Dada Life, the supreme beings of Dada Land, are invading the United States on their Dada Land Compound Tour this spring. The Swedish pair are the kings of bananas and champagne, and are slowly transforming the U.S. into Dada Land city by city. Bringing ruckus wherever they plant the Dada Life flag, if you visit Dada Land you are guaranteed to arrive beautiful and leave ugly. In Dada Land there are no rules but The Rules Of Dada. 303 Magazine called Sweden to enjoy a long talk with Dada Life’s Stefan Engblom, while his partner in crime Olle Cornéer had prior engagements. Here’s what Stefan had to say about everything from the creation of Dada Life to production tricks, Dada Death, the sovereignty of Dada Land and everything in between.
303: Hey Stefan, how’s it going?
Stefan: Good, good and you?
303: I’m good. I’m sorry Olle couldn’t be here but I know he had somewhere important to be. I’m so excited to talk to you though!
Stefan: Thanks! Yeah he wished he could have joined us.
303: No worries! Let’s go ahead and just dive right in. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you and Olle met and what led you guys to join forces to build your Dada empire?
Stefan: We actually met at a chili cook off here in Sweden and we started talking about music and realized that we both made dance music. I made a little bit harder kind and Olle made a little bit softer dance music but then we talked and were like, “Lets meet up in the studio.” We met up the next day and created a track together and it was actually the first release from Dada Life. And by then we just realized that it’s so much more fun being two people and we had many different ideas but a lot of our conceptual ideas were the same so we just clicked straight away.
303: Well that’s great it’s awesome that the two of you just immediately hit it off and were able to create something so special. So what inspires the two of you? I know you can’t speak for Olle but what do your thought processes and creative processes look like when you’re in the studio creating new material?
Stefan: The basic idea that we have for when we create a new track is to recreate a feeling that you get. It could be like the feeling you get when you almost fall out of a chair, you get this adrenaline rush, and we try to recreate that feeling but put it into a four-minute track. Or if we see someone on stage during a big show you can just see his or her pure happiness, he or she doesn’t think at all it’s just like that person is in Dada Land. We try to take that little moment and stretch it for a full track. And how does the track start? Sometimes we start with a beat, sometimes with a melody, sometimes just banging a fork on a table, so every time is different.
303: That’s really interesting, being inspired by and trying to capture those feelings and fleeting moments like that. How would you say you go about capturing those emotions?
Stefan: Basically it’s like during that creative process we shape the melodies, the overall vibe and everything to get it as close as we can. And when we listen to the track we do get that feeling that we were trying to recreate and hopefully other people get that feeling too.
303: I think it’s safe to say that you guys do make lot’s of people get those feelings when they hear your songs. Do you draw inspiration from music that you listen to now? How about music that you listened to as a kid?
Stefan: What I listened to, I’ll speak for myself, when I was little was everything that had high energy. Everything I listened to had to be high energy. I’ve listen to hardcore 180 BPM stuff, really hard dance stuff, like punk, Little Richard, everything that’s super high energy and still today I love that kind of music that has that energy. Me personally, I always have so much energy inside of me that just wants to come out and if I listen to music I have to release some of that energy back into music and that’s also important when we produce and make music because I want to have speed, I want to feel the energy in the tracks that we make.
Nowadays when I listen to music I often listen to singer songwriters, Indie, Classical, just something that’s totally different from what we do. When we’re DJing its always EDM, hard dance music and in the studio we’re just banging stuff so on the subway coming home and stuff I just want to have something calm.
303: I’m sure after twelve hours of making crazy Dada Life bangers that it’s nice to come home and relax with some soothing music. Going in the opposite direction of soothing however are The Rules of Dada. These rules have become notorious in Dada Land for their crazy, funny and strange instructions. How do you guys come up with them, are they spontaneous or do they sort of emerge as a result of the crazy adventures you and Olle have had over the course of your careers? Can you give us an example? Which two rules would you consider to be the most important?
Stefan: It’s stuff that we realize on tour, when we’re making music, like No Barbeque Before A Show, that one we learned the hard way by puking all over the stage. [Laughs] It made a huge mess and it was so hot, so packed with people that night, it was really bad so definitely made that a rule. They’re all very practical. But then it’s also like our philosophy behind some of the rules, like Never Bring Your Brain To A Rave for example. That one is more of a way of living. People tend to think too much and when you start thinking too much and analyzing stuff everything becomes kind of boring. So just let yourself go and have fun. And I would actually say those two I just mentioned are the most important because those keep coming back every time. No Barbeque Before A Show!
303: [Laughs] I can only imagine what a huge mess that vomit incident was! It’s definitely a good rule of thumb not to eat a huge amount of barbeque before performing at or attending a show. You guys recently announced you’d be filming a Dada Life series focused around your lives in the studio. Will we be treated to similar stories of wild antics or will it be purely focused on music creation? Can you tell us about how this idea came to you guys and what you hope to accomplish through producing it?
Stefan: We want to do it a way so that people get inside on how it actually is inside the Dada Life studio. And it’s not going to be a super high quality experience with like filming teams, it’s just me and Olle having fun, a friend of ours holding the camera and just showing little secrets. We show people a lot of different stuff.
And I think its important to show everyone that this is the life in the studio, this is what’s behind all the music you hear.
The series is also very much started from the basics, like what is a sound, what is a synthesizer, for example. And then we go into super nerdy stuff, how to parallel and queue a sound with little exaggeration and stuff. It’s like highs and lows, super advanced, super easy. We just have to keep filming it and eventually we’re gonna put it up. We have no idea what’s gonna come of it, we know we want to record it but every time we pick up the camera it could be different stuff, we just know it’ll be centered around the studio.
303: It’s awesome that you guys have decided to film this series as a way to show your fans your studio, how you two work together, as well as all the awesome production secrets you utilize when creating that signature Dada vibe. I’m sure you guys have plenty of stuff to show us that will blow your fans away. Following along that idea of helping fans with music assembly, do you have any tips, tricks or advice for the aspiring producers of Dada Land that you might not cover in the Dada Life series?
Stefan: Yeah. First, do music. Practice mixing. Not DJ-wise but sound-wise, like engineer mixing. Make the tracks sound awesome. Listen to the stuff that you like and try to aim to get the same quality as those tracks. What you can also try to do is to recreate a track. Try to recreate that track and make it sound exactly the same because then you learn how to shape those sounds and build upon them.
303: Recreating existing songs would be an interesting way to learn song mapping and sound design. Let’s talk collaborations. Are there any other artists that you guys would be interested in collaborating with that you haven’t already worked with?
Stefan: That’s a tough question. We did work with Sebastian Bach on Born To Rage. We actually said to our management, “This is the guy we want so you need to make it happen.” And luckily for us he lives out in L.A. where we also stay sometimes and so we got the chance to work with him. As for future collaborations, I don’t know, I actually don’t want to say any because if I say something then people might know what’s coming. I want it to come from the proper channels.
303: I completely understand not wanting to give anything away. Why don’t you tell us about your lives on tour. You probably get asked this a lot but what are some of the best and worst things about touring and being on the road? What is your go to cure for jet lag, aside from bananas and champagne? And how about vacation time? What do you like to do when you’re home in Stockholm?
Stefan: The thing is that when you’re on the road touring you get so much inspiration, you have so many ideas but when you’re on the road you have to go back to the studio and make all those ideas happen. And when you’re in the studio you want to go on the road to try all the new ideas that you’ve made, so it’s like dragging back and forth. For us it’s very important to have both studio time and touring time, because I know a lot of DJ’s go on tour forever, then come back, be in the studio for just a couple months and then go back on tour. That’s not for us. We’ve got to have that collaboration between the studio and shows all the time, back and forth. When you’re on tour there are also a couple of rules.
Sleep whenever you have the chance and eat whenever you get the chance to eat.
And the thing is you never have time to get jetlag. You fly and you try to sleep on the plane and then you land and go to sound check and then you eat, rest for one hour, sleep there and then you go out and prepare the set, and then you have the show, go back, sleep for three hours, go out and fly to the next place. So it’s like one hour here, two or three hours there. It’s not like you go up and be like, “Today I’m going to be up the whole day” and be experiencing jetlag. You’re always tired but you’re always high energy, or we’re always high energy, because we love being on tour. So its hard but it’s so much fun.
And when I’m home, and again I’m speaking for myself, but when I’m home I play a lot of video games. I play a lot of League of Legends; I’ve been playing it since 2009. We actually got to meet up with the development team in L.A. and make a song for the game, which was really awesome for me.
303: That is awesome I’m sure making a song for a game you love is a really cool experience for you to have. And it sounds like life on tour is an essential part of Dada Life’s creative process, and that you draw lots of those moments and feelings you mentioned earlier from being on tour and playing shows in different cities across the world. Can you tell us about some of your favorite memories from your careers thus far? Are there any particular festivals or shows you guys have played that were exceptionally wild, or have you ever had any hilarious and weird interactions with fans that stand out from the rest?
Stefan: Yeah actually all of those questions are actually answered with our Dada Land The Voyage. The most memorable thing was when we flew in with a hot air balloon and landed behind the stage and went straight from there to the stage. It was a two-day festival and we could make it full on Dada Land. We played two sets, the first set we only played classics, like the classics tracks that Olle and I grew up with and it was kind of weird but I think everybody got it. The second set that we had was just incredible, it was amazing to see all our citizens, like 10,000 people coming to us for the show, and afterwards we just went out in golf carts into the camping area and just spent all night chilling with them.
303: That is so incredible! I’m not sure if there’s a better onstage entrance than dropping in via hot air balloon in all of history. Speaking of wild stories, you guys were recently involved in some internet controversy involving the loss of a laptop and a mysterious entity known as Dada Death, which supposedly intends on altering and releasing much of your unfinished work. You tweeted a few weeks ago that you had spoken to lawyers about it and were advised not to say too much, as well as that you’ve been in contact with police in Stockholm. My question is do you have any updates on the mystery of Dada Death so far? Do you have any words for the skeptics who believe it was a marketing stunt?
Stefan: The thing is, if you read back on their Facebook, the Dada Death guys actually never had the laptop and they came out and said it. So I don’t know. We try so much stuff when we DJ, they must have heard one of our new tracks, Tonight We’re Kids Again, and it’s super easy because we made the vocals in Text To Voice in OSX. So what they did was pretty much fool everyone and just wrote the same lyrics and had a computer speak it over a similar melody so it sounds the same. They kind of trolled us and the whole Internet. If I could speculate I would say it’s been sold on eBay or is just sitting in the subways Lost And Found somewhere.
303: Ok that’s really interesting I didn’t know Dada Death had made a statement retracting what they’d said previously. So you just mentioned your latest single Tonight We’re Kids Again, a popping electro house song that has that signature Dada Life sound all over it. What sort of reception have you received for it thus far? And if you could go back to childhood and spend one day doing something as a child, what would it be?
Stefan: The response has been great and again its like we feel that people need to be reminded that we all are kids actually. And its like Tonight We’re Kids Again, when you come to Dada Land you’re a kid again. You need to realize that kids have more fun basically, that we all can be kids. Because its all about having fun and that’s one way of reminding people. It’s the same with Born To Rage; we know everyone is born to rage you just have to find it. Come to Dada Land and we’re going to help you.
If I could go back to being a kid, I would say… [Pauses for a long moment] I would go back to the day you have just reached the height of being able to ride roller coaster. You know you see all the roller coasters at the theme parks but nobody will let you on and then one day you go up to the line and are tall enough and get to ride everything. I would go back to that day; I want to go back to that day.
303: [Laughs] That’s a great answer! I would love to re-experience that as well. Something you probably wouldn’t want to re-experience would be getting kicked out of the airport in Stockholm and having your passports taken by the Swedish Border Control due to the fact that you claimed Dada Land to be a sovereign nation. What was the reception like from the U.N., as well as the Citizens of Dada Land, when you petitioned to have Dada Land be recognized as such? I know that you and Olle missed some shows at Miami Music Week because of it, so can you tell us what the U.N. said to the two of you and kind of explain the whole situation?
Stefan: I can’t say a lot regarding that whole issue. I’ll say it like this.
It’s maybe not the smartest idea to send letters to all the embassies around the world claiming your own sovereign nation.
We needed to be a little bit more careful and have a little bit more planning. We still want it but we should maybe have done it in a different way. We got to learn the hard way with the Swedish government and stuff, but now we have them on board and that’s pretty much all I can say. But the support from the fans was just amazing because we were so bummed we couldn’t go to Miami. In March, in Sweden, it’s the darkest month and it’s cold and Miami is just like, you go to heaven.
303: [Laughs] Sounds like it was all quite the fiasco. I’m sure all the Citizens of Dada Land will be thrilled to hear that becoming a sovereign nation is still very much a possibility. And I’m sure you’re very glad to have passports again, which brings us to the new Dada Land Compound Tour in the U.S. People are very excited for it and we can’t wait to host you and Olle at 1st Bank Center in March! Will we be seeing more of you around the U.S.? Do you have big plans for this upcoming festival season? What details, if any, can you give us about your future plans that we can look forward to?
Stefan: We actually have an album coming up, a compilation album, coming up during the Compound Tour and it’s called Welcome To Dada Land. We play so many weird mash ups that only we have and we produce tracks that we just play on the road, you can’t find them on the Internet or on any podcast, it’s just when we play live. So what we’ve done is we actually put all those tracks together on this compilation so people can experience Dada Land at home. It’s the same there, you have to get it from the album you can’t get the tracks anywhere else, it’s all super exclusive.
As for the future, we love the U.S., we love touring in the U.S.
We have so many crazy ideas in our pipeline, stuff we want to do with our shows. It’s just like sometimes our insurance company says yes and sometimes they say no and sometimes it’s the promoter or their insurance company that says no, so you really never know when the big, weird stuff is going to happen. We always try to push it and try to make it happen but sometimes it doesn’t. But we also have amazing new stuff that we’ll be doing at every show so definitely make sure to check one of them out.
303: We definitely will be! Everyone is super excited for the Dada Land Compound at 1st Bank Center on March 13. I’m sure it will be an incredible show. Well thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me it was awesome to have a conversation with you. I hope Olle is doing well and I know everyone over here is sending him well wishes and good vibes and hopes he returns quickly.
Stefan: Thanks, no worries at all it was fun. And yeah definitely he’ll be back soon and we hope to see all of you in Dada Land!
Well there you have it folks. Everything you could hope to learn about the great Dada Life and more. Now come citizens of Dada Land, come one, come all, to the Dada Land Compound at 1st Bank Center on March 13. Tickets are selling out quickly so get yours today! Tickets are available at www.altitudetickets.com.