He is a legend of the dance music scene with more than 20 years as a top-rated DJ. She is an internationally renowned club DJ with a reputation for eclectic and adventurous sets. Together, married couple Danny, 52, and Ilona, 33, are “powerhouse” duo Mr and Mrs Rampling. In advance of their gig on Saturday night at Riverhouse, Will Jackson asked them about life and work as a married couple and what Phnom Penh can expect from them musically on their second visit to Cambodia.
How did you guys get together?
Danny: We met at a charity event that I was DJing at in East London about three years ago. The gigs just happened organically as a result of us playing a one-off gig together at a different charity event. We work well as a team.
Ilona: It took two years to have a first date – we were very busy with our respective DJ gigs around the world so it took some time before the timing was right. We married a year later. Danny proposed to me at Angkor Wat, so being here back in Cambodia has a very special meaning for us.
Why is it better to have the two of you DJing than just one?
Ilona: Well, there is more energy whipped up in the crowd. The dancefloor can get into quite a frenzy with the two of us behind the decks.
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working and touring together?
Danny: The advantage is we get to spend more time together as a couple. Life is to be cherished and we live each day as if our last. It’s great being on the road as husband and wife – we have great synergy and are soul mates. Disadvantages? To be honest, that’s very difficult to answer. I can’t think of any at all.
Ilona: When you have a partner in crime travelling with you, it just makes the whole experience more exciting. When you are a team, different ideas develop further when they’re bounced back and forth to reach their full potential. Making music or creating mixes in the studio really is just magic when we are both charged and inspired. Plus being in love with someone too, you just have that extra special bond and a different way of communicating with each other. Downsides I guess are, well, when touring anyway, small things like waiting for the shower.
What’s the best thing about having your partner there on tour?
Danny: Well, it sure beats going back to the hotel alone. After a great party we get to go home together and travel together as a unit. Life on the road in past years was at times a tad lonely once the party was over.
Ilona: Having someone there to tell me if my outfit or hair is looking OK is pretty handy, and to help me with my bags is quite sweet too. In all seriousness though, we are very blessed to have a joint passion for music and can share these experiences together.
How do you do gigs together?
Danny: We play sometimes three or four tracks each and seldom disagree. We seem to have a psychic connection, knowing what the other one is going to play next, which helps. And we have great energy in the mix. Our taste is very parallel.
Ilona: It depends on the gig. Sometimes Danny will go on first, and other times I will start the set – this decision usually happens quite naturally. We have very similar tastes in music that complement each other very well, so we are quite happy with what the other will play. But there have been a few times – which I think is natural – where we will both want to play a new storming track, but we are usually gracious about it and take our turns with the new goods. We don’t have to say much to each other to know where we want to take the music. We just read the crowd and both take off from there.
What can audiences in Phnom Penh expect from you music-wise?
Danny: A feast of electronic music and cool house grooves. It will be another fun party so do not miss out.
Ilona: I am DJing in the lounge for the first part of the evening. I’ll mix it up quite a bit depending on the vibe but expect a bit of funk, electro, house, disco, possibly some upbeat lounge. Then myself and Danny will be playing back-to-back together in the main room where the sound will be big room electronic and house with quite soulful, funky and sexy sounds (and some serious bass).
What’s your next move?
Danny: We are making an album. The singles are done and will be released next year, under a new name. Watch this space.
Mr and Mrs Rampling play Riverhouse (#157E2, Sisowath Quay) on Saturday night from 9pm.