Dash Berlin: Stereosonic, take two

While Armin van Buuren had the mainstage pulling power at Stereosonic 2011, for many trance fans it was Dash Berlin who emerged as the best-in-show. It made sense, then, for the festival to invite the Dutch star back for a second year running. At this year’s Stereosonic, Dash Berlin will be leading the trance charge alongside Markus Schulz and Sander van Doorn. With his second artist album, #musicislife, released midway through the year, the timing is certainly right. We caught up with the man behind the moniker, Jeffrey Sutorius, via email to hear how he’s preparing for his Stereo encore.

In 2012, is Dash Berlin still a three-man operation, or is it just you now?

It has always been a three-man operation, kind of like Above & Beyond. The only difference is that I’m the only one of us three that has fully embraced and truly enjoys the DJ lifestyle that comes with it.

I read in an interview where you said when you first discovered dance music you’d go out and just watch the DJ. Which DJs do you watch now and think, “Wow, they do something special”?

When I was young I was really fascinated about what was going on inside the DJ booth. Nowadays I am much more interested to see what happens to a crowd. It doesn’t matter what genre or who’s behind the decks, or what the preferred technology is that is being used, when the crowd goes nuts, it’s mission accomplished. That is what people come for; that gift is what makes any artist special.

Stereosonic 2011 was a big festival for you, and there was a lot of love from the crowds here. You’re back again this summer, so what is planned for this time? Do you have a different game-plan?

Stereosonic was amazing last year. Australia is such a beautiful country to visit and to get so much love so far from home is simply unforgettable. No game plans though: I’m really looking forward to seeing all the people again who created that magical atmosphere. I can’t wait to experience that again in a spontaneous way. I’ve just released my new artist album #musicislife and my annual mix compilation United Destination 2012, so there’s a good change people will recognise some of the new tracks. I can’t wait.

On the Stereosonic festival, artists often meet, hang out and work with other artists on the tour while they’re in Australia. Did you have any experiences like that last time? And what are you looking forward to on this trip?

It’s going to be great to see everyone again. The cool thing about Stereosonic is that all the artists travel from city to city together, which feels like one big road trip. Last year was far too hectic, but I am always open to interesting collaborations, so if anything comes along this year you will definitely hear about it.

Dash Berlin ft. Emma Hewitt – Like Spinning Plates [Dash Berlin’s 2012 update]

When we interviewed you in 2010, you said that criticism is healthy, as all praise doesn’t help anyone. Can you highlight any time when you’ve taken something good out of criticism?

Criticism keeps you sharp all the time. The Internet gave everybody a voice, which is great for more equality. It also shows that people are involved and care about what you are doing. Praise is really good for motivation, but you don’t learn much from it.

There’s plenty of vocal talent on #musicislife. What do you look for in a vocal performance?

The first thing is the most obvious, but also the most important aspect; it has to be in tune. Not everybody can sing. Especially in a studio environment where you can hear every whisper, it can be quite challenging for a singer. Secondly it is very important to me that the performance comes from the heart. If I don’t believe what a vocalist is singing, it just doesn’t work.

We know you’re a fan of what Tydi produces. What is it about his sound that impresses you?

It’s not just Tydi. I have a lot of respect in general for my fellow new generation DJs that are making a name for themselves on an international level. It keeps the scene fresh and exciting.

Dash Berlin ft. Chris Madin – Silence In Your Heart (Club Mix)

You describe the Dash Berlin sound as “emotive”. What elements go into a track to make it emotional for you?

It’s usually the little things that move me the most. Tiny details that somehow resonate in tune with your inner emotions. I like little imperfections in a voice or a nice analogue-sounding distortion; anything that makes it more human.

“I would love to have my own night in Ibiza one day,” you told us in 2010. Are you closer to realising that dream? And how would you structure the night?

This summer I had the pleasure of being a regular guest at Armin’s A State Of Trance nights on Ibiza at the Privilege, which has been legendary. The vibe there has been so fantastic that it’s hard to imagine something beating that any time soon.