The world stopped spinning for a split second when Duke Dumont dropped “Won’t Look Back” earlier this year. The vintage disco-house romper immediately takes listeners to glossy ‘90s dancefloors, driven by deep, emotional lyrics and massive diva vocals. An easy contender for song of the year, “Won’t Look Back”—and its goofy corresponding visual, the best music video of 2014 (so far)—is the type of track that will resonate for decades to come.
And that’s just one track off his newly released EP1, out now via Astralwerks and his own Blasé Boys Club imprint. Rounding out the EP is “I Got U,” featuring Jax Jones (the track topped the UK Singles Chart and has racked up over 73 million YouTube views) and the corresponding remix from house legend MK, plus “The Giver,” considered a Duke Dumont classic off his For Club Play Only Pt. 2 EP.
Since making his global breakthrough with the Grammy-nominated “Need U (100%),” another UK Singles Chart topper, the Duke has been nonstop. It’s fitting, then, that “Won’t Look Back” is the next chapter in his ongoing quest for worldwide dancefloor domination. There’s no looking back for Duke Dumont.
As he prepares for his performance at Escape: All Hallows’ Eve, Duke Dumont discusses Halloween spooks, his live show, and his forthcoming album.
What’s Halloween like in the UK?
We have Halloween in the UK. We don’t have Thanksgiving, but we do have Halloween. Compared to America, it’s pretty amateur.
In what ways?
In all ways. You get trick-or-treaters, but it’s not done on a mass scale. It’s kind of quite half-hide. Halloween is celebrated a little bit better over here.
Yeah, we take it pretty seriously. Do you guys celebrate it differently as kids, compared to when you’re an adult?
Yeah, completely. It’s kind of not really celebrated as a holiday, whereas in America, it’s almost a national holiday. So it’d be good to experience it in America.
If you could cast a spell on anyone, who would it be, and what would you do to them?
This could go in any direction, so I’m being very careful of what I say. I don’t want to do anything to anyone, is the truth. You know, the only spell I’ll cast is to make mean people nicer, especially when you’re at airports. You see the worst of humankind and the worst of humanity, so it’s just like an airport kind of spell.
What’s your worst nightmare, and have you ever experienced it in real life?
My worst nightmare was literally a nightmare I had years ago I still remember. I was being chased by Ronald McDonald, but it was the evil version of Ronald McDonald because he had green hair, which means it’s the bad Ronald McDonald. He was chasing me on the train tracks in Spain, trying to kill me. It hasn’t happened to me in real life. I think subconsciously, it’s telling me to lay off the burgers.
Which horror filmsetting are you most likely to survive, and why?
Probably the set of “Thriller” because they didn’t look too mean. They could dance a hell of a dance, but I think I could pretty much fight every dancer in “Thriller” and probably win. Put me up against the guy from Nightmare on Elm Street, and I wouldn’t stand a chance.
You’ve played a few shows as a live act recently. What does your live show consist of?
It’s all songs I’ve recorded—songs from my album, the big singles, some remixes I’ve done. Like with any artist or musician, [the best thing is] to be onstage and find the emotion of each song and demonstrate that to the crowd in the best way you can. It’s all live performance. It’s me and two other musicians onstage, and we’re playing live. And that’s the difference between doing a DJ set where I play my tracks and other peoples’ tracks, but the attention to each song isn’t there. I just want to bring the raw emotion out of each song as I can, whereas with a DJ set, you can’t really do that.
What’s the most difficult Duke Dumont song to reinterpret live?
I did a remix for Tensnake, and I’ve put that into the show. That’s quite hard to play, because the piano part on it is quite quick. I’ve really gotta be paying attention when I’m doing that one.
Do a lot of your colleagues strive to go live, or do most guys stick to DJing?
If you purely want to make money, it’s probably better to just DJ. It’s not a money move. I’m working on an album, and I think that anyone who works on an album, you’ve gotta be able to put on a live show as well. I want to do a live show that showcases the album to the best it possibly can. I don’t think it can be showcased as well as in a DJ set as it can as a live show.
Your new album is slated for 2015. What can you tell me about the new music?
I’ve had a couple of goals on the album. One of them is to work with the best singers, not necessarily the most famous singers. It’s not gonna be like a celebrity roll-call of pop singers. For me, it’s trying to find the best vocalists to do the best job.
My favorite electronic album ever made is Daft Punk Discovery. Everybody remembers “One More Time” and “Digital Love,” but for me the downtempo tracks, like “Face to Face,” they’re the tracks that push my buttons. I hope my album has that same quality to it. There’s going to be a lot of dynamic in the album.
It sounds like Discovery was a big influence on your upcoming album.
I think the influence for this album is just me doing my thing now, becoming my own person. That album was a big influence; it’s what got me interested in dance music.
On your new album, will we hear a new Duke Dumont sound or something we’re familiar with?
I think if people have only heard my stuff from “Need You (100%)” and onward, it’s going to be new to them. But if people have heard the remixes I’ve done in the past, I think they’ll be more prepared for it.
Is America ready for Duke Dumont?
Yeah, it couldn’t be better timing.
Let’s talk about “Won’t Look Back.” When I heard this track, it reminded me of classic ‘90s big-vocal house. Was that a deliberate move on your end? Were you trying to take things back a bit? Or did it feel modern to you?
The house music I love has an incredible vocal. I’m a huge fan of soulful house music. That was my vision with that song, to try almost make an anthem so strong and powerful, and I think that’s the way it came about. That was the goal: an homage to dance music. You can probably hear the references that inspire me in that record.
Is “Won’t Look Back” the track that will fully break you in America?
In America right now, the big one is “I’ve Got You.” It’s quite a radio-friendly track. It’s getting bigger and bigger. Much the same way that “Latch” for Disclosure is snowballing in America, “I’ve Got You” is doing that for me.
Duke Dumont performs at Escape: All Hallows’ Eve Saturday, November 1, at the NOS Events Center in San Bernarndino, CA. For more information, visit the official website.