Something of a veteran in certain circles, South London’s Grand Mixer Dan Gar Dan has been philosophising about grime for much of the last decade but he remains an unknown entity to those operating outside the genre’s confines. As a regular on pirate station On Top seven years ago, he was given the chance to develop his mixing skills alongside the cream of the then up-and-coming emcees – people like and including Big Narstie, with whom he still works as a part of South London’s original crew, NAA . More recently, he has taken on the challenge of ghost mixing, or assisting with high-end mixes for some of grime’s hottest talents, as well as lending an open hand to anyone looking to make their mark on the scene.
Keen for new experiences and with a formidable underground reputation for being one of the scene’s most talented selectors, Dan is hoping that he can make an impact of his own in 2012. Tomas Fraser managed to catch up with him to talk all things NAA, his mixing and the importance of self-promotion…
Sonic Router: For those who may not be familiar with you, could you introduce yourself and provide us with a bit of context?
Dan: My name is Grand Mixer Dan Gar Dan and fundamentally I’m a grime DJ from South London. I DJ for Big Narstie and am also a member of NAA, South London’s first original grime crew. I started DJing grime at 15 years old and it’s the first and only music I’ve ever DJed in my life. I started mixing in my bedroom and didn’t really leave until I was 18 when I got the chance to jump on On Top – a big pirate in South London. Six or seven years ago it was a big station; I remember NAA had a whole day’s show on there every Sunday.
I’m also helping the future generation of young grime DJs at the moment; not for my own gain, but in my eyes the more people to play the music out properly, sharing my philosophy, the better. I’m really working on that. I’ve got time for anyone that wants to learn and be involved.
The concept of ghost mixing is an interesting one – how did it come about?
When I started on radio, I’d always been able to mix and through On Top, I developed a reputation for my mixing skills. The whole ghost mixing thing started last year and the first couple ended up getting crazy feedback so it’s just grown organically. I don’t like to take any credit for anything, I just like the challenge of mixing and trying to better each new one I do. The whole idea allows me to get lots of music early on and think about how they’re gonna work in a mix so it’s worked well for me.
Is it something you enjoy?
I enjoy it but at the same time I can’t help thinking I want to DJ live on my own merits. I don’t care about money, I just love grime but I rarely hear it mixed properly so really I just want to play the music the way I think it should be played. I want to be heard. In order to do that, I’ve got to start seeking proper recognition but that’s not really what I’m about, I’m just cool with everything.
That said, I want more – I don’t want to have any regrets in music. I want more experiences, more DJing. You could say I’m happy but I’m not content.
Talk to us about the mix – what was the thinking behind it? Is it reflective of the normal approach you’d take?
I like to DJ powerful tunes in a palatable way – I like to give people that intense sound without making it too scatty or too disorganised. I love skanking, I want people to dance if you know what I mean? I also try to have an impact instantly with my mixes and I like to play with different energies. There are also so many different strands of grime at the minute too so I wanted to travel through all of that as best as I could. I like to bring in all different flavours, especially because the bootleg thing is starting to come back in. I don’t care if it was made illegally whilst on a plane, I don’t care who’s made it – if it’s good and sounds sick, I’ll mix it. I play tunes on merit.
What does the future hold? What would you like to achieve this year?
Once I make it to the last quarter or so of the year, it’d be nice to have at least two bookings a month. To be honest it’d just be nice just to have more experiences, paid or unpaid. It’d be nice to have a regular slot on a station again too. Records wise, I’m also getting something out of my label Wig Power Foundation and I’m happy to say the tune sounds really, really good. It’s a track produced by Myrikal with Flirta D on the vocal – we’re proper happy with it.
There’s quite a few other bits floating around with Wig Power too and I’m definitely looking to expand it. Studio sets are also on the agenda because I want to focus on starting work with emcees I like personally. I’m gonna finally start giving people more of me and less of what I’m expected to be. It’s just about doing what I love now, that’s it.
Darq E Freaker – 666 Sauna
Royal T – Danger Time
Spooky – Pulse 007
Darq E Freaker – Autumn
Moony – All I Do is 138 DJ
OH91 – Autontune (Mr Mitch Remix)
BIG SOSA – Spit Fire
Royal T – Space Cowboy VIP
Mr V – Griminister
DullahBeatz – Kill Confirmed
Kutz – G742
Trends – Bass Mode
K1 – Apocalypse
Mr V – Bring it Down
Darq E Freaker – Ghosts N Freaks
Spooky – Spartans (Royal T Remix)
Macabre Unit – Jam Slow
Faze Miyake – Dizzy