An Interview With Canadian Electronic Music Duo, Average Gypsy
Known collectively as Average Gypsy, these DJs/producers are partners in music and in life. Dani and Josh create infectious, energetic electronic music influenced by hip hop and house music. I talked to Dani about how they got together, the music that they create, and where they’re going in the future.
Interview With Dani of Average Gypsy
Karl Magi: Tell me about how Average Gypsy came to be?
Dani: It started with Josh (my partner). He’s been DJing since 2001, so he’s been in the scene for a really long time. He started out going to raves and then he started promoting events himself. He’s pretty well known in Vancouver for being a hip hop promoter. He had his own production company here. He put on a lot of hip hop shows back in the day, so our music is heavily influenced by hip hop today. He was part of a couple of other DJ groups before he and I collaborated.
Josh and I met at Coachella back in 2012 and became great friends. I always wanted to DJ myself but I was very busy with sports and school, so I never really felt I had the time for it. I come from a very musical family, so music was always a big part of my life. My dad used to have turntables and he used to cut mixes on cassette of course. He plays the accordion, the guitar and the harmonica. I used play the saxophone myself, and was always into the music scene- going to festivals and shows and always listening to music.
When I met Josh, we had this common interest in music and I told him that I really wanted to DJ. He said, “Why don’t you? Why not in this lifetime?” I had this moment where I said, “You know, you’re right! Why don’t I do it this lifetime?” Josh ended up teaching me how to DJ and we became romantically involved. At the time, his DJ name was Average Citizen and he dubbed me Neon Gypsy. We started out having solo careers but when he was DJing, sometimes he’d let me come and drop a couple tracks. Eventually we just decided to form our own duo, so we merged our two DJ names together to create Average Gypsy.
KM: How do you approach the music that you make?
D: Our approach to making music is always evolving. We’re really green when it comes to producing, so we’re still learning. We make continuously learning a really big priority, but in terms of a specific approach I’m not sure that we have that quite solidified yet. We usually start with a concept or idea of how we want a song to sound- could be a melody or a bassline or a sample. We usually lay down the drums first, but it really depends on the track.
We’re always asking our friends for feedback. We have tons of really great producer friends in Vancouver and abroad. We’re always sending our tracks off to them, asking for feedback and getting them to help us, especially with the engineering side of production. The biggest thing for us is just putting the time in. Every single day we sit down to work on music and every single day we learn more.
KM: What are your musical influences?
D: We both grew up listening to hip hop, so we’re always listening to the new stuff that’s coming out. We’re also obsessed with house music and we listen to all things house music. We’re into the more bass-heavy house music, but we listen to every single kind of house music. One of our big influences is the Night Bass crew: AC Slater, Phlegmatic Dogs, and Wax Motif to name a few. There are tons of other producers, such as Chris Lorenzo and ILL PHIL and different record labels like Dirtybird or This Aint Bristol that we follow and take influences from as well.
KM: What are your impressions of the music scene on Canada’s west coast?
D: The scene is healthy and growing. There is no shortage of talented musicians. I’m always amazed at how many producers, DJ’s and vocalists there are out there. One thing that I really love about the festival scene on the west coast is the beautiful community vibe. For a lot of people who are throwing festivals, myself included, it’s a labour of love; you can really see the passion and energy that people put into the festivals. The scene is also really forward-thinking. in terms of environmental sustainability, consent and responsible drug consumption. The scene is really transformational.
We have recently co-founded a new festival called Rise & Shine FamJam Fundraiser which is held in Pemberton B.C. on June 2nd and 3rd. It’s a passion project for us, we donate 100% of the proceeds to the Rise & Shine Captain Camps. These camps empower youth athletes to pursue their passions and develop a well rounded skill-set with curriculum specifically built around creating a balance of elite sport training and all-encompassing life skills.
This really comes full circle for me, from being an athlete myself to now working with elite level athletes as a mental performance consultant. Isee way too many young kids leading very unbalanced lives because they are dedicating themselves to their sport. This is great at one level, but less than two percent of them will actually make a career out of it, so they find themselves lost and lacking many essential life skills. The camps are amazing, they bring in all sorts of professionals and teach kids about leadership, communication, nutrition, business- they even bring in DJ’s and show these kids there are other life passions worth pursuing.
KM: Talk about some of the challenges that you face in your musical career.
D: Our biggest challenge right now is time. Josh and I both have full time jobs on the side. I actually just finished my master’s degree in sport psychology, so we’re very busy people. We still wake up every morning and either produce music or DJ. When we get home from our jobs, we’re back in the studio or DJing. One of our biggest goals right now is to pump out as much music as we can and get as much experience as we can. We want to step up to the next level and start making music full-time.
Another challenge for us is producing. We just released our first EP called On Yo Block! on Sheppard Records and it did really well- went #1 on future house releases on Beatport. It just takes us a long time to produce tracks. We’re releasing a new track on March 6th called I Wish. We’ve been working on it for a really long time and we’re really happy with how it turned out, but it’s a slow process. The vocals on I Wish are done by our neighbour, Michael LeBlanc who used to write and sing for the pop band Soul Decision, his voice is amazing! There’s no shortcuts to excellence. It does take dedication and putting in those hours, but sometimes the problem is finding those hours.
KM: What are your plans for the future of Average Gypsy?
D: We’re currently working on producing our very first album, which will be out next fall. It’s the story of Average Gypsy. It’s a seven track album and each track is about pivotal moments in our lives together. As I said, moving forward, we’re really working towards making music full time. We just want to travel the world and create and perform music.
KM: How do you keep your creative batteries recharged?
D: I don’t think that we’ve ever had a problem with creativity. The two of us together have this endless reservoir of creativity, but we do listen to music to fuel our creativity. Music is one of the best ways to elicit emotion and get the creative juices flowing. We love to go to shows and festivals to listen to other people’s music too.
One thing that keeps us creative and motivated is the planning that we do. Every single Sunday, we sit down and do goal setting. We set tasks out for ourselves for the week and we check in the following Sunday. Every time we do that we come up with some new idea. For example, the last time we did that, we came up with a new concept for a track.
We also have a vision board- or rather, a vision wall in our bedroom that has images of all the festivals/venues we want to play and all the musicians and labels that have inspired us as well as our goals and a map of the places we’ve played and places we plan to play all around the world. It’s the last thing we see before bed and the first thing we see every morning. It’s super motivating, especially when we get to see our visions come into fruition!