Doing interviews is a challenge for DJs. They are often stuck in a room answering the same questions over and over for hours on end. The best DJs bring their personality in the mix which is why Italian DJs seem to be the most fun. Lately though, the Australians are stepping up their game. Sidney born Dave Winnel is rising quickly thanks to his unique sound that blends groovy house with aggressive energy. Tracks like “Old School,” “Don’t Stop” and “Money” get massive play from DJs around the world as well as his remixes of artists like Lost Frequencies, Armin Van Buuren, Clean Bandit and Bastille. It just goes to show you that there is more to Australian dance music than bounce.
RS: You are Australian, but you are the Australian producer who does not make Melbourne bounce music.
Dave Winnel: That’s right, or Flume-step.
RS: So what is your sound like?
Dave Winnel: My sound is groovy beats but aggressive, so it’s almost like house but aggressive house, if that makes sense.
RS: Not like mind numbing, banging house but groovy with energy, so kind of like bouncy house?
Dave Winnel: No, Sydney bounce.
RS: Sydney bounce not Melbourne! Where did the inspiration for “Mosquito” come from?
Dave Winnel: The name of it came later. I actually had this idea laying around on my computer and the lead sounded like a buzzing mosquito. Where I live there are heaps of mosquitoes because of all the trees and this mosquito was inside the studio and I was like hey that reminds me of that lead in the song. I decided that I had to finish the song and so I did and recorded my mate and I saying “mosquito” and I put mosquito sounds in there and that was it. So it was named after the little guy flying around in my studio and it just happened to fit that mosquito vibe in the song.
RS: A moment of magic, kind of like your mix of “Stressed Out,” was it a challenge to work with those vocals?
Dave Winnel: It was. I can’t remember the exact BPM but it was pretty slow, so the first version that I did was double time the vocals and the label said it didn’t sound right. You really have to keep the energy from the original because that’s why it’s so good, because of the groovy nature and how it’s laid back. That’s why the breakdown drops down and kicks back into the house groove. I think that remix is probably my best for a while, I love it and play it in all my sets.
RS: You do a lot of great remixes and I am wondering if it is more challenging to do pop mixes like Clean Bandit or Adam Lambert versus more of the clubby songs by Armin van Buuren or Mike Hawkins?
Dave Winnel: I think they are the same, a remix for me is quite easy because there is a set goal of turning that song into something that will work for my DJ sets and hopefully other DJ sets. I think that it’s a lot easier than an original but I think that a commercial track and a club track is the same for me. The end the goal is the same, which is to work on the dance floor.
RS: Speaking about your club sets, when you are playing out for an hour set how much of it is your music versus other people’s music?
Dave Winnel: If it was an hour set I would say almost 70% would be my own stuff. If it was an hour and a half it would be a lot less, like 50% but I think that it’s cool I can play a lot of my own stuff. They are not all originals but they are my remixes and I think that it’s pretty special that I can play to 800-1000 people and have that reaction to my own music.
RS: We are going to get geeky here, how do you choose what music goes on Axtone versus going on Armada?
Dave Winnel: Axtone is more for my club bangers and Armada is more radio friendly stuff. I need to make some more clubby stuff for Axtone but at the moment I have more radio friendly stuff on Armada. I think it’s cool that Armada gives me the freedom to release on other credible labels like Size and Axtone.
RS: If you had the freedom to make the soundtrack for the next Star Wars movie what would the sound be?
Dave Winnel: I couldn’t change it, that is an impossible task. If you took John Williams away from Star Wars it is not Star Wars, I can’t do it!
RS: Okay then which one of your tracks would fit Star Wars?
Dave Winnel: Probably “The Great Valley,” the one that I did with Denzal Park a few years ago. I love Star Wars, that’s a good question.
RS: Today you are taking over Armada’s twitter, if you could take over the whole twitterverse what is one thing would you change?
Dave Winnel: I would change the bird icon to a dinosaur egg with a little raptor coming out of it.
RS: We all love little animals. If you were a furry which animal would you be?
Dave Winnel: I don’t know why but a beaver is coming to mind. I like beavers, what can I say?
RS: I wonder why! Where did the idea for the scratching their head thing with DJs come from?
Dave Winnel: I have a blog where I post pictures of DJs scratching their heads because I kept seeing press shots of DJs scratching their heads, it’s a thing that we all do. I started saving them randomly if I saw one and thought I would do something with it one day. Eventually I had 20 so I decided to put it into a blog. I’m in there myself, so I am guilty. It’s just something that all DJs do in press shots, I don’t know if it’s trying to look cool or what.
RS: Is that why you wear so many hats?
Dave Winnel: No, it’s because I’m balding.
RS: I am with you there. I saw a picture of your turntable cake, what flavor was the cake?
Dave Winnel: I think it was vanilla, one of the decks was chocolate so maybe that was the higher turn table and the other one was lemon or vanilla.
RS: That sounds delicious. Do you put sugar or salt on your popcorn?
Dave Winnel: Sugar? No way! My salt is called flavacol, it’s the stuff that they use in the cinemas. I did all this research to get the right stuff so I use flavacol and the other secret ingredient is coconut oil.
RS: Really? I am going to steal that from you. If you were hungry, what is your favorite kind of cuisine?
Dave Winnel: Popcorn. But if it's real food it would be pizza. If I was on death row and they asked me what I wanted for my last meal it would be steak, nice thin fries, and sour cream and chives pasta on the side.
RS: Now I am hungry. When they make the movie of your life what actor is going to play you?
Dave Winnel: Brad Pitt, maybe Jude Law.
RS: Brad maybe 25 years ago.
Dave Winnel: No, I think Jerry Seinfeld 20 years ago.
RS: That’s even better, personality is all there. So aside from “Mosquito” what else is coming next from you?
Dave Winnel: I have a single with one of my good mates from Sidney called “Never Meant To Last.” It’s on Armada so it’s got a really nice vocal and it’s more of a chill summer vibe for Australia. We have a cool disco song coming out on Armada as well which is really sweet.
RS: We look forward to it. What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Dave Winnel: If you aren’t in Amsterdam at ADE where the hell are you?
Interview conducted October 2016.