London’s Duke Dumont on moving beyond remixes, the Blasé Boys Club, and his “baptism into club music”
After five years as a go-to remixer for the likes of Bat for Lashes, Santigold, and Lily Allen, London’s Duke Dumont has spent the last year re-establishing himself as a producer of pristine, straight-ahead house music.
In 2012, Dumont (real name Adam Dyment) released a pair of EPs on Tiga’s Turbo Recordings imprint entitled For Club Play Only. The titles are instructive: from the hypnotic ‘Street Walker’ to the acidic ‘Thunder Clap’ to the ear-worming ‘The Giver’, Dumont proved himself an adroit composer of the type of throwback, 90s-referencing house music that is so in vogue right now.
The finest example of this is his latest single, ‘Need U (100%)’: a four-on-the-floor ‘Billie Jean’ groove, sinewy synth stabs, and the saccharine vocals of BBC Sound of 2013 long-lister A*M*E make for an impossibly catchy anthem. FACT Skyped with Dumont about his musical evolution, the differences between UK and US dance music, and his plans for 2013.
You first emerged in 2007, but the majority of your releases, until last year, were remixes. What changed for you?
I knew at the start of 2012 that I had to do more original music. In total, I did 25 remixes in five years, which is quite a lot. I knew it was more worth my while to concentrate on original music. In a strange way, it’s actually easier to make original music than to do remixes, because you’re quite limited with a remix and forced to be creative. It’s a great education on the production level, but I knew in order to sustain a career, I needed to concentrate on my own stuff.
What was your approach for making the most out of remixes?
With every remix I’ve ever accepted, there’s always one element which I like and I’ll try to draw that out and make the most of. For example, I did a remix for Joakim’s Yes Wizard alias and I just went to town on this small synth part.
The best advice I could give is to do remixes, because working with limitations can be really good when you’re working with your own stuff. There are too many options nowadays with software, so sometimes it’s good to really narrow it down. In the 80s, guys would just have one synthesizer and use it to its absolute maximum capabilities; now, any producer has 30 synths on their computer. Remixes teach you to use limited ingredients.
Growing up, how did you get into dance music?
My father is a part-time record dealer, and he’s got thousands and thousands of records. I don’t think kids realize how lucky they are, that they can just turn on the Internet and instantaneously get any song that pops into their head. It’s like watching Back to the Future 2. If you told me that 15, 20 years ago, I’d be overwhelmed, but now we’re kind of spoiled. My dad having a large record collection is almost like that: I had access to a lot of music that most people didn’t have.
I was always drawn to soul music, Motown, and Stax. As far as making music, I started during the UK garage era when I was about 15 years old, and the DJs I was into at that time were spinning Chicago house music. My taste migrated more to the Chicago based stuff because it tended to have a bit more soul to it. UK garage was very rigid: a lot of guys ripping off Todd Edwards. The stuff coming out of the US at that time was really my baptism into club music.
All you have to do now is switch on Boiler Room and see any UK DJ, and we’re all the same [in that way]: everybody went through that process of being inspired by Chicago jacking sounds and now we’re repackaging it back to the US, in a way. Ironically, most US DJs are concentrating on the EDM fad and aren’t giving credit to the history of dance music, it’s quite sad. A lot of the UK kids are giving it back to America and trying to keep it going, whereas EDM has whitewashed the history and foundations of dance music.
On the flipside of EDM, in the US you have an artist like Matthew Dear, or Ghostly International, which is one of the best labels of the last ten years. With EDM, it’s such big business that guys at the independent level aren’t prepared to cross the Rubicon to enter that territory and take on the EDM guys, and that’s why they get more attention. It’s different in the UK at the moment, because house music gets played on Radio 1 during the day, which is really nice. I think in the US it’s slightly different right now.
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