ClubPlanet Interview: Dirty Vegas

ClubPlanet Interview: Dirty Vegas

by Mikey Lavery

British duo Dirty Vegas are back in the U.S. and reintroducing club crowds to their unique style of soothing vocals and guitar riffs on top the of electronic melodies that brought them fame out here when they fist hit our shores 12 years ago. Back in 2002, their track Days Go By won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, reached the top of the club charts and even appeared in a Mitsubishi car commercial.

We sat down with a very jet lagged Steve Smith and Paul Harris and spoke to them about their latest release, Let The Night, and also found out if they do differently on the road now that they are older and wiser.

CP: So, 12 years. Are you guys still having fun?
Ha-ha! We have fun every day! It's a little different though now. When we started we still had the gramophone and the telephone wasn't invented so we're learning how to use all the new listening devices!
Steve: Yeah, I mean the scene has changed so much in that time so it’s all still an adventure, but we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't enjoy it.

CP: If you could go back in time to when Days Go By won the Grammy, and your careers were about to blow up, what piece of advice would you give yourself.
I'd tell us to hold off and write Days Go By in 2014!
Paul: Yeah, that would be the best advice anyone could give us.

CP: Would you have taken that advice?
Probably not!
Steve: When we wrote the track back then, the dance music was so different. Yes, Days Go By was a hit and it was played on the radio, but the tracks played before it would be Knickleback and then Dr Dre or Eminem would follow it. There was no David Guetta, no Calvin Harris and nobody out here really knew what we were doing or what genre we actually played.

CP: Did that make a difference to you guys?
Well we should have stuck to our guns back then and not listened to the label who pushed us into making it more song based. It was really daunting and we should have stuck to what we knew. We were young men who went from pressing 1,500 pieces of vinyl to winning the Grammy. There’s a certain amount of expectation with that. So you don’t necessarily go with what you know, more what you’re told to do.

CP: Let's talk about then and now. Do you still approach your productions the same way as you did in the past?
We've always been a song based act rather than track based, but what we’ll do is write a song with a guitar and vocals and listen to our favorite tracks that we’re playing in our DJ sets, and pay attention to the productions that are about at that time and take it all in.
Steve: That’s the great thing about what we do. The chance to play all these amazing records that artists make and get excited about them, which inspires us to create great tracks in the studio.
We've always had the same approach in the studio, and that’s to be the best at what we do.

Tell us about Let The Night EP. What was the thinking behind it?
It’s a continuation of our last record, Electric Love and an evolution of that sound. It’s more indie-electronic and that’s the route we wanted to stick to. It’s not so much aimed at the EDM world as that's not really the genre we are.

Steve: We were that style years ago and as time as moved on with us, so has our sound. What you hear now in Let The Night, is a perfect example of how far we've come as an act.

CP: Did it worry you coming over to the U.S. with the whole “EDM” sound being so popular?
We were aware of what was popular over here and we were never going to jump on the band wagon so to speak. I think people would have smelled a rat all of a sudden Dirty Vegas were playing tracks with huge drops.
Paul: We decided to stick to what we always have done and keep true to ourselves and if it didn't work, we could walk away with our heads held high knowing we never left our roots.

CP: And of course, the underground scene is coming back.
Exactly. Look, people like Calvin Harris and Avicii will always sell out stadiums and be headline acts, but there are promoters out there who are booking non EDM related acts. That’s why we always had confidence that our sound would be well received.
Paul: You look at the Top 40 in the UK. The tracks are very house and garage based. You’ve got people like Disclosure and Jamie Jones replacing the more commercial artists that have been in featuring there the past few years. It’s all beginning to merge together now.

CP: And that can only be a good thing for Dirty Vegas?
Absolutely. Let The Night has had a great reaction from the American audience and we are humbled that, 12 years later, they still like us out here!

CP: Vanilla Ace and Betoko remixed Let The Night. What was the connection there?
We always try to choose people who are not only established, but also who we respect as great artists and in the case of Vanilla Ace and Betoko, they both delivered.

CP:What's your chemistry in the studio? Do you guys always see eye to eye?
: We’re now more honest with each other. Before we’d pussyfoot around each other and that caused tension later on, but now if I don’t like it, I tell him.
Steve: The best thing is, if I’m in Boston and he’s in London and I don’t like it, I can tell him over email and not worry about seeing his reaction!

CP: You’re just back from Asia. How was that?
Just back is right, we just came from the airport! Hence the red eyes!
Steve: It was amazing. We did three shows in China, we appeared in Hong Kong, Thailand and a few other stops. The scene out there is fantastic, everyone one is so excited to see people from outside Asia play for them.

CP: Any stand out shows?
China was really interesting because the scene is very, very new out there. It’s almost in its beginning stages and extremely underground.
Paul: The interesting thing about China is that there’s no internet, so they have no YouTube, no Soundcloud or any other way to share music. They have to think of other ways to communicate with each other and that is a major issue.
Steve: They hear about all these acts but they have no way to find out about them, but the crazy thing is that the clubs are still all selling out and the fans are very responsive.

CP: What are your essential items you never leave at home when you go on tour?
Clean underwear and a bottle opener!
Steve: Cables. Lots and lots of cables. I’ve never lost so many adapters, leads and plugs as I do when I ‘m on tour.

CP: And what track do you always keep for those special dance floor moments?
Paul plays a bootleg of Donna Summer 'I Feel Love' that is fantastic and it still works.
Paul: It does the same job now as it did when it first came out. A timeless classic.

What’s next for Dirty Vegas?
Work, work and more work! We’re going be in the studio concentrating on the new releases and turn the EP into an LP.
Steve: We’re planning a U.S. tour in the summer and of course, we have Ibiza fast approaching. So basically more dates and more tracks.
Paul: We can't wait!

You can find out more about Dirty Vegas at the links below:


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