Duke Dumont’s 6 golden rules for producers

Few producers are as versatile as Duke Dumont. Dance music’s accidental hitmaker has a stack of chart-topping singles to his name – like Ocean Drive, Need U 100% and I Got U – but he’s also just as good at crafting heads-down house music with no radio aspirations. 

This week Dumont will release For Club Play Only Part 4, a new EP full of tracks made purely to DJ with. To welcome the new EP into the world, the studio gun wrote this Guest Editorial for inthemix. Abide by these golden rules for producers, and you could be burning up dancefloors just like Duke in no time. 

#1 Success by numbers

My process is to create three unfinished ideas a day and put them into a folder. At the end of the week I listen to the demos, and put the good ones into another folder. At the end of the month, put the best ones into the ‘To Finish’ folder.

Time is always the best judge. I started Ocean Drive three or four years ago, and the initial demo always remained in the ‘To Finish’ folder. I’m limited for time because of touring, but because of this method, I have around 30-40 demos sitting in the ‘To Finish’ folder.

#2 Think about your sound palette

Be precious about the sounds you use. You don’t have to use the same sounds on every track – I search for sounds high and low, and make my own.

#3 Aim to make better songs than the ones you play in your sets

This is the hardest thing to achieve, and to be honest it’s sometimes unachievable. I’m resigned to the fact there are certain songs I love that I will never make a better song than. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

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#4 Don’t listen to your mates

Your mates will just be amazed that you have created music, so they are bound to say everything you do is amazing. Chances are the first few songs you ever make will be fucking awful. Your mates won’t say that to you because they are your mates. But you need to be honest with yourself, to the point of extreme scrutiny, almost destroying you from ever finishing anything. If you can’t be honest with yourself, you won’t learn how to tell the good from the bad.

#5 Don’t get studio envy

I remember 10 years ago making music on Reason, on a crappy laptop, and thinking all the music I loved was made on hi-end mixing consoles. I then went and worked with Dave Taylor (aka Switch, the original member of Major Lazer and producer to MIA, Santigold, Beyonce, etc) at his studio, expecting to see racks of gear.

Other than a copy of Logic, he had exactly the same equipment I had. I knew after that day I needed to get better with the tools I had at hand. I have seen acts like Gesaffelstein using Fruity Loops and getting better results than producers with access to studios with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment.

#6 Understand mixing and mastering techniques

When I first started out, I wanted to be a beat maker like Chad Hugo or Timbaland, and always thought I could pass the song to a mix engineer to make it sound professional. I was wrong: mixing is producing. It’s just one single facet to it.

When I used to struggle to make a living from music, I was a mix engineer briefly. I learnt more in that time about how to produce than I ever did before. I never studied music production at a college, because I could never afford it. I learnt a lot from trial and error, and reading Sound On Sound Magazine.

Duke Dumont’s For Club Play Only Part 4 is released this Friday. Grab a copy over here