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Nocturnal Times Exclusive Interview: John Dahlbäck



With more than a decade of experience, DJ and producer John Dahlbäck is a veteran amongst the dance music community. His extensive discography, which has continued to grow with his career, consists of solo productions, collaborations, and remixes, is a testament to his musical capabilities as an artist.


The multifaceted electronic dance music (EDM) pioneer has provided remixes for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Lady Gaga (“Marry The Night,” “Judas”), Tim Berg aka Avicii (“Alcoholic”), Zedd (“Stars Come Out”), Skylar Grey (“Invisible”), and Alanis Morissette (“Underneath”), among many others.


When it comes to solo productions, EPs, and collaborations, Dahlbäck has released more than 100 singles since 2002. Additionally, John has provided multiple mix compilations, which are notably popular amongst dance music enthusiasts.


We sat down with the talented musician to discuss his early exploration of dance music, his new “Raven” release on Armada Music, his life as a traveling DJ, his short-term and long-term goals, and where he sees himself five years from now.




The Nocturnal Times: How and when did you first begin your exploration of electronic dance music (EDM)?

John Dahlbäck: 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.



Nocturnal Times: What came first for you: DJing or producing?

John Dahlbäck: Producing. It was quite a long time of producing and releasing music before I even wanted to learn how to DJ. It wasn’t something I wanted to do in the beginning. Then, as a coincidence, my dad’s friend had an old studio he wanted to get rid of, so I went and had a look and I found two Technics 1200 turntables, which I later borrowed.



Nocturnal Times: You’ve just released your latest single, “Raven,” on Armada Music. How did this track come to fruition and what can you share about some of the inspiration behind the creation and naming of the track?

John Dahlbäck: I wanted to make this sort of old-school rave breakdown with a hypnotic piano chord progression and funky drums on top. The drop just sort of came about, and I thought it was just a good track when listening in the studio. But the first time I played it out in a club, I was like, “Wow! This sounds huge!” So I started working some more on it.



Listen to “Raven:”


Nocturnal Times: Have you already put thought into a follow-up to “Raven?”

John Dahlbäck: The follow-up is done and already in the pipeline. It’s nothing like “Raven.” It’s a beautiful song with an amazing vocal…



Nocturnal Times: 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?

John Dahlbäck: 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.



Nocturnal Times: Do you have any pre-show or studio rituals?

John Dahlbäck: Sleep! Or maybe look through which tracks to play. Nothing crazy.



Nocturnal Times: Looking back at your extensive discography over the course of your career, which of your own tracks or remixes would you say have been the best received by your fans?

John Dahlbäck: It’s difficult to say because just a few years ago, when Twitter and Facebook weren’t around, it was difficult to find reactions and feedback. But I guess “Everywhere” was well received and I had people calling me from WMC in Miami to tell me it was the biggest track there that year.



Nocturnal Times: Dance music aside, who are some of your favorite artists that you enjoy listening to when you have some down time?

John Dahlbäck: Miles Davis, John Coltrane etc. Sort of music that’s not at all similar to what I do. It’s what I listen to when I’m on planes or in cars or whatever, just to calm down.



Nocturnal Times: If you could play a back-to-back set with any DJ, who would you choose and why?

John Dahlbäck: Erick Morillo, hands down the best DJ I’ve heard.



Nocturnal Times: What are some of your short-term goals? What do you have planned for the remainder of 2015?

John Dahlbäck: The goal this year is to finish my album and I guess the goal after that is to become the biggest DJ of all time. [laughs]



Nocturnal Times: Where do you see John Dahlback five years from now?

John Dahlbäck: Either on my own private island, or in a dumpster.


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Photo Credit: Chris Davison

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