Daniel Wang: DJ, Producer, and Little Mister Sunshine


Ghostly artist Daniel Wang, a DJ who has been namechecked in Daft Punk liner notes, was on a bus to New York City, when he texted us from his German mobile: “still in boston with family…dont want pay roaming charges.” He was scheduled to play P.S.1’s Warm Up party the next day, along with Arthur’s Landing, an Arthur Russell tribute band. Like half of the East Village, earlier in the decade Wang moved to Berlin and became an instant fixture in the ex-pat broken disco scene. His visits to the States are frequent and fleeting, but giddy and anticipated affairs.

The next day was overcast and rainy. Arriving at P.S.1 early, you might have been worried by the sparse line. Would this be the weekend when New Yorkers just gave up and stayed inside? Brennan Green, a Balihu Records artist (which Wang founded back in 1993), was massaging the early birds with some no-wave and retro pop. Slowly, the crowd grew.

And then Wang arrived, dressed in color-splashed shorts and lime Day-Glo Nikes. After a quick round of hugs, kisses and pictures, he needed a moment alone: “Just give me a minute to get my music together. I can’t really concentrate on anything else when I’m thinking about my playlist.”

Photo credit: Jorge Hernandez

Laying out his CDs and vinyl in what was undoubtedly some kind of theme, he stepped out from behind the boards for a quick chat and a few more pictures. “Sorry I’ve been in such a rush,” he exclaimed. “I”m always going from one thing to another.” The occasion, this time? “It was my birthday. I wanted to see my grandmother, my family. And it’s a fun party to play. I get to spin with Brennan, see some other friends. But then, I’m off again, to California tomorrow.”

Photo credit: Joel Shaughnessy

A few tracks into his set, the motif he was assembling earlier became apparent. Patrick Juvet‘s “I Love America.” Odyssey‘s “Native New Yorker.” America‘s “You Can Do Magic.” And one record that sent a certain writer up to the decks. “It’s called ‘Take Me to the Bridge’ by Vera,” Wang said, waving the record sleeve around a la Shirley Temple.

Later, the globetrotting, patriotic DJ’s DJ added, “I got my German/EU permanent visa in January 2009. I’m hoping to retire to a Greek Isle. USA — too many mixed feelings.”

Photo credit: Joel Shaughnessy

Whatever those were, he kept the negative ones off the 1’s and 2’s. At one point he even hopped on stage during the theme to the Star Wars cantina and did the Charleston. It was only a few days after Michael Jackson’s passing, and a poignant ode was inevitable: “Life ain’t so bad at all, if you live it off the wall.”

The clouds may have lingered, and a stray drop may have landed in a beer or two, but by night’s end, when the sky was dark and the remaining devotees were jumping around on stage, it was clear that Danny had packed sunshine to spare.

Photo credit: Anna White