Recently I had the chance to sit down and speak to Darude, one of the most well known trance producers to ever exist, though many people don’t even know that he makes trance. Darude has been in the game for over 15 years and has helped to shape the trance scene with his mega hit “Sandstorm” that still to this day is a household name in EDM. The Finnish producer is a veteran of the electronic scene in general and one of the longest lasting producers out there. Having released 3 studio albums and numerous singles over his career, Darude has kept busy with over 5 million record sales.
Darude was recently given a breath of fresh air thanks to the “Darude – Sandstorm” meme that plagues social media everywhere, even going so far as to make it back into the Top Dance Charts. Peking Duk played “Sandstorm” for a crowd of thousands at Stereosonic who ate it up, and Didrick recently did a phenomenal prog house remix of the classic tune. Despite being 15 years old, it has a longevity that no one, not even Darude himself, could have predicted. Hell, it even got an orchestral cover! Given his experience, I was excited to have the chance to get his insights and thoughts, especially on EDM and it’s recent rise to the mainstream.
How has trance changed in the past 10 years?
The ever so vallied question… I don’t really know the answer, but even 10 years ago it was already kind of saturated and not really underground and not that huge anymore because everybody was kind of doing the same thing. I think the last couple of years have been pretty cool because there’s been a new wave of sort of good credible trance. I mean I guess always feel that trance DJs aren’t pure trance , they play all kinds of electronic dance music but it’s really nice again to be able to play emotional and uplifting trance.
What are the good and bad things about EDM in your opinion?
I think that it has been good in general for any dance music fan because the more popular and the more commercial something becomes, the more people have access to it. There’s more so to say gateway tracks or gateway artists, some of them are more commercial and some of them are more underground and so more of the so called regular people get into dance music, which I think is good for the clubs and the producers and the consumers and all around. I don’t really want to diss or bring any huge negatives out, but one of the things with the revolution of EDM or dance music in general has gone hand in hand with being able to make music these days for anybody who has access to computers or even iPads. So while everybody has access, it doesn’t mean that the music gets better but it might mean that the sound is decent production-wise. Some of the music definitely lacks content, and weirdly enough, some of the things that lack musical goodness or musical ideas. It’s still possible to have tracks that work with that one note and that one bass sound and be something on the charts. I think if we wanna call it that the EDM generation is I think, I don’t know when the turning point is or if it already was but the thing is, it seems that people are starting to want more melodic music again and sort of groove instead of just jumping up and down and being as a music fan in general I’m liking that trend. There’s been a lot of sort of commercialish deep house or something similar or a poppy version, so like EDM stuff with poppy vocals or whatever they have music in them it’s not just like jumping up and down.
What is it like being a trance producer?
I don’t only produce trance. Yes, I was called a trance producer early on and I guess I still am but if one would take a look at what I’ve done in three albums and I’ve done before and what I am working on, there’s certainly trancey sounds but definitely infused with all kinds of other stuff. I try not to produce just one thing. It’s not that I don’t want to be pigeon holed, it’s funny cause a lot of times people only know me from Sandstorm or only know me from my first tracks or first album and then call me a trance DJ. Then they hear what I do now or what I have in my DJ sets and they’re like “Why?” But the thing is that they might have just not gotten familiar with what I’ve actually done over the years cause it’s only been trance.
What do you think the next big thing will be in EDM?
If I knew I would already be making that, and I’d be ahead of the curve and I’d be making gazillions of money. But really, I think it’s just going to be doing the same thing that it’s been doing the last couple of years. Like everybody is kind of mixing everything with dance music, or the other way around, and I think that’s gonna gain more fans for dance music in general. It will also make it mix and mesh with all sorts of pop and more commercial music. So I think it’s gonna continue, but I’m sure at some point we’re gonna get more broken beats or I don’t know – not really dubstep – but something to similar to what dubstep was a couple years ago. So bring something completely new in the mainstream because it can’t just stay the same. You need some sort of refreshment once in a while, kinda mix it up a bit.
What are your plans for 2015 in terms of music touring and anything else?
We are very close to putting out the first single of my upcoming album. The album isn’t exactly done but I have sort of all the music there, but we’re going track by track starting now and it could even be done in a month or two music wise. I also might have another track, a free track, I’ve been playing at my gigs for years and years and I was thinking of giving that out for free because the crowds have been loving it. The next thing I’m doing is leaving in a couple of hours to Miami and I’m going on the Groove Cruise for 4 days which I’m very excited about once again. In about a month, I’m gonna be on tour in Australia and New Zealand and 1 gig in Singapore. It’s a huge festival called Future Music, and I’m pretty excited about that. Every other big name is there, and I’m especially excited to share the stage with The Prodigy which is gonna be cool.
How do you feel things like the internet and Soundcloud have influenced and affected music?
It’s obvious the internet in general is crucial these days. It has made it possible for everybody to publish their music and be good, catchy or whatever enough to go viral and you could totally skip the process of getting signed and finding agents and this and that. You could be in everybody’s ears in a day or a week. That doesn’t guarantee anything though, so the music from the get-go has to be good to get anywhere. The downside about the internet generation itself, and soundcloud plays a big role in that (not that it’s their fault), but it’s a platform where you find mashups over mashups over mashups. Everybody in the current generation seems to think it’s a free for all and you can do whatever you please. I’m not digging all the unauthorized mashups and remixes out there, to me it feels like people have no respect. They don’t ask permission and they just try to ride on somebody’s name. To me, that lacks a certain morale, or however you wanna put it. At the same time as a record label owner and as a DJ, I am finding great new music all the time. When people approach me and send their demos or I do my weekly or monthly scouting around, sometimes I find something great I wouldn’t have found otherwise. It’s not even a two way street, it’s like a 10 million-way street, you can think about it in so many ways.
Besides electronic music what do you like to listen to?
I’m a very passive radio listener, so I might be driving a car or hanging out with the TV on some music channel, or whatever’s on the radio. I like pop music in general just to listen to; I get inspired and I like melodies and stuff, not that I would exactly do it myself.
What was one of the coolest or weirdest things to happen at a show?
I think one of the weirdest things that I didn’t understand exactly what happened was, I played this huge festival in the UK some time ago in the beginning of my career like 2000. It was I believe Middlesbrough and it was this huge, huge green field, they had about 100,000 people at the field. It was just huge long mass of people and what was crazy was I was performing a couple of tracks and when Sandstorm came on I saw the people started jumping. I was weirded out, like why didn’t they jump at the same time, it went in waves. It was because it was such a big place that the sound had delayed in the back. It was a surreal feeling to see people jumping and it’s like a wave of people.