Interview by Joe Delon, January 2024
Danny Vibe is the co-founder of a party changing the musical landscape of Malta: Sunny Side Up. Since the first SSU in 2017, Danny and his fellow co-founder Luke (with whom he plays as UJ/DV) have established this Sunday party as an alternative offer for clubbers who want to go out during the day. Starting late morning and running through sunset into the night, the party combines groovy house music with outdoor locations and healthy food and drinks.
Previous international guests have included Ben Sims, Dana Ruh, Brawther and Carpet & Snare’s own Jorge Caiado. And in May 2024, SSU will be expanding to throw their first ever festival: Sunny Side Festival. More on that in our Q&A with Danny below, which you can read while listening to his stellar mix of sunny, bumping house.
Tell us a bit about what was going through your mind when recording the mix. How faithful is it to the sound of a Sunny Side Up party?
Not much thought went into this mix really. I was cataloging and cleaning a bunch of records I just dug out and whilst going through them, I felt the urge to just give it a go. I wanted a smooth, controlled mix, no pops and bangs. I did go places in this set, but always falling back to a constant groove, a life line which pulls forward all these different elements together.
This mix would definitely go down nicely as a warm-up before the peak-time slot. We tend to take it up a few notches at Sunny Side Up as the day goes by! From smooth/deep house to big beats, big basslines and a high energy vibe, always revolving around the many shades of house music.
There’s an undeniable disco thread running through your selections here. What does disco mean to you and how do you see it speaking through your sets?
Yes, there are hints of disco, yet there is hints of disco in all 90s house music and I played a lot of that in this mix. Especially US/UK early house artists were still heavily sampling disco, or resampling house tracks which in turn were sampled from a disco track! No matter the many labels it has been given over the years, “disco” hands down paved the way for the creation of two great musical genres, hip hop and house music. Respect must be given when it’s due.
I played this type of house music not because of my affinity to disco, but for the percussive, techy rolling grooves these tracks have. For me this is the purest form of house. Raw drums with a heavy swing, silly hi hats, moody chord progressions, sampled or monosynth basslines and purposefully placed, hair-raising vocals every now and again. For me, the period between 1993–1998 was when house music differentiated itself as a standalone genre with its own characteristics.
Sunny Side Up is a Sunday party that starts at 10am and runs late into the evening. Could you describe the arc of a typical party to us, and is there a particular moment/hour that’s your favourite?
Sunny Side Up was conceived from the idea to party during the morning and keep on going till sunset. From years of partying, it was always a highlight when the sun came out. It revitalises the dance floor.
During the typical party timeframes, Saturday night/Friday Night people would usually be tired after a long week at work, get smashed because they feel they need to in order to release their stresses and go back home limping, and all this in a period of 6 hours haha. We wanted to shy away from this by offering a concept where people wake up fresh for it, have a healthy breakfast and are fully energised for the day ahead. Add on top a sunny Sunday morning and the vibe is unique, bursting with energy.
I would say the whole event is important — especially the progression of music throughout is key to a great event! But if I have to choose one moment, the last 2 hours of the event are what defines the day. How the DJ closes the event will dictate the feel-good factor of our followers for the days to come, and the eagerness of people to come to our events again.
Daytime parties have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to venues, bureaucracy and bringing in a crowd. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with SSU so far? And what has been easier thanks to being a day party?
SSU is an event that one needs to commit to. Unless you’re a legend, you have to keep the Saturday evening before a SSU clear of any big plans for anyone to be in a good state to come to a day event on a hot summer day. On a Friday or Saturday night, if you feel like going out and seeing what parties are on, there are no strings attached, and it doesn’t require any commitment.
We are extremely grateful and lucky (!) to have a committed community rallying for us. The challenge behind this innate commitment is that there has been a growing tendency especially in the younger up-and-coming generations to leave it till the last few days to purchase tickets and this obviously creates an aura of anxiety, which chips away at our artistic side. In the end, myself and Luke (my best friend and co-founder of Sunny Side Up) are in this scene for the love of the music, above anything else.
On the other hand, the concept sells itself. The moment people show up and experience this Sunday morning vibe, which is different from what they are used to, is the moment when even the most cynical Sunday chiller would allow themselves be caught, hook, line and sinker!
You are throwing your debut edition of Sunny Side Festival in May this year, with two stages and plenty of international guests alongside local DJs. What principles guided you when curating the programme for the festival? And what kind of interaction do you foresee between the festival ecosystem and the local community?
We want to create a community of underground music aficionados that spreads beyond our tiny island of Malta. The only way possible has been to work with the best promotors/institutions in the European scene and give them the creative space for them to perform and showcase their best. So we have hand-picked the promotors we will be working with, based on close musical associations to the SSU brand, but the line-ups were purely curated by the respective brands (Slapfunk, Yoyaku, Half Baked, After Caposile, Dungeon Meat, Trommel, tINI and the Gang, Why Not?). Naturally we curated our own area in the festival together with our stage partner.
What we hope for and dream of is to put Malta on the map as a great festival destination for our style of music and give our local community an incredible experience and an A-List line-up that they previously could only get by going to festivals abroad. Malta is a gem: the lifestyle, the food, the sea, the beaches, you name it. A beautiful setting worthy of a festival!