Sep 25, 2019
Ultra Japan: The Return Of Dash Berlin
As we sat down with Jeffrey Sutorious shortly after he exited the Mainstage following The Return Of Dash Berlin at Ultra Japan, it was clear that this was a significant moment. We felt humbled to share the intimate moment together with Jeff, and were honored to have such an honest, heartfelt look into the music, moment, and buildup to The Return Of Dash Berlin.
How do you feel coming off the Ultra Mainstage and performing once again as Dash Berlin?
I’m a little bit... I don’t know – it’s a very weird feeling, I cannot quite describe it.
It seems like quite an emotional moment?
Yeah, emotional, eerie, I cannot quite put my finger on it. Sometimes you have that though and you cannot quite describe it.
Can you tell us some more about what the words ‘The Return Of Dash Berlin’ mean to you?
Sometimes people think, “what a nice marketing sentence to use,” but the phrase is really true. At Ultra in Miami this year I was almost hyper emotional. I cried because I felt that I wanted to express myself as Jeffrey Sutorious and I finally had the chance to do so. It wasn’t just me, there were other people crying during the show as well because they were just so happy for me as Jeff, that I could just enter the stage as Jeff and do my thing. To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming playing no Dash Berlin music. But people really liked the set and I felt really good with the response.
How did you build from that moment to Ultra Europe where you closed the Mainstage?
After Miami, Ultra came through with Ultra Europe. I was supposed to have “The Return Of Dash Berlin” message already three days in advance of that show, but it didn’t happen. My agent actually called me and asked if I had seen the message about the festival. It said I was the beneficiary of closing Ultra Europe. Closing a festival... some people are really scared of it, but for me, there is no higher honor than closing a festival.
In this case it was a big situation. This is not the A State Of Trance stage, this is the Mainstage. This is in Europe, a continent where I don’t even play that much as Dash. And it was after freaking Swedish House Mafia. Good luck on that. But from the outset, I knew that I like a good challenge and I’m a DJ at heart. The only thing was the stage had to change after the set of SHM and that was a risk factor.
Talk to us some more about your approach as a DJ for that moment.
Coming from the Netherlands, you learn how to deal with tougher crowds. You have more patience. If it doesn’t go off immediately, you don’t get confused. You know how to react, to switch, how to interact, how to play the right songs to get the crowd going like you’re supposed to. It was the second or third track I played that I saw the whole mass of people who were either waiting or didn’t know what to do or were just thinking, let’s just see what Jeff is going to do, but weren’t particularly engaged with me from the outset, they just all started coming back. One of the Ultra photographers who walked up at the moment commented that to me as well after the set. And if you see the reactions on social media, and how much people liked the set, it was the moment for me when I realized it doesn’t even matter anymore. I’m ready and capable to perform as Jeff or Dash.
That sounds like such an incredible moment! It’s amazing to hear your confidence DJ wise. Can you also talk a little bit more about the production side? How does the return to Dash Berlin influence your production outlook?
As a producer, I really have to prove myself now. I have to go into the studio, make my hours, and really get new stuff out there that is pleasing me enough to put it in my shows as Dash. Compared to how Dash Berlin was as a team, it’s very challenging. Time consuming wise – it’s a whole different ball game.
For this short time, it was Jeffrey Sutorious setting up a new label, producing for that label, collaborating with new talent, and the perspective was changing with me playing the Mainstage and making music for it. The perspective kind of changes from more trance-y related, which I can also do, but with Dash Berlin, I kind of already said goodbye to that years ago. I wasn’t playing A State Of Trance stages anymore, I was playing Mainstages. We worked for years to achieve that.
Of course now with Dash Berlin back in my lap again, I need to make music that fits in the Dash Berlin sets. For Jeffrey Sutorious, I had a bit more freedom, but for Dash, I really have to come out with Dash Berlin music 2.0 that fits those sets. As a DJ, I don’t worry at all, but as a producer, I need to get creative and come up with new ideas.
For now, I’m happy to say that it’s going really well so far! I had some new music that I tested today and the reaction was really good.
What can you tell us about that new music that you played tonight and the inspiration behind it?
What I really liked of the show today is the fun stuff. Not the things that people always expect – “Seven Nation Army,” “Sandstorm” – I get that it works and will probably be in my set for the next ten years, but with the fun stuff, I mean going back to my early days as a DJ going into a record shop, buying way too many records and spending all of my money on that. I literally walked out with boxes, I was the best customer at the record shop.
And you still have them?
I have everything! So what I did when I knew I was going to play at Ultra Japan, I went diving into the early days where Dash Berlin originated from and where the name comes from. That’s the Love Parade time. I’m one of those lucky guys who experienced the highlight days of Love Parade in Berlin in 1998 and 1999. In 1999 there was a track released by Denki Groove and there was a Paul van Dyk remix of that. I still have that in my record collection and for fun I was playing around with some of these older trance records – I’d like to do some live vinyl sets again – when I stumbled on this record “Niji” by Denki Groove. I ended up sampling the vocals and built a whole track for it.
The first reaction I got when I played it was huge. People are like “I loved that Japanese Record.” That’s cool. That’s giving back. I’m making something meaningful and appealing to the people here in Japan. I really hope that something that originated out of a fun idea helps to spark the 2.0 of Dash music and Dash Berlin here again in Japan! For me, that’s what it’s all about.
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