He won underground fans way back in 2008 with techy electro work out ‘Regality’ EP. He then all but disappeared save from a string of cult hits on Dubsided and a legendary remix of ‘The Mystery Jets.’
However, In 2012, Duke Dumont roared back into life with underground house hit ‘The Giver,’ before going on to conquer 2013 with a UK No 1 chart hit ‘Need You 100%.’ Since then follow up hits ‘I Got You’ and latest release ‘Won’t Look Back’ have propelled Duke Dumont firmly into the podium of world-conquering house DJs. We talk to the globetrotting Sankeys Ibiza resident about his change in musical direction, his own Blase Boys Club imprint and his forthcoming album.
VIBE: The first time we saw you play live was a techno night in 2008 in Edinburgh, the next time we saw you play live was a few weeks ago at deep-house-heavy Brit-Croatian festival Hideout. How has that musical change come together?
Duke Dumont: 2008 I was definitely more techno oriented, My passion for techno and my passion for house has always been a dual kind of thing and the movement to house has been an organic change. Both are serious club genres, but I think since i really began working with vocalists, I’ve drifted towards house as its way more of a vocal based genre. I love both, but I see what crowds are wanting, and essentially I play songs I like. It’s a natural thing.
You’ve been working away for years, yet it seems overnight you’ve transformed into a global hit – was there a particular turning point?
It was two things, I always wanted to work with vocalists and I’d never had access to them. Around 2012 I started reaching out to more people, learning the ropes and recording vocals -which by the way is a whole craft in itself.
The renewed vocal focus itself came from around 2011 as I had a particularly bad financial year, and I said to myself that if in 2012, if I make as much money or less than I did last year, I’m off to get a real job, That just motivated me. I just threw myself into it, branched out more to stuff I wasn’t doing before, took a few more risks, moved out of my comfort zone, and every time I did something out of my comfort zone it rewarded me to some degree.
You seem to have an almost British sound – is that a self conscious thing as part of the “Duke Dumont” brand?
It’s just gone that way – I’ve just gone with what I know. The whole house music revival, the whole house music in the charts thing, I’ve been doing it for years – it’s the only thing I know how to do – so it’s nice when it comes together, it’s just the timing, the stars have aligned and all that. Need You 100% was pretty much the first house song to get to number one in years, and it’s just snowballed from there. I think Disclosure made house more palatable to a larger audience, then I did Need You 100%, and MK did his remix of Storm Queen, it was like dominos almost.
Electronic music and the UK in particular has a trend of knocking down artists that are considered to have become ‘too commercial’. You’ve been working hard on the underground for years. Now, with your chart success, are you cautious of becoming almost ‘overexposed?’
Well, ’m working on an album by Universal, which I want to do as a live show, most of the singles of which people have heard already. I’m also still doing my more underground EPS for Turbo recordings. Am I afraid of being overexposed? No, as long as I’m being exposed for the right stuff. I think if I was speaking to you 3 years go, then I’d feel different, but I’ve learned you’ve got to step out your comfort zone to get ahead. Now I feel the more corners I can reach out to, the better. It just comes with experience, age, and learning that when you get an opportunity just grab at it.
So where do you see yourself ideally in a few years time?
I’d like to do a 360 thing. I wanna do a live show, get my record label Blase Boys Club rolling, branch out to radio. I wanna do everything I know I can be good at, so I can get a better understanding of how the game works. Pete Tong’s one example of that, as is Annie Mac. As long as people keep liking the music I’m making, all those branches will just come together. But my absolutely priority right now is recording my album, and just getting it done by the end of the year
What would you be doing now if you weren’t a DJ?
I used to make polyphonic ringtones! I got fired, that’s how I ended up making music. I had no option – I was unemployed for 6 months. I was actually too good – I’d make loads ringtones so quickly, then just spend the whole day on MySpace Music. It’s always been music. That’s why I’m not apprehensive about exposure of my songs- I can’t do anything else!
Word: Ally Byers