John Dahlbäck may not be a well-known name within the EDM scene in America, but the 26-year-old producer is quickly on the rise. After all, he was unknown in his homeland of Sweden once, and now he packs clubs there and in London, where he's currently stationed.
His intense house sound is hard to ignore. He's got a real touch for hooks: His remix of Alanis Morissette's "Underneath" places brief loops of her distinct voice over a thumping bass and rumbling synths, allows for a pop-rock breakdown, and then switches back to the trance-y bliss of the song's start. His own tunes are even more infectious; "One Last Ride," featuring Erik Hassle has the kind of effervescent glow of indie-tronica's best and a house groove perfect for the dance floor.
We spoke with Dahlbäck about his upcoming show at Wild Knight in Scottsdale, how his productions fall into place, and remixing one of the '90s biggest hit-makers.
John Dahlbäck is scheduled to perform Friday, April 27, at Wild Knight in Scottsdale.
Up on the Sun: You've been active since 2002. Are you happy with the way EDM has exploded recently?
John Dahlbäck: I needed to make the change. I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. I went [from] deep house [to] techno to house over the 10 years I've been doing this. I think the growth of EDM has good and bad sides. It's amazing that it's so big, and I love that more and more people are coming to the shows. But being the "new thing" commercially results in the wrong people tuning into the industry, as well. I just hope that even if just [a small group] of the new EDM lovers, they will discover the rest and not only the things on the radio. House music is so much more.
There are so many different genres of electronic music. Is that something that inspires you to do what you do?
The sub-genres of EDM is what makes it amazing. Although it's been blended a lot lately, it's amazing when you find a new sub-genre you like and the producers in that genre.
You don't seem to conform to the mainstream sound in America. Is that something you would hope to change?
I don't like to put things in mainstream or underground. It's just music. I will always do things I love and not pay attention to what's popular at the moment. I hope and believe that in the long run, it's the right move. I would rather be a developer than a follower.
You remixed Alanis Morissette's "Underneath." What makes you choose these type of songs? Are you actually a fan of what you remix? What is the process of you choosing the tracks to put your own spin to?
I need to get that feeling. It's the same when I play -- I need to feel something. When I listened to the Alanis track, I felt straight away what I could do with it. I'm not a fan of everything I remix, but I need to hear something in the original that I could use and re-create in my own way.
I haven't seen you perform live. What is your setup like?
I'm on CDJs with USB sticks. It's incredible that I can make a track in the morning and try it out in the night. And I make my own edits and bring on them. I used to play vinyl for years and then CDs, but it's just easier for me with USB sticks.
What can Scottsdale expect to see and hear from you?
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Amazing energy and emotional breakdowns. I think that's a good way to put it. I've never been to Arizona, but I've heard good stuff about it, so I'm excited!
I always like to ask producers and DJs about their stage name. You kept your birth name the same as to where others create something like Pretty Lights, Mt Eden, Borgore, or Big Gigantic. Did you decide "Hell, my name is awesome as is?"
I don't know, I've tried to come up with names and I have used several secret pseudonyms over the years but I feel like it's best to keep things under my real name. To me, it's like I give the stamp of quality when I do it under my own name. You'd want your own name to stand for quality.