Behind The Beat: Dance Spirit
The production duo of Christopher Mohn and Reagan Denius revolutionized themselves into Dance Spirit, a philosophy based on attaining subconscious harmony through rhythm, timbre, melody, and movement. They combine Reagan’s formal music and computer programming training with Chris’s burning passion for dance music and DJing to create a duo of true synergy.
Dance Spirit presents a more refined sound that creates and conveys beautiful emotions utilizing music as their universal language. Their love of heavy layering and deep rolling low ends produce an addictive futuristic minimal techno vibe in their productions and live sets.
We checked out Dance Spirit’s set at a recent Disco Dive at the Standard Downtown LA rooftop. The set was mind-blowingly beautiful, and we highly recommend trying to catch them this summer. Disco Dive has some fantastic summer bookings for those in Los Angeles, including their 7 year anniversary this weekend.
Here we chat with the duo on topics ranging from musical elitism to touring advice.
Only The Beat: In a previous interview, you expressed a difficulty in classifying the genre of the music you produce, which I find across the industry. Explaining to someone they type of music you like has become challenging – you mentioned future or space house as a possibly category. Melodic house, shaman house, playa tech, and tech house have also been used to classify similar sounds. Why do you think its so hard for us to do so?
Chris: Well we tend to think of dance music like the blues. There are so many blues musicians and everyone plays it their own way, which makes it unique and individual to the medium which in this case is dance music. I was actually talking with someone who works in the pop music side of things and he told me that someone in the office broke down EDM genres and there are a total of 179 sub genres of dance music out there.
Dance music is a very fashionable, and for some profitable commodity so if someone comes out with a new style or way of making dance music it is easy to label it something so people know what you are referring to, and so artists can sell it. It’s one of those things if you ask 10 different people you get 10 different answers. For us there always has to be something beautiful and mysterious about our productions for us to be pleased with the final results, at the end of the day a good song is a good song no matter what the marketing guru’s or media types want to do with it.
Reagan: But, if you’re looking for an easy way to sum it up, we write hyperspace music: multidimensional music to reach you in all dimensions of your existence and non-existence.
OTB: You’ve connected with both long-time DJs/producers like David Scuba and Mr. C, and newer artists making their name in the scene like Jon Charnis (LA) and Spacebyrdz (Las Vegas). What are the differences you’ve noticed when working with artists with a longer history versus those who are up-and-coming?
Dance Spirit: The only difference really is professional experience behind the decks or in the studio. If it weren’t for Mr C letting us engineer some tracks for him a few years ago, Dance Spirit would not have progressed as fast as it did musically. Mr C also has a huge following that he could plug us into and give us good exposure. The veterans carry a torch that they can share and pass on to us up-and-comers. At the end of the day all of us, new or old, come from the same place and state of mind, and we all love quality dance music. Working with someone like Charnis is great because he has really good ideas and insights into production and the scene so we have learned a lot from him as well.
Nothing in the music is cheesy or obvious, and all of those guys know their audience, and what their listeners like to listen to, so as long as that is catered too the party will keep going, and we can keep contributing to the culture and learning from our peers.
OTB: Speaking of Mr. C, he made some news earlier this year expressing his distaste for “shamanic house” or “man trance”, which your music could be classified as. He makes a point in the rant that the style of music is elitist – do you think we’ve created an exclusionary environment?
Chris: I have experienced snobbery and elitism on multiple levels in the scene, especially in the jet-setter destination settings, and that feeling of someone thinking they are better than you, or the feeling of being excluded is very tough on the ego and emotions, especially when you are passionate about the scene and the music. Richard has been around since the beginning and he has seen artists, DJs, and trends come and go like water. I believe he has earned the status and respect of his peers to make such statements, however I do not wish to dwell too much on this because it is really just gossip and nit picking, and at the end of the day isn’t very positive or motivating to indulge in this aspect of the scene.
Reagan: Quality is always the end-game for us. There’s many artists making great music in this genre, and they’ve fostered their own cultures around it respectively. While some of it might not be for us, it does resonate with many people. As with all trends, there’s the good and the bad, so take the good and don’t indulge in the bad! I for one enjoy a set that tells a story through multiple styles and genres of quality music, right for the place and time or story you’re working to tell, so sometimes these songs find the right place in a set. At the same time I do tend to get bored of sets that are strictly all one way or the other with no ups and downs… though sometimes it feels really great to just bang it out!
OTB: Not every event is sunshine and rainbows- which gig was the most disappointing or the biggest lesson learned?
Chris: That is a great question and somewhat hard to answer because the touring lifestyle is an insane one to lead and not sure how many people are cut out for it and we have had so many experiences we have learned from. I know for me the best thing I can do no matter the circumstances is show up and play the best that I can for that gig, and whether there are five people or 5,000, I don’t ever want anyone walking away from a set of ours feeling like they didn’t have a good time or enjoy the music. On the other side of things I have learned moderation and choosing your party battles, not traveling with items you don’t want to lose, and trying your best not to lose your headphones are the basic essentials for touring DJs.
OTB: Tell us what you have coming up in the next few months.
Dance Spirit: Well we have a lot going on. A vinyl only release on Akbal Music and another for Tale & Tone (a new label by Lee Burridge & Hoj); EPs for Flying Circus, Rebellion, and a few other releases we are working on. We have really been pushing ourselves in the studio and experimenting with a “bigger” sound and also incorporating more melodies and vocals into the music to see where the creativity takes us. We have been playing a lot of the new stuff at our recent gigs and its working very well and people have been telling us that its the best sets they have heard from us so we are happy that the dance floor is receptive to our results thus far.
We are also gigging a lot this summer and going to places like Seattle and St. Louis for the first time. Working to line gigs up in Europe at the end of September so we will see what happens there. Also, getting prepped for our second Burning Man!
Disco Dive’s 7 Year Anniversary Party will be held at the Liquid Frequencies pool on the West side of LA, with YokoO, Anton Tumas, and Benjamin K.
Connect with Dance Spirit
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