blew me away, and I came away from that knowing that I’d be into it for a while.”
There seems to be some diverse promoters booking you- is there a specific style you’d say you play as a DJ?
“It’s a really tough question to answer, because I’ve got really diverse musical influences and heritage, and I’m not particularly interested in specialising in just one style. The main genres I play are hip-hop, future beats, jungle and DnB, but also any of the sounds that surround those… Check my Mixcloud and hopefully you’ll see what I mean!”
You also produce. Do you think it’s possible to be one without the other anymore?
It’s definitely harder to just be a successful DJ, but I think that’s always been the case. Historically very few of the top DJs have just been DJs, and the ones that have, or still are, achieved it because they’re exceptionally good, because it takes a lot of very hard work. There are so many different ladders to climb, so if you’re that way inclined it makes sense to branch out into other disciplines and expand your fanbase that way. But I think if you’re just going to DJ then you’d have to be pretty good at self-promotion too, which is not something I’m great at!”
Are you more inspired by making your own music, or playing other people’s?
“That’s like trying to pick your favourite kid! I love ’em both equally… I think they’re mutually beneficial, it’s healthy to see what others are doing when you’re doing stuff yourself, plus DJing can be so informative, seeing what works and what doesn’t… But the process of making beats can be so exhilarating when it’s going well, and your ideas just keep blossoming.”
“Well I’ve known the Mind On Fire lads for a while now, and when they started putting the wheels in motion for physical releases they approached me and a few other Manc producers who are dope, so I’m happy to be in such illustrious company. They went through a load of beats that I’d sent them over time and picked a couple, and I re-worked them for release.
“You can hear the demo versions on Soundcloud, one’s called Psychedelia Smith and the other was called Do Svidanya, but is now called Violence Makes. Both are pretty dusty, moody bits really, I just seem to gravitate towards melancholy sounds for some reason… maybe it’s the grey skies, I don’t know! I’m not sure of a release date yet, but we just got the test presses back so hopefully it’ll be soon… The artwork was done by the awesome Tankpetrol, so it’s gonna look lovely too!”
In terms of live music, Manchester has been having a serious resurgence in the last year or so. What do you make of its club scene at the moment?
“S**t’s live at the minute! There are a load of great nights on, too many for my pockets in fact, plus punters seem to be really open minded, and on top of that there are tons of dope acts too… The Hoya:Hoya boys are killing it, bringing amazing guests…it’s pretty much the only night I always go to… but Hit n Run smashes it every Monday too, while This City Is Ours gets dope acts to play here, as does Now Wave, and Mind On Fire obviously…
“Juicy are managing to get kids interested in hip-hop again, plus In The Loop are creating a community for rappers and beatmakers which is something that’s needed to happen for time… Band On The Wall is back on form bringing legends up north when they normally don’t get further than London… and there’s tons of dope fringe events like Bill Withers at Soup Kitchen on May 22nd, and Norvun Devolution at The Roadhouse, second Sunday of the month… I could go on!”
You recently played FutureEverything, how did that go?
“That was sick, I really enjoyed it! I’ve got a live show with G-kut called Hot Vimto, we did a little 40-minute set for the Mind On Fire label showcase which consisted of us, Neko Neko, LA77, Paper Tiger and MOF DJs. I know it sounds a bit back-slappy, but everyone killed it. Then afterwards it was on to the Soup Kitchen for Neighbourhood, which was such a good party… 21k rig, sick DJs all night, good times all round really.”
Badman Ting then… Kenny Ken and Doc Scott… are you looking forward to appearing in the same line up as the two heavyweights?
“Man…The first style of music I really, deeply got into was jungle… It’s still the only music that really fires me up when I’m sober. It’s crazy that, 15 years later, I’m gonna be playing alongside some of the guys that set me on the path I’m on now. Kenny Ken always killed it for me, and Doc Scott was always a bit ahead of my tastes until I got into DnB, then I was like ‘oh I get it now!’ I’m gonna be playing jungle and drum n bass with Nanny… And big up Nanny and Depthcuts for putting it together; it’s gonna be ill!”
What else have you got coming up at the moment?
“Too much to mention… I’ve got a load of collaborative stuff in the pipeline, like a project with Sneaky from Fingathing which I’m really looking forward to finishing; we’re covering three tracks which are very dear to me. Me and Kelpe just finished part of a project which is going to eventually include Om Unit, Indigo and others, which I’m really chuffed about, and I’m putting the finishing touches to a beat tape that’s going to go on Bandcamp soon.
“Apart from that if all goes according to plan I’ll be on Fat City’s Producer 3 series of 12”s, with a true Manc legend remixing one of my tunes. And there’s talk of a release on Hoya:Hoya’s label, which will be the tune I get asked about most! Gonna keep that one under my hat for now though… DJ-wise, I’ll be playing BMT on May 20th, Friends Of Mine festival on the May 21st, Just vs The Alchemist at Moho Live on May 26th, alongside DJ A-up who might show me up with his deep crates, and Soundwave in Croatia is fast-approaching, which is always a great gig… Come and reach!”
Bad Man Ting takes over Moho Live this Friday, May 20th, with Doc Scott, Kenny Ken, Nanny Banton, Danny Drive Thru, Phil The Tank, Node, DJ A-UP, DRX, Obelix, Vamos, Bass, and MC D Double.