Darude (real name Toni-Ville Henrik Virtanen) is a trance music icon, known worldwide for his immortal masterpiece ‘Sandstorm’, a perfect mix of dance and trance sounds. The Finnish DJ and producer is back in the world electronic scene with a new sinle titled ‘Outlaws‘ and released on his own new record label Vibing Out.
We had a nice chat with him, talking about memes, returning sounds from the past, music industry transformations and his future plans.
Here the full video interview!
Eleonora: You have opened a new chapter in your career with the release of ‘Outlaws’, your first single in over three years. Where did the idea for this song come from and the collaboration with OSKR and House Body come about?
DARUDE: House Body and I were sitting in the studio in California, where he lives, and we were kinda thinking what would be like if we went out. You know, we were busy with work, being parents and husbands and we don’t go out too much. I played quite a lot but I don’t go on parties and the same was for him and that’s why the idea came from: we’ve been going out to parties and raves for quite a long time and we were thinking to be back a little bit. And so we had that idea of getting the old gang back together again, parting or raving. We started working with this oldschool drum sounds, 909 drum machine sounds, some rave stems and house music ones and putting them together. Initially, we didn’t think if we were going to finish the track…we were just starting working on it, have some fun and good laughs. We were in the studio and I had my laptop with me, sending House Body sounds like “how is this drum loop?” or “how is this sound?”, then I created the progression you can hear in the breakdown. We put that there and House Body played the guitar and we had the instrumental version quite similar to the one you hear now, ready after that session but then it stayed on my drive for a year and a half. Then I found OSKR who was singing in a national tv in Finland, I heard him and I fell in love with his vocals. I got in contact with him and turns out he lives only half an hour away from me, we talked about music and he liked this track, he wanted to sing on it. Then we told him the idea for this song and I think he really nailed the lyrics, he got the story and put it in words, I’m extremely happy with the recording ’cause it’s kinda went all organic and natural. And then, on top of all of this, I’ve actually made the music video with House Body, I think he made 8 music videos for me and so it was natural that we did that one together, as well with his company and his production crew. I think it turned up pretty good as well, it’s pretty funny…we had our own little rave there.
Eleonora: Your return to the electronic music scene was in style, as it was also marked by the birth of a new music label: Vibing Out. Can you please tell me more about this project?
DARUDE: Vibing Out is a label for release my music but also for other people’s music, mainly in the dance music ground but it could be house, trance, subgenres of those and even wider, as long as there’s a version of any particular track I can made or I can find a remix that I can play out in my sets as well, because I’m a dj and I want to release something I would play myself. The Vibing Out name comes from my Twitch stream. I streamed on Twitch since 2015 but when the pandemic happened, I started doing regular streams. Now, over three years later, I play dj sets on Friday, at 6 p.m. finnish time, and only the weekends I’ve been on the road I haven’t done that. I have also did some studio streams, you know, those chat streams where I can talk to my dj or producer friends. Vibing Out is also an amazing community that we’ve been able to create and yes, I like to take credists for my channel and I’m the dj in there, but it’s very nice place for people to come back to and have a couple of hours of time off there with good music. The community is really friendly, very open minded, accepting and I’m very proud of what we’ve created. It’s to honor this community I decided to call my label Vibing Out, that’s why.
Eleonora: And now let’s talk about ‘Sandstorm’, a global trance anthem with over 600 million worldwide streams. It’s one of the most iconic dance track of all time and, in the last years, has been heavily revamped due to the meme. How has this phenomenon helped your late career after a huge first success in 2000, when it was released?
DARUDE: It has definitely brought my name up several times in different kind of things, like a potato flute or there’s been somebody cleaning up their shower or the symphonic orchestra version. At first, when the meme started popping up, I didn’t understand what was happening! People were asking the same questions always like “what’s the name of this song?”, it was just so strange to me but when somebody explained to me and I realized, it started sort of making sense. I haven’t created the meme but when I’ve come across a good one wave, I definitely supported it or posted it and in many ways helped my career and push my name up, because the track has got another round in weirdest places. I can bring up one of the coolest thing: it was April Fools’ 2015, maybe a little before that, YouTube called me and they wanted to do an April Fools’ prank and I of course said yes. That day, 2015 April Fool’s Day, everybody searching for whatever on YouTube, they were asked the question: “Did you mean Darude – Sandstorm?”. I think there was like 2 million views on that day on ‘Sandstorm’ and I have really got sort of benefit from it. I actually released new music video that same day, for my track ‘Beautiful Alien’, and I linked from ‘Sandstorm’ to that and I think that were like 250.000 views on the first day for that music video, so that was pretty cool. House Body is actually the one who the ‘Beautiful Alien’ music video.
Eleonora: Did you expect that your song was used for the meme?
DARUDE: All the meme stuff is genereted by somebody else so I just basically find out here this one and find out that one and I look into what is this about. Some are really funny and cool and I’m thankful for that. I don’t know if it makes my career but it definitely pushes it everywhere. 23 years later having the name of my track and my artist name been pushed by somebody else sometimes globally and they go viral it’s a bonus for me.
Eleonora: The latest song released in the music scene speak for themselves: we are witnessing the return of the 80’s/90’s sounds and the hits of the 2000’s, like “I’m Blue” or “Feed from desire”, just to name a few. What is your thought on this?
DARUDE: I’m excited about hearing the older sounds combinations of those again, I mean, I grew up in that era: mid 90’s. I was listening to music earlier than that but mid 90’s it’s the age I started thinking to make music and, in the late 90’s, I started producing my own dance music. I grew up with that piano house stuff, with 2000’s trance and it’s cool they’re coming back but I’m sometimes little hesitant when I hear some radio station playing the remade hits from the past. It’s hard to find new songs that would be as good or with the same quality, it seems every track you hear in a set or in a playlist it’s just a remake or something. But, at the same time, it was an era where amazing pieces of music were made, now enough time has passed and there’s a whole new generation that doesn’t know those songs. They hear them for the fist time and it’s just a really cool thing if those tracks get a new life. People have done bootlegs and covers of my track ‘Sandstorm’ and a couple of others as well and if they ask me, I’m not against it but I highly recommend you working on something original, rather than recreating somebody else’s work. The original track it’s more valuable because it showed your talent and I’m not saying if I took any track and recreate it, that it would be a hit. But it’s definitely easier to take somebody else’s old work and recreate that and, one of the reasons why some people do that, is because first they get a name with that and then release their own stuff. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it might be a good career starter for instance, but in general I’m still in love with the sound of the early 2000 and late 90’s so bring it on!
Eleonora: How have you experienced the evolution of the industry towards streaming on various DSP’s? Do you think it will be a long term positive thing for music?
DARUDE: I don’t want to think that I’m too old but the industry has changed and I have to adjust my thinking about promotions, releasing music and the life cycle of music. Earlier on you would promote event months ahead before the release and then, if the track had any kind of hit potential, it would have months and months of life. But these days promotions are way shorter, the impact is bigger and even the life cycle of a track is also shorter, I don’t know which came fisrt: if the way to promote that way or the streaming listening habits. Today people have shorter attention spans or at least it feels so, because today you don’t need to go and buy a record or a single. When you put your money on an album, you have a physical thing and you cherish it, look at it and you have to listen to it because you bought it. But now you get music so easy and in a cheap way, sometimes even free, if you use services without the premium subscription. I think that shaped our habits of consuming music and maybe the listener doesn’t necessary put as much value on the piece of music, and that changes how artists makes music as well and how record companies release it. I think it’s the best time ever to be a music consumer because you can get everything, you just write a search word and you find something and, once you have listened to it, then came the suggestions: “probably if you liked this, maybe you like that”. Discoverability of music is amazing as well so that’s great. As an artist, you can make music with the cell phone, for instance, you just have a smartphone and you can make some beats if you want to. The difficulty in starting to make music is so much lower than it was 20 years ago, in that way everyone as a chance to do it and I think that’s good. But then industry and business are wise, because I think the streaming services are obviously here to stay and the big record labels love them, but then they also have still a lot of power over everything, because they have advertising budgets. Small labels now can get straight to distribution (like Spotify) but it doesn’t necessary means that they still have a huge piece of the pie, because it requires a lot of efforts and also finances to get that big promotions done.
Eleonora: What are your future plans for this year?
DARUDE: I released the first single, ‘Outlaws’, and then there will be one or two other singles I think at least this year. Ten minutes ago, before we started talking, I was working on a mix of a track that probably will be the next single. I have kinda like an album full of music, but now is in a planning face of when it would be released, after the two or three singles I decide wheter to release it. At the same time, I’m looking from the label point of view, I’m searching for other pieces of music, as well as other producers and artist that we might wanna release. I’ve been in industry for a long time, but having this label is a new and exciting thing for me. This year is gonna be probably pretty cool, learning experience for me as well and, on top of that, the pandemic is behind us now and things have normalized and also touring. I’m going to Poland, Sweden, France, UK, USA, possibly Australia this year as well so, sort of same old things but with a new angle.
Thanks a lot Darude and Urban Rebel PR for the interview
Stream DARUDE x House Body x Oskr “Outlaws”: https://ffm.to/darudeoutlaws
Graduated in modern literature at the Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna, I am graduating from the master’s faculty of journalism and communication, because writing has always been what I do best. I wish I could combine business with pleasure and therefore reconcile writing with music, my greatest passions.