JOHNNY DYNELL is the New York City DJ, producer, songwriter, remixer and impresario who has been practicing his art and craft for more than three decades. When Nina Hagen sang “AM/PM, Pyramid, Roxy, Mudd Club, Danceteria” in her 1983 classic “New York New York” she could have been describing Johnny’s work week, as he played at them all. Beginning at the seminal Mudd Club in 1980, he also went on to residencies at Area, Boy Bar, Susanne Bartsch’s parties, The Palladium, The Tunnel and Nell’s.
In 1983 while working at Danceteria, producer Kenton Nix (Taana Gardner) and fellow DJ Mark Kamins (Madonna) collaborated on Johnny’s first record “Jam Hot.” This quirky, infectious ditty about graffiti kids and break dancers was a radio breakout and became a cult classic. It was a memorable first outing as a songwriter/artist. The song’s refrain “Tank, Fly Boss, Walk, Jam, Nitty Gritty / Talkin’ ’bout the boys from the big bad city / this is Jam Hot” has been sampled in dozens of songs worldwide. In 2009 the term “Jam Hot” made it into the Urban Dictionary.
Throughout the 1980s Johnny continued to DJ around the world and record on Atlantic Records, collaborating with Arthur Baker, Malcolm McLaren, Larry Levan, Peter Rauhofer, Eric Kupper and David Morales. Dynell ended the decade in London recording “Elements Of Vogue”, another cult classic that set the standard for all “Voguing” records to come. A longtime member of the House of Xtravaganza, JD continues to spin, write and produce for the Voguing subculture in New York City.
In 1990 Johnny and his wife Chi Chi Valenti opened their own nightclub Jackie 60, an influential underground party that ran for the entire decade, and evolved into the full-time Meat Market venue Mother. Although he continued to DJ at Jackie 60, his energy for the next ten years was mostly devoted to running this long-running hit club and its many satellite nights and projects. These included the cyber-fetish experiment Click + Drag and the marathon Night Of 1000 Stevies (still going strong in 2018.)
After the closing of Jackie 60 and Mother in 2000, Dynell found his way back to his first love – spinning – when he accepted a residency at Gotham’s first new mega-club of the decade, Crobar, in 2003. His Saturday night following there for the next four years also inspired JD to begin writing dance music again, including co-authoring the Pink Martini hit “Una Notte a Napoli.” As the Oughts ended, his residencies at gay dance club MR. BLACK and the uber-popular Vandam Sundays at Greenhouse found him back with a vengeance, and a sound described by Michael Musto as “Johnny Dynell’s bracing mix of newish-old and oldish-new.”
In 2010, a new generation discovered Johnny with the release of a Jam Hot/ Big Throwdown remix project on Smash Hit Records. This Nu Disco EP, which spent three weeks at #1 on the Juno sales chart, featured remixers including Tensnake, 40 Thieves, Peter Rauhofer, Mark Kamins, Clouded Vision, Elija Rudman and of course, Johnny. Summer 2011 saw the launch of Dynell’s own label, Endless Night Music, distributed by The Orchard. Endless Night artists include David Ian Xtravaganza, Sade Pendavis, Paul Alexander, Erickatoure Aviance and Jamil LaBeija.
Currently JD balances a schedule of live DJ appearances and special events with composing for a wide range of projects. The 2016 Max Mara/ Lui Wei fashion collaboration “Monopolis” – staged at the colossal Shanghai Exhibition Centre – featured Dynell’s Bladerunner inspired original composition. As Max Mara’s Musical Director, he also curates playlists for their 2200 plus stores in 90 countries. In 2017 Johnny continued his collaboration with Pink Martini for the release “Segundo” and created the soundtrack for the films of Edit DeAk for the Club 57 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.