Denney on how to best use FX and staying true to your tracks

As a DJ, Denney’s career over the last few years has seen him play all over the world – including Elrow in various countries and Ibiza’s notorious DC10. He plays a mix of 4/4 electronic music across the house and techno spectrum, and draws on 23 years of DJing experience.

Who Is Denney? He’s a talented UK DJ and producer, whose groove on Hot Creations, ‘Ultraviolet’ catapulted him to house music fame. He’s since released plenty more on Hot Creations and other quality house labels including VIVa Music, 2020 Vision, Mood Harbour and Crosstown Rebels.

DJ TechTools grabbed a chance to talk to Denney about how he approaches DJing, letting your music speak for itself, and getting advice from The Chemical Brother’s tour DJ James Holroyd. 

Put this mix on + keep reading the interview below.

Thanks for taking time to chat with us, Denney! For those who might not know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

No problem, nice to be here! My name is Denney, I am a DJ and producer originally from the northeast of England. I have released on many labels and played shows around the world regularly since 2012 as well as hosting residencies over the years at clubs such as Back to Basics, VIVa Warriors, and Gatecrasher to name a few.

Photo via Denney’s Facebook.

When did you start DJing? And what style do you play?

I’ve been playing for 23 years now. I started on belt drive turntables, then moved to direct drive, then to CDs, and now everything is on USB.

Musically, I play between house and techno, sometimes with energy, sometimes trippy… depends on what time of the night and the type of gig.

What type of equipment do you use?

My current equipment set up is 3 Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS2 and an Allen and Heath Xone 96 mixer. I just turn up with USBs and headphones these days, and on very rare occasions, vinyl – if I have requested turntables. These days with technology, you can have everything on a USB or hard drive.

Tell us the worst technical hitch you’ve ever had DJing – how did you deal with it? 

I have had them all over the years. The worst was probably at Radio 1 Big Weekend in Carlisle about 10 years ago, going on after Yousef and pulling his USB out and killing the music.

Everyone has off days and anyone who says they don’t is lying. I think sometimes you just have to relax and believe in yourself and your records. Sometimes you won’t always get it right, but that’s life. Just move on to the next gig and go in with 100% belief you are going to smash it.

Do you have any tips for transitioning between drastically different tempos?

Just practice – that’s all you can do. Make sure you are on top of your tunes and try mixes out at home. That’s the best advice I can give, really. The best advice I was given was by James Holroyd, who is The Chemical Brothers’ tour DJ: “Just be fearless”.

Photo via Denney’s Facebook.

Do you use EQs and filters much when you’re in the mix? What about live looping and re-editing?

Yes, constantly, to both. I like to get in there and blend. Usually I mix with the bass pretty much out and mix in the tops and mids, then slowly bring the bass in. With live looping and re-editing, I play on 3 CDJs, so I usually have loops going on one whilst mixing records on the other two.

Do you have any nice little effects tricks you can let us in on? 

Just use them to accentuate certain parts of your records and don’t go overboard. And stay off the flanger… that never sounds good!

I like to mess around with delay timing buttons on the high and mid so it creates a weird, disjointed break and makes it sound like the groove is all over – but then it comes together when the kick drops in again, taking it out. If it’s a bigger gig, if you are on a big stage in front of thousands of people sometimes it’s good to make tracks sound bigger by using FX.

Do you ever use the cue button like a drum pad, with a little vocal snippet or stab? 

Sometimes yes, or I’ll have a snare sample and play it like a drum pad. Just make sure if you’re using acapellas in your DJ set that they don’t clash with vocals that are already in the track.

How do you source your music?

I have a record collection spanning 23 years, so I am lucky to dip back into it here and there. The main tool for a DJ is your music, so always strive to find the best records and spend time finding your music. That’s the only way you will ever get your own identity.

What do you think separates good DJs from great DJs? 

Being able to read a crowd and drop a specific track at the right time. Sadly anyone can “DJ” now thanks to technology, but going on for an hour, playing a load of big build-up tracks and obvious stuff to get a reaction is the polar opposite of DJing for me.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer to up-and-coming DJs? 

Don’t follow trends and don’t become a DJ to be “famous”. It should always revolve around the music.

Denney playing at the DC10 Terrace. Photo via Denney’s Facebook.

Lastly – you’ve played in some of the world’s finest clubs. For all the young warmup DJs reading this, what’s it like playing somewhere like DC10?

I spent years and years playing bars, back rooms of clubs etc. as well as doing warm-ups. Warm-ups are actually my favourite sets to play – you are setting the stage for the whole night and it is a proper skill. To play somewhere like DC10 is obviously a dream come true for any DJ. The sound, the venue and the energy… it has it all!

Denney’s latest release is Lucid Dreams, a two-track EP with James Dexter that’s out now on Rebellion – you can grab it on Beatport. Listen to more of his tunes on SoundCloud, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook while you’re at it.

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