New Mix and Music chat - Dane MacDonald
by Herb Essntls
A year ago
We are excited to introduce this week’s musical host, Dane MacDonald @iamdanemacdonald, a Canadian DJ and record collector.
Our Musical and Spiritual leader Tim Overill sat down to talk about his journey to becoming a DJ, the therapeutic effects of music, as well as pursuing new creative outlets.
Thank you so much for hosting this week, Dane! What a fantastic mix! Tell us a little bit about your inspiration putting it together.
Hey Tim! Thanks for having me, this was a fun one to play with. I recently moved to Vancouver, Canada and this is the first time in four years that I’ve had all my records in one place - so the inspiration really came from the urge to go through them all again. It was a journey of rediscovering and even finding some overlooked tunes, stuff that slipped through the cracks. Immensely fun.
I’ve also been biking a lot these days, so I was looking to create something to soundtrack my rainy day rides on the seawall here.
When we were corresponding about timings for the mix, you mentioned to me ‘the longer I have the better, as the new records come in…’, the sign of a true vinyl junkie, ha ha. What spurs you on to continue the hunt for records?
I really just love them, ha.
I ran a shop in my hometown of Edmonton for eleven years and have been collecting since I was fifteen years old, so I’m unsure I’d even be able to stop - it’s quite engrained in me. The pursuit of something new, the joy of finding a long lost treasure; there’s knowledge in them and I’m eager to learn.
It’s a joy to just sit down and put a record on at home, it’s also something I’m sort of rediscovering at the moment. I get to listen to more albums from start to finish now and have more of an appreciation for them. Each one has a story and a memory attached to it whether it be at a party, in a shop or just at home slow dancing with my love. The records create more than just a vibration of sound, but a vibration of life too.
I love how accessible the World Wide Web has made music but having something to hold in your hands and explore, more than just with your ears, adds to the experience for me.
You recently returned from a time living in Berlin, how does it feel to be back on home shores?
It feels great, Tim. Being close to family and having the Rocky Mountains and the ocean at my back door is a wonderful feeling.
I loved my time in Berlin, made some dear friends and got to explore the world while on the road which was super rewarding and it taught me a lot about myself. I learned I had a deeper connection to nature, to my family and my way of life here in Canada. Music is a lifelong pursuit for me, and I came to the conclusion that coming back home would encourage more of an honest journey in that realm.
I came home to reconnect and start building a future for myself in my favourite place, which I’ve managed to now currently reside! So it’s been a wildly positive feeling - happy to be back.
One of the key questions we’ve asked hosts during this series, concerns the link between music and mental health, the therapeutic aspects of listening, dancing, collectivism. How important is this to you as a listener, and as a DJ?
Big one! It’s also something that I’ve had to relearn and rearrange so to speak. I’ve definitely learnt that the social aspect and collectivism that comes from dancing in communal settings is much more important to me than I originally thought. That togetherness and energy is irreplaceable, really, it’s joyful, expressive and ancient in origin. It’s something I know most humans are craving during a time like this, we’re all missing it. Thankfully, parties are just one example of music’s healing power. It can be so many important things: an escape to solitude, an affirmation of solidarity, an avenue to convey emotions, high and low, and even absolute freedom in the movement of dancing at home. It’s absolutely therapeutic to me and I presume to most as listeners and dancers.
As a DJ, I’m just extremely grateful to have had the opportunities to share music with people and I look forward to the future when we can dance together again. =)
Has the pandemic imposed isolation affected your relationship with music? What creative outlets have you found to utilize this rare, extended period of introspection?
It certainly has affected my relationship with music; I’ve been in the studio more than ever, especially in the earlier months, and also honing in on the projects I feel most passionate about pursuing and creating. I guess it’s sort of widened my perspective of what I’m capable of and I’ve been using this time to create a more meaningful and intentional relationship with music.
I’ve also been exploring the visual realm of things, photography and videography, looking to bridge them with my music in some way, I’m excited for the challenge.
As evidenced by this mix, you’re drawn to eclecticism in your approach to putting together records, or programming a night. What joins the dots between these disparate styles? How do you traverse moods, or fit the arc of a night?
It’s all contextual for me, I think. It’s very evident that time isn’t real in a party setting, whereas in a mix like this you have to pay a bit more attention to the timing of things. I think traversing moods over the arc of the night is about building tension and releasing energy, while keeping a nice balance of progression. It’s all dependant on the energy of the room and people in it; things can change quite quickly, of course, and some musical dramatics here and there are fun, but the flow always finds itself in a way.
With a mix, it’s a bit more of a focused ordeal and you have a window of time directly with the listener and yourself. So, I find a lot of fun in bouncing around and keeping it entertaining, while building at a nice pace. What joins all the dots is that I simply just enjoy the journey and hear continuity within it, and hope others will too.
Besides music, If you could pick one other artwork, be it book, painting, film etc - what would you choose that best represents your vision, or somehow informs what you are trying to achieve in your musical endeavors.
I believe, for myself, it’s not necessarily one specific piece or a particular set of words that informs or represents my endeavours. Personally, I am just trying to be as honest as possible with my creativity and allow myself to flow through what I’m putting out into the world. I’m always inspired by something - be it a book, a song or a sunset - and I think that sort of inspiration is omnipresent within us all. Really I’m just looking to find beauty and enjoyment in life and what I do. Love often leads the way and that’s what I’ve found works best for me.
For example, I’m currently getting some Super 8 film developed that my partner and I shot over a trip we took a few months ago, driving across the west of Canada. The intention was to shoot some of this film and start writing music to accompany it. Creating my own audio/visual experience is something I’ve always wanted to do, and scoring has always been of huge interest to me, so this just felt like a great time to begin.
Finally, our favorite question to ask our guests. Once the world opens up and things go back to normal, what would be your ideal party to host? Who’d play? What setting?
Normal, ha. What a word!
That’s a whole other conversation, but whenever we’re able to congregate again, honestly, nothing extravagant. I’m just looking forward to dance with my friends again.
Ideally, I’d just want it to be within walking distance of my home, in a space decorated with colour and intention, and filled with friends and loved ones. To share music joined by a couple of local co-conspirators, that sounds lovely to me.