After snagging a Grammy nod for his breakthrough single, U.K. DJ/producer Duke Dumont is joining the Astralwerks roster in a multi-album deal, Billboard has learned. He’s currently working on his debut album, slated to drop in the summer.
“As an artist, it’s nice to get affirmation from a major label,” Dumont told Billboard exclusively. “I can’t imagine any artist in the world who wouldn’t want their music to be heard by as wide an audience as possible.”
Dumont is the latest in a string of buzzy electronic music producers, including Porter Robinson and deadmau5, to join the Astralwerks roster. The UK-based artist had an unexpected hit in 2013 with the classic house-infused “Need U (100%)” featuring A*M*E. It shot to No. 1 on the UK charts as well as the US Dance/Club charts and was nominated for a Best Dance Recording Grammy, leading to a deal with Universal Music Group out of the UK, ultimately landing Dumont at Astralwerks (a Capitol Music Group imprint).
Astralwerks’ Senior A&R Manager Jeremy Vuernick cites the label’s history of breaking British electronic acts on this side of the pond, and promises a debut from Dumont that “crosses boundaries from deep house to garage to pop to techno. We have a long tradition of artists that push boundaries musically. It’s music that feels great and is going to work in a variety of places, from small underground clubs to festival stages.”
For his part, Dumont is tight-lipped on the content of the album, sharing only that it will feature a slightly updated version of the previously released single “Hold On” featuring MNEK, with whom Dumont co-wrote “Need U” and who recently inked a deal of his own with UMG subsidiary Virgin UK.
“The album is about 50% done,” says Dumont. “I don’t want to push my luck but maybe 60%. The icing on the cake is the vocalists. They come in when the song is about 80% done. I’m just starting on that stage.”
As soon as he finishes in the studio, he’ll start a lengthy touring schedule, including a swing through the states in April for Coachella.
Despite the current momentum for Dumont and other British house revivalists (Disclosure, chief among them), they have yet to quite match the success they’ve had at home in the States. Vuernick says he’s optimistic that can change.
“If you look at the way that deep house and techno has gone from being a success story in the UK to budding in the US, I think we’re at the right time to harness that power and step things up,” he says. “To take that knowledge base that younger generations have and really educate them, and give them an opportunity to go deeper into the roots of electronic music.”
Originally signed to London-based Ministry of Sound, “Need U” was picked up by Win Music in the US, which shepherded the song to its Grammy nomination. Win’s founder, Sean Glass, says he’s proud of what he and his indie label accomplished on Dumont’s first outing, even as Win’s future with Dumont is uncertain at this time. (“As of now, we are unfortunately not involved in the new releases," says Glass.)
“Win Music did an incredible job of working that record,” says Vuernick. “The success of ‘Need U,’ garnering a Grammy nomination is an achievement for Duke and electronic music as a whole.”
Even if he didn’t take home the trophy, as an alternative to the more big-room EDM tracks in his Grammy category (including the eventual winner, Zedd’s “Clarity”), Dumont also sees the recognition of a house track like “Need U” as a good sign, not that he’s pandering to win awards.
“It gave me confidence in thinking that hopefully over time I can establish myself as a credible, successful artist,” he says. “In regards to the way my music sounds, what I do, it hasn’t changed that whatsoever.”