You may recognise the name Duke Dumont, but the chances are that’s where the familiarity will end.
The twenty-something Londoner has made a name for himself by remixing for the likes of Santigold, Mystery Jets and Metronomy. And most recently, AlunaGeorge’s ‘Your Drums, Your Love’. He’s also one of the names regularly listed on posters advertising mega-club nights and even festivals. He’s been a regular on the DJ circuit for the past five years playing what he describes as “warehouse house music” in all the right venues in Berlin and Ibiza, and has taken his trade as far afield as Sydney, Hong Kong and the States. However, as far as interviews or details of the man behind the mixing desk go, there’s not so much to go on.
That could be about to change. Having recently turned his attention to creating his own material – the first of his For Club Play Only EPs was released in May this year, the second followed just last week – Duke Dumont (or, Adam Dyment to his friends) has started talking.
“I’m not the kind of person to do press unless I’ve got something to sell,” he explains, matter of fact. “If you can stand behind something and say, ‘hey, I made a track that I like, hope you like it as well’, it comes across as honest. Whereas if you say I’m a superstar DJ look at my wonderful show, it’s a bit crass. I haven’t done too much original music in the last few years, so that’s why there’s not much to read about me.”
After dabbling in sonic arts at Middlesex University, Dumont, or Dymont if you prefer, has developed a finely tuned ear for sound. This could be why he’s so selective with what he releases. ”I’ve been quite restrictive with the remixes I have done,” he reveals. “Only about three quarters have been released because I try to keep a high benchmark of how they sound.”
He’s equally as selective about the artists and labels he works with and, he points out, they come to him. “I’ve never asked to do a remix and I’m in the fortunate position where I can be quite picky,” he says. “I’ve never pushed myself to do a remix, it’s completely organic and something I enjoy doing, seeing the process of how other people work and trying to put your own fingerprint on it is quite interesting.”
He adds: “I’ve done, like, 30 remixes over the past five years and some of them have had a good response. I’ve also been fortunate enough to remix acts that I like, and acts that are considered to be big names, so I feel like I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve with remixes.”
Now Duke Dumont has a point to prove with his original music: “I felt I needed to build up a catalogue of dance music, with the For Club Play Only EPs. In five years time I want to look back and hopefully there’ll be quite a few of them,” he explains. His vision is of something akin – although not musically – to the Chemcial Brothers‘ Electronic Battle Weapon series – a collection of singles made for DJs to play in clubs.
“My …Club EPs are purely like it says, they’re made for the club,” he adds. “But I still like to think that at some point in the near future I might be able to show a different dynamic of music producing, outside of clubs and club music. I never want to fully restrict myself and that’s why the EP is labelled like it is, right down to the artwork, which is a scratchy kind of stamp effect.”
Remixes and producing aside, Duke Dumont’s DJ services are in equally high demand. “I’m at my happiest when I’m DJing,” he reveals. “And I’m trying to DJ outside my comfort zone more – next month I’m DJing in Taiwan. I take it seriously and practice probably every other day or so. But when you get to go to places like that, part of me does look at it as a bit of a holiday.”
This is relative, of course, to his work as a music production artist. “The actual technicality of knowing how to DJ isn’t that hard. But when I’m producing music for other people or doing my own stuff, the expertise level on that is so overlooked,” he explains. “People don’t see it or aren’t aware of the process of music production because it’s very much an acme kind of art where you create something from nothing. I think people need to respect it.”
Describing himself as “pretty much self taught”, Duke Dumont started out by getting hold of as much computer software as possible. “When I was a kid I was obsessed with computer games – I still am to a point – and the one thing that taught me was not to be scared of computers. So, when I started making music, I knew it couldn’t break a computer or the software. There’s nothing to be scared of. Making music on computers encourages freedom and you can explore things.”
This along with the sonic arts-informed appreciation of sound is what underpins Duke Dumont’s work thus far. But he is very much an artist looking to find his own way in the world. “My favourite music is when you can tell the composer has taken a lot of care about how the whole record sounds, rather than just composing a song. I’m obviously into my club music, but I listen to all types of music. Gaslamp Killer is probably the only DJ I would pay to watch and I’m a huge fan of Stone’s Throw [an independent LA-based hip hop label, home to J Dilla, among others]. There are artists I like and listen to, and really respect, but really I’m trying to find my own path. And hopefully the more records I release, the more that will become defined over time.”
He goes on to name check Detroit-based techno producer Carl Craig and American house singer/songwriter/producer Green Velvet and you would be a fool to bet against him following a similarly original route. The message is clear: watch this space.
“I’m collaborating on music with someone at the moment but until I’ve finished it I don’t want to say anything,” he reveals. “I think both of us have quite high standard of what we release. It will either be a good thing or a bad thing. If it’s a bad thing we won’t end up releasing it. People who are aware of me will be aware of the other person. So it’s just a matter of time. It’s a new process, so it will be interesting to see how I find it.”
For Club Play Only Vol 2 is available now via Turbo Recordings.