With a Vegas residency at just 19, a promising career, multiple releases on major labels and a packed tour diary that saw him performing – and partying – all around the world with the planet’s biggest EDM artists, Dutch producer/DJ D-wayne seemed to have the world at his feet. But a major burnout saw him crash back down to earth, the pressures and strains of modern DJ life taking their toll. Now back with a fresh new single on Big & Dirty Records, D-wayne sat down with DMC to discuss the importance of story-telling within electronic music, the repercussions of his burnout, and how restructuring his lifestyle and attitude towards music has led to a new phase in his creativity…
Dwayne, tell us where you are in the world right now and what you’re doing…
– I’m at home in my studio as we speak, finishing some new material! ADE has been very productive and also inspiring, so I got back on the grind right away and went into the studio non stop.
You’re back after a bit of a hiatus with a new song ‘Loving You Always’ with Jack McManus. How did the single come about?
– Jack and I have been writing together for multiple years now, and this one was written a while back, but because of all kinds of things happening in both mine and Jack’s life we never really got to the point where we could release the song. Up until fairly recently we decided to stick our heads together and finally get the song out there – it’s always been one of our favourite songs we wrote together and it has a special meaning as well, which makes it even more special to put it out!
Link to the single…https://badr.lnk.to/BADR380PR
You’ve released the single alongside a mini-documentary, part of a new series called ‘Behind The Songs’. How important is it for you to have a story or narrative behind your music?
– Yes that’s right, I decided to make a mini-docu around every new commercial single that I am releasing in the future. All the songs I write together with vocalists are written about stuff that I have been going through in my life, and to tell that story besides through the music and the lyrics, I also wanted to include a documentary to tell that particular message. Lots of people already told me that when you watch the documentary and then listen to the track, you’ll probably have a lot of “‘oooh yes they told about this’-moments”.
Does music, particularly dance music, really need to have a story? There are singles out there right now, big ones that sell and stream incredibly well, where you’d be hard pressed to find a story – do you think certain genres of dance music have become too ‘formulaic’?
– I certainly feel as if dance music nowadays has become very formulaic, something I myself don’t really like. Music for me is a gateway to express my emotions, share my story, my life, my struggles, my joyous moments, it could be anything really. That way is also how I got into music in the first place. Obviously big hits nowadays may have no meaning at all, which is fine, but I’ve made the decision to include a message in every single, as well as I try to do with every DJ set I do.
We mentioned earlier that you had a ‘hiatus’ but in actual fact you had something of a meltdown which you’ve spoken openly about. Can you tell us what happened, and the moment you realised something had to change?
– I had a burnout, which was horrible. I remember I was touring, in the car on the way to a sold out show in Spain, calling my parents and literally crying my eyes out not knowing what was happening to me, but all I knew was that I wanted to stop with what I was doing at that moment and just go home. My friends and family kept telling me I was changing and I felt like I was changing as well, up until a certain moment that I just snapped and couldn’t comprehend what was happening anymore -> that was the moment I knew something had to change.
Mental health is obviously a huge topic at the moment in dance music. Both Deadmau5 and Hardwell have taken a step back from work in the past few months, and the industry is still coming to terms with what happened to Avicii. What have you done personally to address your own work/life balance and what advice would you give to the next generation of DJs and producers with regards to how to manage it from the very beginning?
– It’s a massive topic yes, and the difficult thing about it is also the fact that as soon as you speak about this, some audiences have the tendency to tell you “wait till you get a real job from 9-5” or “how are you complaining about flying around the world playing at awesome parties”, which is also something that stopped me from talking about it. Ever since I had the burnout I sought help, first thing I did, and I pretty much changed my life as well. Started working out every morning, trying to get a rhythm in my life, hanging out with friends more and actually started leaving work behind in some weekends when I had time off – I realised there’s more things in life than just music, although it still plays a big part in my life and forever will. For the next generation DJs / producers I would just like to say that they need to follow their hearts – if you’re at an unhappy place with your music, career, or life, one day you’ll notice and hopefully it won’t be too late by that time. And if you’re ever in doubt, please talk with your beloved ones, your friends, neighbours, or anyone, because there’s so many people that will want to help you and you can’t do it alone.
You’re only 24 but you’ve already achieved an awful lot. What’s been your highlight so far?
– Having had a residency in Las Vegas was definitely one of the highlights in my career so far, obviously the music industry has been changing in recent years so things have changed in Vegas as well, but I’ll be happy to play there again real soon
You were mentored by Afrojack and released a lot of music through his Wall Recordings label. Why the decision to move away from a label that has such a visible presence?
– My contract actually ended and after working with Afrojack for five years, with WALL going into different direction labelwise as well, it just felt as the right thing to make the next step in my career.
‘Loving You Always’ has a much more melodic, pop-house feel to it – is this a direction you’re going to be moving in with new music? What’s your production process like in the studio, do you prefer to work alone or with others? How does your music come to life from an idea in your head to a finished track?
– It’s definitely something different, and it’s most certainly a direction I’m moving towards with my new music. But, I’m also still very much enjoying making filthy beats that are purely suitable for the club circuit, so I will not stop doing that, yet making pop-dance kinda songs like Loving You Always is something I’ve always liked to do and I will continue to do that. My music comes to life pretty straight forward – I have loads of ideas in my head, sometimes I mumble them into my audio recorded on my phone and then I sit down in the studio and recreate these melodies / idea’s – honestly though some tracks take way longer than others, which is also one of the hardest things for me as a producer – deciding when a track is actually finished…haha!
What’s next for D-wayne?
– I have a brand new remix coming up for R3hab, a new clubrelease on an A-label which we’re announcing soon and we’re going to pick up touring again towards the end of the year, so exciting times are ahead!