Danni Skerritt, who releases music under the alias, Dirty Freud, works as an Electronic Music Production tutor here at Spirit Studios.
Signed to Ninja Tune, sharing the label with the likes of Bicep, Bonobo and Peggy Gou, Danni Skerritt is currently rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Busy working on tracks with grime MC, Jammer and Paigey Cakey, we caught up with Danni Skerritt to hear about his time in the industry, so far.
So Danni, am I right in thinking music wasn’t something you’d always planned on getting into?
Yeah, that’s right. When I first started out, I did a playwriting internship with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and from there became an artist-in-residence at Contact Theatre in Manchester. During my time, I had a couple of plays put on at Contact Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre.
I would definitely say playwriting has influenced my song writing. I’ve always been massively into writing, but there was always a musicality to my scripts.
And, so, how did you end up exploring the electronic music side of things?
That’s a very good question.
When I first started out, I used to make music for fun and regularly went to a networking event in Preston, Beats of Rage, where I met Bondax, Mr Scruff and DJ Yoda. And, seeing the sort of things these people were up to really got me into electronic music.
Fast forward a few years and you’re now signed to Ninja Tune, sharing the label with Bonobo, Bicep, Helena Hauff & Peggy Gou, to name just a few. Tell us, how did you get onto on the label?
Firstly, Ninja Tune rejected me around 25 times. However, I’ve always been determined to end up on Ninja Tune, so I kept on pushing. One day, I met the founder, John Moore – one half of Cold Cut –played some of my music to him and was offered an Artist Development deal.
I’m 1 of 10 artists currently on the Artist Development deal at the moment. In fact, Bicep were offered the deal, last year. And, the year before that, Peggy Gou was also offered the deal.
Following on from this, you’re working with some pretty big names at the minute, including Paigey Cakey and Jammer.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working with Paigey Cakey, Jammer, as well as Boy Better Know (BBK). While working with these artists, I’ve received a lot of really good advice from people who have been in this game for a very long time.
And, working in the studio with Jammer has been the biggest thing ever, for me. After working on a couple of tracks, Jammer said he wanted to be featured on them. It was a surreal moment. At the minute, we currently have 2 verses down and are just waiting on the final one.
I also brought Paigey Cakey into Spirit Studios to work on a track together which she can put out on her album.
Danni, you’ve often been referred to as the ‘unruly prince of electronica’ – would you say that’s a fair description?
I guess what they mean is my music doesn’t really fit into a box. It’s a mix between electronica and dub-bass, so it’s often referred to as electro-dub. Also, my music always has a prominent vocal in it too.
Well, it seems you have a busy calendar at the moment. You’re playing some pretty big festivals this year; Boomtown, Citadel, Beathearder, LoveBox etc. Tell us, how did you get yourself into these big festivals?
Yeah, that’s right. I guess being consistent and always backing myself has helped me get onto this big festival line-ups. So far, every EP I have released has had a decent reaction and lead me into bigger circles.
After a while, I sorted myself out with a booking agent and manager, and managed to get signed to a couple of labels, all of which certainly helped. For me, I’d say a big thing for artists is networking. A few years ago, I met people from Blue Dot festival and Love Box festival at Un-Convention – a music conference which happens every year on our doorstep. As a result of this, I ended up playing at both festivals at a later date.
In terms of your set-up then, do you use a lot of gear for live performances?
My set-up has changed quite a bit since the start of my dj’ing days. Now, I have a MIDI keyboard, Akai MPC Live, Denon DJ Mixer and a Korg Minilogue – it’s a hefty bit of kit. When I’m performing live, I have 6 pieces on stage with me, and that’s even without having a guest MC or vocalist, too.
Aswell as gigging and performing at festivals, you also have a radio show on Unity Radio and Data Transmission, too?
Yeah, the radio show on Data Transmission is a monthly podcast where I play all kinds of music, regardless of genre – as long as it bangs. So, it could be literally anything like opera or jazz.
I also have a show on Unity Radio where I play mainly House and Dubstep tracks. But, I’ll be shaking things up a bit soon. As I’m part of the ‘Keep it Dirty’ collective, I’ll be playing a lot more Drum & Bass, Bassline and pretty much any ‘dirty’ tune.
So, are you sponsored by or partnered up with any brands at the moment?
Yeah, I’m partnered with Tretorn – a Swedish clothing brand – and Jägermeister, as well as one which I’ll be announcing in April.
Jägermeister approached me after I won Best New Music Producer at Bass Music awards. As they sponsor quite a lot of festivals, they managed to get me my first slot at Bestival. From there, I started playing around 3 to 4 festivals a year with them.
Do you have any collaborations up your sleeve? Or perhaps any that you’re working on at the minute?
Yeah, definitely. I’d like to do a lot more with people who aren’t usually associated with electronic music. At the minute, I’m working with the Royal Northern College of Music to get strings involved in my tracks.
One last thing before you go, who should we be keeping our eye on at the minute?
There’s loads of people coming through at the minute; Ruby Tingle Flying Lotus, Kasper, Rae Morris, Mish Fyah, Sampa the Great, Thomas Dee and Lou Barnell. A.G – who is also a former student – is doing some cool organic electronic music at the moment. But, I’d say someone to really look out for this year is, Ruby Tingle – she’s probably going to breakthrough.