Legendary NYC DJ Danny Tenaglia brings his meticulous craft to Sundown

In the lab: Tenaglia is tinkering with his studio and looking forward “to getting back in there and doing it right.”
Deanna Rilling

Danny Tenaglia is the DJ your favorite DJs only wish they could be. The New York native is a master of all layers of house and techno. He’s a wizard at creating the perfect vibe for digging deep and dancing like no one’s watching. Las Vegas will be treated to his veteran skills on May 24 for Sundown at Daylight when he takes over at sunset.

You’re a legend for your parties at Twilo in New York back in the day, and the vibe you created that’s often imitated. What will you bring to the tables for your Sundown set at Daylight? I always like to get there a significant amount of time before I start, feel the vibe and see what the DJ is doing before me and see how the people are responding. … I’m always prepared to go in different directions, but I pretty much know that my energy is going to be up in the daytime setting. If I’m the last DJ on the bill, then I would probably get into the direction of closing. I wouldn’t just go “bang, bang, bang, bang!” and all of a sudden the music stops. I always try to do something a little more theatrical to bring it home.

Speaking of theatrical, will there be a giant white horse for you to ride in on that’s made an appearance at your parties in the past? (Laughs) They’d have to put it on wheels and pull me. I had this white horse, and it’s just so funny because there really is no significance to it. I had gotten my loft about 11 years ago, maybe like 6,500 square feet, and it was empty. I passed this place in the Hamptons, and they had all this crazy stuff on the grounds so people driving by could see what they had to sell: cows, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe—like, party rental things. … As we were walking around, I just said to the guy, “How much for the horse?” He said like $500, so I said, “All right, throw it in the truck.” No one’s ever really asked me in detail, but that’s how it came about. It was a very spontaneous kinda thing and having a massive place to put it.

What happened to it? It’s still here [in my loft]. The last time we had an event up here was Native Instruments, Traktor and Beatport and … we brought the horse up to the roof, and it’s been up there since, because it’s really awkward to get up and down stairs. So if anybody’s flying overhead in a helicopter, they see this big, white horse lying on its side. … By the way, the horse’s name is Roofus. The reason why he’s called Roofus is because my manager Kevin [McHugh], a couple of times would put it on the top of the truck and drive it to Vinyl for parties.

Balance 025 was amazing, but it was your first release in six years. What’s next? I always tell people, “I’m working on this” or “I’m working on these ideas and concepts.” But then they always stay inside the computer or on a shelf, so to speak. But right now as we speak, actually, I have three people here helping me reconfigure my recording studio just to overall make it a better environment, fix anything that wasn’t working and getting all my vintage keyboards out and everything in working order, because I’m really looking forward to getting back in there and doing it right. I devote so much time as a DJ, for me to really make music needs that same kind of dedication, but I’m always traveling. … I’m probably going to take a break from some of the overseas travels when the holidays come around, and I’ll stick to more of the local stuff … and put some of those two or three weeks away at a time so I can make music. I really want to do it right. I don’t want to be like those guys that have this attitude like, “Oh yeah, I made that track in 3-4 hours.” I want people to be able to tell it took a week or two or three.

Danny Tenaglia with Brett Rubin, Justin Baule, Frank Rempe. May 24, doors at noon, $20+ women, $30+ men. Daylight Beach Club, 702-588-5656.

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