Over the years, Darude has become a favorite here in Salt Lake as a classic act since the popularity of his hit song, “Sandstorm.” His musical productions are pure genius and he always puts on a great show. If you’re not familiar with Darude’s most recent album Moments, it’s full of fire with tracks like “Beautiful Alien,” “One Lifetime,” “Supersized,” “Be With You Tonight,” and “Peace Revisited.” From the sound of things, we can be on the lookout for some new music from Darude later this year and we can’t wait to hear what he’s got in store for us. It was an absolute pleasure to talk music with this humble and down-to-earth artist just before his show at SKY SLC. –Brian Artman
EDM Utah: You brought in the New Year playing in front a massive crowd of 130,000 people. Was that the largest crowd you’ve played for?
Darude: I think so, I mean it was close, but to be completely honest I don’t think it was 130,000 right in front of me, it was 130,000 in Helsinki. It was plus or minus, maybe close to 100,000 right there. It was a huge crowd. I’ve played one or two radio station shows in the U.K. that had 80-100,000, but yeah it’s quite mind blowing seeing that many people.
EDM Utah: Do you prefer larger or smaller, more intimate crowds?
Darude: Both to be honest. I know it’s an easy or cliche thing to say, but both. They’re different. A year or two ago I told my agent that when there’s a good time, for instance in the U.S., I want to do a really small club tour, like 200 people tops. For instance, in Washington D.C. and in Ottowa, Canada, I played two very small clubs. And I had the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time at that point. It was just so cool, the DJ booth was a foot taller than the dance floor and the people were right there and they were so into it. It was sold out both places and they were similar kind of nights to each other and I love that. But obviously playing a big festival crowd of 20-50,000 is very different, but at the same time there’s something so cool about that as well.
EDM Utah: You mentioned in an interview that when making “Moments” you decided to just make music and not genres. I love that thought. Do you think trying to make certain genres of music hinders an artist’s creativity?
Darude: Well you can do it so many ways. With saying that I don’t mean that you shouldn’t think of genres, but for me at that point it wasn’t a thing. I had about a 7-8 year gap between my albums, 2 or 3 tracks on the album are 6 or 7 years old. I started making them back then, and then a couple along the way, and about half of the album were made during the last year, year and a half before the album came out. So I had to consider whether I would 2015’ize everything, make them sound EDM or something certain to 2015. But then I decided that whatever we made, sort of new fresh stuff, was enough for a new sound. For the others I mixed them again, but I didn’t produce them to sound 2015. I decided I would rather have them as they were. It was me trusting my fans and trusting myself that it’s just music. The best feedback that I’ve gotten from people is that they like the music. And then later on they realized oh this sounded like house or this had a little dubstep flavor or that was trancey. It’s quite a big compliment to me with people listening to it and not being caught up with genre it is.
EDM Utah: Despite being such a tenured producer, Is there anything you feel like you are still trying to perfect or achieve as a producer?
Darude: Oh yeah everything. Every time I mix a track. Every time I get to a point where I feel like it’s about done production wise, I don’t want to say I struggle because that’s a negative sort of way of saying it, it’s a challenge for me to mix stuff in a very consistent way. I do a lot of A/B to other peoples tracks that I know sound really good. And I do a lot of A/B with my other tracks that I’ve mixed before that I know sound good. Even though I reuse some stuff from my earlier things like drum loops or some ideas, I rarely take a full project and change a melody or other things. So I’m always having to kind of mix from scratch so mixing for me is a challenge. I’m a perfectionist in that way and it would take years to mix a track, but my wife and I have this saying—and it’s not to be cocky but it’s just to get it done—my 95% is better than somebody’s 100%. That’s for me to be able to let go of that last 5% and call it done.
As a composer and music maker I come from the beginnings of my stuff where I would mostly program with a mouse and drum machines with patterned based stuff, to today where I compose with a keyboard and compose in a traditional way, [like writing] melodies and chords. I often work with someone who plays guitar or keyboards. I do both of those but I want to get more into the songwriting process. I’m not very good with lyrics or thinking from a lyrical or vocal point of view so that’s something I want to understand more.
EDM Utah: I love the addition of the cello on “Peace Revisited” from Moments. There’s such a beautiful way that it compliments the track. Tell us about the process behind that tracks production?
Darude: The original track “Peace” is by Apocalyptica, [which is] a Finnish band. They do all kinds of stuff like old school classical, very amazing and beautiful, and their other side is they have a rock drummer and they have distortion units that they play their cellos through. It’s like a metal band and then they flip the switch and they are classical. If you have a chance go see them live, they are amazing. A long time ago they released the track and I know the drummer, he used to play percussion on my live shows a long time ago [and over time] I got to know the other guys as well. They wanted me to make a remix of a track and they gave me a couple of different track stems and I chose “Peace.”
For whatever reason back then the track wasn’t released—when I started compiling material for my album—I revisited the whole thing and they were cool with me using the track. So now it’s Darude and Apocalyptica‘s “Peace Revisited.” I had all the low end bass cellos and high end melodies and was just cherry picking and choosing what would fit my style. The main track is a lot bigger so the main melody in the breakdown and on the chorus is just a fourth of the track. I’m very thankful for the guys letting me do it because I sort of bastardized some of the stuff. I sampled it and repeated so the actual melody that you hear, you will recognize it if you listen to the original, but it’s a little different. I changed it so that it fits a 4 bar pattern of dance music.
EDM Utah: Vocals in a track always appeal to me. “Be With You Tonight” has a very fun dance groove. How do you decide to add vocals to a track like that?
Darude: There’s so many ways to tackle that. Initially, early on I would make music first. I would make an instrumental track and not even think of vocals really. But then along the way I started working with singers and songwriters. It’s a natural way of thinking of the sort of old school way, with an acoustic guitar or a piano, way before you’re touching anything electronic. Like you’re singing around a campfire, just feeling it and talking about vibes, moods, and the message in the lyrics. I’m going towards more the traditional singer/songwriter and composing, but I still want to do my original programming as well because that’s where I came from.
“Be With You Tonight,” for instance. happened at a writing camp that I went to in Denmark. I came into the studio and heard the intro riff and Sylvester was mouthing the words over that. He was just trying to find the right melody. What I really love about that song, although I’m just a tiny bit of a writer in that song and I did the final production, I feel about 100% ownership because that was what I heard. I told them I knew what the music video should look like. So “Be With You Tonight” was the phrase. Think of Ultra or EDC with 50,000 to 100,000 people at a festival, and think of the opposite of that. I don’t have anything against those festivals but the vibe of the song is that you don’t want to be among the masses, you want to be with somebody you love—whether it’s your dog, your spouse, or your friends. For the music video I told the guys in the studio to show [footage from] Ultra, but show [the crowd leaving or myself leaving the stage] and going home to my family. Basically going away from the masses and going to your loved ones. That was the idea and then they wrote the lyrics based on that idea. It was really cool. It was a little backwards but it was all about vibe or feeling, and the song was basically written around all of that.
EDM Utah: Thank you for talking with us. Do you have any closing remarks to share with the fans?
Darude: I’m working on new music. I’m hoping that I’ll get out about 5 or 6 releases this year. I’m working on several collaborations at the moment that I’m very excited about. For instance, Orjan Nilsen is one of the guys, he’s a Norwegian producer. Tom Fall, a Finnish producer. Uberjak’d from Australia. A couple of others as well, guys who I’ve looked up to and played their music for a long time so it’s cool to get to make music with them.
Darude’s latest release, Moments, is now available on all major platforms.