My Favourite Game
The DJ and producer waxes on about Nintendo consoles and the link between game music and techno
DJ and producer Daniel Avery ponders Nintendo and techno
Daniel Avery is a DJ and producer based in London, frequently listed among the top DJs in the underground club scene. He has recorded mixes for Fabric and DJ-Kicks and produced his own dance album, Drone Logic. With new music set to release soon, he takes time out of the studio to talk about his other enduring passion. What was the first game you played? It was definitely Super Mario Bros on the NES round my friend’s house. Being in that room is one of my earliest memories. Seeing my obsession with it all, my parents bought me a SNES with Super Mario World for my birthday. That was back in 1992. I’ve still got it. Did that put you in the Nintendo camp? I dug it all really. My friend had a Mega Drive and then a Saturn, which we played for days. I loved the PlayStation but I’ve probably poured more hours into the N64 than any other console. All the systems felt entirely different back then. Games were a big obsession of yours growing up, then? Yeah; games, football and music. My first job was in an import game shop in Bournemouth called Video Game Centre, so it was very much a part of my youth. It opened around 1991 and amassed an amazing collection of stuff over its time. The owner would often drive to London to meet new arrivals off the plane from Japan whilst the shop stayed open late into the night. Those were really happy, funny times for me. They gave me a Super Famicom Jr as a leaving present when I went to university which I also still have, alongside a pretty dedicated collection of games. How did you get into DJing? I didn’t grow up listening to dance music. I mean, I loved electronic acts like Björk and Aphex Twin but I in no way connected them to dance music. To a kid in Bournemouth, clubs were all about shit music for blokes in CK One – I had no interest in that world. It was only when I discovered this one tiny underground night, where they’d play Joy Division and krautrock next to electronic records, that it all made sense. I felt like I’d found a new home. After hanging around for long enough, they asked if I wanted to open the night one time and that was my first DJ gig. I played every week after that. Did you also plan to make your own music? I’d been making some noisy shoegaze stuff on a 4-track in my bedroom for a couple of years by this point but I had no idea how to finish anything. I had no intention of making any music that could be played in a club. It was only when I moved to London that things changed. I was working in a record shop so I met a lot of bands and managers. Some of them asked if I wanted to try a remix; it was how I cut my teeth. After a couple of years, I felt I was finding my own voice. A few of the tracks found their way to Andrew Weatherall, who started playing them, and things began to move for me. Did music in games have any influence on your own music? I like the link between early game music and techno. That idea of having to create memorable moments out of very little; making the most of what you have. Of course I didn’t realise this as a youngster but it’s something I’ve come to appreciate over time. Saying that, I think Streets Of Rage sunk in pretty deep. Would you ever consider writing music for a game? If the right thing came along then absolutely. It’s definitely something I’d like to explore. Do you still get time to play games? Not really, but the Switch has been something of a revelation. That’s always in the bag now.
OK then – what is your all-time favourite game? I’m into creative processes that embrace the old and the new in equal measure. For me, that’s when interesting things can occur. All the games that have stayed with me in my life have shared something: A Link To The Past, Mario 64, Metal Gear Solid, Shenmue, Resident Evil 4, Journey… they all felt familiar and new at the same time. But honestly, I’ve played Street Fighter II more than any other game by a massive margin. It’s the definition of beautiful simplicity. Over 25 years on I’m nowhere near bored of it. I still find myself humming Guile’s theme as I walk through airports.
“I’ve played Street Fighter II more than any other game by a massive margin”