It was easily 100+ degrees at the Speedway in Fontana as I made my way into the media tent. I enthusiastically shook hands with Dom Dolla, who was fresh off his epic performance at the HARDER Stage on day two of HARD Summer. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Dom, and digging a little deeper into his life as a musician. We shared a lot of laughs, bonded over sunscreen and Vietnamese rice wraps, and I learned about the wholehearted, profound passion he has for his career.
You’ve played some insanely huge festivals so far this year: Coachella (DoLAB), EDC Las Vegas and Tomorrowland. Do you have a favorite performance from those three?
My favorite… I think I’ll go favorite by continent. To be honest, today (HARD Summer) has been incredible. I was not expecting that turnout at the stage, especially in this weather and in this heat. And at this time of day as well, it was pretty early, like 4:00 or 3:50 or whatever. I was… yeah, today I got up on stage with goosebumps. It was a really, really cool feeling.
Tomorrowland, weather was a bit cooler. So it was a bit more forgiving, but it was really cool all the way over in Belgium to see so many people from back home in the crowd with flags up. To have it streamed online and put on You Tube and stuff and people watching it and getting messages about it. It’s like really… you know… it’s rare to have an experience where you’ll get on stage and not only is the crowd sharing messages, but your sister and your mates back home are like, “I’m watching online, it’s crazy.” So yeah, I think Tomorrowland and today were pretty incredible.
EDC is unbelievable. That is like a sensory overload. I took my manager and a friend of mine who is living in Las Vegas playing basketball at the moment, and neither of them had ever been to EDC. And they were like, “Yeah cool, this is going to be really exciting.” We walked in and their jaws were on the floor – I couldn’t get their attention for like 20 minutes.
I call it adult Disneyland!
Yes, yeah 100%. It looks so different when the sun comes up! But yeah, it was unbelieveable, I loved it.
Speaking of Tomorrowland… tell us about your Roger Federer #crowdcontrol moment when the sound cut out.
Yeah that was pretty funny. It was probably about 35 minutes into my hour set and it just literally went *neeeoooww* and the sound cut out and the crowd was yelling like, confused and I thought, “Oh my god, I’ve kicked out the power or something.” But it turned out the whole stage and all the surrounding bars went out. And the whole crowd is just staring at me in silence and I was just thinking, “Well cool, I’ve gotta keep them entertained.” I remembered this YouTube video I saw of Roger Federer online. I think it was during Wimbledon a few years ago, during some sort of big match. I just imitated it and it worked a treat. The whole crowd was losing it… hands up, hands down. Silence. Noise. Silence. Noise. Silence. And then that was the end. My rider was siting at the side of the stage and I asked the stage manager, “Can you bring all the beers from my rider?” And I started throwing them into the crowd… which, I don’t know… I think from an occupational health and safety perspective it probably wasn’t the brightest idea. But they loved it. And then the power came back on. It was 10 minutes, but it didn’t feel like 10 minutes.
In April you were named on Billboard Dance’s “One’s To Watch”. You were also named one of this year’s “rising stars” by Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1. How does this make you feel about the progress you have made as an artist? How does it inspire you?
It’s really humbling, especially from someone like Pete Tong who I’ve been listening to his shows since I was a little kid. Meeting him and having him call me and talk to me on the phone about my progress was really a surreal experience. And now having his number, I could text him and ask him what he thinks of upcoming music… which is truly bizarre and awesome.
Billboard as well… their acknowledgement really sorta like lights a fire. It makes me want to write more and more and more and more. Just to fulfill their predictions, I suppose. Or do my best to, anyway.
Those are both huge accomplishments, and so exciting. So congratulations to you on that.
Yeah, thank you!
Fans are constantly commending you on the amazing vibes and energy you produce during your sets. How would you describe your signature sound? In other words, what elements are key to a Dom Dolla track?
Hooky. I like to develop hooks and ideas in my songwriting that you just get addicted to. Something you just want to listen to again and again and again and again. I suppose when I am looking for other people’s music to include in my set and I’m making edits of others’ music or doing remixes, that is kinda what I look for as well. So it’s kind of a cohesive set that will keep you dancing, doesn’t really stop moving. But there is also melodies that you’re walking away and humming.
Do you have any traditions or rituals before your perform?
I’d love to say that I do… before I step on stage… Well, I high-five my manager. My manager is actually at a wedding right now, but he never actually stops working so he was still asking me today, “How did it go? How did it go?” I don’t think I have any rituals really. Maybe I should invent some… OH WAIT. Sunscreen.
I was gonna say… at least for today!
Yeah, putting on sunscreen! If it’s a nighttime festival, I just sort of count my blessings. But yeah, daytime… today I was like, “whew.” About halfway through the set, the sun came out and was just full blare and I was thinking to myself, “If I burn my mom is not going to be happy about this.“
Do they have a fan on stage at least?
Yeah, they’ve got two of them… I couldn’t really feel them though. They were kinda just blowing my ankles.
You just released an awesome remix to fellow Aussie Hayden James’ track ‘Nowhere to Go’. How was it working with Hayden? Do you have a favorite remix of all the ones you’ve done thus far in your career?
Oh wow. Yeah, Hayden and I have been friends for a very long time. He’s one of the most humble and talented writers that I know. We’ve got a very similar approach to writing, in that we don’t just churn out heaps of music and pick the good ones. We kind of sit down and concept what a good record will be, and then piece it together. And for that, I can really relate to him a lot and we get along very well. So when he asked me to do it, I knew the parts he was going to send me would be awesome. The vocalist Nat Dunn from the group NAATIONS is an incredible songwriter, she writes incredible hooks. And so as soon as I heard it… actually, I think I said yes before I even heard it because I saw the names and I was like, “Guys, they’re all friends of mine, I know this is going to be good.” I knew it would also go great in my sets. It’s been really cool seeing all the messages from the kids in the audience or kids that have been listening to it on Spotify. It’s really nice to have them relate to it and get along with it. But me and Hayden are actually supposed to be in the studio in a couple of weeks writing some music together.
That’s exciting. Back at home in Australia?
Yeah, I’m going home for the first time in… for the first time since February, I will be home for longer than a week. I think my bed is going to be covered in dust when I finally get back. What was the second part of that question, again?
Favorite remix: has there been one or is that (‘Nowhere To Go’) your favorite?
My favorite remix that I don’t think has had as much exposure is a remix I did for a group called Eat More Cake out of the U.K. The remix is called ‘Heat of the Night‘ and I just got pretty experimental with that. It’s a really melodic hook from the original vocal. I love playing it. That’s probably my favorite remix I’ve ever done.
I would love to hear about the psychedelic music video you just released for your crowd-favorite track ‘Take It’ Where did the idea come from? What was the thought process behind the video?
I’m really into weird music videos that just keep you really engaged, and keep you thinking, “WTF did I just watch?” And my plan was that I wanted something that even if you muted the audio, you would still want to keep watching. When I put the brief together, the record label was like, “Uhhh, this is bizarre, but we are on your level and we’ll give it a go.” Originally the concept was supposed to be a puppet, the little man was supposed to be a creepy little puppet that was awake. Like a doll in the corner of the room. But apparently anamatronic dolls are REALLY expensive, so we decided to just get a guy and a green screen instead. That was a brilliant idea that the director came up with. It turned out to be really funny, and the reaction I get when I see from people who have watched it in front of me or sent me messages about it is exactly what I intended… which is, “WTF.”
I almost feel like it was a lucid dream… or something that you just can’t shake.
I feel like a lot of people can relate to that as well. I’ve got a lot of friends who have told me, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been there.”
You mentioned you are going to be working with Hayden James again soon. What else can we expect from you in terms of upcoming collaborations, releases or projects?
Me and Sonny Fodera are doing a tour of America together. We are also working on some music, as well. Me and Hayden will be in the studio soon. I’ve got a new single called ‘San Frandisco’, which is coming out in September. I’m really excited to get that out, especially since it was supposed to come out in November last year (2018). So it’s good to finally get it out there. I’ve probably got about 3 or 4 other singles in the works that I am itching to get out there into the world. Until then, it’s just head down in the studio.
Last question, on a non-musical note: If you could have any meal transported to you from any place on the planet before a set, what would it be?
Depends on how hungry I am. I think… something that’s not too huge. Probably like, some Vietnamese rice paper rolls with like… peanut sauce. It’s light, it won’t mess with you on stage. The last thing you want is… well, you just don’t want a disaster out there. Vomiting on stage wouldn’t very entertaining. Well, it might be entertaining but it certainly wouldn’t be entertaining for me.
For more on Dom Dolla, including upcoming performance dates, check out his website at http://www.domdolla.com.au/.