INTERVIEW: Dave Aude (2013)
With over eighty chart-topping remixes, it’s hard to think of an artist who has not been reworked by Grammy-nominated producer Dave Aude. Depeche Mode, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Madonna, Sting, LeAnn Rimes, and Donna Summer are just a few who’ve received the Aude treatment. And while there isn’t a single trademark Dave Aude sound, each of his productions are solid and sound just as good in the clubs as they do on the radio. Though he is known mainly for production/remixing, his skills as a DJ are just as evolved. I had the honor of opening for him recently and was blown away as he worked three Pioneer CD decks, layering acapellas over different tracks, seemingly producing new remixes in real time.
Ron Slomowicz: There are singles coming out which say “Dave Aude featuring X” and other singles that say “X featuring Dave Aude,” what’s the difference?
Dave Aude: There is no difference; some people like to have their name first, sometimes. A lot of people are adding Dave Aude on their song because it helps them get their name out there. There is really no difference though, it just means that I am on the song somewhere.
RS: If it is a “Dave Aude featuring X” track does that mean that you had more involvement on the production and writing side?
Dave Aude: I think that I have the same involvement in either situation. When I put somebody’s name first I am just trying to promote them as a new artist, as opposed to when my name is first it is my single and they are just singing.
RS: One of the many things that I respect about you is that there isn’t a singular Dave Aude trademark sound, where do you get your inspirations from?
Dave Aude: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I just sit down and do music, I don’t really think about things too much. I am not one of those guys who pulls up the last song that I did and just does another version of that. I take each song as its own and try to give each song its own sort of sound. I don’t think I have a sound like you said, I think that my sound is maybe quality, it’s hard to say.
RS: For example, on your recent number one remix of “Body Party” for Ciara it was like you were sort of following the whole Disclosure, Prince Club, ’90s flashback, house vibe, did the song kind of just take you there?
Dave Aude: It did. Obviously it took me there immediately because of the ’90s sample of “My Boo” that is in the original song, and it is one of my wife’s favorite songs of all time. Since I already had the ’90s sample in it I just felt like it was a cool idea to take it all the way to the ’90s and get some Inner City influence in there which is one of my favorite 90’s songs.
RS: Of course, “Good Life.” Do you see the ’90s style that is so big in the UK translating the same way over here in the US?
Dave Aude: I don’t really see the stuff that is happening in the UK immediately happening here; it kind of takes a while. The Disclosure thing certainly has gotten a lot of press, but I don’t really see it taking over America. The UK is a great place; I have huge hits over there that people here in the States have never even heard; having said that I think that America is overexposed to Superstar DJs and the guys that are out playing in Vegas every weekend. The focus isn’t really on music as much as it is on the DJ or Artist. I think in the UK, people take music more seriously and I am hoping that the Americans get to the point where they have gotten over the whole Superstar DJ thing. I’d like to see everyone get back to the music and hope that it does, the UK is certainly more music-driven than we are.
RS: When I think about you I think about an amazing producer and musician and I know that you do all the radio shows, but I don’t really know you as much as a DJ, how much of your workflow is DJ work or production work?
Dave Aude: I think probably 80% is producing. I don’t necessarily DJ for a career, obviously I make money and get paid to go DJ, but I treat it more as a way to get out and play the music that I am producing.
RS: Your DJ style is kind of unique, I remember watching you and you had three decks going and it seemed like you were mixing tracks on two of them and doing acapellas on the third one, is that correct?
Dave Aude: Yeah, I do that, but I also try to use all of the decks to look for music. For me it is about giving myself different options, because at the last second I may feel like changing songs and the more decks I have, the more options I have to change things at the last minute.
RS: Have you ever thought of DJing with a laptop so you can produce on the fly?
Dave Aude: Never. I don’t think that people should be DJing with computers; I think that computers are wonderful and I use computers all day long to make music but I think that staring at a computer screen, for lack of a better term, isn’t sexy. DJing used to be sexy when you had turntables and could touch the vinyl with your hands. It was a very personal and physical relationship and that is gone now because of computers. It’s not hands-on like it used to be, and I think that it changes the way you DJ when you have a computer that you can easily just be searching the internet or sending eMails, or on Twitter or Instagram. You could be doing a million things on the computer, but when you have a turntable, what are you doing? You are DJing! You aren’t sending an eMail, you aren’t surfing the internet, and you aren’t doing anything else other than DJing and I think that is important for DJs not to want to do a million things other than just DJ and play music.
RS: Understood. Going back to your production, how long does it take for you to complete a remix?
Dave Aude: That is a great question, there is no answer to that because sometimes it takes me a week and sometimes it takes me three weeks. It just depends on how inspired I am by the song; some things come to me over night and some things take a while and sometimes I have to make changes. I am working on a Pet Shop Boys song right now that might be their next single called “Love Is a Bourgeois Construct.” It is a very difficult song and has taken me about a 1-1 ½ weeks to do the vocal mix, which is very similar to the original because the original has a lot of chord changes and a 16-bar chord change, which is crazy. It is kind of reminiscent of Madonna when she did the Abba sample “Hung Up” except I think that sample was a little shorter than this one because this is a 16-bar chord change which is completely different. It’s crazy because nothing repeats every 16-bar, so it makes it a little more difficult. For this particular remix it will probably take me another week and a half to do. I have to really concentrate on the depth on this one because the original is so pop, people that are going to play that are just going to play that.
RS: Another thing that I respect about you is that you always do your own work and there are never any ghost producers involved, is that always the case?
Dave Aude: I have just recently had a couple guys come on that help me with little things here and there. It’s not that I have them doing all the work, but I want to do more work and now I can start something and send it to them and have them add a few things here and there, then send it back to me. I still do most of the work, if not all of it, though. I am doing the whole the Pet Shop Boys remix by myself, but there are a couple songs here and there that I have my guys help me with. They know the certain things that I want to do and it’s really because I just want to pump out more stuff and write more music for artists these days. For me to do that I have to get some help, I can’t just do everything myself, which in a perfect world obviously I would. I have two kids and I try to go out and DJ on the weekends so to juggle all of that I need a little help.
RS: Is going towards more production and songwriting a challenge since you are so used to the remix mode?
Dave Aude: No, remixing and producing is exactly the same thing. The word remix came around years ago and it wasn’t really producing. Remixing back when it first started was really just remixing some of the original things from the original song, it really was a remix. For the last 20 years remixing has really just been reproducing and creating a new version. Obviously when I am remixing, I am starting somewhere and I usually have a vocal that I have to do a remix around. It is a little more of a challenge to produce or write a song from scratch, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing; creatively it is just about the same.
RS: Tell us about the new single that just got released.
Dave Aude: It is with Akon and Luciana, my girl Luciana, we love Luciana. It is called “Electricity and Drums,” and is very exciting because Akon is a world artist, he is huge everywhere not just in America but the rest of the world and has a lot of fans. He has done a lot of records with David Guetta and everyone else, and it’s cool to work with an artist of that level.
RS: How did you meet up with him and how did that record come about?
Dave Aude: I just met some guys and they turned me on to him. We sat down and talked about my career and his career and we just felt like we had some good synergy going on. He feels that I really haven’t done a lot of Dave Aude music over the past 20 years; I have concentrated on everybody else’s stuff. He is helping realize that I need to do more Dave Aude stuff because it is hard work promoting a lot of other people and it would be nice to promote myself a little bit instead of just doing somebody’s song and helping them, which I do enjoy but it is time for some Dave Aude music.
RS: Going to your monthly podcasts, how do you choose the songs for them?
Dave Aude: Good question. Just the same way that you choose what you are going to play on a Friday night. It just depends on what I am promoting for the week or a new song or remix that I have and a couple other songs that I throw in there that I like for the week, I usually try and make it fresh. I was doing weekly podcasts but again, it is about time management. I am doing it once a month, which is still a lot, but that’s what I have to do.
RS: Would your monthly podcast be typical of what you would play in your live sets out?
Dave Aude: It’s hard to say that your monthly podcast with 12 or 13 songs represents anything other than songs that are club songs that are just on my radio show. When you are DJing, you are playing for 2-3 hours and it’s really not a representation because I go across the board and play pop, underground, and everything in between. It is kind of hard for people to get a feel of what I am going to play out just by listening to my podcast, although the music in my podcast I do play out. It is hard to only have an hour to get the point across.
RS: When I opened for you in Nashville you complimented me and said that I played “very straight,” I interpreted that one way but I wanted to see what that meant to you.
Dave Aude: There are a lot of DJs playing in gay clubs or gay venues, or I should say for gay crowds, that play a specific type of style that I guess they feel is the gay sound. I would say that sound is something along the lines of tribal or circuit, which are two styles of music. I think it’s great that I didn’t hear you play either one, I just heard you playing great music and that is what you are supposed to do. You aren’t supposed to walk into a club and say “what is this style,” obviously there are a lot of stylized clubs around the world that play techno, drum and bass, or whatever but I think it’s great that DJ Ron is playing for a gay crowd on a Friday night in Nashville playing big records that are being played at straight clubs too. That makes me very happy and makes me feel that there is hope for the gay community, there is nothing wrong with playing tribal or circuit or whatever genre, I just think it’s great that a lot of more of the gay venues and crowds are hearing more mainstream dance music.
RS: Why do you think there is that difference between the gay tribal, circuit sound and what you would hear in a straight club which right now is the big room stuff, why do think there is that disconnect?
Dave Aude: Just because the DJs are in denial, it’s the same reason that the jocks and nerds don’t hang out together in high school. It’s just like “I have my little clique and I have my sound and I am going to impress it upon everybody.” Who’s to say that any one DJ has the best music; it’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it?
RS: That is true.
Dave Aude: I would hope that at least on Saturday nights people are playing for the crowd and not for themselves.
RS: Looking back on all of the remixes that you have done, which stands out as your most challenging or difficult?
Dave Aude: It’s hard to say, the ones that are challenging sometimes end up being my best remixes. I would have never thought some of the Yoko Ono stuff would have sounded good. I have done either 8 or 9 remixes for Yoko Ono now and if you listen to those they are some of my best work. It may be because the original was so different and not club and that’s why it was so challenging to figure out how to make it club. I think those are some of my best records, because crazy enough they turn out great. I can’t sit here and name one project that really killed me off the top of my head because I have had some that were tougher than others and I have had some that I thought would be easy that weren’t because maybe they were already in the club format.
RS: I was thinking that you would say the Selena Gomez record just because the time signature was so odd.
Dave Aude: Right, when I heard that, crazy enough I knew immediately what I was going to do to it because of the tempo, I think that it turned out pretty good and I am happy with it. The only tough thing about that is playing it because of the triplet which is the timing, it is hard to play that into another record that’s not using the same timing. That was the hardest part about the record but it was a lot of fun to do it.
RS: Very cool. Is there anything you would like to say to all of your fans out there?
Dave Aude: I would like thank my fans for listening to my music and for supporting me and loving music. Again, I just want to promote to the world that it is all about the music; it is not about me or the people necessarily as much as it is the music.
Interview conducted June 2013.