Interview: David Penn
Looking back at a career of 20 years
David Penn was selected as the number one artist of the Traxsource Top 100 artists of 2017. He surely is an icon the Spanish electronic Music scene. And to us, his fame reaches far beyond the Spanish borders. With over 20 years of experience in the music industry, not less than 200 productions and hits like Kadoc ‘The Nightrain’, Deux ‘Sun Rising Up’, ‘Fight Again’ and the massive remix of Candi Staton’s “Hallelujah Anyway”, it is needless to say we are talking about a veteran.
With many nominations in various magazines and winning the Spanish Vicious Music Awards 3 times in a row, we are glad David Penn took some time for an interview with us.
Congratulations on being selected as the number 1 artist of the Traxsource Top 100 artists of 2017. Hence, you are also called the number 1 house artist on the sales platform! How does that make you feel?
Its great to be honest, I am in the business for many years and sometimes its difficult that your music is understood. I do by all by myself so the inspiration its not always there and this recognition it gives me more self-confidence in what I am doing.
How did you consume 2017? What are some of your highlights, besides being named the top artist on Traxsource?
I am very surprised as I didn’t expect this, I had 4 number one tracks listed on Traxsource in the same year. I thought that I could have a good position but not the first! I feel that house music is finally back again because it has been many years EDM, later the techno scene and I didn’t want to change my essence. Many DJs changed and now they want to be back on house which is not credible I think.
2017 has shown that I need to continue my path, creating music with joy, adding some organic instruments and more harmonies, not just beats and basslines. It was also a great year for touring as I’ve been in Argentina, Macedonia, Greece, Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria, Argelia, Austria, Germany, Montenegro, Lithuania, Ukraine, France, Maroc, Egypt, Japan, Qatar…
I feel that house music is finally back again.
You had quite some releases that did very well on the charts. What’s coming next? Any new release up your sleeve?
I am going to release a collab with ROOG on my label Urbana Recordings and I have another track with ATFC ready to be released in February on Armada Subject. Also, I have many remix requests and I am working on collabs with KPD, The Cube Guys, Rober Gaez, René Amesz, and some more with ATFC as we know each other from many years and I feel we work very well together with our new releases.
You have been travelling all over the world last year. Will 2018 take you to as many places?
I think it’s going to be better than 2017 as the year started with gigs in Argentina, Russia, Qatar, Riga, Spain to name a few.
Any place, in particular, you’d love to play this year?
I love to play in Argentina as the people love to dance over there. And the response of the audience is always very good. I want to go back to Japan as it’s a country that I love so much. It’s not going to stop as we are planning a tour in Australia as well. But I would love to discover other countries like China, India, South Africa, Singapore …
An amazing 20 years in the industry already. You are quite an icon. How do you manage to stay fresh as ever? What’s your secret to your success?
I think it’s because of the continuous work in the studio. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what to do, you can have personal problems or things that prevent you to connect with the actual mood, but my secret is not to stop producing because at the end you will do something that connects with the audience. And I feel that nowadays many DJs are getting more attention than me, as let’s say maybe 2 or 3 years ago.
What is the biggest and most interesting change you have seen over the years?
Well, when I started in the music industry we were pressing vinyl and sending them to the distributors. But now you have to know about social media, photography, new software, … It’s a lot of extra work these days and less profit. But this is what I like to do and I´ll be doing this the rest of my life (I guess). Also, new technology helps a lot to make music but it’s also more difficult to stand out.
What skills/personal attributes are most important to being successful?
To find your personal sound which is not easy, it takes a lot of time working in the studio. And when you find it, please try not do the same formula again and again because you can burn your own sound.
Do you feel there was a “breakthrough” point after which suddenly things changed for the better and brought you, as David Penn, to where you are now? If so, what was it and why do you think it happened?
Of course. Until 2011 I was gettin success with my sound and suddenly there was a lot of EDM and techno and it felt like: “You have to choose one of these styles”. But I didn’t want to change, I like house music. Yes, you need to evolve but surely not lose the essence of your own music. It was a difficult time for my me. Music genres come in cycles, I know. A good thing, house music is gaining respect again.
Sometimes, during performances, people asked me to play radio hits. Can you imagine? I always asked: “Does it make sense that I am going to play the same music you have on your phone?”.
What are your fondest musical memories?
I’d like to thank my parents for supporting me at all times. I could play music at home, they gave me the opportunity to study piano when I was 9 years old. I always remember my early years when producing music and when I was doing my first vinyl selling or like 1.000 or 2.000 copies. And from one day to other we were touring around the work with Kadoc “The Night Train” in 1995 which was really a big hit.
In 1999 I started to produce as David Penn. That was a new start again. It’s not easy but if you really believe in what you are doing you will find your place.
With the musical background you are carrying, what advise do you have for young talents out there?
Try to differentiate yourself from the rest.