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Arts and Entertainment

Danny Krivit: DJing For 39.9 Years

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Photo by Diana Levine / used with permission
On the cusp of celebrating his fortieth year as a DJ, Danny Krivit continues to gush passion for dance music. He hasn’t lost a step either.

Born to a jazz singing mother and a nightclub-owning father (who also managed Chet Baker,) and growing up in Greenwich Village in the ‘60s and ‘70s -- Krivit was born into the groove. He expanded upon this rich heritage and became a global music success, spinning all over the world and at New York’s most seminal nightspots of the last few decades. Never simply the flavor of the moment, or a flash in the pan, Krivit’s resume reads like a handful of different dance music legends compiled into one.

Krivit's also adored for his unique production niche. He’s called “King of the Edit,” for creating such a great number of reedited pieces of music, his versions often remembered as much as the originals. He’ll adjust pieces of music to extend sections he best enjoys (while preserving the original integrity,) often turning them into stronger dancefloor music.

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Out now on Strut Records is “Edits by Mr. K Volume 2: Music of the Earth,” a compilation featuring ten of Krivit’s noted funk and disco edits. While the first Edits By Mr. K came out seven years ago, that's not due to a lack of material. Krivit told LAist that he has enough edits for more. m“Certainly another one, maybe a double,” he said.

On Saturday, Krivit will be playing a three hour DJ set forDeep’s holiday party at King King in Hollywood. Expect a joyous celebration devoid of glowsticks. Alongside Danny for the extravaganza will be LA’s house legend Marques Wyatt and KCRW’s Raul Campos.

LAist had the honor of emailing with Krivit.

LAist: You’re a living legend. How does it feel to have been around, relevant, and still be doing it well?

Danny Krivit: It feels great! I started DJing for my father's place, The Ninth Circle, in 1971 so 2011 will be my 40th year! I'm so happy I'm still involved with so many current quality events like 718 Sessions and Body & Soul, and so many special parties. It makes me appreciate all the more the incredible things I've been involved with all the way through. It's been extremely satisfying.

You grew up in a musical family at a great time in New York City’s musical history. What were some of those experiences?

My father being Chet Baker's manager and my mother being a jazz artist made up only a small piece of how surrounded by music I was. A close friend of my father was the vice president of Polydor records. He lived in the apartment above me, and he introduced me to one of his artists... James Brown. Another friend of the family, Sid Bernstein (the promoter who brought the Beatles to Shea Stadium -- their first visit to the US) also managed a group called The Rascals, who would regularly pop down to our place to work out most of their future hits on our piano.

As a boy and spending so much time in The Night Circle [his father’s nightclub] I would meet many music legends there like, Janis Joplin, Charles Mingus, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and even Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland studio was right around the corner and I would bump into him regularly. When I was 11 my good friend Nile Rodgers [of Chic] helped me pick out my first guitar.

Were you born to be a DJ?

The result of all these musical influences and contacts insured my fate as a music junkie. Even with a little help from Nile, I didn't follow through with the guitar, all my focus was on all the fantastic new records being released. I didn't want to waste my time to just play an instrument when there was so much spectacular music to be heard.

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Enjoying all this music by myself was only a small joy compared to sharing the experience with others. Some of the very best moments are when a whole crowd reacts as one.

You’ve been doing Body and Soul parties with Joe Claussell and Francois Kevorkian since 1996. What’s it like playing with those two after all of these years?

Joe and Francois are two of my favorite DJs and we all share quite a lot musicly, but at the same time have so much that is uniquely our own. I'm always learning something from both of them. I miss the weekly parties but anytime we get together is a joy. 2011 is also Body & Soul's 15th Anniversary, and we're planning to do a lot around that, along with a Body & Soul classics CD/DVD release.

What are your favorite world cities to play these days?

NYC! Then, Japan leads the way, with two of my favorites, Sapporo and Tokyo.

How do you rank Los Angeles’ place in dance music history?

I wouldn't say I'm the person to ask. I know a lot of great music I've played has come from LA, but I've lived in a 10 block area most of my life (East & West Village, NYC.)

What can you share that you learned from the DJs you came up with that young DJs today miss?

One of the biggest things is all the talented DJs told stories with the songs they played and really took you on a journey -- the music really spoke to you -- which helped to make it more essential. I almost never hear that now. I still see a lot of talent, but it is hard to really compare them to all the true pioneers I witnessed in the past.

How do you prepare for a DJ set in a place you’ve never played?

I'm fortunate in that I am usually hired by people who generally know me and know my music. I ask a lot of questions before hand to really get a sense of it, and I try to always have a wide variety of music to choose from.

For your professional future, do you have big plans, or more of moving in the same direction?

I'm pretty comfortable with who I am so I'm not expecting any sharp turns. But with 2011 being my 40th anniversary as a DJ... I have seen a lot, I'm probably gonna do some writing on some of my really special experiences, and also probably a relative CD release.

What are five classic records in your box?

It's really hard to pick just five as it's so endless, but these five have been in my box since I got them --

Bohannon “Let's Start The Dance”
James Brown “Give it up Or turn it Loose” (Live)
Side Effect “Always There”
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “Don't Leave Me This Way”
One Way Feat. Al Hudson “Music”

Follow Caleb Bacon on Twitter @thecalebbacon.

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