Electric Daisy Carnival

[EDC 2015]

Soulful house DJ Duke Dumont makes his Vegas debut during EDC Week

Deanna Rilling

Duke Dumont is that special someone who might save popular dance music from itself. The U.K. producer/DJ born Adam Dyment is bumping formulaic EDM off the charts with his brand of sweet, soulful house that has worked its way onto the airwaves and into DJ playlists. His tunes lock you into a groove and hit the feels, so to speak. You’ll be able to hear them performed live on June 20 at EDC during his debut weekend in Las Vegas. (He’ll also throw down a DJ set at Daylight on June 18 for a Thursday edition of Sundown.)

Do people mistakenly call you Duke? Sometimes. I’ll tell you what: In America they do because I think in America, Duke can actually be someone’s first name. In the U.K. it’s not as believable.

You’re frequently called a deep-house producer, but there are many arguments in the scene about what deep house is. How would you describe your music to EDM kids looking to dig deeper? I think maybe what’s distinguished my music a little bit more is I tend to incorporate a lot more vocals, [and it’s] probably based around more traditional song structures but still danceable and quite high-energy. Whereas EDM tends to—not all the time—be quite instrumental and have the same kind of formula. What I do is probably more influenced by Chicago house music, the older kind of ’70s-’80s dance music and ’80s-sounding pop records. Whereas EDM is more influenced by European/Dutch house. I think I’m strangely more inspired by American dance and soul music. There’s a group of us in the U.K. selling it back to you guys.

What can we expect from your EDC live show? There’s three of us, because I don’t have that many hands. One of the girls plays percussion; the other band member plays keyboards. I play keyboard elements and also percussion as well. There’s a lot of overdubs of the songs that retain elements of the songs. So it’s an experience where people obviously can see what’s going on onstage because it’s very exposed, but at the same time with the live show, the visual element is way more impactful than that of just a DJ set. I’ve spent a lot of time in understanding the journey of the show from the start to the end. There’s parts in between where it’s not 1,000-miles-an-hour like a lot of dance music can be. I feel like it’s a journey and has its ups and downs but it’s still danceable. It’s an hour, but it’s taken a lot of time to make.

Your tracks “Need U (100%),” “I Got U” and “The Giver” have topped the charts even though U.S. charts are dominated by commercial EDM. “Need U” was nominated for a Grammy. Do you think there’s hope the U.S. will embrace something deeper on a wider scale? The tone of dance music is slightly changing. But maybe we’re a bit too early and something else will come along and take that. “I Got U” was played on U.S. radio [as was] “Latch” by Disclosure. Regardless of genre, it’s either a good song or a bad song.

You got your start remixing. Which has been your favorite to date? I did a remix for a band called Haim a couple years ago (“Falling”). I’m a big fan of Haim. It’s probably my favorite remix I’ve done. I really like the vocal.

Did your early days as a remixer impact or shape your solo work? I think it definitely impacted the way I make music because it’s essentially harder to do a remix than an original song. It's strange. With a remix you’re very restricted on what you’re using because you have to use elements of someone else’s record. With your own track, there’s no limits. So in some regards, remixing is easier because sometimes it’s easier to do something when you have a restricted amount of tools. Then there are other times it’s harder when you can do anything. The good thing about remixes is I could study how the songs are produced and what it took to make a hit record. Remixing was my education into record producing.

Anything coming up from the studio we should look for? There’s an album; it’s going to be coming out around September. It’s going to have a mix of American artists, U.K. artists. It’s been a year or two in the making. Essentially my live show at EDC is a massive preview of the album as well as the hit records I’ve made.

Do you have a title for the album? Yeah, the album is going to be called Blasé Boys Club. It’s my label and the album’s basically me and friends of mine and my influences. I like how Pharrell has the Billionaire Boys Club and he promoted the idea of being a billionaire. Our Blasé Boys Club promotes the idea of being blasé. A lot of people are blasé and nonchalant in life rather than [being a] billionaire, so I promote the idea of that!

Duke Dumont EDC: June 20. Daylight: (with Fatboy Slim) June 18, doors at 11 a.m., $20 women, $40 men.

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