If you expected Duke Dumont to jump up and down with his hands flailing in the air when his Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording for “Need U (100%)” was announced on Friday, you are mistaken.
“My school report said, ‘Adam is so laid back he’s horizontal,’” says the soft-spoken, super-laidback DJ/producer, born Adam Dyment. “I take it in stride. I’ve always been like this.”
This past weekend Dumont premiered his new single, the Whitney Houston-interpolating “I Got U” on Annie Mac’s radio show (listen below):
Mac has been a big supporter of Dumont’s, telling Billboard earlier this year that his success make her “proud to live in the UK.” Since the unexpected breakthrough of his single “Need U” earlier this year (the song went to No. 1 on the UK charts and peaked atop the Billboard Dance/Club charts) the DJ’s schedule has kept him away from his countryside home in Hertfordshire, England, but his demeanor remains practically pastoral. Even when he’s blasting his monster tune to a crowd of thousands, Dumont helms the decks with an even keel.
“I had a little bit of underground success with a few club tracks, but I’ve been DJing since 2007, so I was kind of prepared,” he says of the success “Need U” has brought him. “I know how to step up at the big stages and DJ.”
More than typical due-paying, Dumont has faced some real hardship that gives him a unique perspective on some of the trappings of his success (like his recording contract with Universal Music), which can cripple newer artists with insouciant pressure.
“I’ll tell you what real pressure is: Real pressure is not being able to get a DJ gig and not being able to pay the bills,” Dumont states emphatically. “I’ve been through it. I was in the hospital for six months. I couldn’t sit in front of a computer in the studio. I was too ill to even make music.”
In 2010, Dumont was afflicted by a series of health problems he simply refers to as “a ton of things happening at once” and the once up-and-coming producer was faced with the reality of losing not only his career and livelihood but much more.
“The music basically stopped. And then the gigs stopped. And then you can’t pay the bills,” he explains. “That’s pressure. So if you’re saying there’s pressure being signed to a major label – no, it’s not. I’ve now got an opportunity.”
That opportunity includes recording a full-length album, expected next year, on a budget that allows for session musicians and the possibility of a four-piece band tour. Surprisingly, Dumont is even allowing for his album to be beyond house music.
“I kind of want to make a perfect pop record,” Dumont explains. “I just want it to be musically a good album. The only thing I want from it is in five years time you can still listen to it. I want to make the album that if I died next year, I’m at peace with it.”
As a member of what he describes as this year’s “fraternity of mainstream house music,” along with Disclosure, Rudimental and others, Dumont has reintroduced club music to pop audiences, and underground dance music to fans of big room, big beat EDM. And while Dumont is enjoying his success and the community of musicians and DJs he is a part of, his view on music and life remains decidedly broad.
“I used to hate on so many acts and be like ‘I’m better than them,’ but I think that was insecurity from myself,” he says. “Even the worst act in the world makes a lot of people happy. You have to take yourself out of the equation, take your ego out of it. How many jobs can you do when no one really suffers? With music, no one is losing out. There’s no real negative.”