Swedish DJ John Dahlback isn’t taking the safe track to stardom

DJ Dahlbäck is constantly tweaking his sound.
Photo: Danny Mahoney
Sam Glaser

In just over a decade on the scene, Sweden’s John Dahlbäck has recorded four albums and a vast collection of hit singles and collaborations—an impressive portfolio for the baby-faced 27-year-old. This week, he brings his talents to XS, where he spins the Monday industry bash.

You’ve said you want to make music that is different. How would you describe the current sound everyone is doing? I hear a lot of producers who re-create their songs over and over again. I feel like some producers are sticking to what they know will work, because the last track they did sounded the same and worked out well, and they are taking the safe way. I can’t do that. I need the challenge to improve and go forward.

The Details

John Dahlbäck
May 13, 10 p.m., $35 men, $25 women.
XS, 770-0097.

How far back does your family’s music history go? Far. My father played drums in this progressive rock band in the late ’60s, early ’70s. My mother sang in several groups early on. We have always had a rich music environment at home. My cousin Jesper [Dahlbäck] is this techno legend in Sweden. My brother is also a producer, more into the indie pop sort of genre.

How do you find inspiration and new sounds? By always updating the studio with new synths, sounds, etc. I get bored really quick, so I don’t want to use the same sounds over and over again. Being in the studio and trying stuff out gets me going.

How is the role of record-label executive different from that of producer? Running my own label is so much fun—to be able to sign up-and-coming producers is really cool. I run it with my manager, so I basically choose which tracks we are going to put out, and he does the rest.

How has DJing changed in the last decade? I’ve gone from traveling with big vinyl cases to small USB sticks, so it’s easier now. Overall, since EDM has become so big now, I see increasing ticket sales, bigger venues, etc. But since it’s kind of easy to learn how to DJ today, with sync buttons and whatnot, you really need to give the audience something else. You can’t only DJ today; you really need to make music.

Why do you produce on different record labels? To try out different labels is always good, because each label has its own crowd and such. … For example, when I release something on Toolroom, I usually give them something more stripped down, techier than if I have a release on Spinnin’ Records, which would sound a lot more bang-ier.

Dahlbäck's top 5 tracks right now:

Bloody Beetroots - “Chronicles Of A Fallen Love”

John Dahlbäck - “Life/Diamonds In The Dark (Feenixpawl Remix)

Clockwork & Wynter Gordon - “Surge”

Zedd - “Clarity (Tiësto Remix)”

Kitch 2.0 - “Housecoholic (Lunde Bros Remix)”

Dahlbäck's top 5 clubs in the world right now (in no order):

XS, Las Vegas

Pacha, New York

Mansion, Miami

Gatecrasher, Birmingham

Ministry Of Sound, London

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