Darude: 5 million Records After Sandstorm
Multi-platinum award-winning producer and international artist Darude, has to date sold over 5 million records worldwide and is recognized by many as one of the most influential artists to emerge from the dance scene in the past decade.
Hailing from a small village called Hinnerjoki in Finland the patriotic Finn now resides with his family in his second home Atlanta (America), a move that compliments his ever-growing popularity in the United States. A seasoned professional in his own right, through travelling the globe he has been fortunate to experience many cultures and see some of the worlds most beautiful and awe-inspiring destinations; believing this education of life has been a catalyst for much of his recent music.
Although famed for the global smash ‘Sandstorm’, which became the world’s best-selling 12″ vinyl of 2000, Ville Virtanen aka Darude has had a long and successful career as both a live performer and club DJ, banking an average of 140, 000 air miles per year. Alongside 12 years working as a producer and engineer with nothing but achievement to look back on.
Having set the benchmark for a generation of producers with ‘Sandstorm’, the ever modest professional is a strong supporter of new talent and music. So much so that in 2010 he took the decision to set up his own imprint EnMass Music to push not just his own music, but also that of artists whom he believes in. With a long list of achievements already to his name, Darude could be forgiven for resting on his lot, but instead 2011 and 2012 saw him busy with new projects, including a DJ mix compilation album, new productions and remixes, as well as running his record label and touring the world and in 2013. We’re excited to see what Darude has in store for his next album…and of course…we had to ask him about Sandstorm…Enjoy!
OTB: We saw you recently played on Groove Cruise, and it hasn’t been your first time. What are the differences between an event like that and a normal festival setting? Do you like it better or worse? What was your highlight this year?
Darude: In my experience nothing compares to the Groove Cruise. It’s a pretty unique event experience with this crazy, off-the-wall party atmosphere. Everyone who attends seems to leave their inhibitions on dry land because from the minute you step onboard it’s insane. People spend days, if not weeks, preparing costumes to bring aboard which if you’ve not seen any of the pictures for the event then I recommended you do so because there are some absolutely fantastic efforts! As a setting for a party I love it. There’s a really unity of minds on the boat which is amazing to be a part of.
OTB: Being a producer that has been in the Trance scene for over a decade, how have you seen it evolve over time? What have been the biggest changes?
Darude: Trance has been one of the dominate genres in the electronic scene for 15/20 years but right now the scene is in a state of change, and for the better. The standard of music being released right now is really impressive and we’re slowly returning to a more underground approach. I think over the next few years we’re going to see a flurry of new, young stars emerge that will dominate the scene for years to come. It’s refreshing to see the present evolution our scene is going through as the focus is finally coming back to the music as opposed to poll placings and DJ awards.
OTB: :You’ve been running your record label EnMass Music with Randy Boyer for a few years now. Why did you decide to expand your role from producer/DJ to record label owner? Who are some of the new talent we should be looking out for on this label?
Darude: The idea was out there for a while and when Randy and I were on the road together in 2008, we got to know each other more – although we actually go back about 15 years now – and discussed the idea of doing a project together. We decided to combine forces and launch our own label which kicked off at the tail end of 2010 with Randy’s track ‘Fragile’ and Cari Golden on vocals. The desire to get into the label game with Randy was really based on wanting to push something forward with new ideas and collaborations and bring knowledge and creativity to other projects that may not necessarily be mine. EnMass is an opportunity to do this and always allow us to work with other artists. We’ve got some really exciting artists on the label such as Nick Wolanski, Loe & Kantola, Paul Corson and Weirdness all creating this incredible music which I’m so proud to be supporting on the label.
OTB: Tell us more about your set-up nowadays?
Darude: In my Finnish studio I have a good bit of beloved hardware, like Korg Triton, Korg MS2000, Access Virus C, Roland JP8080, which all are awesome. However, my US studio is where I’ve mostly worked during the past six years and is purely software-based, the only hardware I have are a Novation midi controller, Genelec monitors, MoTU audio interface, a Mac Pro and Røde K2 mic and pre amp. I have to say that Logic Pro is definitely my favourite tool. It has everything; great midi and audio editing, awesome software sampler, synths and effect plug-ins, I can do a track in it from start to finish, even on a laptop. I also like Melodyne and Ableton Live a lot.
OTB: As well as the record label, you also have a family. How do you cope with spending time in the studio and away on tour without them?
Darude: These days my work fits around my family. I still love touring but I don’t enjoy being away from home so much so I try spread out my long haul trips to ensure I’m only away a few days at a time. I’m fortunate to have a team around me who help put some of the day-to-day pieces into place, such as bookings/artist management etc, which means my free time can be largely spent on making music. We know you spent a lot of time in Ibiza over the years. What are some of the differences between playing clubs there and playing in the US?
The US market has really exploded in the past few years and it’s really exciting. Las Vegas and Miami are the two closest markets we have to Ibiza but neither can truly compete to the magic that little Balearic island holds. Besides featuring some of the best clubs in the world, which I think both Vegas and Miami can rival with ease, there’s a spirit and beauty to Ibiza which is hard to put into words. For me as a DJ and as a fan of electronic music I’m happy to see more global destinations becoming beacons for this amazing scene.
OTB: Can you tell us a funny/strange story from being on the road?
Darude: Many years ago during one of my early US tours, the crew and I returned back to our hotel for the night. Completely exhausted I retired to my room and fell into a deep sleep. The next thing I know my tour manager rings my hotel room at eleven, yelling down the phone that him and the crew are waiting downstairs for me and ready to go. I reply that “I will be right downstairs; I’ll just grab my stuff.” Ten sleepy yet frantic minutes later, I’m come down in the elevator to the ground floor and where all the guys are looking at me in a funny way… I had packed all my stuff and was ready to go to the airport thinking it’s the following morning, not realizing that it was in fact 23:00p.m, and that we were going to the venue, not the airport, because I still had a gig to do that night!
OTB: We read recently on therichest.org that you have a net worth of around $25 million dollars. Did you ever imagine starting out in this industry that it would one day make you a millionaire? Since you’re already such a huge success, what drives you to continue producing and touring?
Darude: Haha well first of all, that list is absolutely hilarious! I don’t know where they (think they) get their “facts”, but I do know that on my part and probably about all the others on the list, nobody could possibly have knowledge about those kind of financials, not even a close ballpark one, they’re guesstimates and seemingly almost random numbers, and they’re missing several obvious names, too. Whatever it is based on, it seems to have missed the layers of management, labels, PR agencies, booking agents etc between the DJ and the $€£. At the same time it’s flattering to be on that kind of list alongside those great peers! This goes in the category “Any publicity is good publicity” 😉
What drives me and always has is the love of music and this scene. It started with me tinkering and creating happy accidents and I still look for those! I have a passion to be in the studio working on music and alongside this I love performing to audiences and connecting with the crowd. It’s an incredible experience. Money is of course absolutely needed and I love the pay checks I get for my work, but money is not the driving force in my passion as a DJ/producer.
OTB: Everyone knows you for your track ‘Sandstorm.’ What is another track you have produced that people may not have heard of and you think is underrated?
Darude: I suppose that depends on your/my meaning of underrated. Comparing any of my music to ‘Sandstorm’ is a little silly, because that track became a phenomenon of it’s own that will most likely never be repeated (by me). Tracks such as ‘Selfless’ and ‘In The Darkness’ are perhaps some which people who only know of my career as being ‘Sandstorm’ have yet to discover. As with any artist you want to showcase your art and those two are some of my proudest work. ‘Sandstorm’ is still something I’m incredibly proud of and even today I still play it but as a producer and DJ my music is about looking forward. I’m currently working on a new artist album which I think will surprise a few people as there are a lot of different ideas and collaborations in this one.
OTB: EDM is expected to continue growing in 2013. Where would you like to see the scene go? What is the current state of Trance music in your opinion?
Darude: I think dance music has a long way to go. The recent global explosion in electronic music is amazing and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. The entire world is finally taking note and everyone wants a piece of it, in some cases for the wrong reasons. But even so, what’s going on around the world is a youth movement like never before. The only negative I am seeing is the continued growth in artists copying other artists, which isn’t new and has been happening in all genres of music for years, but in order for electronic music to prosper we need to cull this blatant copycatting by some artists.
OTB: Do you have any upcoming releases or big plans in 2013 you want your fans to know about?
Darude: Well as I mentioned I have a new album coming up this year. I’ve not set a release date yet, because I want to finish the album at my own pace, but it’s nearly there, I’ve already test played several tracks at my gigs and been really happy with the response so far. Additionally to this Randy Boyer and I are still working on our label EnMass Music, which has been gathering great support lately from guys like Tiësto. Our last record, an EP from Nick Wolanski, saw another massive big room release on the label. Thomas Mengal from Denmark is debuting on the label next with stunning angelic track featuring Nadia Gattas on vocals. For more info check out www.enmassmusic.com or www.facebook.com/enmassmusic as well as hear previews of our music.
OTB: You’ve got a number of exciting shows coming in the US over the next couple of months. Are you going to be touring away from your adopted home of the US much this year or are you focusing on home shows for the time being?
Darude: I’ve a number of international shows coming up away from my adopted home, but I’ll predominately be sticking close to the US until the album is finished because I want to focus the available time I have into completing the project. Over the next few weeks I’ve shows coming up in Cleveland, Anaheim, Scottsdale and San Diego, as well as a slot at Neverland Festival in Finland plus a few other shows in that region during my return home. You can check out my forthcoming tour schedule via on www.darude.com or get in touch with me directly via www.facebook.com/darude