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Danny Miller on The Zoo Project and Real Gang

Spotlight finds out more about how Danny Miller went from Ibiza worker to resident DJ.

It's around 4:30 in the morning on Wednesday 6 June. A number of Danny Miller's nearest and dearest are gathered on the small, intimate dancefloor at Ibiza Underground. Emotions are high. Everybody is clapping and cheering. Miller has just played b2b at his favourite venue on earth for the first time alongside one of his closest friends Nicolau. You can tell this moment clearly means a lot to many people. The next day Miller sends me a text: "That's the best gig I've ever played. I literally broke down in tears when everyone started cheering and applauding."

As you might have guessed, things are going pretty well for Miller right now. As promotions manager and resident DJ at The Zoo Project you could say that right now he is living the dream that many young Ibiza workers strive for when they first come to the island with big hopes and aspirations.

Danny started DJing at 12 years old. Influenced by the rave scene in the north of England, he bought his first 2 Kam belt drive turntables from Cash Generators for £55 with his birthday money. "This is when I first began to experiment with records in my mother's loft. I'm 24 now, so the last 12 years have been spent developing my sound into what it is today." Miller spent his teen years playing in local clubs and running his own parties. After pursuing everything he needed to in his hometown, he made his next move to turn his love into a lifestyle. Enter Ibiza.

Danny's Ibiza story began five years ago when he booked a last minute holiday. Like many of us who continue to come here every summer, his first trip gave him the bug and after some changes back home he made the move to the island the following summer.

"My first season was a disaster," explains Danny. "My car got towed away, our apartment was burgled. They took my laptop and hard drive so I lost every sound I'd ever made. My first summer put a very thick skin on me, but I got on with it and continued my one hour a day poster job and stuck the summer out. Four years on I have made a life here, made friends that I class as my family and have a dream role for a brand very close to my heart. I handle promotions at The Zoo Project and also hold a resident DJ spot, something that I have worked at for years. I feel I have earned my stripes."

Miller's musical influences have come from a wide range of genres. "I have always been a big hip hop fan, by that I mean old skool hip hop. Biggie, 2 Pac, A Tribe Called Quest, all the way to ALT-J and their Awesome Wave album. That album has played an important part of my memories over the years, as did The Street's album Original Pirate Material. That's where my love of sampling and testing boundaries comes from. "

Now his own DJ and production sound have been influenced by years on the dance floor. "I think it's given me the knowledge to be able to recreate such atmospheres myself. My favourites cover a line of names such as Ion Ludwig, Ricardo Villalobos, Rhadoo, Sonja Moonear, the list goes on but basically artists who test boundaries but keep things solid."

Gang members Nicolau and Danny go b2b at Zoo Evolution

This brings us to Danny's own productions alongside his production partner Miffy. "Myself and production partner Miffy under our alias 'Miffy & Miller' have been working on a project for the last three years. I feel our sound has been hugely moulded by The Zoo Project. A lot has happened over the past year and now records we made in my mother's shed are being pressed on wax as records on Slapfunk and In Haus Wax. Nearly every piece of music I play is from friends or is fresh out the studio, unreleased. I want to play music no one has ever heard before and play to people who feel the music and not just get the buzz from being familiarised with a track they know or a build up and drop."

One of the biggest turning points in Danny's growing career was meeting Samuel Deep of Slapfunk Records. A chance meeting in the booth at The Zoo last summer saw the gang and Deep hit it off straight away. As a keen admirer of the label, Danny invited Deep and his crew back to their villa for an after-party that went on for almost two days. Earlier this year, Miffy and Miller made their debut release on Slapfunk as part of the labels 'Raw Joints' EP.

Danny with Slapfunk Records duo Samuel Deep and Julian Alexander

Besides having his own personal ambitions, Danny is part of a collective that is very close to his heart: Real Gang. The more time you spend with Danny and the gang crew members, the more you understand that it's about the 'personal touch' and 'the daily grind.' Nobody within the gang is interested in shortcuts or fast tracking their way through life. They all understand that it's about taking things one step at a time, building a network and making sure everything they do is done properly.

Like any brand that is building the future, the first step is in the name. The definition of the word 'real' in the dictionary is 'not artificial.' The meaning behind 'gang' reads 'a group of a gathering of people.' Put that together and the definition of 'Real Gang' is 'a group of genuine people living in a movement.' "We all have our roles of importance from the instigators to the ones who make the dance floor more enjoyable. Real Gang is a project that is a perfect example of what the island can bring to someone like myself," explains Danny.

The gang is now 10 members strong. Danny, Miffy, Josh, Nicolau, Pete, Joe, Riley, Sean, Ollie and last but not least Jacky Boy. Together they make up the collective that began a few years ago in the north of England. "I met one of my closest boys Nicolau, in Ibiza a few years ago. From here we became great friends and he also had the same addiction to music. After spending a summer in the studio with myself and Miffy, Nicolau made the decision to move to the north of England in the winter to learn from us and start to build on something. Joined by my bro Pete we spent the winter preparing for the next summer on the island. We spoke often of a concept to symbolise our core, respect and loyalty to one another, as well as being in a crew and of course keeping things real."

Real Gang is broken down into two parts. On the left-hand side, you have an incoming record label that will feature releases from Samuel Deep, Julian Alexander and Miffy and Miller themselves. "We will be keeping our upcoming label in the family, releasing cuts from our friends only. Real Gang Records is a personal project I have wanted since I was a kid. Now we are finally putting it into action. Everything has fallen into place so organically and the logistics are right."

On the right-hand side is the clothing label. Each Real Gang t-shirt is branded with the movement's logo, displaying the definition of the movement as stated above. If you ever see the crew about on a dance floor you will notice that they are always supporting the line they have created. "We wear the clothing to cause that bit of solidarity between one another. It's a token of friendship and what has brought us together from all over the world. We have had friends see others in the brand and got talking about myself and the boys. We receive pictures sent from people together who met through recognising our brand."

So what advice does Danny have for first time workers this summer? "My advice for anyone wanting to come to this island is DO IT. It's nearly five years since I came here for the first time. It may not an ideal living arrangement or a constant flow of money but this island has made me who I am today. It has given me more loved ones that I can name and allowed me to begin to establish myself as an artist. I don't think you can put a price on that". Real talk.

Catch Danny and Real Gang at Zoo Project Evolution on Tuesday 20th June or check all dates below.

Real Gang Clothing - The Grind Lookbook

PHOTOGRAPHY | The Zoo Project + Real Gang

Miffy & Miller - Ibiza 2017 Dates

The Zoo Project: Saturday 1st July, Saturday 5th August, Saturday 19th August, Saturday 26th August and Saturday 2nd September

Zoo Project Evolution: Tuesday 20th June, Tuesday 29th August, Tuesday 10th October

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