Ahead of Danny Krivit’s all vinyl 7-Inch 45 set and mini record fair in Brooklyn next month, we sat down with the seminal New York DJ to talk about growing up with Niles Rodgers, the legacy of the Loft and picture cover obsessions.
“I’m sorry,” says Danny Krivit laughing as he pulls out box after box of seven-inch records from his bag. We’d discussed earlier bringing a small selection of his favourite 45’s but clearly this is a challenge when you have 80,000 records.
I’m sat with the DJ and king of edits in Brooklyn’s Mixtape Shop record store ahead of his all-vinyl 45 party and mini record fair next month. “I’m a vinyl junkie” he says. “Growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, I was surrounded by music and all I wanted to do was buy more records.”
Krivit’s musical upbringing was impressive, to say the least. His mother was an accomplished jazz singer and his father managed Chet Baker before opening The Ninth Circle, a Village spot where Danny worked as a youngster and met the likes of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon.
His home was another source of musical inspiration, with The Rascals regularly practicing their hits on the Krivit family piano due to their manager Sid Bernstein living upstairs. Creed Taylor and Nile Rodgers were close friends too however records remained his focus.
“When Andy Warhol’s club The Dom closed in 1967, I managed to get their Altec Valencia A7 ‘Voice of the Theater’ speakers. They covered my bedroom windows but I bought a second turntable and a mixer, and I started experimenting.”
This experimentation led to programming music and DJing at his father’s two clubs, promoting and DJing at his own after-hours club, immersing himself in the underground scene and perhaps most importantly of all – meeting DJ David Mancuso and The Loft. It was there he began his long time friendships with DJs Larry Levan and Francois Kevorkian.
“The Loft and the Garage were the mecca of the best DJ’s and really what I consider to be the best music, it turned me onto a lot of things. Together with the Gallery, the Sound Factory and Shelter they were clubs where the resident DJ kept their records, unlike today’s versions.”
He and his girlfriend at the time would regularly skate over to the Paradise Garage, where Larry would let them skate around the club while he checked out some of the new records that week on the sound system. The Garage remained Danny’s main playground until it closed in 1987 and one was one of only a few DJs to play there.
“Larry had an extreme personality, you felt his presence. He had very strong DJ emotions and instinct as well as a lot of integrity in the music and the direction.”
“He wasn’t afraid if he played a record that cleared the floor – in fact, he’d play the same record and clear the floor several times a night. He was never afraid to go against the grain, a voice for good.”
Just like Levan, Krivit is well known for conveying emotion and telling a story through his selections. “That’s the way DJ’s my time played. I come from that school where music is talking to you. My whole set talks to you, without me thinking about it.”
“I was in Japan recently with Francois and we played You Know How To Love Me by Phyllis Harman as the last track for our wives. Sadly, the meaning was lost on my wife as she misheard the record!” he says laughing.
Krivit is no stranger to Japan, playing there regularly throughout his career. One of his favourite places is Precious Hall in Sapporo, where rumour has it the sound system was assembled by David Mancuso himself. “It attracts a young crowd who are highly educated in the culture and have a deep understanding of where it originates from,” he explains.
It’s obvious that his experiences in the 1970s and 1980s have had a lasting effect on him, informing almost every move he has made since. His legendary Body & Soul night, co-founded with François Kevorkian and Joe Claussell, is a perfect example of this.
“Francois was frustrated about his experiences playing out at the time and as we talked more about this we built a blueprint of what we thought was an ideal situation. The first Body & Soul Party we had 70 people show up, then 100 and then 800. It’s about finding your place in the scheme of things.”
“I remember Francois playing a dub reggae record peak time and some people leaving the floor. He was glad they left as they weren’t prepared to appreciate the music. It takes courage to do something like that and I admire that.”
For the past 15 years, he has consistently cultivated his 718 Sessions party, a monthly residency that offers a unique window into New York dance music culture. Next month he throws his all 45 vinyl party too. “Playing 45’s is a new phenomenon, I collect and play a lot more than I used to. I have a lot of 45 records which is why I’ve started collecting picture covers.”
As we talk about the 45’s he brought with him, a constant theme appears. He refers to many of them as simply a good record regardless of rarity. “I don’t think a 1000 dollar record is necessarily a good record.” he says.
As he approaches a half-century DJing how does he see the New York of 2019?
“The Greenwich Village of my youth was a lot slower, things grew in a certain way. It was also less expensive which meant you could take a chance – just like the Paradise Garage and their construction parties.”
“New York is in a bubble right now with real estate and rising gentrification. I like to think in life that grass will always grow through the cement.“
Danny Krivit’s 45 selections
Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion / Singasong
Dorothy Morrison – All God’s Children Got Soul
Gloria Gaynor – Casanova Brown
The Joneses Featuring Harold Taylor And Jimmy Richardson – Love Inflation
Chemise – She Can’t Love You
L.T.D. – Love to the World
Blood Hollins – Don’t Give It Up
Letta Mbula – I Need Your Love / Mahlalela – (Lazy Bones)
Exuma – Exuma, The Obeah Man
Bileo – You Can Win / Lets Go
Danny Krivit 100% 7-Inch 45 Set & Record Fair takes place on Thursday 12 September, more info is available here. Thanks to Danny, Paul Raffaele and Brian & Erika at the Mixtape Shop.
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