Finland’s Ville Virtanen (better known as Darude, a moniker that first evolved in his youth after playing Leila K.’s 1996 hit “Rude Boy” numerous times at a friend’s party) set the success bar almost impossibly high at the dawn of the twenty-first century when he somewhat unknowingly unleashed the smash hit “Sandstorm” upon the masses. Selling reportedly over five million copies and reaching chart-topping positions around the world (including the US, where the song originally reached the Top Five of Billboard’s dance chart, and duplicated the feat a year later in a remixed version), “Sandstorm” became a highly influential and iconic electro-dance track for a new generation.
James Arena: Many accuse modern dance music and EDM of being cold and soulless. I assume you disagree?
Darude: “My short answer is yes, of course. Let’s look at Ed Sheeran—my image of him is a man’s voice and a guitar. How does he compare to, say, Metallica? Is Metallica worse or better? I guess what I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter. Whoever is listening will make their own decision. Right? So you have two men singing and playing guitars, but coming from completely opposite ends of the spectrum. In the same way, we have EDM or a fluffy dance-pop track at one end and some minimal techno or dubstep at the other. Both stir people and move them, but which is better?”