Soul Food Man

DJ Danny Love loves the gumbo

Photo by Jeanne RiceBorn in whiter-than-white Boulder, raised in whiter-than-that Yorba Linda, DJ Danny Love was nevertheless a soul man with a hard-on for James Brown and the Jackson 5. Raised in the hothouse of funk, he was by the mid-1980s a ready recruit for hip-hop—and that, he says, is when he started spinning records. He kept spinning throughout college (he's a UCLA history grad), where he merged seamlessly into the rave scene. Hip-hop, house, techno—"Soul," he says, "is still the roots of all the music I do."

Were you into breakdancing?

Breakdancing was big. We'd do the mix tapes for our own dancing.

Can you spin on your head after you eat?

After dinner? Not at my age.

How old are you?

Let's say over 30.

What's the relationship between food and music?

You know, I think it has to do with just settling down, having a little more money. When you're in college, you're living on mac and cheese. Then, you reach a certain level, you make a couple of bucks, and you're ready for real food.

When did you reach that certain level?

Toward the end of college I worked as a waiter in an Italian restaurant in Anaheim Hills—Foscari, a great restaurant. It's still there on La Palma Avenue and Imperial Highway. They have an open-kitchen format where the chef is doing everything right there in front of you. I learned so much. It was the kind of place where the chef would fix you something different every day.

So it started with Italian.

Started with Italian. But after college, I lived in my van for three and a half months. I drove across the country with a friend. Everywhere we went, we ate all the different foods you can find around the country.

Not just roadside, fast-food crap?

No, no, the good stuff. We'd drive into a big city and find one nice restaurant and eat there.

Any memorable cities?

New Orleans had probably the most exciting food. We went for the gumbo, the crawfish, the jambalaya. We tried everything.

Do you think there's a connection between your affinity for New Orleans cuisine and your love of music?

Yeah, I think so. When I think "soul," I think the connotation is New Orleans jazz, soul, funk music—that original jazz-funk fusion sound that for some reason matches New Orleans cooking.

Are you still into New Orleans cuisine?

Well, coincidentally, about the time we came back, a friend of mine from college, Dan, opened Memphis in Costa Mesa. They have the best gumbo in town. I was DJing a little lounge there on Friday nights, and I developed this ritual: I'd get there early, get a New York steak or a pan-roasted chicken and a cup of gumbo. But then they opened Detroit, and I moved over there. Man, do I miss my ritual.

You don't eat at Detroit?

It's pretty much just a bar.

But you've got to eat.

Yeah, but normally I'm so behind—I'm always late, so I don't usually eat a great meal. I stopped in at Zen Bistro in Newport Beach before a show a week ago to get a couple of pieces of sushi, and they had a nice kind of loungey music going. It did go well with the sushi—and with the more loungey, electronic, lazier house sounds I'm playing right now.

How about Italian, the cuisine that got you into real food?

For Italian, I really like Tutto Mare in Newport Beach. I love the capellini alla checca with shrimp and a little extra basil. In Brea, I like Thai Specialty on Imperial Highway. I love the beef salad, for starters. It's this spicy, warm, charred beef, but the rest of the salad is cold—lettuce and cucumbers—a real nice contradiction.

When you knock off spinning records, do you eat?

I try not to eat when I knock off. You get done about 2 or 3 in the morning, and the worst thing in the world is to eat then. I don't want to get too fat.

DJ Danny Love spins at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600. Fri., 9:30 p.m. Free.
 
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