Electronic music is being played around the world every second and if your not careful you can become trapped in a never ending loop. This is exactly what won't happen to you when listening to London DJ, Duke Dumont. A veteran of his craft, Duke is having a big year in 2014. First releasing his major single 'I Got U', which has already gone number 1 on several charts. Next DJ Dumont destroyed the Yuma Tent at Coachella in Palm Springs. Now he is putting together 3 album for his fans and will release it through Universal Records. I was able to speak to Duke last month after the Coachella Festival. The brilliant artist provided brilliant insight into his life and the world around him.
Chris: Great. You’re currently in San Francisco?
Duke: Yes, I’m playing a couple shows. Tonight I will be at Mezzanine; it’s my second time back. I played there this time last year so, it’s a great club, so, looking forward to it.
Chris: I've been to the Mezzanine myself. I’m out of L.A. right now but I went there a couple years back to see Benny Benassi. It is such a great venue to play or see a show at.
Duke: Yes, it’s a great venue to perform. San Francisco is really chilled out as well. So I expect a really good crowd.
Chris: So earlier today I was checking through some of the charts and you've got a number one hit out there on the UK billboard; over seven million plays on YouTube. I know those are just numbers, do they mean anything personally to you?
Duke: Yeah. I mean for me as an artist, the most important thing I can do is make the best music I can possibly make, and within the last couple of years, some of it’s been more relevant in the UK. That’s kind of been represented by the numbers you are mentioning. For me, the most important thing is to have a certain skill level and a certain pedigree in my music. After that, things like number ones in the UK, number ones around the world, those figures, Grammy nominations, I really appreciate it, but it’s like at the end of the day, just a number. I’ll still make music no matter what. If I didn't sell as many copies or if I wasn't nominated for certain awards. I’d still do what I do but it’s very nice to get recognition. It’s great. It’s not the one thing that motivates me to make music, to keep the numbers, to try and get three number ones from in the UK. If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn't happen it’s not going to kill me. I’m always good with my accomplishments. I've agreed to work with Universal so you know, I’ll sit down with them and hopefully, I have a back catalogue of music I can look back on in ten years’ time and be happy with.
Chris: Beautiful answer. I love it. The music video ‘I Got U’ is very awesome, very amazing. The concept is really nice. Was that your point of view; As far as the video perspective?
Duke: Do you mean my point of view as in; was I in the video, or point of view as in the creative aspect of the video?
Chris: Was that your POV in the video.
Duke: I thought you meant in the video, ‘because you know in the video, basically most of the video, it’s the guy’s point of view walking around Thailand. That wasn't me who acted in the video. The video was made with a director and he came up with the idea but I kind of made quite a few decisions in the video on the editing side of it just to kind of clean it all up so, I had a little bit of creative control in the video, but mostly it was the video director who did it.
Chris: You for the most part gave him the green light to go for it?
Duke: Yeah. The way it works is that when you do a single, you get like ten people come up with ideas. They’ll pitch you their ideas so it’s my decision to go with the best one. But then, as he’s making the video, there’s still kind of creative, there’s still creative control to say ‘Can this be changed, can that be changed?’ So I’m still having kind of me the video in the effect, but on the whole, it was the director’s idea so I can’t take too much credit for that.
Chris: OK. You know, just my first thought of the song when I hear it is, it’s almost got a little island feel to it, I mean was there anything specific you were going for, or you just went with the flow?
Duke: I mean song was recorded in the winter in the UK and it’s so cold in the UK in the winter, it’s incredible but overcast. I mean, it’s kind of like New York. You know what New York is like in the winter; you just don’t want to go there. So, I was almost thinking ahead to the summer. It’d be nice; it kind of lifted me out of that cold English winter I was in. I think I always tend to do that. You know, I tend to make music to try and escape. That’s almost definitely made up there. The drums, the strings, you know, the way the chords are played, it all kind of came together like one piece. The vibe of it was quite earlier on. I just produced the song to get away, you know, to continue that vibe with that kind of island feel with that kind of upbeat, happy feel. I just tried to do it in that song to the best I could.
Chris: You recently played Coachella, which is in the Palm Springs California area. How do you feel about the atmosphere when you’re in L.A.?
Duke: I haven’t actually, really DJ’d in L.A. so I can’t really speak so much from a DJ view point, but for me LA is a great city to live in. It’s almost like you know, the facilities you guys have, the lifestyle you guys have. You have an outdoors lifestyle; you have a healthy lifestyle which is the absolute opposite of London. You know in London we mainly stay indoors ‘because the weather’s too cold. We get sunlight for about two weeks of the year. It rains all the time. So L.A. is completely different from that. So I like L.A. ‘Cause it’s like holiday. L.A. is perfect, but the one thing I've noticed is that L. A. is very, you know, everybody has to make it in L.A. You know, everyone’s under pressure to succeed, everyone’s under pressure to look the best they can, to wear the best clothes they can, to drive the best car they can. L.A. is very, very competitive. For me, that’s the only downside you know. It’s just be yourself, be who you are. Don’t worry about the other people, what cars their driving, you know. The lifestyle in L.A. is amazing and that’s why I think a lot of British people end up moving to L.A. ‘cause it’s quite a last stop.
Chris: I totally agree with you. I wish that the competition was a little less extreme out here but…
Duke: You know like, everyone’s different. But a lot of people you know are very judgmental. I mean, it’s what you do. You are what you do and it’s just that. It’s almost, for me, I would judge someone on their personality and how decent a person they are rather than what job title they have. Like for me, I came up to L.A. before. I used to DJ the first time I came to L.A. but no one would have heard of me in L.A. Now things have changed a little bit. It becomes a bit more fun and you know, champagne and all of that but you know. It’s not just L.A. It’s my season. So it’s not picking on L.A., London’s the same. But I mean I can imagine spending more time in L.A. I can imagine living in L.A. for like six months of the year, but I think London is my home so I’ll always return to London at some point.
Chris: OK. So, you played Coachella this year. How was the experience?
Duke: Last weekend for me personally, it couldn't have gone any better. I played the Yuma Tent. When I walked in, it was like three quarters full, and by the time I left, there were a thousand people waiting to get in and five minutes after I left, it was three quarters full again, so …
Chris: Was that your first time at Coachella?
Duke: Yes it was. But I've been playing Festivals, DJ’d at the Festivals for about seven, eight years now, so I kind of know the idea. You know the people who go to Festivals; they just want to go crazy. They’ll have a good time. It’s slightly different to a club, you can build more of a groove, you know, keep people dancing. Whereas at a Festival you need more dynamic, you need to build, you need ups and downs, it’s not just all energy you know, you have to have a certain level of energy to just, you know, let people go crazy and you know, ten minutes into the show, I kind of get a good picture.
Chris: You’re satisfied?
Duke: I’m satisfied. Yeah. The big reason for me coming to the US this time at all was to play Coachella. So I was very happy that Coachella went really well. That’s the one show that I wanted to go really well on this tour.
Chris: Roughly, how long did it take you to prepare for your set?
Duke: Well the thing is, I DJ nonstop. So I DJ like round the world constantly; always making music constantly. What happens is I kind of refine my set continuously, so within like a six months, three months, six months period, the set will be completely refreshed. But there are certain songs that I know always will get a good reaction depending on what kind of venue it is. Then, when I DJ, you know, if after a few minutes, I feel this kind of music doesn't work, that kind of sound isn't working, then I will try a different kind of style, a different kind of energy and take it from there. So, I’m very attentive; I pay attention to the crowd. I love when I DJ. I also take the venue into context, take the city into context, take what country you’re in and just kind of try and deliver the best I can. But also still have my soul in the music so you know, I only play music I like. You know, I’m only going to play a song if I like it. I've never DJ’d a song I've never liked, ever.
Chris: Just because it’s hot or something or popular, it’s not going to happen?
Duke: Never done it. But then again, I've played some popular tracks. But I've loved them. So even if they’re popular, you know, for me, it’s just that I've never played a song I don’t like but, you know, I carry so much music with me that I like so, you know, I have thousands with me at any time so you know, I can do a fairly good job. I like to split soul music and funk music and…
Chris: Wow. That should be amazing.
Duke: You know Fatback Band and things like this and you know Andrea Boccelli and house music and grave music so, you know it’s completely different. So after doing this for several years, I’ll always try to be as professional as I can. I’m known for my producing and my productions but I kind of feel I should get credit as a DJ as well ‘cause you know, the years I've been doing it now and I’m definitely kind of top of my game at the moment.
Chris: Yeah. I mean you could sense the professionalism. I can tell you that. I mean from my opinion and I’m positive everyone else respects you, takes you serious as a professional DJ as well.
Duke: It’s like playing Coachella you know, I like spend a lot of time. They pay you good money to do a job. So you turn up and you do the best job you can. You know if you turn up and you’re so drunk and you’re so high, that you can’t even DJ, then, you know you wouldn't do that. I’m sure you wouldn't, you know, most people don’t go into work feeling drunk or high on drugs then you know. So, I’m not saying, I love to do what I do you know, I love to have fun. When I DJ I drink, But the first and foremost thing is just be, just be good you know, don’t let anyone, don’t let the crowd down, don’t let the promoters down, don’t let yourself down and so far, you know, I've tended to do that. I think you know I haven’t always been a DJ since age eighteen. I've always DJ’d. I made music since about 15 years old, but as a job and as a living, it wasn't the first job I've done. So, you know, I did a lot of dead end jobs, I did a lot of jobs I hated and having done those, I think it’s given me an appreciation as a DJ and you know it’s fun, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. So I try my hardest and I’m never you know even if I’m tired or if things are quite tough I’m never going to complain about it because I know what it’s like to do a job I hate just so I can pay the bills, which unfortunately in life, most people have to do. So, and that’s why I try to do the best job I can.
Chris: That’s great. I totally understand where you’re coming.
Chris: OK. What are you working on now? I’m sure you’re working on different records but is there a project that you’re hoping to put out by the end of the year or?
Duke: Yeah. I mean I’m working on an album at the moment so my album hopefully, will be released in the fall. So I figure it’ll be finished at some point during the summer. So I’m working on an album and before the album there’ll be a single maybe two singles and then the album will be released. After the album, I’ll tour the album, I’ll probably put a live show together, maybe tour with a live band. It will be a DJ and a live show.
Chris: Are you going to be starting a tour this summer, or are you starting in the fall after the album?
Duke: I think it will start in the fall or in the winter. I don’t think it will come to America until the fall or the winter. I think in the UK, it’ll be a little bit early to kind of test it and just to make sure that everything goes well to the degree that I’m happy with. Yeah. I mean, as soon as I finish the album, even before people can buy it, I’m going to be working on my live show straight away, and record all the music I have and then work out the best way to perform it to a live crowd.
Chris: Last question I wanted to ask. Finish the sentence “The best part about my life right now is…"
Duke: Is doing what I love to do.
Duke: Yeah. Pretty simple
Chris: Yeah. It is. Very simple.
Duke: Keep it simple.