A lot can happen over the span of eight years - for sports fans, it means two full seasons of World Cup championships. For TV addicts, it means the beginning and end of a successful drama series. For Darude, it means the birth of his son, an evolved perspective on his music career, and a brand new album.
The Finnish producer’s 1999 single, “Sandstorm,” became an internet sensation in the last decade, and it has propelled Darude into the ranks as one of the most iconic artists in EDM today. It has become the go-to response for anyone inquiring for a track title on Youtube, and although many artists (and fans included) might feel smudge on the matter, Darude can’t help but smile. “It’s been really cool now, all jokes aside I’m taking it with a smile on my face since people are still talking about a track that came out 15 years ago.”
The success of his meme-friendly single can be a bit overshadowing at times, but Darude is far from a one-trick pony. Since 2000, he has released four studio albums, received critical acclaim for singles like “Feel The Beat” and “Next To You”, and has launched his own record label.
His latest endeavor, an 11-track album titled Moments, marks a new step for the renowned artist both in his personal life and music career, and it exercises his unique perspective of the current scene today.
"Considering how there’s been such a big movement with the commercial and festival sound in EDM, I decided that rather than doing exactly that or exactly trance, I just wanted to create tracks that don’t have to sound like they’re from 2015 but are just good songs. I’m just trusting my crowd to give it a fair listen."
From trance to classic 90s house to dubstep and more, Moments certainly goes outside the box for the established trance producer. Where many artists might choose to stay within their comfort zone on a major release, Darude relinquishes boundaries and pursues a direction that he feels is “broadening his sound.”
"I’m 10 or 15 years older now from some of these albums, so I have some more balls now, and I’ve become a guy that doesn’t have to ask for permission from anybody."
This “new and improved” Darude didn’t happen overnight, as the events that took place in the last eight years have played a major part in the development of his artistic and personal career.
Initially taking time off to care for his wife, the couple saw their extended time together as the perfect opportunity to start a family, and the birth of their son in 2009 brought a handful of changes to his career. Like any touring DJ, balancing work with home can be quite the juggling act, however through patience and experience, Darude finds a way to make it work.
"During the week when I’m home, I’m a 9-5 dad. I take him to daycare and pick him up, but then I might have to leave him for a month… Like any other touring DJ, I’m hoping that I can be as busy as ever, but there’s always a maximum amount of gigs you can do a year and still be comfortable knowing that your kid recognizes you when you come home."
Life has a way of slowing down after a child is brought into the picture, however, Darude has found more inspiration than ever as a result of his new responsibilities. In the years to follow, Darude launched a record label, averaged about 50 shows a year, and most iconically for him, joined a songwriting seminar that challenged his entire creative process and helped him conquer a fear that is all too real for producers today.
"It was weird being in a room with 14 groups of musicians where I didn’t touch a synth and just hummed and sang along. I’ve had this block or “stagefright” so to speak while in the studio, but I’ve realized that although I might not be the best producer or singer in the room, there are these ideas that come out of me that can feed the other people. That’s the whole purpose of trying to create music, it doesn’t matter how good you are, your “stupid” idea might be the key to the entire track. It’s all that moment."
Hearing that an artist with such a profound and prolonged career within the industry is able to conquer such an intrinsic fear is inspiring to say the least, and it proves more than anything that Moments is more than just an album for Darude - it’s a diary of his growth as an artist and human being.
Darude is preparing to embark on an international tour this fall, with 11 dates in North America and 4 in Finland. Although his performances in the past have generally focused on his DJing abilities, he is still pushing to bring a “live” experience to the stage when he can.
“It all depends on logistics, and I’m not sure if I can do [a live set] at this time for all the shows, but I know that Sebastian Reyman, the guy who sings on “Moments”, will be able to attend the Finnish dates. That works great for us because we’re both Finnish and we have a close following over there, but we’re also planning on adding some more possible dates in the U.S.”
It’s been a long career for Darude, but there is also a long road ahead. With the focus on his new album and tour, he will be forced to continue balancing his time between his personal career, his label, and his family, but by the way we see it, he’s still pushing hard and strong through the “sandstorm” of it all.