Daniel will be the first to tell you that he refuses to adopt a gimmicky DJ name, a testament to the authentic person he is. In one of the many languages of Cameroon, his last name Mekinda translates to “the person who turns a negative into a positive.” This could not be more true of our newest team member.
Daniel has a depth of music that knows no boundaries or borders. Daniel cannot be stumped when its comes to eras, genres, or world music. Growing up, his father played everything from Opera and Classical, to Doo Wop and Reggae, and always with a focus on mood, and the power of music in any language.
Daniel’s DJing skills are as impressive as his list of professional achievements; major label music executive at Sony BMG, Canadian Idol A&R co-ordinator, and MBA Valedictorian at the Rotman School of Management. In his lifetime he has helped make global superstars out of artists such as Foo Fighters, Avril Lavigne, Keshia Chante, Shawn Desman and Massari. But now, instead of getting their songs heard on the radio, he is mixing them up for clients at private events.
Although he has been a fixture in the Canadian record industry for over 20 years, he joins Team Floh Back with the passion of a young person just starting out.
By background, Daniel is a mix of Croatian and German. He enjoys travelling to both countries regularly. In his spare time he loves curating music playlists for all different types of moods, and learning about new music from around the world. He holds publishing rights to over a thousand songs, and to his credit, he has several Junos on his mantle. Daniel has visited over 50 countries, but is proud to call Toronto Home, where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.
Daniel’s heart is as big as his commitment to music is, proven when he helped to open a music studio in Sierra Leonne in 2010.
To get to know Daniel and his tastes better, we asked him to share with us some of his favourite go-to party songs, and to tell us in his own words why he loves playing them so much. Here is what he came back with:
‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire – funny, I don’t often hear this tune requested…but I always hear it and play it. It’s a party staple! This can take you full disco, satisfy a particular crowd…but any which way it certainly just feels right for everyone. This group has a world-class catalogue to check out, and even include in a DJ set, but this tops off the ‘must play’ from their library.
‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ by Whitney Houston – what used to be a song largely for those enjoying music of the 1980s, has fully crossed eras and come alive. Sure this is a must play at an retro music party or set, but I have found it to also be a must play at just about any wedding, birthday, office party, etc. I see young and old with huge smiles on their faces, making eye contact with those around them and singing at the top of their lungs. What a chorus!
’Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ by Stevie Wonder – it’s not an obvious party banger, but it always works. It generally has to fit the mood of the songs around it but parties always seem to really like this tune and it always works for me. Easy to sing-along to, rather funky and groovy, and in addition to the dance-floor regulars, this tune always engages a new crowd that didn’t expect to hear it…but are glad they did.
‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin – wow, do people ever like singing along to this song while dancing. It’s become a wedding staple for me, but certainly crosses over into most events as well. Even those that shy away from 60s tunes, soul music, etc. will find themselves grooving to this track.
‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham! – okay, so it’s one of the greatest pop singers of all time..but it’s also a smash song. Similar to other songs that may only find themselves at 80s retro parties, this track is beyond a safe bet. Everyone knows it and it’s just too much of a ‘come on let’s keep dancing’ song. Certainly nobody leaves the dance-floor during this tune, but you also see those in their seats singing along and tapping their feet.
‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley – part hit song, part internet meme, and even part novelty song to laugh about….but I assure you it’s a song that gets people dancing. I may use it has my bridge to a retro 80s set, but even as a standalone it feels right and so many people know it for so many different reasons. One of those songs that I always aim to play as it has a diverse fanbase and people just love singing along and having fun on the dance-floor.
‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon – this may feel a little novelty-like, but I love seeing people enjoy this tune. There are always a few that know all the lyrics, but there are way more that just participate to feel great while air-solo’ing the flute part or the horns hook. The music video has a fun 1980s appeal and I always try to capture that when I play the song.
‘Holiday’ by Madonna – I used to play this song here and there but it quickly became my go-to Madonna track and a tune to include at just about every event. The Madonna catalogue is deep, but I feel this tune brings it all together – it’s catchy, it’s a little funky, everyone can sing along, it’s upbeat, etc.
‘Jump’ by Van Halen – woah, that keyboard intro!! Calling all 80s rockers to the dance floor! Such a cool song to tease as you mix it into the previous song. The party hears the keybaords and you see people around exclaiming ‘OMG!’ or ‘I love this song’. I always find it to be underplayed, but yet so positively received. You will always have someone attempting the air-guitar during the bridge solo as well. Killer tune, fun energy and always a fun surprise for so many attendees.
‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’ by Deniece Williams – another song that is not often requested, and the artist name alone will draw a blank-face response, but the dance-floor loves to hear it and I really enjoy playing it. I find it’s often underplayed, and not included in many sets by others, but unless it’s a party of teenagers I will keep this as a must-play. It’s kind of cheesy but if the crowd is dancing, nobody is certainly stopping when this track plays.
‘Fantasy’ by Mariah Carey – this is another song that I can’t quite explain why it connects so well, but it does. I remember when this song first came out and how good it felt on the dance-floor…well, this hasn’t changed. The 80s sample brings familiarity for some, the lyrics are easy, and then you have the ODB ‘Me and Mariiaahhhh’ that everyone loves. Never met someone that dislikes this tune.
‘Don’t Start Now’ by Dua Lipa – certainly one of the more current songs on the list…but still a banger that the dance floor loves. Even the attendees that don’t know the song love it. Dua Lipa has amassed a number of hits in her short career, and many of them are safe bets to keep the crowd dancing, but this could be the current number one from her catalogue. Will it be on my list in 5 or 10 years, not sure….but it’s definitely here right now.
‘We Found Love’ by Rihanna Feat. Calvin Harris – what a smash hit! It’s been over 10 years and this song just keeps giving and giving. It’s timeless. There are a number of Rihanna or Calvin Harris hits but this one is the creme de la creme at any party. Hey, I even get into it! Clap along, sing the hook, or, like most, get on the dance floor and just have such a good time. If you are ever unsure of what to play….know that you got this tune to light up the party.
‘Body’ by Loud Luxury – always need to get a little Canadiana, or Ontarians if we took it one step further, into the playlist. This track seems to work with everyone and is a smash. Those into a more dance sound like it and those that simply like to dance, no matter the age, also get going. Lyrics are easy and it just feel right. I seem to fit ‘Body’ into just about every set.
’Nachna Onda Nei’ by Tigerstyle – I admit it, I can be a musically brave DJ…taking a risk in playing songs that people don’t know or could flop. If you have even one person into Bhangra, this song is super fun. Underpinned with the Michael Jackson sample, maybe even being mixed out of ‘Billie Jean’, you have a brief moment of shock followed by ‘woah, this is kinda fun’. Maybe not a ‘banger’ but one of my go-to surprise songs for sure.
‘Dil Lay Gayee’ by Jabir Jassi – perhaps it’s a Punjabi party, maybe there are a few people that are into Bhangra, or maybe I just want to add a little flavour. This track always works so nicely. You almost always see the ‘what the heck is this’ face from some people, but if a few get into it….it totally works. I always work some non-English music into my sets where I can, and this can be a fun one for sure.
’Still D.R.E.’ by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg – you want to give people a little hip-hop, or allow young and old to display their dance-floor swagger, well here it is. I like to tease the dance-floor with the simple piano intro as well as it’s one of those songs people immediately recognize. Whether you stick with hip-hop or just give the crowd this one song in between some other genres, it’s a must-play for just about any party.
‘Murder She Wrote’ by Chaka Demus and Pliers – the crowd likely won’t know the words, and even less-so the artist, but if you are going anywhere near reggae or dancehall…I would definitely go here. You will see the backs arch, the backsides kick out, and people will do their best wine.
‘Action’ by Terror Fabulous – most people won’t know the artist, but they likely know the song…or at least they feel the tune. If this song hits, it hits hard. It works. If I am going to play a dancehall set, which most parties often demand, this is a good one with which to start it off. Gotta give people a chance to dance a little dirtier and work their hips!
’No More Games’ by Serani – name the artist and most will be like, ‘who?’….but this is such a fun party track. Maybe you are doing a dancehall, reggae, soca, or calypso themed set, or you are just adding some awesome flavour to the dance party, you would be remiss to not include this. Another song that will get some people going crazy and bring out those that may not have been dancing thus far….and use this as isthe rope that pulls them to the floor.
‘I Don’t Care (Chronixx & Koffee Remix)’ by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber – smash, smash, smash. I love bringing the crowd a sure hit, but with a little twist. The original is stellar but this takes it to another level with a little more flavour. I always see faces light up during this tune and almost never miss playing it.
‘I Want It That Way’ by Backstreet Boys – so, this song was not typically in my set or playlist, although I would be happy to play it when the odd person requested it. That all changed when a DJ I respect played this at a couple consecutive events that I was attending. The first time I saw him cue it up and thought he was crazy for playing it. What do you know, I was wrong. It worked soooo well. I am now convinced and, while I may not listen to it on my own time, it just goes over so well at parties.
‘Home For A Rest’ by Spirit Of The West – one of those, ‘really only works in Canada’ songs. Ha! And while I do wonder how this song will age, it has been a smash success at parties for the past 30 years. I almost feel a Canadian Wedding would be incomplete without playing this track. You will see some fun dancing, certain singing along, and some unusual tempo changes. Don’t leave home without it.
‘Mr. Brightside’ by The Killers – rock songs are often more difficult to pull off at events, but this one is a sure-shot. It’s just one of those songs that makes people come alive and sing along (or attempt to). It’s always a nice change from the more rhythmic music, even though this still carries a pulsating tempo, and it’s often a song that I use to engage some of that crowd that hasn’t been dancing or singing thus far.
’Sweet Child ‘O Mine’ by Guns ’N Roses – if I am going to go into Rock territory, I am going to go here. This is not a rhythmic song that is going to get everyone dancing, more traditionally speaking, but it will get them air-guitar’ing and singing. A timeless tune that will certainly satisfy the rock crowd but also a direct connection to a certain generation. While this tune has competition with a couple other songs, I always keep this gem ready to go!
‘Chicken Fried’ by Zac Brown Band – whether you want to touch on some country or go full-blown country, this is the the track. People love to sing along and it safely brings together the country and the ‘i like everything but country’ people together. I first learned of this song at an event and it just connected so nicely – it was not a song I discovered through my own efforts or listening habits. I certainly continue to include it as a later in the party ’sing along’ song.
‘Mr. Jones’ by Counting Crows – not a song that most would think of for a party…but this track has always performed really well for me. I am often surprised by the diversity of people that get into it. It’s another sing along song that those who know the words well, often belt it out at the top of their lungs. It’s usually a nice track to segue or slow things down after a more high tempo set.
‘American Pie’ by Don Mclean – I have always had a soft-spot for ’sing-a-long’ tunes at parties. The timing has to be right, but boy do they ever work well when played at the right time. There are so many, but this is one of the great ones. People sing at the top of their lungs and just dance holding their drinks up in the air. It’s a long tune, so you need to feel it out, but I always have it on hand when I feel like people just want to sing and have some fun on the dance floor.
’Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond – I have heard this song from college arenas, to NHL games, to pre-concert warm-ups and it always draws a reaction. Listeners love to insert their own ad-libs – ‘ba-ba-baaa’, ’so good, so good’. While it may not get the dance floor ‘dancing’, it will certainly get people engaged and feeling good about the event. Time it right and you will have the full crowd singing along.
‘Hotel California’ by Eagles – slower songs don’t often appear on top party party bangers lists…but this #1 song is justifiably on my party list. Sure, it has to be played at the right time…but when you make it work, boy does it work. There will always be ’that guy’ or ’that girl’ that knows each and every lyric to a tee as well. Oh, and if you need a longer song to buy you time or transition a set, this may be it.