When it comes to filthy trap music, DANI DEAHL is a rising sensation. Hailing from the house music hub of Chicago, she took that foundation in a completely new direction with her signature grimey/twerk style. Not only is her music incredible, but she’s paving the way for female artists in that realm, since she’s the only one in the U.S. to produce this style of music with label backing. Dani has earned immense respect from industry heavyweights like DIPLO and CARNAGE and she has worked with powerhouse labels such as Dim Mak, Monstercat, Armada and Flamingo. As if that recognition weren’t enough, both MTV and Mountain Dew have dubbed her one of the industry’s top female producers (which is no surprise after hearing her music).
Not only is Dani wildly successful in her music career, she’s also a really, really dope girl. Dani’s definitely viewed as a “homie” to several producers and her spunky personality is so evident when she performs. She’s humble and down to earth while still carrying herself in a confident manner, important qualities of any successful artist. Don’t be fooled by her cute Midwestern accent, Dani’s definitely a firecracker and a force to be reckoned with.
At the moment Dani has a lot going on: a huge release called “SMYK” to go along with her massive ‘Show Me Your Kitties’ Tour currently sweeping through the U.S. I was so stoked for the opportunity to catch up with Dani and learn more about her as an artist, as a person, and what’s going on with her career. Check out the interview below.
How did you first get your start in electronic music?
By being a total outcast in school and going to raves. So that was the first time where I really felt like I had people that I could identify with and hang out with. I didn’t have any friends in school - grade school, high school, I was always the loner that had bullies. So yeah, PLUR.
How would you describe your sound to someone who isn’t familiar with your music?
Right now I really love trap and twerk, though when I play I really try to switch it up with a lot of stuff that’s double-time, so stuff that’s influenced by hardstyle. Really I just love very percussive, heavy and unusual percussive sounds and I’ve always been really into that. When tribal house was a big thing I was really into that too and for a while actually I brought jumbo drummers with me to a lot of my shows and they would play with me on top of my sets.
Have you always produced that dirty trap you’re known for?
Nope (laughing). I started out with really housey stuff. Being in Chicago, that’s what you’re surrounded by. So some of the first records I put out were just straight up, very much influenced by Chicago house. I was actually in San Francisco maybe a couple years ago and the promoter took me to a record store because he thought it would be cool and we were crate digging and I actually found one of my old house releases that was on Halo’s label from a couple years ago.
No way! That’s too funny.
Yeah (laughing), so originally it was all house and really just about a year and a half ago, I want to say, I switched over to trap and twerk. For me it’s just a lot more interesting to make, I enjoy the process of making it a lot more.
So you’ve gotten a ton of support from artists like Diplo, VALENTINO KHAN, and Carnage, how does it feel getting support from such big, influential artists?
It’s cool, but it’s even better when it’s a surprise. People like Carnage I’ve met a handful of times and he’s always been really sweet to me, but I didn’t know that he was going to put one of my songs in his podcast. Same with MAKJ, I didn’t know he was going to support and put one of my songs in his podcast. So the surprise element makes it so much better. When you are networked with a lot of other artists, you send your promos out to your friends or maybe you ask for some love on SoundCloud, or things like that but it’s those surprise moments that really hit home. To know that someone did it of their own volition without you asking for anything, that means so much.
So you just dropped “SMYK,” how did that track come about?
I was just randomly working on something, it was really just kind of an instrumental to begin with, and then my tour manager took the instrumental to a studio where a couple rappers were laying down some vocals, and this one guy Rohan Da Great heard it and loved it so much he asked to cut raw vocals right there, on the spot for the song. It was super cool. So Rob runs home with this demo for me and he killed it. I hit him up and we became friends and I had him formally record the vocals for the song.
Wow, that’s really cool.
Yeah definitely! You know, it’s nice when you just never know where a collaboration will come from.
What are your thoughts on the track’s final result?
I dig it. I think Rohan and I might do some more work together. He’s so amped about it, which I love. His energy is just so infectious and he’s going to be coming on tour to some of the stops actually and we’re going to perform the song live. So I think we might work together and try to do another track that’s of a similar vein in the future.
So you just kicked off the tour in LA, how did that show go?
It was slammed. It was crazy. People were telling me that there were people trying to get in that were paying upwards of $70 for tickets. It was crazy. It was kind of an outlier date because the tour is mainly focused on the MidWest, South, and East Coast, but I love LA; and it was a birthday show, and I wanted to see all of my friends that I normally don’t get to see. It was a total squad night and just so much fun.
What are you looking forward to most on the tour, any specific stops?
Yeah, there are a bunch of cities where I’ve developed a lot of friendships with people just because I go back there so often. Minneapolis is always so much fun. There’s a guy there who takes me out to a gun range when I go out there. He’s ex-military so he collects all these historic gun, like he’s got a pistol from Germany from the 1980’s and a Russian rifle from the 1940’s and some super cool stuff. So I’m going to try to go out to the range with him when I’m there, and the crowd in Minneapolis is always super cool. New York is always amazing, I’m going to be at Webster Hall, this is my second time playing there. Orlando I’m really excited about. We have a secret show there, I can’t say what the venue is, but the second Orlando show is going to be with Protohype and 12th Planet so that’s going to get ratchet real fast (laughing). But it’s cool because when touring you can make friends from all over the country and it’s cool to think I can travel to pretty much any city and have a couch to crash on.
Yeah, definitely. I understand you love to travel a lot in general, what’s the craziest place you’ve ever been?
I was in China last year and it was interesting because it was a side trip, I wasn’t playing. China has these centers where there’s tons of construction, these cities are like built over night, but then as soon as you go outside the city limits, there’s nothing. So we were driving to this city and it’s just dust and quarries everywhere, there’s just nothing around, and all of a sudden -- boom, we’re in this city and staying in this crazy 5 star hotel that was probably about the size of our house, the room we were staying in, for about the equivalent of 50 US dollars. Cambodia was pretty crazy too… I really just like being in the thick of things. I don’t see the point of going somewhere different from what you know and then just staying in a hotel. I’m always the type of person where if someone asks if I want to go do something, I’m like ‘yeah let’s do it!’
What’s your ultimate dream venue or festival?
Ultra. They’re iconic. Especially with Ultra, I’ve just watched it grow. I’ve gone to it for so many years, and to see where it came from to where it is now is just a beautiful thing and I would just love to be apart of that one day.
So I heard you once were arrested in Mexico? Can you elaborate on that?
Yeah… (laughing). I was down in Cancun to play a gig there and I brought some friends with me. Me and my two friends were staying at a Club Med and having the awesome, cheesy Cancun time with foam parties, and whatever. So I wanted to go see the ruins in Tulum and I asked the promoter if he knew of anyone who could take us out there. So he gets his friend to drive us, and his friend sort of speaks English but not really, and he’s with this other dude who doesn’t speak English at all. And we’re heading out and we’re on the highway and the federalies pull us over and they want to search the car. They say that we were speeding so I’m not really sure why they wanted to search the car, but regardless, the guy pops the trunk open and there’s a stack of fliers with my face all over them. So they start asking about it and the dude flips out because he’s getting so nervous and he’s like ‘you can’t do anything, she’s gotta be at the club tonight’ and we’re all like ‘shut up, shut up!” So the cops go to the front, they “search the car” (makes air quotes) and they happen to find drugs in the front which didn’t belong to anyone. So they wanted $1,000 per person on the spot to let us go. Of course we don’t have that, so they split us up, one cop drove the guy’s car back and me and my two friends got in the back of the cop car. They didn’t tell us where we were going but I knew enough Spanish to have a conversation with somebody, so I was asking them where we were going and what’s the location of the police station, and not a word from him. So we got to the police station and they leave us in the back of the car with all the doors locked and they had these German shepherds guarding the car to make sure we didn’t get out. They talk to the promoter and the promoter has to come down to the police station and bargain with the chief of police to let us go, and wound up paying him $500 cash and promised him half the money from the door at the club that night.
No way, that’s insane. It’s crazy to think how twisted things are down there.
Right? I know it’s one of those things you hear about but you never think it’ll happen to you.
So I also heard you got married in a record store which I think is so cool! Can you tell me a bit about that?
So there’s a store in Chicago called Gramophone Records it’s pretty famous, it’s a pretty historic record store and for my first date with my now husband, I told him i wanted t o go to the record store because it was Record Store Day and I always go and try to buy a couple things. So we brought cupcakes for the staff and hung out with them. So we just thought it would be fitting to have our wedding in the place where we had our first date. I walked down the aisle to a house song and instead of doing a unity symbol at the altar we poured shots of Jameson into each other’s mouths.
That’s so awesome, that sounds like the coolest wedding I’ve ever heard. Is your husband super supportive of your career?
Oh yeah, absolutely. You have to be. It’s a different dynamic from most relationships. As an example, we have a rule, so obviously there are a lot of late nights for both me and him, so we have a rule that if one person comes home past 7 AM to send the other person a text so that we’re not worried. That’s not really like a normal thing for married couples (laughing). But yeah, you have to be. He runs a party called ‘Porn and Chicken’ every week. So yeah, trust is at the center of it all, which it is with every relationship, it just sort of shows it’s face a little differently and more obviously in what we do.
If you could collaborate with any rapper who would you choose?
That’s a tough one… I’ll say I’ve had artistic crushes on other producers more than on rappers. Like I’ve always said that the people I would die to work with would be Salva or Valentino Khan. I look up to Salva so much and Valentino Khan is a homie and he knows I have such a crush on his production techniques. I’m always like ‘how do you get it so loud?!’ But yeah, I would die to be in the studio with either of those two.
If you could only listen to hardstyle or dubstep for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Jesus girl, why you gotta do that? (laughing). I guess I would have to say dubstep because I feel like the BPM for hardstyle would eventually just drive me insane after a bit.
Can you tell me about when you were on Ted Talks?
So I got the notification for it probably ten days beforehand and I didn’t really think much about it. I was like ‘oh yeah, I’ll do a speech, wow cool opportunity bro,’ but I didn’t really consider the fact that I had to write an 18 minute speech and completely memorize it and perform it in front of an audience. It became really scary too because if you’re asked to do a Ted Talk that means people view you as an authority on that subject so I over researched everything because I just felt the responsibility to present things in the best way possible from a point of knowledge that other people don’t have. It was scary as shit. I was terrified. I finished and I didn’t even remember saying a single word. I even took anti-anxiety drugs beforehand because my heart was going so fast and my hands were just cold as eyes and sweating, ugh it was so nerve wracking. But I’m really glad I did it.
It was awesome sitting down with Dani Deahl. She’s an extremely driven, motivated artist who is determined to reach the top without compromising who she is. She clearly has had some crazy stories which I’m sure have shaped the person she is and the style of music she produces. Dani is definitely one to watch in the trap game and we can expect nothing but big things for her future.