Mancunian DJ and producer Danny Whitehead, aka Black Hawks of Panama delivered a club-ready scorcher on Hot Creations earlier this month, marking his debut on the label. With an old-skool feel, ‘Nobody But You’ features a collaboration with singer-songwriter Bisi and a remix from long-running affiliate of the Hot Creations crew, Sidney Charles. To mark the release, we invited Danny for a chat to find out more, enjoy!
Hello Danny, thanks for joining us today and congrats to you on the latest release, ‘Nobody But You’ on Hot Creations! How has it been for you seeing this one come out?
Hello there!!! Thanks, it’s been so satisfying in all ways to join with Hot Creations on this release. I’ve been involved in dance music for 33 years and started collecting before that. So for me this is a real peak to have climbed!
The title track ‘Nobody But You’ features the wonderful vocal talents of Bisi. How did you and Bisi decide to link up on this project and what was it like working together on it?
Bisi lives in France but works around the world as a successful actress also! If you look at my back catalogue you’ll see she has featured on a number of tracks. So as soon as she got the call about this track and heard it she was pretty much on the plane already penning the lyrics! We have to be really focused while recording but the rest of the time we are having a laugh. I’ve been winding her up for a while that I’m going to rap on the tracks. For some reason she finds that funny?? We got the initial demo made really quickly then we left it for about a month. Came back and added a secondary baseline which carries the track higher and gives it some more energy. We turned all the dials up to 11 (in terms of energy) and gave the track a fatter sound. We sent the track to Jamie Jones who road-tested it for a while and I got news whilst in Ibiza that it was being signed just before I set off to play at Pikes for back to mine. I couldn’t quite cope with my emotions at that point, a huge rush of endorphins. Yes we celebrated!!
Out now, the release includes a remix from none other than Sidney Charles, how was it to have Sidney get to work on your track and what were your reactions when you first heard his take?
Sidney was an obvious choice for us all with his history on Hot Creations and also we share the same manager, also I like his style. I was very happy when I heard Sidney‘s remix, he stayed with the analog 80s vibe but took it in another direction which I loved. I bumped into Jamie at Creamfields festival in the summer and we both agreed the bassline was a killer!
The B-side ‘We Will Not’ takes the release in a wholly different direction whilst remaining equally as ready for the dancefloor. What can you tell us about this track and the inspiration behind it?
A lot of what I do involves taking elements from the past and blending them with modern production techniques. We Will Not is a good example of this. I do enjoy the darker heavier sounds as well as the lighter stuff I’m more well known for. In the past I used to travel around Europe and spent a lot of time in Ibiza playing deeper, heavier, more underground music, so this track is a little taste of that. I love the builds where we opened up the release filter making the synth notes longer and more extreme.
Now two years on since your debut release on Future Disco, we’d love to hear a bit more about how the Black Hawks of Panama started, and the inspirations behind it?
Future Disco marked the start of a new chapter for me musically. I love the label and their ethos. As I said I’ve been involved in more underground, esoteric music. But I also loved Disco and 90s US house. Black Hawks started as an antidote to all the venues I visited playing heavy stuff all night, so I thought I wanted to do something with a little more heart but still with some meat on the bones underpinning the tracks. As a DJ I sensed people were ready for bigger tracks again and I wanted to make music for the dancefloor again, for sheer pleasure but tracks that also pleased my musical sensibility.
Could you talk us through your creative process in the studio? How do you usually like to approach a track and does it differ from track to track?
Ideas vary quite a lot for me. I might write down an idea or an inspiration or some sort of plan. Or I might sing or hum a track into my phone. Could be a bassline. A piano or another melody, there’s no hard and fast rule. The secret is to capture the idea at the moment. Then it’s straight into Ableton to arrange the track, I love it. So flexible and fast to work in. I might record vocals in the studio, sometimes Bisi records in France. Usually I tend to let the track rest and then go back to it to tweak it or change and finish it off.
Are there any key bits of equipment to you and your sound? And are there any bits you’d love to own?
As I said Ableton is the workhorse alongside my universal audio Apollo twin soundcard. Then I might use my Moog Subsequent for a bass or lead or maybe the Push for help with arrangement and drums. I couldn’t live without Arturia V Collection, their soft synths are about as close to the real thing as you get, especially Jup 8V. Also FabFilter for shaping the mix. I have had my eye on the SP 2400 sampler for a while. New kit can inspire you but I think you can fanny around with gear too much, you just need to sit down and make the track. This is something that Darren Emerson taught me, he’s an old friend and I’ve spent many hours in his spaceship of a studio. That said, in the DAW/Sequencers of today you can do pretty much anything you’ve just got to learn your equipment inside out to get the best out of it. I love to own a Yamaha CS 80, this is the synth Vangelis would use for a lot of soundtracks like Blade Runner. Maybe also a rack of Teletronix gear (I have all the plugins but it’s not quite the same) and a Neve mixer for the future, that would be nice!
Thank you for chatting with us today Danny! Congrats again on the Hot Creations release and we can’t wait to hear what’s next for you. To finish off, is there anything else in the pipeline that you can let us in on yet?
Thanks for having me! More tracks coming on some great labels, some for the bigger room too. Currently I’m replaying some basslines and laying down beats on my latest track which is sounding pretty big so far! Thanks… Follow me on Instagram at @blackhawksofpanama