Dada Life has always occupied a very interesting space in dance music. On the surface, one could easily write their music off as shallow and nonsensical (honestly, exactly what are we supposed to take from dancing fruit and bottles of champagne…?). But give the music a second listen, and you'll hear some of the most intricate, well-produced electro and progressive house in the last half decade. Swedish duo Olle Cornéer and Stefan Engblom seem to revel in this dichotomy, as the two have somehow found the perfect balance between the insane and the sublime.
But don't take my word for it. The duo routinely draws some of the biggest, most fervent crowds in EDM. Fans don their best banana suits and while they might show up to the show beautiful, they most certainly leave ugly, with the occasional riot breaking out in the middle. It's all par for the course for Dada Life, and it doesn't seem like they have no plans of slowing down anytime soon. With the release of their latest single "One Smile" we had the chance to speak with Olle all about the Dada lifestyle. So check out the interview below, and make sure you grab a copy of "One Smile" today on iTunes.
Earmilk: So how was EDC? You've been going for the last couple of years, what did you think of this year's incarnation?
Olle: Honestly, for us it just gets better and better. We love EDC, and we love the vibe of festival and the whole organization behind it, and how we deliver the experience to the crowds. So, playing there is just amazing. It's one of the best festivals in the world, and it just gets better and better each year.
EM: Particularly this year, you guys played the Circuit Grounds stage as opposed to the mainstage, when normally you guys play on the biggest stage at a festival. What did you think of the smaller Circuit Grounds stage?
Olle: Well, for us that was by design, because last year we played on the mainstage. This year we wanted to do something more intimate. We wanted to have more influence over the stage, and the production and that's harder to do on the mainstage, because the scenography is so set, you know? There's really not much you can do. So Circuit Grounds this year was more of an intimate gig, and we wanted that.
EM: So, you actual prefer more intimate settings over mainstage performances?
Olle: Well this year, yeah for sure. I mean, it's very similar to the question we get sometimes, "Which do you prefer, clubs or festivals?" And you know, my answer is always the same: it's just two very different experiences. Playing on a huge, 100,000 person stage is one thing, where you can't even see how far back the crowd goes… and playing in a club for 800 people, like we're going to do tonight in Nowhere, Canada [laugter]. I mean, they're just totally different.
I guess I shouldn't say "Nowhere, Canada" it's Barrie, do you know where Barrie is?
EM: Yeah… not really. [laughter] [Editor's note: Both Dada Life and EARMILK love all the fans out there, including the fine folks in Central Ontario, Canada!]
Olle: So yeah, they're actually two different experiences. You don't see all the people, and their faces, what they like, what they don't like, what they're reacting to, that kind of stuff. So, Circuit Grounds EDC was huge, but not the biggest we've ever played. somewhere in between.
EM: So you can see some faces… but it's not like, a sea of people out there.
Olle: Yeah. A nice in-between.
EM: So then let's talk about your really, really intimate gathering during EDC week. You know, I was totally on the bridge when you had that crazy impromptu street festival. That shit was CRAZY. You had bongos, like, 200-300 people all there, singing the songs, having a great time. Who's idea was that?
Olle: Yeah, that was fun. I mean… we've been playing around for a little while with the idea of doing a "Dada Life unplugged" event, and we were basically just looking for the right time to do it. So we chose EDC, of course, because there are so many fans, and so many people, so it's just the perfect timing. We could have done it in Miami too, but we weren't able to get the set up ready. So EDC was the perfect place, when's there's just a ton of dance music fans walking around. But the concept; an unplugged Dada Land show, has been floating around for a while now. We have ALL these ideas that we're playing around with all the time, and so when we get the chance to execute, we just do it.
EM: Yeah, you definitely "just did it" on the bridge. You basically stopped all foot traffic for 10 minutes or so. Can I ask, did you guys get into any trouble for that?
Olle: No, we didn't get into any trouble, but again that was on purpose. We basically knew exactly what tracks we wanted to play, and we started with "Born to Rage" because we had Sebastian Bach there, you know, and if the cops had shown up, at least we got to use his song [laughter]. We were ready to run basically.
EM: Ha, ok, so kind of like "organized chaos"…
Olle: Yeah… not organized at all, actually. We didn't have any permits or anything! We just did it. It's more fun like that.
EM: For sure. So what is it about Dada Land, and the whole Dada Life concept, that creates this fervor? Everybody goes into a frenzy, and its really not like anything else in dance music.
Olle: I honestly don't know! I mean, I guess that's something you have to ask the fans. But if I had to answer it, I think it's that we just try to do stuff differently than everybody else. And I think people really appreciate that because a lot of people really just do the same thing [laugther]. We just try and do stuff the way we want to do it. I mean, that's actually how we started Dada Life in the first place. It was in reaction to the dance music we listened to growing up. We wanted dance music to be more fun, less-caring, harder and… more fun basically. Since then, dance music has evolved in a lot of ways, but we still want to be different.
EM: Well for sure! I mean, the entire Dada Land concept is very different from anything else in dance music…
Olle: And another answer to that question is, we wanted Dada Land to be open to everyone, you know? We don't want it to be selective, or exclusive, and I think people really like that too. Doesn't matter who you are, you can come to Dada Land and have fun. Meet new people… We don't really think of our fans as "followers" at all actually, we're all just there to have fun.
EM: So how does one become a citizen, or permanent resident, of Dada Land? Where's my passport?!
Olle: You know, we just launched the Dada Land app on Android and iPhone. And on the home site, we have it planned out where we want to take Dada Land in the future. In terms of the passport, we think we're only going to give away a few of those a year, to the people that really, really want to be part of the experience. So far, we've only ever given away one Dada Land passport, and that was for the Dada Land independence Day winner. That's the only one so far.
EM: Well, I think you're creating something really unique, and fun and energetic in a way that didn't really exist in electro and progressive house before you guys. So seriously, keep it up!
Olle: Yeah. Right now, we basically claim whatever club, or festival we're at as Dada Land for that night, and claim that as our territory. But the next logical step would to be actually buy land somewhere, and actually create the real nation. That's what we're thinking about right now.
EM: Freaking. Can't. Wait. For. That. So yeah, let's talk about your new music. You've released a couple of singles recently, "Born to Rage" with Sebastian Bach, "This Machine Kills Ravers", and now "One Smile." Would you say these singles represent the direction you want to take Dada Life, sonically, on the new album?
Olle: Well, I don't know how much we can say really about the new album. It's not going to be an artist album the way Rules of Dada was an album. It's… kind of hard to describe actually [laughter]. It's going to be very different. You'll just have to wait for it.
EM: And "One Smile?" Can you talk about the creative process behind it?
Olle: Again, we really wanted to do different. I think a lot of people are going to be kind of shocked by it, honestly. Some might say, "this isn't a proper Dada Life" track, or "it's not heavy enough", stuff like that. But for us, we always want to push ourselves. In this case, we wanted to push ourselves to make a really happy song. I know that sounds simple, but it's actually really hard to make, without making it sound cheesy. So we took up the challenge for ourselves, to make song that's really happy, but hard-hitting at the same time.
EM: But, a lot of your music, "Happy Violence," and "Boing Clash Boom," they have fun and energy to them, but they also have that dirty, low bass, hard hitting side to them as well.
Olle: True, but this is by far the happiest song we've ever made. No question. And it's supposed to be like that. But we'll see how it goes. I mean, we really like the song but it's up to the crowd to decide if they like it or not. We don't really care [laughter]. We just want to do the music that we want to hear.
EM: Yeah, you guys definitely do it your own way. You even created your own audio plug-ins to make sure you got the exact kind of sound that you wanted. And you're right; "One smile" really doesn't have that low, dirty bass that you guys really popularized with your earlier releases. Are you moving away from that? Do you think you'll go back to hard hitting stuff?
Olle: Well let's put it like this: if you check the Beatport top 10, if you think about what kind songs dominate the charts, they're all, like 90% of them, are hard-hitting songs. That's exactly why we wanted to do the exact opposite. We wanted to a happy, summery song. We describe it as, when you hear the song, you'll just want to run out and buy ice-cream, and then smash it into people heads. And again, for us it was really a challenge to make this song, and we think we succeeded. But to answer your question; are we going to go back to the hard-hitting stuff? Of course we are! That's the natural inclination for dance music, and it's not going away any time soon. We just wanted to challenge ourselves. And you know, I don't know if people are ready for it or not, and we really don't care. We wanted to do it for ourselves, so we can listen to it and play it and enjoy it.
EM: Well, as a fan of your older stuff and newer stuff, I can tell you that it's a great song. I mean, it still has that Dada Life edge to it, but you're right; it's a really happy song, definitely not like any of your other stuff.
Olle: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it's called "One Smile", what did you really expect?
EM: Haha, true. Well cool man, thanks so much for taking to time to talk with me. Can't wait to visit Dada Land.
Olle: Yup, thank you.
Thanks for reading, and make sure you grab a copy of "One Smile" today!
- So Bleeped AB