Well into its second decade, and with over 30 volumes released, Defected’s House Masters series is both an institution and an education. A celebration of house music’s key players, an invitation to take part in the series instantly denotes an artist with depth, integrity, longevity - and the quality control knob turned up to 11. Such is the hot streak David Penn has been on of late (#1 artist on Traxsource in both 2017 and 2019, #2 in 2018), the timing of this set is perfect. However, it also charts a career spanning over two decades at the top of the house tree. Penn is one of those rare producers who has a trademark sound without ever being formulaic, one that is classic yet contemporary. It is a skill he shares with many of house music’s originators, and marks him out as a standard bearer for the ongoing development of the house sound. Famed for his funky piano motifs, ability for working with vocalists of many different styles, driving basslines and on point percussion, he is equally adept at going deep or acidic when the moment is right. Trusted by labels to remix classics, whilst also consistently releasing his own present-day standards both through Defected and his own Urbana label, while still finding time to work with labels such as Glasgow Underground and soul mates like ATFC, David Penn truly is a House Master.
Hear from the man himself the backstories to some of his essential records...
David Penn: ‘Nobody’
"Sometimes I spend a long time trying to make a track, but Nobody was the exception. I think I made the idea in a couple of hours because I found everything that I wanted really quickly, but it took much longer to finish the break properly!!"
Pete Heller: ‘Big Love’ (David Penn remix)
"When Simon asked me to remix Big Love, I was happy and worried at the same time, because I played the original a lot and it was a big challenge to make it right. I sent the demo to my friend Rober Gaez, who said to me: “The remix is cool but, where is your piano?” I really respect the original and I was not sure if people would accept a new version of it, but I did it right, thanks Rober!! I also thought that other DJs were doing remixes but it was only myself!!"
David Penn featuring Ramona Renea:‘Stand Up’
"I had this song in my head before making it, I recorded a voice note on my phone and it was in my mind for months until one day I made the arrangement in an hour, sent it to Adrienne from Defected and she suggested I work with Ramona Renea. She took the idea and ran with it from the first moment - it was really easy to work with her, she has an amazing voice and I would love to work with her again."
Purple Disco Machine featuring Lorenz Rhode: ‘Music in You’ (David Penn remix)
"It was amazing when I received a request to remix PDM! I also love the vocoders, so it was a lot of fun to work on this remix."
David Penn vs Roland Clark: ‘The Power’
"Originally this was going to be released on my label Urbana Recordings but when Defected heard it, they told me that they really wanted it!!!"
Sandy Rivera: ‘I Can´t Stop’ (David Penn remix)
"Another track that was one of my favourites, I played the original a lot and when Defected asked me to remix it, I couldn´t say no! When I do remixes, I normally take only the vocals and I try to make the track mine like on this one. Still to this day some people ask me to play it in my sets!"
Sophie Lloyd featuring Dames Brown: ‘Calling Out’ (David Penn remix)
"The original is beautiful, with those powerful vocals and in this case I didn´t made a new piano, I cut the original piano into parts creating a different arrangement but keeping the essence of the song."
Danny Clark & Jay Benham featuring SuSu Bobien: ‘Wondrous’ (David Penn remix)
"When I heard this track for the first time, I fell in love with the vocal and I asked Strictly Rhythm to send me the parts because the original was too soulful for my sets, so they sent me and I enjoyed working on it a lot. Strictly Rhythm weren't looking to make any remixes, but I did it for pleasure and it became more known than the original!"
David Penn & Rober Gaez: ‘What Is House’
"Originally this was like a bootleg/mash up that me and Rober Gaez made for our sets. Personally I liked the vocal from Sandy Rivera so much that I thought it would be impossible… but when we played it in the club and saw the reaction, we sent it straight to Simon Dunmore, who only took 10 minutes to call us saying that he wanted it for Defected."
Jack Back: ‘(It Happens) Sometimes’ (David Penn remix)
"The original is very nice but that vocal was needing more “music” in it. I tried to make something more organic but still strong and I think I did it!!"
Candi Staton: ‘Hallelujah Anyway’
"When I had the chance to remix Candi Staton it was another dream for me. Her voice is magical, and it was another cool remix from Larse, but I asked Defected if I could do a more powerful remix - they said yes, and I really enjoyed."
Jon Cutler featuring E-Man: ‘It´s Yours’ (David Penn remix)
"I really liked the original and I really enjoyed making it, I also made a dub mix that had big success too!"
River Ocean featuring India: ‘Love & Happiness’ (David Penn remix)
"I always loved India’s voice and the tracks she made with MAW, so it was an honour for me to make it. I tried to keep some of the original in the break but adding my own touch and making it stronger for the club."
Ron Hall & the MuthaFunkaz featuring Marc Evans: ‘The Way You Love Me’ (David Penn remix)
"Marc Evans has a voice that you can recognise in seconds and the song was very popular at that time, so i just enjoyed putting my spin on it!"
Chus & Penn: ‘Esperanza’
"This track was made around 2003 and was the 4th release on my label Urbana, we wanted to make a melodic & spiritual track that was rising and rising through the track. After a few months, Defected asked for the license and it was remixed by DJ Spen & Gary Hudgins, Faze Action and Dr Kucho…"