Danny Kuperberg

Musician, teacher and consultant

October 25, 2015

Jamie Jones, the world’s top techno & house producer DJ. Danny’s most successful client goes from strength to strength.

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Jamie, with now with an amazing 1,000,000 Facebook followers, is still considered the most influential and important live DJ / producer working in the world today.

And believe me, he deserves it – I should know.

Jamie Jones and Lee Foss

Jamie Jones and Lee Foss

And guess who showed and played Jamie basic harmony, chord voicings as well as some structural songwriting techniques? Over a very intensive 18 months?

Following our first session, I could tell he had an exceptional talent for melody, writing riffs on the fly, arrangement skills for building texture. This despite the fact that his keyboard technique was at a very rudimentary level.

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I have long wanted dance music, or EDM as it is now known, to adopt a more musical, melodic and interesting harmonic structure rather than the robotic grooves that so often dominate. I poured this aspiration into our sessions.

It was an intensive learning curve for Jamie I’m sure. More techniques than I’ve ever crammed into regular hour long sessions. And no doubt an eye-opening cornucopia of creative possibilites was opening up for Jamie as he’s since let me know.

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Essentially it was a crash course in music theory and music making; based around keyboard and synths but covering arrangement, harmonic progression, riff-making, bassline construction etc.

Following this, we had intermittent sessions as Jamie was abroad touring, such was his draw. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that house and techno HAVE become more musical in recent years. And all critics praise Jamie’s melodic and harmonic invention.

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During all of our sessions, he was like a sponge, soaking up ideas. Better still, he had a receptive, modest and mature attitude. This, despite the fact that he was already enjoying major success even before our sessions.

That is VERY unusual, as in most cases, success goes to artists’ heads and they behave in an arrogant, ‘know-it-all’ manner.

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This all started in September 2009.

Its now the tail end of Summer 2015.

Jamie and I are still in touch and text occasionally. These days he’s based between Ibiza and LA, and has told me he misses London.

He told me recently that if he comes round, he’d like another session or two.

Do you think maybe we could again nudge EDM into becoming that bit more musical? Or at least get the music critics to notice it again?

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Jamie is regularly voted and widely considered the top house and techno DJ in the world today. In fact, he was voted as such on Resident Advisor in 2012.

He is certainly in my opinion the most innovative. And listening to his music, I know I have played some part in that. Quite how much is debatable, but ultimately doesn’t really matter.

Dance music has been nudged forward both more melodically and harmonically. And that’s all that matters. Not who was most responsible for the development in the genre’s evolution.

Helping him has led to much other work. Here he is live, doing what he does best. Overlaying parts, synth and drum. And slowly working his savvy crowd up, taking them to whatever place the music dictates.

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Is he content with being considered so influential, or having a staggering one million Facebook followers?

No.

Jamie’s compadres Lee Foss and Richy Ahmed both later contacted me for keyboard/harmony/session help à la Jamie, before being waylaid by a blizzard of international festival and Ibiza club offers. They are all now at the top of the global dance music production tree. And there are connections there with Scarlett Etienne, with whom I’ve now worked on and off for over seven years.

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Lee Foss and friend

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They are all part of ‘Hot Creations‘, the label that Jamie started, which has set the standard for the modern Superstar DJ brand. The label is an enormous success now. Jamie’s weekly event in Ibiza, ‘Paradise’ is a go-to event in the dance music world.

And Jamie still tops the bill, see below, even a full six years on from his initial breakthrough.

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Boy, is it a lucrative business.

Without doubt, the money to be made in the music biz these days is certainly in the dance music production festival and elite club circuit (and not in the pop or rock star realm, which may surprise many).

But my-oh-my is it competitive…

October 24, 2015

London College Of Fashion interviews Danny!

The unique gigging hothouse that is Camden.

After I was interviewed by the London College of Fashion, they dubbed my voiceover onto footage of a band who were part of a six act showcase night on a single weeknight.

The competition is tough on the London music scene.

October 23, 2015

Dom Search. From ‘The NextMen’. Works with Plan B, Eliza Doolittle and Paul Epworth (Adele)…

He’s just had his first session with me.

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Plays guitar; turntables and DJs with The NextMen but had only played piano for two days before seeing me.

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I think, actually know, it was a big eye-opener for him to see what’s possible and how essential keyboard skills are to any production.

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I was reminded of what Pharrell replied when asked what was the most important thing to learn for an up-and-comer.

He replied simply:

‘Piano’.

And since then I’ve had a whole lot more respect for Pharrell.

 

 

October 13, 2015

Camden Town. Another showcase and another five hopefuls brave the stage.

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Another showcase night in Camden Town.
The legendary Zaid Joseph’s compering and helping out the young pups.
I’m playing piano, and also being encouraging to the up-and-comers, helping out when I can.

These days they seem as ambitious, talented and varied as ever, but somehow more earnest and less rebellious.
Plus ça change.

But I still love it after all these years.

October 9, 2015

Scarlett Etienne, singer-songwriter, producer, fashionista, globetrotting DJ-ette. Where do I even start?

I’ve worked with Scarlett on and off over the last seven years, probably more intensively and extensively than with any other of my high profile dance name clients.

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Scarlett with Chic, Bowie and Pharrell legend, Nile Rodgers

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Very little surprises me with Scarlett anymore.

Musicianship, over 33,000 Facebook likes*, high-end fashion soundtracks, global weekend treks to a few major festivals and then maybe a celebrity after-show party?

Scarlett’s your go-to girl.

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Our most recent collaboration was a two-week stint in her impressive Shoreditch recording studio, two to three hours a day.

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That was for last Summer’s legendary Burning Man festival where, as you can see, she made quite a splash. As usual.

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Scarlett’s a very gifted musician too.

She’s now an able jazz pianist and singer-songwriter. I gave her a separate series of lessons on jazz harmony progressions, piano accompaniment styles and keyboard techniques for performing standards with vocals.

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Scarlett recording vocal overdubs in the studio

She’s also handy with a guitar.

Shame that she recently relocated to NYC. But I have no doubt we’ll work together again one day.

October 2, 2015

Top Danny client Kevin McKay, boss of legendary record label Glasgow Underground records

Kevin McKay owns and has developed Glasgow Underground Records, a hugely influential dance music label which has produced many successful dance musicians, DJs and producers, the most notable being Mylo and Grum, both top and in-demand global dance stars.

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In the ultra-competitive world of dance music, Kevin McKay is both a taste-maker and a trend setter; a rare combination.

I taught Kevin performance and keyboard skills. Both Kevin and I think his remixes, original work and production on his labels’ famous dance musicians work have all improved no end.

Like the world’s top DJ, and most successful Danny client of all, Jamie Jones, Kevin acknowledged early on that without keyboard, melody and harmony skills, his work would always be a pale imitation of his real potential. And that’s in my view why Kevin, like Jamie, is successful. He’s humble enough to know where his limitations are. And to work on them.

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Tastemaker, record company founder, major underground dance music player, accomplished producer, new dad, Danny’s friend.

That’s Kevin.

Respect!

Below, Kevin discusses digital formats in his capacity as a record company boss. And it’s in The Sun newspaper!

Who’d have thought it?
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September 29, 2015

Shapeshifters update

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Great to see Simon and Max still doing so well in one of the longest and most successful music partnerships UK dance music has seen.

Simon learned keyboards, harmony, chord voicings, bassline construction and elementary songwriting techniques with me over a relatively short but fairly intensive period of lessons.

Great guy. Deserves his enormous success – most memorably the UK number 1 ‘Lola’s Theme’ (see cover above).

And I taught him in the same bedroom next to the vinyl collection which inspired that classic track to be conceived!

Lola, who I used to meet regularly, was the song’s inspiration. She’s pretty impressive herself.

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Lola’s dogs were the friendliest I’ve ever met. They used to prance in excitement to the music.

In fact they’d bark to the beat.

August 27, 2015

With Danny’s help, Jamielisa, globetrotting up-and-coming DJ star branches into film soundtrack and remix work

Jamielisa Jacquemin is a highly talented and successful DJ and now remix artist.

With Danny’s help, she is now branching out into keyboard composition, original material, as well as being resident DJ at Boujis in Chelsea, a rich-and-famous hangout club, well-known across the world for its clientele (including certain members of the Royal Family)…

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Danny and Jamielisa have spent much time together working in his project studio, and her versatility has improved no end.

 

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She’s sung live on the West End stage, DJs internationally, writes industry soundtracks from her Soho studio and is an expert at marketing herself.

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Jamielisa…jack of many trades. And becoming master of most of ’em…!

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August 26, 2015

Legendary promoter and long time collaborator Zaid Joseph

The one person with whom I’ve collaborated that has meant more to me than any of my famous dance music clients is Zaid Joseph.

Zaid’s a very successful promoter. Many say that he is THE most influential promoter in Camden Town and beyond.

He’s overseen the likes of The Maccabees, Babyshambles, Jack Penate as well as The Grumbleweeds’ careers.

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Zaid in full flow

But far more importantly, Zaid has introduced burgeoning talented young musicians to the London live scene. Without Zaid, much music would have remained unheard; so much talent untapped.

Gigging is a way of life. A bug that all creative musicians never want to give up. It’s far far more than a route to fame and fortune. And Zaid is the embodiment of that ethic.

The gigs he promotes and comperes are the real deal. No school or church halls here.

A former Butlins bluecoat, Zaid has fostered talent like no other, and not just within the Camden music hothouse. He’s involved in promoting live events in venues in London’s West End and beyond.

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Together over the last eight years, we have joined forces to give my talented BEAT and Woodhouse students (as well as top young talent from Camden, Brent, Enfield and Haringey) the same opportunities. With no backing tapes, voice manipulation, auto-tune or X-Factor style karaoke blandness.

Its been an inspiring partnership for me. The venues we have used have been Bar Vinyl, Bar Solo and, later, Bayou. These venues are right opposite Camden Town tube in Inverness Street. Prior to that, I used the Music Palace in Crouch End where I live. Its now the trendy new indie cinema, The Arthouse.

Here’s a promo shot for Zaid’s Vinyl gigs:

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So much young BEAT talent has passed through Vinyl. All of it facilitated by Zaid.

Following these smaller gigs, and if the young pups can handle it, they’ll move on to Camden Proud (see below). But they have to be good as its a more prestigious venue.

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I’m currently managing two acts.

The first, talented blues rock 4-piece Raw Cane Sugar packed out Bar Vinyl in one of the best first gigs by any band that either Zaid or I have ever witnessed.

So Raw Cane Sugar were fast-tracked straight on to Camden Proud. For their second gig, they did well again with lots of young support.

For several years now, Zaid and I have been presenting the ‘Amped’ showcase, which is always an inspiring afternoon and evening of excitement, creativity and flair. A new younger generation of North London music talent gets to enjoy the thrill of performing.

Here’s to another nine years Zaid!

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The sartorial Zaid. A combination of Victorian dandy and comic menace. Zaid Joseph: Camden Inverness Street legend. He makes us all Proud.

 

August 23, 2015

‘Amped’ highlights! 10 years of showcasing North London’s best

‘Amped’ has developed over ten years into a showcase fixture for talented 16 and 17 year old rock/pop/jazz/soul/RnB musicians to really show off what they can do.

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Danny in the middle. His kids making him feel old…!

 

We at BEAT and Woodhouse College pick students, mainly from the London borough of Barnet, but also Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Brent London boroughs. They must audition and pass a music theory test, and the standard is high. We can realistically claim that we have some of the finest young talent potential in a large area of North London.

This is no karaoke reality TV vocal cringe-fest.

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Crucially, our students write their own songs, play their own instruments, actually perform onstage vocals which aren’t manipulated.

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Every student must produce and engineer all of their own performances in our state-of-the-art recording studio at Woodhouse College.

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This afternoon gig NEVER takes place in a church or school hall. Most 16 year olds I’ve come across know that isn’t very cool. And I agree.

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I want to give them an authentic, tough, realistic but above all fun experience. To show them how gigging can be both extremely nerve-racking, thrilling and creatively fulfilling at the same time.

If it goes well and they’re inspired by the experience, they’ll have the bug for life.

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And we at BEAT contemporary music technology, headed by Danny Kuperberg, have a lot of success stories to show for it, for example:

Sophie Hiller: main backing vocalist on all of Tom Jones’ international concert dates. Sophie studied Music A-level at Woodhouse.

James Turner: Works at The Dairy recording studios. James is chief sound engineer.  He’s mixed and recorded for Joss Stone, Nitin Sawhny (who owns the studio) and other international star names. He also helps on live sound and PA at Glastonbury. James is a talented guitarist too.

Michael Jablonka: Brilliant blues lead guitarist. Has toured internationally with countless acts including NDubz. His own band The Dark Tides, is highly respected within the industry and often plays backing for name acts.

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Our students mainly gig in Camden Town, legendary hub for much of the UKs pop and rock talent.

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They also gig in Crouch End where Danny lives. Crouch End is very much a part of the London studio and musician scene. Konk studios, owned by Ray Davies of The Kinks, still hosts name bands, and over the last forty years, has been the home for some of music’s most legendary recordings. Our base here was The Music Palace – now trendy indie cinema The Arthouse.

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The Church state-of-the-art recording studio in central Crouch End was formerly owned by and was the studio home of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics. It later belonged to David Grey, the piano singer-songwriter. Now it is the creative hub for Paul Epworth, the multi-grammy winning key songwriter and producer behind Adele. He also composed James Bond’s Skyfall theme.

Coincidentally, Dominic Betmead, a collaborator with, and one of Epworth’s new Wolf Tone signings, is one of Danny’s clients.

Here is an example of some press coverage for our Music Palace Crouch End gig back in March 2011:

Amped_School Of Rock_Crouch Journal story_10 March 2011

 

 

 

 

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