by Jordana Moore

The Brooklyn-Based DJ/musician Says Staying Present Is the Key to New Opportunities

If ever there was an embodiment of Newton’s first law of motion, Dave Harrington is it. Always on the move, the Brooklyn-based musician was walking from his place in BedStuy to do a weekly radio show at The Lot—a repurposed shipping container in Greenpoint—when he spoke with Flaunt. “I do a show a week, basically, at this point. I bring a bag of records and throw some CDJs on and just kinda play whatever I like for two hours,” Dave explains. “So I’m gonna do this radio show, and listen to some records I haven’t listened to in a while, and something’s gonna happen. It’s kind of an obvious point, but I think it’s the only way I know how to do things, Just try to be present, and hope that something new happens.” An object in motion tends to stay in motion.

But that’s how Dave’s always been. Dave recalls his musical journey from a young age. “At some point I took piano lessons, because that’s what you do. Then I was like, “Mom I wanna be a drummer.” So she was like, “Okay, drum lessons.” Then I was like, “Mom, I really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. I wanna play guitar.” So she was like, “Okay, guitar lessons.” And then, from the time I was in high school and up through now, the center of my musical education was jazz and improvised music.”

The new sound that Dave has created using improvised music has indeed become his calling card. A few months ago, his first solo LP Become Alive was released. Recorded over the course of three days in marathon improvised studio sessions with several musicians, Dave spent two years editing the album before it was released. “There’s one piece that is a sketch of a couple of sequences and a few parts that I brought in, and then everything else is a product of me curating who was going to play, doing a little direction, and then letting it rip. Hitting the red button, and then dealing with it later. Using the post-production and the editing tools that I use as a producer and a remixer to turn it into something else that is designed to be more than just jamming.”

Dave’s love of improvisation plays into his live DJ sets as well. “You're after a similar thing as the jazz and improvised music that I love,” Dave says, “it’s more often than not a connection to the audience—and that’s what DJing is about at its most fundamental level. So I really enjoy it, it really stimulates me creatively and challenges me in different ways.” From bands to electronic duos to creating improvised film scores to a solo album, Dave seems to have done it all. But he’s not showing any signs of slowing down. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. “You tour, you get ideas, you make a record. While you’re figuring out how to play that record, you learn things about how you want to tour and how you want to make your next record. And then the cycle continues. It is all kind of on the same continuum, it’s all different spokes on the same wheel that I’m constantly spinning.”

So what’s Dave Harrington’s dream project? “I like to collaborate, and I like to say yes to things. I like to be pushed by things that happen, and things you open yourself up to. I like playing with people I like, you know? And I like meeting new people and I like being surprised. For me, playing a show with the people you get along with musically and emotionally is kind of the most important thing. Money can’t buy that.”

Check out the ever-evolving Dave Harrington’s DJ set at the Full Moon Music Festival August 20th and 21st on Governor’s Island.

Photo: Jed De Moss