British DJ, producer and broadcaster Danny Rampling started out on the UK’s rave scene, and has since gone on to play sets around the world over almost 30 years. A frequent visitor to Dubai, 49-year-old Rampling plays the launch of locally-based dance label Raisani Records’s third label, Ultra Raisani, at Sanctuary on March 31. We talk to the DJ about returning to the decks, his new book and why large dogs are not welcome at his gigs.
Back in 2006 you left DJing, what made you decide to come back?
I missed it so much. At the time, I needed to step away, but after a year of being off the road, I felt like a fish out of water. In the lead-up to my exit things had become very ordinary. I felt that I’d achieved as much as I needed to. But there’s never enough you can achieve, it’s an ongoing process, so I’m back doing what I love. Stick to what you love in life.
You’ve launched a book Everything You Need to Know About DJing & Success – what made you decide to write it?
I think it’s important to pass on your knowledge and experience if you can. I was learning more about marketing online, and I went along to a course where they were talking about e-books. My co-authors were there and we instantly decided to write a book about our passion: DJing and music.
How has it impacted your life?
To spend three years on something and then become a published author with your own book, which is inspiring a lot of other people, is so fulfilling. I’ve been touring colleges and universities around the UK and meeting so much new talent with so much enthusiasm, drive and passion for music. It’s really refreshing.
Have you spotted any ‘ones to watch’ recently?
Matt Playford. This is going to be a good year for him, as a DJ and a live act. He’s a great producer, and a resident at We Love Sunday at Space. He’s got great things coming this year in terms of productions and albums. You’ll be hearing a lot about him.
What’s been your best gig so far?
I would say when I finally became professional, after years of struggling to become a DJ. It was a feeling of supreme happiness. Another would definitely be the Millennium Eve at an open-air party in Cape Town at the River Club. I was with Radio 1 at the time, it was a big night worldwide and there were 30,000 people at that event, so I think that is definitely one of the most memorable.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever received at a gig?
There was a very rough-looking lady at a rave one night who said ‘Can I leave my dog there?’ and it was the most vicious-looking Alsatian, and it was showing its teeth to me through my entire set. It was quite an unsettling experience, I have to say. She thought it was pretty funny, but I’m not particularly comfortable around big dogs at the best of times, so I left immediately after that!
You’ve been to Dubai a number of times, what do you make of it?
I think in terms of the entertainment on offer it’s one of the leading places in the world. The clubs are high spec and modern, but it’s also great to play on the beach. I recently played at Barasti Beach and had an impromptu live performance with Sister Sledge – I didn’t even know it was them! And I thought ‘Who are these people on the stage? They dance well.’ It was only afterwards that someone told me.
You’re here to play the Ultra Raisani launch, are you planning productions with the label?
This is my first date with them, so who knows at this stage? I’ve been in the studio recently working on ideas, but I think [Raisani owner Haneef Al Raisi] and I will connect properly on this next visit and take it from there. I’m looking forward to playing the club though, it’ll be a fun night. I know they have a good reputation locally, which is always important.
Danny Rampling plays a headline set at the Ultra Raisani label launch at Sanctuary on March 31.