Our first post of 2009, which genre founder Pavan has boldly predicted will be The Year of the Skweee, is fittingly an interview with the man who coined the name “skweee”. Sweden’s Kool DJ Dust a.k.a. Daniel Savio was the first skweee DJ and its second producer. Like many of the style’s pioneers he had already carved a musical niche for himself when in 2006 he was captured by the vision of Pavan to chart a new direction and sound.
Skweeelicious: Let’s begin with your pre-skweee days. What sorts of music were you producing and DJing?
Daniel Savio: I have been DJing since the mid-nineties and buying records since my early childhood. It all goes back to my love for hip hop music and culture. Graffiti was my main thing but I also had some attempts to rap and dance (crazy fake breaking). So hip hop I would say is my main influence and when I started DJing it was all about hip hop. But early on I was curious about the old school breaks/originals/samples so from that I got into funk, soul, disco, rock and of course the early electro stuff like Kraftwerk and Arthur Baker, Paul Hardcastle, etc, etc.
On the production tip I bought an ASR10 on my 18th birthday and started sampling loops and stuff. I’ve always been heavy into crate digging. I had a Fostex 4-track and recorded some raps. Later on me and my friend Mighty Thor (Drumcode etc) who was very much into house and techno started to DJ together at a local joint. I discovered that much of his house stuff was based on old rhythms and grooves from the disco stuff I had, and he opened my eyes to “contemporary dance music” which I understood in a deeper meaning was an extension of hip hop music. So with the understanding that house and techno was in fact hip hop, me and Mighty Thor started making music together. We did a white label 12 inch in ’99 and later went on to form the trio Hundarna Fran Soder releasing two albums (one of which received a Grammy in 2004) and some EP’s and 12’s until 2006.
S: I’ve heard a couple of your pre-skweee productions and it seems the seeds of skweee were there. It was kind of neo-soul, downtempo, hip-hopish.
D: Thank you! Skweee comes natural for me, ha ha. Most of the stuff I have produced outside Hundarna Fran Soder has been sample-based beats stuff.
S: Is it true you coined the term skweee? How did it come about?
D: Yes, I came up with the name and to some extent also the definition. Pavan, who always had a somewhat quirky style that was hard to pin down, started the whole thing when he did the first Flogsta 45. He didn´t have a name for it or a definition. I feel that he himself didn’t realize how unique his style really was and I felt that he had something really big going for himself. We had a dialogue about it and started to debate whether it was a new style and what to call it.
I had just gotten a new synthesizer, the Roland Alpha Juno1 and fell in love with it. My idea was to make a couple of tracks using nothing but the Juno for drums and everything. I came up with the name, (I originally spelled it squee) while trying to squeeze the juice out of my Juno till the last drop. That was my first 7 inch for Flogsta Danshall and the first tracks I did using the skweee formula – “Bubble Bump” and “Yu Love Bibimbab” at 106 bpm.
Pavan wanted to call it “prim” (primitive), but Randy Barracuda recognized that my name was stronger. So there was skweee. After that me and Pavan went to Helsinki to play at a party and hang out with Randy and Mesak and a bunch of other funky Finns.
S: There is a DJ Dust mix kicking around the internet called Skweee Mix 1. Obviously it’s from the early days of skweee when there were only a few producers and really only a handful of tracks. When was it done and what is the story on that?
D: I don’t remember exactly when I recorded it but it was for a Swedish magazine. They didn’t understand anything and sort of dissed the whole thing which is why I don’t mention those non-believers.
S: Is there a story behind your anthem “We Call It Skweee”?
D: I had been making skweee for a while and everything was sort of on and popping and bubbling, like it still feels, and Harmönia was compiling their second 12 inch release. So I decided to make a track dedicated to this “brand new funky sound… we call skweee”. And since I baptized the funk I thought it would be up to me to hold the sermon too.
S: Skweee is still a relatively small scene but in a couple of years it went from zero to several showcases at international festivals. How has it been for you being part of the evolution of a new style of music?
D: It’s been great but unfortunately I hadn’t had a chance to enjoy some of it cause I didn’t have any way of performing live until quite recently. And also I feel I have been a bit slept on for some reason. In 2009 there wont be any time for sleeping though, it will be all about skweeeing and since my album will be out, hopefully I wont be forgotten.
S: Tell us about the Daniel Savio LP. How many tracks will it be? What format? All skweee or a mix of styles?
D: Oh, yes! Its called “Dirty Bomb” and its a 10 song all skweee album (the world’s first) on vinyl. So its a dream come true for me. It will be out in early 2009, February/March. I have been working on it for a couple of years.
S: Have you DJ’d skweee to audiences unfamiliar with the music? What has been the reaction?
D: Every single weekend. Reactions differ, generally people who are into electronic stuff really like it, but what makes me most happy is when people who are into R&B and commercial rap go crazy on the dancefloor to some fresh skweee. Because that gives me confidence that skweee will blow up for real, since most people who are into “MTV-music” are really ignorant most of the time and don’t have much knowledge about deep electronic music or real hip hop. So when they appreciate it that really makes me happy.
S: Skweee seems to have many sub-styles from funky dancefloor to crazy dissonant noise. You’ve produced several skweee sub-styles yourself – from middle-eastern flavors to funky vocals to “emo skweee”.
D: I think it’s all good. Now there is a bunch of real skweee stuff out so it makes it easier to make mixes and play records which is great. And the sub-styles make it diverse and more interesting.
S: There’s a lot of skweee-like music being made under various names – downtempo tracks with funky irregular rhythms. Do you think skweee is part of a larger movement that will perhaps come together?
D: Hopefully yes.
S: Pavan has predicted that skweee will blow up in 2009. What do you think?
D: Couldn’t agree with him more, Pavan is a man of few words and he doesn’t talk shit.
S: Let’s talk about gear a bit. On the production side what are you using in the studio and live?
D: My home studio consists of: Roland Alpha Juno1, ASR10, Korg Poly 800, MPC1000, Yamaha CS1. And cracked Cubase on a crappy PC. When I play live I use the MPC1000 and Juno1 and when I get the feeling also a microphone.
S: How about DJ-wise – tables, CDJ’s or software?
D: I play mainly vinyl but sometimes I use CD’s if it aint out on vinyl.
S: Finally, what are your plans for 2009 and beyond?
D: I will try to DJ and perform live as much as I possibly can. I really cant wait for “Dirty Bomb” to drop, I am super pleased with it and I hope the skweee heads will like it too. I have already started to record my second album and it will be ready mid 2009, the plan is to have one out every year. Also be on the lookout for me and Pavan’s Vakttornet project, we will record some more stuff and also do some live stuff. So 2009 will be hectic, Skweee-alistic and funky fresh!