"If you can make people happy with what you do," UK producer Duke Dumont (aka Adam Dymant) says of the crossover-is-killing-the-house-revival kerfuffle, "who the fuck is to say whether you're killing something or not?" After producing one of the biggest UK crossover hits of the year -- "Need U (100%)" -- we think it's safe to say that Duke Dumont knows what he's talking about.
At this point, it's been blogged nearly to death, but bears repeating that the UK is currently experiencing an electronic music Renaissance. House and Garage-infused artists like Disclosure, Rudimental and Duke Dumont are visible and getting radio play in a way that hasn't been seen since the '90's when Aphex Twin and Chemical Brothers burst onto the scene. While the revived interest has been a boon to the genre, it has also led to a lot of hand wringing. Electronic music has always been considered "underground." What do you call underground music like "Need U (100%)" that enters the UK Singles Chart at number one?
Ahead of his North American summer tour, we spoke with Duke Dumont about the state of electronic music, his inescapable hit, and what's up next.
Where did the name Duke Dumont come from?
I've been DJing and making music professionally for about 6 or 7 years now and I always wanted an alias that was different from my real name. When you DJ, to a degree, it's not real life. In what aspect of real life do a thousand people come and clap their hands and cheer you? It's purely in response to the music I make and not so much who I am. Take Daft Punk for example. They take it to the extreme where they have helmets on, but you know I bet they're really happy that they can walk down the street in Paris or LA.
What's changed since "Need U (100%)" became a massive hit?
Like I said I've been DJing for about 6 or 7 years now and "Need You (100%)" took me into another realm, which I'd never had access to. Instead of [the music] just playing underground parties, it's played on the radio.
How did the idea for the music video for "Need U (100%)" come about? Is this how you feel having to play the track every time you perform?
The idea for the music video didn't actually come from myself, it came from a director called Ian Robertson. He made a great video and I'm happy with what he did, but I don't actually share the same emotion as the guy in the video. I'm very grateful for the song being successful.
Do you prefer composing or performing? Why?
I absolutely love both. They appeal to different parts of the brain. When you perform or do a live show, it's very instantaneous. The fruits of the labor are there. Now composing and producing, when you finish a song that you're really happy with, that instant gratification isn't there because you don't know how people are going to embrace the song. Producing and composing on a professional level takes a much longer time to achieve a high standard. That's the area I pride myself on because I've basically given up the last ten years of my life to learn the art form. You can't perform if you haven't put in the effort in the studio.
Do you have a favorite sound or sample now?
I don't really have a favorite sample now. My favorite thing to do at the moment is to just go back to music I recorded in the last year or two years. I have some favorite demos that I've done, which to me still sound good like a year later. I've found with music that if you still like something two months or three months or a year after you recorded it, usually it has got a good shelf life.
What do you think about crossover electronic acts like Disclosure? Are they killing the electronic music revival?
Do you mean killing it in a positive or negative way? Negative? In all, my opinion is crossover or not crossover if you can make people happy with what you do, who the fuck is to say whether you're killing something or not. Ultimately, crossover or not crossover, if you write a good song it doesn't matter if it's a house track or underground. Good music is good music.
Is there a difference between American and UK electronic music?
I'll split the answer into two sections. I think in terms of the artists making the music, there's absolutely no difference. There are some incredible record producers and DJs in the United States. That's one side of it. The second side of it is that mainstream radio in the United States and the UK are very different. In the US, it's a lot harder for someone who does what I do to get radio play because it's very commercial. In the UK, radio stations play a lot of house music, a lot of UK garage music. The climate of radio is different, but in regards to the quality of artists it's not.
What are you currently working on?
I'm doing a West Coast tour in July. I'm playing from Vancouver down to Mexico City. At the end of the summer, I'm back in the studio recording an album. There's only one thing worse than being busy and that's not being busy.
Do you have a musical guilty pleasure you'd be willing to reveal?
I'm really obsessed with catalogue music from the 1970's and 1980's. There were these producers and like all day all they did was write music for TV adverts. Some of it's quite experimental. I'm obsessed with it. I've got like hundreds of records of weird moog sounds.
For more on him and his North American tour, check out his website.