Exclusive Interview with Techno Duo Pig&Dan during Phoenix Lights

Techno geniuses hailing from Spain, Pig&Dan took the time to speak with us backstage at Phoenix Lights about how the two met, their label ELEVATE, staying true to their beginnings, future collaborations and some of their epic festival experiences.

Check out Pig&Dan’s hit, ‘Growler’ below while you read our interview:

So you are about to go on in less than a hour, how are you guys feeling?

Dan: Good, man we are psyched. We are excited. We want to kick some Arizona ass.

I don’t doubt you will! So I’m sure you’ve told it many times before, but you have such an amazing backstory, can you recap for anyone who hasn’t heard it yet, how you two met and started working together?

Dan: Well, we met on a plane and I was a drum and bass DJ, and I was talking about DJ-ing in Ministry of Sound. I was a bit of an idiot, and Igor overheard me from the row behind…

Pig: No, no, you came in with a record bag, and I said “Are you a DJ?” And you said, “Yes, I play in Ministry of Sound, and I’m too cool for school.” And then that was it, we didn’t see each other for another four years or three years.

Dan: Two years.

Pig: Okay, two years… and we met through a friend of ours named Aaron, and he basically said to me one day, “You should meet Dan. He makes amazing music. I think you guys would really gel together well.” I met up with Dan, but we didn’t really remember each other. Then, we started making music, and about a month after working in the studio, we kind of looked at each other and it clicked. And we remembered that we met on that plane two years ago.

Dan: So it was kind of like destiny from that moment. We went, “Okay,” and we had a really good synergy in the studio, a really good chemistry, and that’s why that track is called, ‘Chemistry’.

Listen to their entire Chemistry EP below:

Actually, I was going to ask you guys about that track, ‘Chemistry’. When that hit the charts, that took you two to new heights. What was that like for you?

Pig: Well, ‘Growler’ was first, and then we never thought ‘Chemistry’ would be number one. We never even thought ‘Growler’ was going to be number one, to be honest. You never expect anything when you make music. When we make music, we make music to play. We don’t think, ‘oh, it’s going to be number one.’ We make it for ourselves.

Dan: We make it for us to play.

Pig: We can’t design our set. It all started ten to fifteen years ago, because we kind of had to differentiate ourselves, and we weren’t getting any promo vinyl, really, from anybody because we weren’t really well known. So the only way we could really have an edge was creating our own sound and making our own music. And it still is like that. We have a repertoire. We will always have 10 or 15 tracks that nobody’s heard that are unreleased.

Dan: And they are all terrible, but we got them! At least they are in our bag.

Pig: But that kind of makes us different, in a way. And then we play a lot of our older stuff. Our sets are kind of like live sets, I would say. We will play some other artists too, from our label ELEVATE, and sometimes we will play promos and stuff.

Pig&Dan Phoenix Lights set photo via @christianwhundley

So talking about your label ELEVATE, what kind of opportunities and difficulties has that presented?

Dan: I think one of the main difficulties was pushing artists that weren’t well known, and still staying afloat, because it costs money to release records, and we are very passionate about giving people a chance to elevate their career. I mean, that’s kind of the whole concept behind it. It’s music that helps you, and hopefully we help people get seen. And I think that’s one of our hurdles.

Pig: I don’t want to be negative, but we are pretty old, of course, and the way we used to buy music is that we used to go to a shop and listen to vinyl. And then you’d buy a vinyl. You wouldn’t really look at the label or the artist or anything. It was more about buying whatever was on that piece of vinyl. And that whole dynamic, the way music is perceived and how it’s bought, and the internet, has completely changed that. So it’s about branding now. I think that people don’t take as much time as we used to. Everybody wants everything fast… (to Dan) Dude, we didn’t have that app, what’s that app?

Dan: Shazam.

Pig: Yeah, we didn’t have Shazam. We would hear a track, and we would be like, “Wow, what’s that track?” And it probably was impossible to get, because the guy that was playing it had bought it in London or Berlin, and you were living in Spain. So maybe a year later, you’d go to a vinyl shop in Berlin or London, and go, “Do you have that track that goes la la la la blah blah?” That was our version of Shazam, you know. So everything has changed.

Dan: But our label is about that. We are supporting people musically.

Pig: The problem is, if an artist isn’t well known, people don’t buy their music, even if it is really good, because they don’t have time to listen to the music anymore.

Dan: What we try to do is use our name because we have a bit of a reputation, to help people listen to somebody who maybe they wouldn’t have listened to.

Pig: A strong release will subsidize unknown artists. You will put out a strong release on your label to make the cash so that you can subsidize the other releases.

You guys seem very authentic and down to earth. With such fame, often artists can lose their beginnings.  So, how do you guys stay true to your beginnings and stay humble?

Dan: Well, I just think we do it for the right reasons.

Pig: I think that when your ego gets too big, life comes and gives you a big fucking slap.

Dan: I mean what is ego? We are all going to die. We all shit.

Pig: I say that shit smells everywhere. It doesn’t matter who you are, shit smells!

Dan: I mean we play records; we make records, big fucking deal. We are so lucky. Everyday, and I mean that, we actually do appreciate the position we are in, because we are lucky. We are extremely privileged.

Pig: And we try and keep our ego in check. Life keeps it in check.

Dan: I mean, like the other day, I was pissed off because I was starving, and then Igor was like, “Dude, think about people in Syria,” and I was like, ‘Boom you’re right.’ Or, like, “Oh, we are delayed on this flight.” Well, we are lucky to even get on a flight.

Pig: Yeah, first world problems.

Dan: We are lucky enough to have things like this meet and greet that we just had, which was amazing. There were two people that actually had flown to Belgium to see us perform. I mean, what an honor that is for us.

Pig: We actually think it’s surreal. This whole fame thing, or whatever, at the end of the day, we are just people and we enjoy the simple things in life. And we have had our ups and downs. I’m in recovery, and eight and a half years ago, I basically crashed with drugs and alcohol, and I had to go to rehab. Now I’ve been sober for eight and a half years. That was a very big wake up call to our career, and to my ego, and to everything. It’s like I said, life kind of keeps you on your toes.

Pig&Dan at Phoenix Lights via @christianwhundley

So, on the other side of that, you guys obviously made it big. People know you, people love you, so when you meet other well respected artists that you love, do you still fan out?

Dan: Absolutely. It’s more out of respect though.

Pig: The only person I’ve fanned out for was Jim Morrison when I saw The Doors movie by Oliver Stone, which is a fantastic movie. I was like, ‘Wow, Jim, he is awesome.’ But that’s it, really.

Dan: But we really respect the people in our scene.

Pig: And when we do like a DJ, and we like their productions, we are the first to go up and go, “Hey man, we are total fans of your sound,” for sure.

Dan: We lick their ass. Not literally.

Pig: And we actually ask them a lot of the time if they want to work with us.

Is there anybody that you’re looking forward to working with in the future?

Dan: Well, we just did a load of collaborations that are coming up.

Pig: Yeah, we just worked with Adam Beyer, Monika Kruz, Harvey McKay, Hosh, and with ANNA. We have a remix from Christian Smith‘s album out next week, and we are featured alongside Laurent Garnier, but I’d love to work with him on a collab project, or some real classics. We also asked Joey Beltram.

Dan: Yeah, he wants to do something together. He’s kind of one of my heroes. One of the reasons I fell in love with this music is Joey Beltram. We’re old man, we’re very, very old.

Check out Pig & Dan’s collection of tracks with Adam Beyer, ‘Capsule’ below:

You guys have played at huge festivals, including Ultra, Tomorrowland, and Awakenings. Which was one of your best festival experiences?

Dan: Ultra Buenos Aires in Argentina was mind blowing, man.

Pig: We had 10,000 people connected to us. It was mind blowing.

Dan: It was like a remote control crowd, you know. You would go like this (motions) and then 10,000 people would do the exact same thing you did.

Pig: Argentinians are very receptive to the music. They are very passionate about electronic music.

Pig&Dan via @christianwhundley

What was your experience playing at Tomorrowland like?

Dan: There were moments that were fucking epic, but you have to understand that there’s a lot of people that go there to experience it that are not necessarily there because of a certain DJ, or the music. They are actually there because of the experience, because it is an amazing experience.

Pig: I mean it was nerve racking. I was bloody nervous. I mean that stage is massive. It’s probably one of the biggest stages we’ve ever played at.

That’s something I was curious about, actually. So, do you guys still get nervous when you perform?

Pig: Of course.

Dan: Absolutely. My father told me that the day you don’t get nervous is the day you give up.

Pig: I mean, that’s why a lot of artists have drank, and have done drugs, is because of the stage fright. You feel self-conscious, you feel nervous, and it’s a tough thing. It’s like public speaking.

Dan: But it’s also part of the buzz. Once you’re in it, you’re on.

Pig: And then the adrenaline kicks in, and it’s an amazing feeling.

Dan: And this is our passion, man.

Thanks for meeting with us guys, keep killin’ it!

Pig&Dan via Pig&Dan’s Facebook

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