A Sit Down With DJ John Dahlbäck

11:50 Oct/27/2017

Dahlbäck has established himself as a well-respected DJ, producer and label owner with well over a hundred releases to his name dating back to the beginning of the millennium. That talent did not just appear from nowhere though. The Kaskade collaborator played drums in a band for six or seven years when he was younger and that has been instrumental to his productions now.

He is grew up in a household with a father and mother both professional musicians, as well as a cousin Jesper Dahlbäck who has been a successful techno DJ until his career was forced to be cut back several years ago due to significant hearing loss.

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How and when did you first begin your exploration of electronic dance music?

My cousin Jesper is a sort of a techno pioneer here in Sweden and he gave me a copy of his album, Stockholm, when I was 13 or 14. I really didn’t like it in the beginning but it grew on me and I loved it after a few listens. By that time, I was already playing around with my father’s Atari computer, on which he had music programs, so I started to make house music around then.

Who’s your biggest musical influence and why?

Anyone who’s pushing boundaries and stay out of the box with their music instead of just either follow trends or make the same kind of music over and over again.

How do you get the inspiration for producing different tracks? 

I get inspiration just by opening my laptop and my music program to be honest. I also get really inspired by my surroundings. 

Which do you consider as your biggest moment in your career so far? 

To see music that weren’t aimed to get onto radio and then do so. “Raven” is a good example, we thought it was a cool club track but 11 million streams on Spotify later, we were clearly wrong.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a producer and a DJ?

To stick out and be original. It’s so easy to fall into these “trend traps” because you want instant success. It’s more difficult to stay long term in this business.

It’s interesting how you can weave genres together. Do you think that the “EDM explosion” has led to the walls between them to come down?

I hope that it’s contributing to the rise of smaller subgenres. I think it’s very boring when there’s one sound. When I have free time, I go in and listen to what people are playing at festivals. Sometimes everyone’s just playing the same songs. Why? If you’re given the chance to play a peak-time main stage slot at a festival, why wouldn’t you want to surprise people with something very different?

As a traveling DJ, you’ve got to have a lot of crazy touring stories. Can you recall one of your craziest experiences from a show on the road?

These stories just sort of disappear for some reason, maybe because I have a story for every place I’ve ever been to. Sometimes I need a map to remember them. A nice memory was at a show I did, and I was playing my track with Kaskade, “A Little More,” and suddenly I see a guy in a wheelchair and people carry him towards the stage and then put him there right next to me. It was very emotional and the goosebumps were intense.

Three of the most memorable moments in your career so far.

1. Walking up to the Tomorrowland main stage and DJ for the first time, in 2009 I think. It was so huge!
2. Seeing an underground track like ‘Blink’ make it to radio!
3. Last, but not least, to overlook any sort of trends or comments from people and making an album that I’m so proud of!

"Life is not all million play tracks however, it is a grind to make sure you find good tracks and have a plan to make sure enough people find and buy them".

Why did you decided to start up three of your own labels? (Jackmoves, Pickadoll, Dahlback Records)

The first one was Dahlback with my cousin Jesper, and we did that because we wanted to release our own stuff and then I started Pickadoll, because it is my own, really my own label, I get to choose everything. Those two are like the main labels, and then we have like Jackmoves, which is a label which is more like a project.

Do you enjoy the independence that having your own label allows you when making music?

Yes, it has a lot of perks. I feel very free, releasing music that I love. I like to see things become bigger and bigger like Pickadoll; started with nothing except great music.

You’ve surprised your fans so many times, how do you stay one step ahead of everyone?

I get bored in the studio, so I constantly try to develop my music and try out different things to keep it interesting.

What's the single most exciting thing about dance music at the moment in your opinion?

The most exciting thing at the moment is definitely the digital distribution. Vinyl is going down and I'm very interested in what will happen, how the music will continue.

What piece of advice would you give to young producers who dream to reach your artistic standards?

You have to be original and don’t try to sound exactly like anyone else. You can of course be inspired by a certain song or dj, but you need to have your own style. Another thing is to set up smaller goals on your way and have a steady aim for what you wanna do.


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