Who knew that the humble beginnings of being an amateur musician to playfully meddling with music production can lead one man to defining electronic dance music and making history?
Ville Virtanen otherwise known as Darude is a Finnish electronic dance music producer and DJ from Eura, Hinnerjoki. He started making music in 1996 and released the hit single “Sandstorm” in late 1999 and subsequent album “Before the Storm” in 2000. His music is characterised by its progressive/uplifting (trance) style.
“Sandstorm” was a smash hit #3 in Finland and UK, selling platinum and holding the #1 spot on the Finnish Dance Chart for 17 consecutive weeks. Word quickly spread about the track, which found global success. After becoming the #3 single in the United Kingdom (becoming the first record by a Finnish artist to do so), “Sandstorm” eventually sold 2 million units worldwide, and was the world’s biggest selling 12-inch single in 2000.
If you haven’t already heard it multiple times in the past like seriously we can’t even fathom why you wouldn’t have, listen to it here:
Now, that says a lot for someone who didn’t have to rely on social media to promote his music!
In December last year, it was announced that Darude has been added to the league of top DJs/producers who will be performing at the upcoming Future Music Festival Asia 2015 (FMFA 2015). And now that we’re just a few weeks shy of what is slated to be the best FMFA event we’ve ever seen, we caught up real quick with the man himself when he rang us up over the weekend for a little chat. Needless to say, we were ecstatic.
Here’s what went down:
Hi Ville! Thank you so much for calling. Where are you right now and what are you currently up to?
Hello! I’m here, I’m currently in my studio.
I know you probably get this question a lot, about “Sandstorm”. That was a defining moment for your career as well as the electronic dance music scene. Do you remember how you were inspired to make that track?
Ohh, oh man. I don’t remember specifics but when I was making that track, around that time, I was basically studying and poorly! So I would go out 2 or 3 or 4 times a week – just sober, not that much of actually partying. I just went out to listen to local DJs and I wasn’t a DJ myself at that point. They were playing playing all kinds of German dance music and trance. I pretty much ran home to my computer after that and started making music. I was analysing what I heard and just was inspired by it and tried to make a little myself. It was a really cool time because I wasn’t thinking of anything, just driven by what I heard and inspired to make something similar.
Well, I have to say that has been immortalised for me, coming from a dance music fan who saw you play in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia about..easily more than 10 years ago! Do you remember that?
You came there! Yes, I do remember that. I played in Kuala Lumpur for the first time and I remember that it was such craziness. It was maybe 2002 or maybe 2003.
So, considering the fact that you’ve been around for way longer than most of the EDM-styled DJs/producers, what do you think are the biggest changes that the scene has gone through?
Well, I think that the sort of generic answer to that question is..everything in music seems to evolve and it has. A genre becomes popular and then it peaks after 2 years and then it goes back down. We had what happened to trance in 2001/2002, and then there was a huge thing with dubstep and it’s still here, and then there’s trap which has been huge, and of course EDM. But if you want to talk about EDM..I don’t really like that term. What people usually think EDM is these days..that sound is going to be toning down a little bit to make way for more melodic things and musical things. Maybe people are just tired of jumping up and down!
And while we’re on the topic of music, I read somewhere that in 2013, you said that you were working on an artiste album. Is that still in the works and are there any interesting collabs that you can talk about?
Yes! I can finally talk about that. I finally have something due well not today but to show very soon. We’re about to release a single, the first single off my upcoming album. It has been mastered and it’s ready to go, and we are timing it with Future Music Festival. I think we’re scheduling the release for sometime towards the end of March. I’m very happy about that because it has been a long time coming. My family had some hard times and that took up a lot of my time, and then there’s also all kinds of record label stuff that goes into play here but finally, it’s ready. And it couldn’t be a better time too because I get to play my new music at Future Music Festival, both Australia and Singapore.
You have my highest respect for first introducing me to dance music way back when I was only 19 years old and that’s something I’ll always remember you for. What kind of legacy would you hope to leave for your other fans?
Oh wow. Legacy is a big word here haha. I don’t see myself as someone who’s leaving a legacy or anything like that but if somebody remembers me because of “Sandstorm” or any other tracks of mine, or even when I meet fans, things like that touches my life quite deeply. I love to, if possible, go hang out with people and just talk to them. If I want to be remembered for something, it’s how I connect with people. Because they are what keeps me going.
Some of us, like myself, have not seen you play live in a decade. What can your fans expect from you, from your upcoming gig at Future Music Festival Asia in Singapore next month?
It’s really good leading to this! Well, I like festivals and I know festivals are tricky because the stages are huge and we’re detached from the crowd and such. But I like making eye contact with people to get involved more with the crowd. As a DJ, I feel like I need to be some sort of a performer and engager, and people need to feel like there are emotions exchanged when I play. So they can expect that.
Thank you so much for the chat, Ville, and see you next month at FMFA 2015!
Thank you so much! I feel like we’ve basically met already. See you next month and please do come say hi.
The full FMFA 2015 lineup can be found here. Special thanks to our friends from Milk PR and Livescape Asia for making this interview happen!