Behind The Beat | John Dahlback Interview
Always One Step Ahead
John Dahlback is always one step ahead of the game. From setting the standard for the evolution of music production, to balancing an endless stream of shows around world, to informing us that his 2013 releases are already lined up and ready to go….you know the man means business. We were lucky enough to sit down with the Swedish producer before his first ever Seattle show at nightclub Last Supper Club.
A Force to be Reckoned With
A musician from a young age, John Dahlback is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he create mind blowing music that incorporates ethereal trance and soul shattering bass into one subliminal track after another, he is consciously evolving the ways in which musical genres are fused together. Oh, and by the way, he also manages two record labels (Pickadoll Records and Mutants Records) on the side, tours constantly and is still able to release a brand new single almost monthly.
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OTB: You’re immersed in an industry that seems to be dominated by the talents of Swedish artists. In Sweden, I’ve heard that music is a subject that is taken at an early age for school children. Do you think that starting at an early age helped you become the producer you are today?
John Dahlback: I think since we start basically learning music in first grade and are more or less forced to learn an instrument. I studied drums, guitar and piano for a few years and its just great I mean everyone is really into music in Sweden and we have a rich musical life there. Not when it comes to club, its just that everyone is really interested in different kinds of music.
OTB: Your parents are both musicians correct? What is the best piece of advice they have given you when it comes to your musical career?
John: I didn’t get that much advice from my parents. They have been in the music scene as well and I just started doing it on my own. When I went to school and did this at the same time they understood that I was for real about it. They sent out demos and helped me out there. I never went to my parents and asked about the record scene, I had to figure that out by myself.
OTB: Have they come to your shows before or do they give you feedback on your work?
John: When I lived at home I used to play all of my music to my parents and I asked them what they thought because they’re really musical and have good ears. They have never seen me actually play though. I’m not sure why…I don’t play that much in Sweden. They should come!
OTB: Besides music, do you have any secret talents or party tricks?
John: No party tricks, but I am a great gamer. I play a lot of Call of Duty when I can. And I must say that I am REALLY good at it.
OTB: As the popularity of EDM has begun to rise, do you feel that some of the veterans of the scene have remained true to their individual style, or have taken on a more ‘generic’ sound?
John: I think most people in EDM are kind of staying true to what they do. I feel that maybe a few have found a sound that is working and stick to it…I think that is boring. If I had an artist I really liked, I wouldn’t want to hear the same kind of track over and over. I couldn’t personally do that. I get bored so quickly in the studio. One day I’m doing a tech-house track, the other I’m doing an indie pop track. It gets me going to make music I don’t normally do.
OTB: Your sound is edgier and darker but at the same time manages to beautifully fuse together a variety of musical styles. How would you describe your personal sound and what has most influenced its development into what it is today?
John: I‘ve always liked to mix stuff together. I like trance, not the cheesy trance but the beauty of trance. I like to blend that with edgy stuff in the drops. I did a track called ‘Everywhere’ and it is great and beautiful in the break and cooler and harder as the drop comes in. That was seven years ago and you know, it worked. I want to blend as much as I can, I want to have some tech-house influences but harder techno in it as well.
OTB: Of all of the tracks that you have released, which is your personal favorite or which was the most memorable to produce?
John: The most memorable track to produce was probably my track ‘Everywhere’, again because it took me one hour to make it. It was a vocal I had lying around in the studio for a couple of years and I never used it and all of a sudden in a late night session I just decided to use it and it clicked. In one hour the track was done. I sent it to a friend and then in two hours I signed it. A couple of weeks after, it as out. Another track I loved to produce was this artist I found in Sweden called Erik Hassle who made a really slow B side to one of his EPs and I just loved it and was like ‘can I remix this?’ So he sent me the parts and it got so good that we made it a new original- it was really fun to make.
OTB: Speaking of memorable, what has been your most memorable gig?
John: Probably Tomorrowland, the first time 4 years ago. I didn’t know what to expect, I went on after Martin Solveig and I was kind of off and wasn’t up for it because I didn’t know what to expect. I can directly from backstage to 60,000 people in the crowd and I was shocked. When it is that many people it is unreal, its like there is no one but everyone there.
OTB: What do you miss most about home when you’re touring?
John: I actually brought my family to LA when I was there which has been great. I can go to Toronto, Chicago and then come back to LA. It is really important for me to have people I know around me so that I am not alone.
OTB: If you were stuck on a tour bus touring across the United States, what would be your 3 essential items to have?
John: My iPhone, iPhone charger and laptop. The essentials.
OTB: If you were an animal what would you end up being?
John: Hmm, a bird so that I would not have to deal with airplanes.
OTB: What superpower would you pick if you could choose one?
John: To fly! I fly all the time but hate flying. It’s such a hassle with the waiting and airports. Flying is find but if I had an airplane outside of my house and it landed in front of the club that would be great! I love long flights, its like when you watch a movie at home you don’t really watch it you get distracted with other things? On the plane there is nothing to do but be focused.
OTB: What are you excited for in 2013? Any shows, artists, tracks?
John: I have so many tracks lined up for this year that I think I am pretty much set for the rest of it. I was so creative at the end of last year in the studio and I have like 6 singles- no more actually and they are all waiting to be released. I finally found a home for my tracks, which is good. Gig-wise I am doing a couple of first times in cities, like I’ve never been to Mexico, should be interesting for sure. The sound of 2013 for me, is going to be a blend. I think it sounds harder now than last year, it’s a bit cooler, I’ve found new sounds in the studio and new ways to produce music, it’s great.