INTERVIEW: Darude (ADE 2011)

For many people, “Sandstorm” continues to be the gateway to electronic dance music. The first time you hear it, you are instantly blown away by the epic energy of the track, which was Darude’s debut release. More than ten years later, Darude continues to tour the world as an in-demand DJ and producer. Last year, he partnered with producer Randy Boyer to create the Enmass production team and record label. With productions and a hot mixed compilation, Darude to continues to whip up the storm.

Ron Slomowicz: Welcome to Amsterdam. Is this your first time at the Amsterdam Dance Event?

Darude: No, I have been here about 6 times.

RS: What is your goal this year, what are you trying to accomplish?

Darude: I am pimping myself out.

RS: Pimping yourself and EnMass?

Darude: Yes, absolutely. We have four releases out with EnMass. The fifth one is coming out on the November 15th, so that is what I am pushing now. It is Kristina Skye and Randy Boyer, featuring Shyboy. “Welcome To The Future” is the name of that. On that release there is going to be my remix with Randy Boyer, a Menno de Jong remix, and also the original mix. I am wearing my EnMass shirt, trying to represent. There is going to be a mixed compilation by me on EnMass music as well. There is currently no release date on that, but it may be in the next couple of months. I am resending this to a couple of labels that we may want to work with.

RS: EnMass is you and Randy Boyer together. How did the two of you meet up?

Darude: First off- let me make a correction, the original EnMass was actually just Randy Boyer and late Eric Tadla. They were a totally different thing. Randy and I actually met in 2000 when I played my first gig in the US; it was in Hartford, Connecticut. We didn’t become friends right then and there. A couple years later, he was producing and doing his work as DJ Rampage out in LA. I actually started playing a track of his without knowing it was his work. He eMailed me, and I didn’t recognize who he was. I told him that I liked his track and liked to play it, but I didn’t want to do any work with him. When I finally connected who he was, we got together and now have a history of about eleven years. Our record company idea came about during 2008 when I took him on the road with me. We became good friends and realized that we had similar goals and ideas of music. We decided to share the workload. We took the name EnMass Music in honor of Eric and Randy’s earlier work. We thought of a name for a long time, but eventually we just decided to keep that because it already had scene recognition. We put out our first release on December 28th of last year. We are still very fresh, new, up and coming, and trying to slowly build it. We have been pretty successful so far.

RS: The EnMass night in Miami, this year is one of the highlights of WMC. A lot of people talk about how great the party was. How was the night special for you?

Darude: Well, it was our first EnMass music night and rocking the place was awesome. I loved the video screen and the setting. Having the room packed by 11:00pm, way before Randy was going on was great. The local opener already had the floor pumping. All of us were ecstatic about having our first party in Miami. We are looking forward to the next one, and also doing something in Amsterdam as well.

RS: How would you describe the sound of EnMass now?

Darude: Pigeonholing is somewhat irritating. Randy and I mainly use clubby, progressive, and uplifting trance, but we are also looking into 128 bpm, proggy house stuff, and of course with remix packages, all the styles vary. We are not the deepest of the deep music because we don’t like it ourselves. We are not the cheesiest either, and we don’t mind being half commercial, hooky and catchy. If commercial or radio success were to come our way we would welcome it.

RS: When the two of you work together how do you collaborate? Do you work on tracks on the computer together or send things back and forth?

Darude: We actually live about an hour and a half plane ride away from each other. We collaborate online, and we have weekly, sometimes daily Skype meetings about music or the label. We often do a video chat so that we can see each other. The music collaboration is pretty easy because we both have similar systems – a Mac with Logic Pro and we can just swap files. It makes it fairly easy and effortless.

RS: I heard you mention Atlanta. Are you in Atlanta now?

Darude: Yes

RS: When and why did you move to Atlanta?

Darude: I have been there about 3 ½ years now. My wife is originally from Atlanta. We moved there for family reasons and eventually bought a place. It is great for me to have an American headquarters as well. Otherwise, I would be flying there for two out of the four weeks living out of a suitcase in a hotel. I have actually been doing one or two dates per week. I come back on Sunday evenings, and can spend my week being home with my family.

RS: Do you have kids now?

Darude: Yes, my son Max is two years old.

RS: How has being a father changed your musical career?

Darude: I love being a dad and it inspires me. I definitely have a lot less time and I struggle with that sometimes, but the minute that I am with my wife or especially my kid, that means nothing and there is no struggle. While I am in the studio, I think that it has made me more focused on the music and production. I do have my Facebook and Twitter days though, where I get stuck with the silly stuff but I love that too.

RS: Lets go back to your musical childhood. Your first song, “Sandstorm,” is probably your biggest. I have always wondered if you signed a contract where they took everything away from you, or are you still making money off the record?

Darude: As a first time artist my contract was not very good percentage wise, but I’m not bitter about that. When you are a nobody and you sign a contract, that’s how it goes. Contracts after that were better. I wrote “Sandstorm” myself, so of the publishing side of it, not much goes elsewhere. There is a little part that goes to my producer JS16, but other than that, most of it comes back to me. Whatever goes to my publisher is well worth it because last weekend a Hyundai car commercial played “Sandstorm.” Paying those percentages to the publisher, in my opinion, is well worth it. As an artist if somebody were to ask me to sign that kind of contract now, I would laugh and walk out of the room. At the same time, I am friends with those guys now and am not bitter about the bad percentage. That is how my career needed to start.

RS: In your sets now, do you still play “Sandstorm” or a remix of it?

Darude: Yes, pretty much every time. I think that the last time I played the original mix was in 2003, it has always been some type of remix or bootleg.

RS: Will there ever be an official vocal version of it?

Darude: I don’t think that there will ever be vocal version. I would be open to Rihanna doing a bit with “Sandstorm” in it, I am not stupid. Over the year’s different people, myself as well, have been toying with the idea of a vocal. I don’t think that the melody and chord progression really lend itself to having a vocal, I have yet to hear a good one. I think at some point there are going to be new mixes of “Sandstorm,” but probably not an official vocal one.

RS: Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans out there?

Darude: I hope that you can vouch for me; I am a very approachable person, so if anyone wants to ask me anything you can hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. It’s facebook.com/darude or twitter.com/darudevil. If you want to come to one of my gigs, I usually jump down after my set and give high fives, dance, or get a drink. All of the latest info is atdarude.com or enmassmusic.com.

Interview conducted October 2011 at Amsterdam Dance Event.

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