DC Breaks' Dan Havers: U.S. rave culture is more fun and quirky than Europe

Chris Page and Dan Havers of DC Breaks
Chris Page and Dan Havers of DC Breaks
Courtesy of the artist

DC Breaks is the British drum and bass production and DJ team of Dan Havers and Chris Page. Since 2006 they have been tearing up international dance floors with breakbeats and heavy basslines. Most often noted for their remix work, the two are currently writing their debut album after signing a record deal with RAM Records.

Havers and Page have an interesting creative relationship, considering that they live in two different European cities and write the majority of their songs over e-mail. Yet when the two meet, drum and bass magic is made. Gimme Noise spoke with Havers about DC Breaks, rave culture and their evolution as artists before they touch down in Minneapolis this Friday at Ground Zero Nightclub.

Gimme Noise: How did the two of you meet and begin working together?

We were both studying at Edinburgh Uni and I'd heard that there was this other kid producing drum and bass. That kid turned out to be Chris, and as we had some friends in common it wasn't long before we met. After a while of hearing each other's beats we realized it would be a great idea to start working together. We played the Edinburgh circuit frequently and began releasing records on a local label called Restless Natives. After that our music found its way to Andy C. and another chapter in our musical careers began.

How does living in different cities this affect your creative process? Can you describe your creative dynamic with one another?

It helps and hinders in equal amounts, but you get used to it. We e-mail each other projects and ideas that we've started independently, then once we've both worked on an idea that we both feel has the legs to be a finished product, we usually get together to finish it off. Then if we manage to do that we'll start another one or two ideas together. Sometimes however it would be good to have someone else's perspective when you're making ideas on your own! But at the same time, we're both being productive at the same time, making new bass sounds, new drum sounds that we give to each other and when you're finding the creative process difficult that can be just the lift you need.

You're a big Etta James fan. What is special to you about her music?

Well, her vocals were always killer; she delivers such a performance in every track. On top of that they're incredibly good to resample, as the world has found out thanks to Avicii and Flo Rida! We got there first, however. We're looking for our own Etta James at the moment!

How is playing in the U.S. different than playing in Europe? What differences in the culture of electronic music do you notice between the states and elsewhere?

I think the U.S. has quite a 'fluffy' rave culture, much more fun and quirky than European raves. More glowsticks and weird stuff going on! Those tend to be the larger events however, and the nights that have been going a while in the states, and are in urban clubs tend to have a more familiar feel for us. Dark sweaty clubs with loads of bass and tons of energy!

Of course the U.K. is a drum and bass hotspot and to DJ there means you can play more old classic tunes that the crowd will recognize as they've had that historic connection with DnB over the generations. Playing in Europe, America etc., we tend to play fresher, newer stuff, as the kids are younger and more tuned into the current sound.

What is it about particular songs that convinces you to choose to remix them? What do you hope to achieve my reworking original material?

It normally revolves around the vocal parts as that's often the hook, but if there are generally some great original sounds to work with and give you inspiration then that encourages us to take the remix on. But fundamentally we have to really like the original track, and need to hear exactly where we can take it, whether we make a more chilled out roller from it, or go the banger route. It needs to fit in with what we're doing that point in time and connect with our releases surrounding any remix we touch.

What are a few of your favorite remixes that you've done over the years?

Tinie Tempah's "Pass Out" was a lot of fun, "No Going Back" by Rox was always a great mix, and I've just started playing again on this tour actually, three years later!! Currently our remix of Loadstar's has been going down really well, and we often hear other DJs spinning it when we're out and about.


DC Breaks' Dan Havers: U.S. rave culture is more fun and quirky than Europe
Courtesy of the artist

What does playing music for a packed dance floor feel like?

Well its what we live for right?! It's fun, so fun. To have the crowd really respond to your mixes, and especially your own music -- it's what drives you as an artist and performer. I guess it's a dream come true for us both that we're able to do this on a weekly basis!

What is your most memorable performance moment or craziest party experience?

That's a hard one, but there's one event that just sprang to mind -- Glastonbury Festival in the U.K., maybe 2010. We were opening the dance village area on the first night for Annie Nightingale's night. There were meant to be a couple of acts before us but due to some kind of electrical failures they were canceled. So there were 700 or so ravers packed into this tent, just sitting on the floor. There were probably another 500 queuing to get in outside!! They got the system working just in time for our set, so when we stepped up the crowd just went wild, and we hadn't even spun a tune yet. Needless to say when we got going the place erupted, the energy was probably the most charged I've ever felt. These poor people had waited in a boiling hot tent for three hours to get some music.

Then there was a massive thunderstorm half way through the set, and water began pouring in onto the stage, over the gear, the mixer, etc. We had to scramble all the gear to one side, probably narrowly missed getting electrocuted. It was chaos but the music never stopped! We then had the rest of the Glastonbury weekend to enjoy and we were buzzing all weekend after that. In fact, I'm not sure how much I remember of the rest of it.

What is inspiring your recent sound to become darker?

Well we kind of decided to take things back to basics really, to reconnect with some of the records that inspired us in the beginning. We cut down the amount of things going on and thought lets just focus on the beats and the bass. However we spent a lot of time working on synth sounds, resampling etc, and happily stumbled across all the SWAG bass sounds after a lot of tweaking and messing about. That went on to inspire "Gambino," and now the next single "Lock In." People have really connected with the new direction and since we love it too we're sticking with it!

Can you tell us a bit about the full length album you'll be releasing this September?

Well, we've been busy. We're developing the SWAG/Gambino sound a lot more for the LP, but also doing a lot of songwriting to try and blend great vocals with those nastier elements. Its a crazy experience though because you're just constantly writing so much new material and its hard to ever know what the final product will look like. We must have written 30 tunes this year already.

This will be your first actual album release. How do you expect this to change things?

So hard to tell. There will be a great sense of relief when its finished though! I don't think we have too many expectations right now, we're modest like that I guess. But the feedback from certain people and from RAM Records camp has been great, so a lot of people are very excited about it so far. If we get it right, the skies the limit, but I'm not getting carried away yet!

What is your ultimate goal? Do you feel like you've achieved what you initially set out to accomplish? How has the goal changed?

Well, DnB is so bigger and more global now than before and with that go the expectations. Our goal is to be playing the biggest events possible, getting our music to the most amount of ears. At the core though the principle is always the same. Work hard, make the best sounds that you can, and get out there and entertain as many people as possible Have we achieved our initial goals? If you'd told me when I was 14 and listening to Logical Progression that I would be touring the globe DJing week in and week out, I wouldn't have believed you.

DC Breaks performs this Friday at Ground Zero Nightclub with Cosmo Drum & Bass and Nick Twist, presented by Reload Minneapolis. 10 PM, $10 presale, $15 at the door, 18+

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