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Not Another DJ: DJ Dan - LA Weekly

At the intersection of fun-loving creativity and the unmistakable grit of Los Angeles’ house and techno music scene, DJ Dan barrels through like a semi on ice. Known in his friend circles as Dan Wherrett, he had all the makings of a star fashion mogul when he moved to New York after graduating from fashion design school. It was a distinction that would later become his edge. 

When a friend told him to move to Los Angeles, he decided to give it a shot in 1991. “He said it’s just like New York, but it wasn’t,” Dan laughed as he waited in line at the Kogi BBQ Truck near his home in Eagle Rock. In the end, producers like Frankie Bones, Doc Martin, Ron D Core and Barry Weaver kept him infatuated with the music in the city and events like No Doz at the Coconut Teaszer and Tony Largo’s Does Your Mama Know became a proving ground for his craft. With an insatiable appetite for new techniques, Dan later found himself drawn to the psychedelic culture emerging in the Bay Area circa 1994, but later moved back to L.A. in 2000. He almost immediately went on a world tour with Carl Cox and Tiesto, but has been based here ever since. 

“In terms of techno, I felt like the music [of the day] was a bit cold and needed more funk.”  To heat it up, he would collide worlds by scratching hip-hop beats into techno. “How well it was received made me want to keep pushing that sound.” Dan reminisced. Speeding up tunes to make a capellas sound like chipmunks or to give certain sections more swing became a signature of his breakbeat style. “If DJing dind’t work out for me I didn’t give a fuck. I had nothing to lose so it gave me a sense of wanting to have fun and explore more,” Dan says. 

The stylish risks paid off and in 2010, Dan received a call from Vincent Herbert, who wanted a DJ Dan remix for Lady Gaga. It cracked open the floodgates of popularity in the halls of Interscope Records, winning him two more remixes for Gaga. His success kept snowballing and before long he was collaborating with icons like the Black Eyed Peas, P. Diddy, Janet Jackson and Beyoncé. If that wasn’t enough proof he had arrived, Dan also got tapped by the Cartoon Network and Hasbro to mix a theme song for Transformers. “That was validation that I had made it,” he says. 

To his credit, Dan’s opportunities never went to his head. “I’m proud I didn’t go mainstream. At one point I realized that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go. I saw it and put it in check and went back into the underground direction, so that I could stay true to it.” 

Next month at eco-minded E Komo Mai Festival in Hawaii, he’ll perform with a cavalcade of Los Angeles’ most prolific titans of techno and house music in tow. 

“It’ll be like family in Hawaii with kickass music,” says Dan.