David Harness’ role over the last twenty years of Bay Area house music can’t be over-appreciated. Simply put, David connects with the dance-floor. His DJ sets and production radiate soul.
Over the years, he’s held countless residencies, including Club Universe, The End-up and Club Mighty. You can find him on any number of bills alongside the biggest names in house and techno.
In preparation for the upcoming As You Like It presents Basics w/ Prosumer, Nov. 29, David answered ten questions from AYLI resident Sassmouth, who is also on the Basics’ bill.
We’re excited and honored to have David make his As You Like It debut.
I feel like everyone has that one party, or club that got them ‘hooked’ into this music and culture. Is there a place like that for you and could you describe it?
Wow, what a great question. There are so many clubs and milestones for me to include in this answer that I think I would take about a chapter or two to really give you the answer you may be looking for. As far as clubs that really planted an impact on my career and launched me would be Club Universe at Club Townsend back in the 90’s to early 2002. It was the largest Saturday night after-hours gay party. Each week it would be themed from candyland to Hell. There would be close to a 1,000 people and I would be playing alongside some of the Legends of dance music like, Frankie knuckles, Louie Vega, Danny Tenaglia, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry and more.
This is your first time playing for an As You Like It event. What sort of sounds and styles can people look forward to hearing?
This will be my first time playing so of course I am always nervous and excited all at the same time. As far as my sound, I go with the flow of the audience while being myself. I think bang it out but continue to show that soulful element of deep, tech, classic, and groove that I love.
You’ve been involved in the dance music scene in San Francisco for a long time- what things make it special and unique compared to other places you’ve played? And what makes it more challenging?
It’s all about the audience and the DJ’s who represent their sound. Bringing those elements together I think will make it a challenge and a good time for all which I am always up for the task. It’s a way to introduce your technique to an audience and or DJ on how you get down.
In a city with a long history of segregation (north side versus south side, gay clubs versus straight clubs) I’ve noticed a positive shift in the mix of young people at parties here in Chicago, especially with more and more events creating a vibe that is gay/straight/whatever. San Francisco has always appeared pretty open-minded- have you noticed any changes or shifts in the dance music scene since you first got involved?
It is always changing and that can sometimes be positive and negative. San Francisco has always had that open vibe when it come to underground clubs. For me it can sometimes challenging because I play for so many different audiences. I always want my music for everyone whether black, white, gay, or straight. If at times one scene is more evident that the other I know how to compromise musically.
I really appreciate your thoughts on the importance of ‘the weekly’, especially in this day and age when the emphasis in clubs and with promoters is to bring in touring acts. Can you describe some of the benefits to the DJ and the dancers at events like this?
Where ever I am booked to play a set, my goal is to always make someone at the event dance. I think that is what a true DJ is suppose to do. The best benefit about is the reaction from the crowd being moved and expressing themselves to your vibe whether it be shouting, dancing or twirling, or however one let’s themselves go……
A few years ago I was traveling with my daughter to Chile for a few gigs and I could only pack about 20 records with me (diapers take up a lot of space!) and it was an interesting process paring down to that chosen few. What are a some of your ‘must haves’ that never leave your bag?
OMG! I always incorporate the essentials a good vocal or 2, a banging track, a couple house classics, and I could never forget some oldschool or disco. Now I haven’t traveled with vinyl in a number of years. Love my flashdrives!!!
I think its kind of cool that the DJs at the party represent Berlin, San Francisco, Detroit, and Chicago. Do any of those cities have any special meaning music-wise or experience-wise for you?
Never been to Berlin or Detroit but both cities have their stamps on the techno music scene hands down. Chicago, I love the windy city. The people are amazing and it’s the birth place of House ( Frankie knuckles -“The Warehouse”). Living in San Francisco for 20 years, this cities music scene is epic. You learn about the history of Disco in SF and now the dance music coming from here, it’s amazing!!!!
Are you working on any projects that you’re excited about for 2014?
I have been busy with quite a few remixes as of late. I am looking forward to my next set of remixes for my label Moulton Music in early 2014. I am also working on some music for DJ Spen of Quantize Music, Booker T out in the UK, and Ian Friday for Global Soul.
I’ve recently started my own record label and its definitely a DIY, learning by doing experience! I’m curious if you have any advice for me, or anything you learned the hard way that might be helpful.
I am still learning myself. I have had the most amazing pleasure to have a music partner Chris Lum (Harlum Muziq/Moulton Music) who has helped me in so many ways and continues to this day. Watching him for so many years and doing my best to be involved in everything we worked on has given me the confidence to do quite a few things on my very own. I have small studio here at my house to things at any moment of the day. My advise to you is to create whatever your heart desires and with your DJ background test your sounds out on your audience. It’s a great way to change things that you may not catch when you are in the studio. I hope that helps!!!
And for some of the out of town party people attending on the 29th- any must-see places that are are off the beaten tourist path that you enjoying taking friends visiting the Bay Area?
There are so many places. I have been really enjoying nature so I recommend Muir woods and check out our California Redwood Trees, breathtaking!!!
Thank you David! Looking forward hearing you at the party.