Vibe Exclusive! Stanley Cup Champion Dustin Penner does the Dada
Well, this is ironic isn't it? One of the whitest guys on the planet "working" for Vibe Magazine! In a sense, it seems appropriate considering how this piece will be about EDM.
My name is Dustin Penner and I’m an NHL hockey player with an extended off-season due to the current NHL lockout. Given this opportunity, I decided to take some time to focus on another passion in my life, music. Specifically, EDM and its' surrounding sub-culture.
I can draw parallels from EDM to my own path in life and to my professional career as a hockey player. Both could be described as tumultuous because of its checkered, unknown past and sometimes even naive stereotypes. Now you're probably wondering if this pseudo-music critic has the credentials to be writing about EDM. Quite honestly, I don't! This is just my own personal take on how this music has affected my life.
I was first introduced to this music 10 years ago during my third year of college. The song that "popped my cherry" was Tiësto’s remix of Sara McLaughlin’s "Silence". You always remember your first!
It's fitting that the first group I have the pleasure of interviewing is none other than the champagne popping, banana splitting, and energy infused styling of Dada Life. Think 5-hour energy on horse steroids. Like a punch to the head, this music hits you hard and fast and doesn't let up until you leave the club ugly. I first saw them spin three years ago at a spot in Ibiza called Privilege (check out the photos). At the time, they opened for Tiësto during his Kaleidoscope tour. It was an amazing and unforgettable night to say the least.
Here’s my interview with Olle Cornéer of Dada Life:
DP: If you had to describe your music to first time listeners, what would you tell them?
OC: I would tell them that Dada life sounds like your jumping up and then crashing on your head and getting blood all over your forehead, and you wake up and you're still smiling from the smash. That is the sound of Dada life.
DP: Are there any unwritten rules of Dada life?
OC: No, it not like a rulebook, it is more of the stuff we come up with when we are touring and working in the studio. We will probably add more of them in the future. There are basically a ton of unwritten ones.
DP: Musically speaking, what are the staples of a healthy Dada life diet? If someone could only eat 5 songs of Dada life, what 5 songs would they eat?
OC: We are always about the latest music. When it comes to music, we always think that as an artist you should always move forward. With our music, we always want to shock ourselves with the next song we create, or the next remix. So it is different then the last one or better than the last one. I would say just grab the five latest songs, they should be the best.
DP: What is Dada Life's five-year plan, where do you see yourself and your music in the rest of the EDM culture in that period?
OC: Oh five years, if we are talking five years, it can be nothing short of world domination when it comes to how big we are. Music wise it's kind of hard, I mean we just finished this album, it's produced next week, then we can go into the studio and try to reinvent ourselves, and come up with a new Dada life sound. Exactly how it will sound will be hard to say right now, I just know it will be really different from our sound now, and hopefully our listeners will get shocked.
DP: Where do you guys get your inspiration? How does this stuff all of a sudden creep up and you have a hit like Rolling Stone t-shirts?
OC: Sometimes you get ideas from other music, of course, but a lot of the time it is just thinking about music gives a lot of ideas to make music. It sounds strange but thinking about music gives a lot of ideas to us. We also get a lot of ideas from where we tour, because when you are touring and playing your music every night and you see the reactions of people on what works and what doesn't work you always want to get back into the studio.
DP: You're actually always kind of working?
OC: Ya Ya. We are working all of the time. I wouldn't say we work hard…we work really hard!! The actual playing, itself, is always a huge inspiration, every time you play a show you get new ideas, and you just want to go back into the studio and try them out, and when you are in the studio trying them out you want to go out and play them and see how they work.
DP: Out of the two US Presidential candidates, which would be best suited for the Dada Life?
OC: Definitely Obama. The other guy, I don't trust him. For the lifestyle I don't know, because we don’t trust ourselves.
DP: I have a lot of DJ friends and a lot of them say there is a new genre called track, what do you guys think the next genre will be?
OC: I think the next big style of music will actually be, especially when it comes to electronic music, won’t be one big style of music in the long run and that is the good thing about American EDM culture, and American dance music culture it's okay to mix everything nowadays. A few years back in Europe everything was so uptight. With styles not mixing at all, you had trance, you had Tech-House, you had techno, and now everything gets mixed in together, and it's so fun it's so creative.
DP: Is it still like that in Europe, is it an old school mentality of you guys play that, and you guys play that and don't mix?
OC: It's definitely loosening up now and I think that is in thanks for whatever happened in America, and I don't think the way the mix is done with track music will ever become huge because things just evolve and mix together with other stuff, and eventually someone mixes it together with another and it's an ongoing stew that is just cooking and boiling.
DP: That’s a good analogy.
OC: It is going to take a while until one new style comes, like when dubstep hit.
DP: What artist, past or present, influenced your style to the way you guys sound today?
OC: There are so many, when it comes to sound wise we are inspired by everything from 50's rock and roll with Little Richard to 70's punk music to late 90's rave like early Prodigy. Anything that has the proper energy. It's hard to pinpoint one artist, the sound, the rawness that early rock and roll had or 90's rave or whatever that is always what we are aiming for.
DP: You guys have a unique sound but the way you mix slower beats with it. Remember the mix you did at Sutra with Ellie Goulding’s “Lights?” That was the first time I heard it and it turned my brain into a mashed potato.
OC: (laughing) that's good
DP: In your opinion, which song or songs gave you guys your big break?
OC: I don't know, because as I told you before we are always thinking forward, we are always moving forward. I don't think that much about that stuff, about what makes us, we always try to make good music and move forward. I do think that “Kick out the Epic MotherFucker” probably opened us up to a lot of people, that hadn't listened to Dada Life before.
DP: It's probably a good feeling…
OC: Yeah of course, we don't care that much we live in our own little bubble, we make our music and go out on tour we move forward always when we are home we don't take off days we get into the studio at 9 o'clock and take a one hour lunch break and work all afternoon. We are just hard workers moving forward all the time,
DP: That is impressive; do you have a favorite American, or North American city or club to play at? A top three maybe?
OC: Hard to say because it is based on the party. I definitely love playing Southern California: San Diego, the OC and Los Angeles.
DP: Have you guys played at the Wave House yet?
OC: Yes, we played there this summer. It was nuts it was so fun. San Diego, Los Angeles are other great cities and then of course New York.
DP: How about Miami?
OC: It's a different vibe; I personally think it's more fun to play places you haven't been before. Miami has always been rooted in Club/House music.
DP: It (Miami) can get overloaded and snobbish?
OC: It's not snobbish, but Miami is one of the places where you always can work.
DP: I know you guys like to make your interviewers dress up in banana suits; however, with Halloween upcoming, LA is fresh out of banana suits, but I want u to know I am wearing one of your t-shirts.
OC: You get better answers if you wear a banana suit.
DP: What inspired you guys to design your logo? Does it have some kind of underlying or subconscious innuendo? Is that on purpose?
OC: It's funny that you say that, a lot of people have mentioned that, we haven't thought about it at all, we just thought it was a cool logo to have bananas and champagne and that is what we came up with.
DP: I have cramped up in a Dada life set, which begs the question, what is the fascination with bananas or is it a fascination with potassium?
OC: It's not only bananas, it has to be mixed with champagne, but not mixed together because a lot of people think that is it the flavor of bananas and champagne together, but it's purely functional. Bananas are there for the workout and champagne is there for the party. It's the perfect combination if you want to party.
DP: Have you worked with any hip-hop producers?
OC: Not really, we did produce one song with Flo-Rida, we worked with a hip hop producer on that one.
DP: Does it bother you that electronic music has crept into the mainstream?
OC: No the more the merrier, I have always felt dance music itself will always feel real to people, because it doesn't matter how commercialized and popular the dance music will be, in the end you can always make a song and send it out to your DJ friends and create the best hype around the songs without having any labels involved without having any radio programmers involved. That is the mechanism; the DJs are the gatekeepers who keep the music real, even when it's as commercialized as it is. People always forget about there are about 50 to 70 big DJs in the world that control what music will become hip, not the radio and not the labels.
DP: You guys grew up in Stockholm, did you grow up wanting to follow (former NHL’er) Peter Forsberg's steps, or have you always wanted to be a DJ?
OC: Yeah, we talked about it a little bit Stefan and me, before I was going to call you. I would say it's not 100% like that because for us we were really into music; however, it's not completely true, because Stefan is a really good soccer player, and I suck at everything in sports.
DP: How do you guys get the energy to play every night?
OC: It doesn't matter how tired you are the moment you go out and you see people and see how excited you are for the party, it is like a switch. We always say we play happy face music, and the moment you out and see happy faces, you know it's going to be a good night.
DP: Your new album, “The Rules of Dada,” was released on Tuesday; it’s going to be on constant rotation in this house, on a scale of 1 to 10 bananas, how great will this album be?
OC: It's going to be an 11.
I suggest to anybody who loves this music, or just music in general, to see one of there live shows before they die. It is definitely bucket list material!!! In fact, I was lucky enough to catch the album release show at the Avalon in LA on October 16 and as you could expect…it was bananas!!!