Interview: Apollonia

DJ tips from Shonky, learning about the concept of Apollonia and why Dan loves Mancunians. We caught up with Dan Ghenacia and Shonky ahead of their visit to Sankeys on 4th October.

Dan: “We met when Shonky and Dyed (we call each other that!) supported me at Le Batofar, 25 years ago. We’ve been good friends ever since. When my label Freak n’Chic disbanded I knew I wanted to start something completely different so I got in touch and we started Apollonia.”

The whole concept of Apollonia is novel, Dan explained how it differs from the general B2B2B formation. “We play one record each on rotation throughout our sets, one-one-one, Dan-Shonky-Dyed. It feels like a band. We don’t play as separate DJs trying to show our own personality or music taste, we play as one. Sometimes I forget where I am, what record I’ve put on and what records the others have put on. It’s so easy to lose track of time and we often end up playing for hours.

One of the bonuses of working as a trio means they have triple the music knowledge. “When we’re working together we influence each other and we’re always learning. We all listen to different music so someone will bring in something old that we’ve forgotten about and someone will play something new that the others haven’t heard yet. We all have our own record collections and we normally stick to using our own during sets. We do have similar music tastes though so Shonky or Dyed play tunes that I’d planned to play. This can happen about two or three times during a set, then I have to improvise! That’s what makes working as Apollonia so exciting, it’s always changing.

Apollonia in 2014 is completely different from when they first started. “We never play the same set twice or we’d get bored and the crowd would get bored. Our music style is always changing, evolving.

Arriving at the 14th birthday of Tribal Sessions, Dan is a veteran on the Manchester scene. “I’m looking forward to being back in Manchester again. I was going to Sankeys when it was Sankeys Soap, it’s close to my heart as it’s one of the first places I started out at, years ago! I’ve seen its evolution, the DJ booth has changed sides but the crowd has not lost their music taste. That’s the best thing about Manchester – the people! They have such a good taste in music, the best request I heard was one of my own tracks…”

Shonky: before a performance we do everything together. For pre-gig routine we travel together, we eat together, we work together, we play together; we stay together! Sometimes I go off by myself to record shops and discover new vinyls and records that I haven’t heard of before. That’s what I love about buying records. I love all types of music, I couldn’t just pick one genre.

“My favourite format is vinyl of course. I can never go into a record shop and buy one album, I always walk out with loads, the last record I bought was by Mark Ambrose but I’m buying records all the time.”

Shonky’s tips for aspiring DJs:

  • Play the music that you love
    • If you play music you don’t love you won’t enjoy it.
  • Buy records!
    • You need to buy records to stay true to your music, you can’t beat the feel of a good record and discovering something amazing that you have never heard before. Also you should build up a relationship with the people in the record shop, then they’ll know what you like and can look out for records for you.
  • Beasopen minded as possible
    • Listen to everything! Even if you think you don’t like it you should listen to it anyway, you might discover that you do like it but even if you don’t then you’ll learn more about music – about the bass line of the track or percussion or something else.
  • Believe in what you’re doing
    • If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then no one else will!
  • Keep faith
    • Stay strong and true to your music.
  • Keep your passion
  • Buy records
    • Don’t just go into record shops, you have to go to all sorts of places like Discogs, Beatport, Juno. I love rinsing my wishlist on Discogs. You have to be open minded about where you’re getting music from, get as much as you can!

– Kim Kahan, originally conducted for The Mancunion

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