S1-E3: Darude Sandstorm

Learn about Darude Sandstorm the biggest EDM hit of all time. Darude a Finnish DJ and record producer from Eura, Satakunta. He started making music in 1995 and released the platinum-selling hit single “Sandstorm” in late 1999. His debut studio album, Before the Storm, was released in September of 2000 and sold 800,000 copies worldwide, earning Darude three Finnish Grammy Awards. It peaked at number one on Finland’s Official List and number 6 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart in the United States. Darude’s second studio album, Rush, reached number 11 on the Billboard dance chart in 2003 and number 4 on weekly album chart in Finland.

Dylan:
Talking to Darude. Darude Sandstorm. Oh my God. Against all odds. That song has been the most popular EDM song of all time. Almost 20 years after it’s 1999 release, it’s still a fixture of Reddit threads, YouTube comment sections. Can even be a punchline to a joke. “Hey, that’s Darude Sandstorm.”

Darude:

Crazy, man.

Dylan:
That things even been in a movie. The song appeared in Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carey. It’s still heard at parties, bars, sporting events. It’s been listened to an upward of 16 million times. That’s just on Spotify. It’s even made its way into the gamers world. EA Sports featured it on version three of its League of Legend game. We have a chance to talk to the guy behind it all. Today, we are talking to the one and only Darude in the house. How you doing, sir?

Darude:
I’m doing really, really well. That was the last time you call me, sir.

Luis:
That’s just from respect, man. Listening to you-

Dylan:
Right. The years of respect.

Darude:
Much appreciated. Hi, this is Darude.

Dylan:
I love the joke that’s been going on for 10 years. I don’t know if you love this joke. Anytime anybody doesn’t know what a song is on YouTube, it’s Darude Sandstorm. Have you seen that?

Darude:

I’ve seen it. Hashtag. Sorry, not sorry. It’s crazy. The track, actually, last week, I think, 26th of October, was the 17th birthday, or the anniversary of the release of Sandstorm, the first version, the first release in Finland. I wish I’d known, first of all, why the track, first of all, became successful. I know each note, each 16, drum we hit, whatever. I don’t know exactly why it became successful. Then there’s been couple of… It was in a movie a couple of years after the release, and blah, blah. Couple peaks where it became out again a bit more, and now, then this Esports, then like you said, the Darude Sandstorm, that whole thing. It’s been weird and so cool.

Darude:
Some people are, “Are you pissed off because people are cracking jokes about your track?” Dude, you’re talking about my track 17 years after. Why would I be pissed off about that? The only thing that sometimes it bugs me, I always say this, whenever I try to post something serious, an actual thing for instance, on my Facebook page, there’s still always that dude that’s going to go, “Darude Sandstorm.” The success of Sandstorm, we did not know that would happen. It is purely the success and the snowball effects started from us handing it to DJ’s and they made the track. There was Paul van Dyk and Judge Jules, and a couple of other big names that played it on their big radio shows. It was every local resident DJ who bought the record, and I don’t know, burned the CD and started playing it. That’s how that track got started. It wasn’t a marketing campaign that did it, or anything. That’s so cool, to me, about it.

Luis:
Now, you started in the mid-90s, and Sandstorm broke out in 99. Can you describe what was going on before you actually, the string of hits came out? What was life like before that?

Darude:
I was a student. I studied telecommunication and production economics in Polytechnic in Finland. I was part-time worker at an Apple authorized reseller on the side. It was really cool because that was a store that specialized in computers. They had a pretty fast network. I was online, from their store after hours, a lot, getting into the music stuff, at that point. The music just took over. I didn’t plan for it. I didn’t really look for deals or anything. I just wanted to get feedback from local DJ’s and I wasn’t a DJ myself, at the time. I just started making music first.

Luis:
What kind of advice would you give upcoming DJs and producers, or even current DJs and producers, as far as staying relevant in the business? You’ve been doing it for such a long time, you’re still… You’ve got albums under your belt. You’re touring.

Darude:
If you’re an up and coming DJ, producer, want to gain name, want to make great records, be true to yourself. Just do what you want to do. You don’t have to be dumb, so you can, of course, take influences, take cues from others in how they do, and how they get successful, whatever that is. Then, I think the most important thing is if you are a student, or if you have a job, don’t quit your day job until you know that you’re going to make money doing the music thing. My point is that, nothing is more stressful or killing your creativity then if you have to worry about money every time you go to the studio. Now, I got to make a hit. Now, I got to this and that. That sucks. I haven’t been exactly in that position like that, but I started when I got my career started. First album, and then when I started working on my second one, was like, “I got a quite a big hit there, now I should replicate the success.”

Dylan:
Was there that pressure on you? Did you go through a couple of years where it was just like, “How am I going to do Sandstorm again?”

Darude:
There was. I’m not dissing myself, but I haven’t been able to replicate it. It took a while to realize… Luckily, I was working with this guy J-16, who was working on the first album with me, and the second one, as well. He’d been in the business for a little while longer than I had. We just decided the first single of the second album, Rush, was called Music. We chose that, it wasn’t an F-U, but it was I’d rather have a banging hard track, and fail with sales and success, then try to do the obvious and fluffy or commercial way.

Dylan:
Who is Darude watching? You’ve always talked about you’re a fan of Ferry Corsten. Is there somebody now?

Darude:
I think Ferry is going to be my… He’s my permanent I look up to him because I know him a little bit. He’s always so much fun when he’s at the decks. He’s made quality music for a long, long time. I was on the road in Australia, and I got to work with two guys there. Young, up and coming guys, Uber Jack and Zac Waters. Fun guys, and sat in the studio with both of them for a day. I already actually, I made a remix for Uber Jack. His single came out, Fix You Up is the name of the single that came out this week, actually. There’s a remix package coming out.

Darude:
Every musician, producer, they are in their own bubble. It’s very easy to just do your thing. One of the things that keeps you true to your… There’s a recognizability in your own sound, because you do things the same way. Whether you do trance or house, or whatever, there’s always, in my process, there’s something that I do the same way. I use the same sound, same processing, or same way that I write melodies or whatever. Then, you sit down with somebody new and fresh, up and coming, successful, you learn so much from them. You can honestly steal some of their ideas and sounds. That’s what I’m doing with, for instance Ben and Zac. They’re cool guys. There’s an understanding that we’re both hopefully helping each other. It’s interesting to see the very different angles.

Announcer:
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