Duke Dumont's Mission: "Make the Women Dance and Everyone Has a Good Time"
There's something wonderful happening to pop music over in the U.K.
Underground dance music styles like deep house, garage and bass are breaking through the roof and taking over the charts, in much the same way they did during the '90s.
DJ-producer Duke Dumont is the prime example of this phenomenon. Despite picking up some moderate buzz as a remixer in the last few years, it wasn't until this past year that he came into his own as a producer.
Breakthrough single "Need U (100%)," an exuberant slice of retro '90s vocal dance goodness, catapulted to the number one spot on the U.K. singles chart after dropping in March.
For once, we here in the U.S. are actually lucky to be light years behind the U.K. musically, since it means we get to see its biggest-selling star, booked (thanks to Slap & Tickle) at an intimate small room like Bardot instead of the megaclub or stadium arena where a pop star of his caliber belongs.
Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to the dance music scene from an early age?
Duke Dumont: I think in the U.K., most people are exposed to dance music at an early age. I'm part of a generation that grew up with The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk on the charts. The cycle of dance music in the charts went away for a while, but I think it has come back around.
You've cited the notoriously experimental and genre-blurring producer Switch as an early mentor in the studio. How did you first hook up with him and what did he impart to you?
Dave [Taylor] (Switch) released an early EP of mine about 6 years ago. We spent a couple of days mixing the record, when he lived in Chester, England. Spending a few days in the studio with him opened my eyes to how you can get the most out of making music on a computer. I still think Dave gets better-sounding results from just a computer than a lot of producers who have a hundred thousand dollars' worth of recording equipment.
Until last year, you were mostly known for your remixes. What
prompted the leap to original producer? Was there a gradual evolution
leading up to that point? Or was there a moment of inspiration that
spawned those first original works?
I knew I had to release more
of my own music, because it had been a long time since I released my
earlier material. I had worked on approximately 30 remixes, between
working on my own material. With remixing, it teaches you how to get the
most out if something with a limited sound palette. When you make a
song from scratch, you can be blinded by the unlimited options you have,
which makes having a clarity of style very important.