DJ's On Disposables | Dom Dolla

by Paulette Ely

For most, a sunny few days at a sunset strip hotel isn’t too bad. But, when you’ve been non-stop hotel hopping for a year full of worldwide performances, a house-kept bed just can’t compare to your own at home. Luckily for DJ/producer phenomena, Dom Dolla, he had just a few more hotel lobby moments before his flight back to his Australian homeland to talk to me about the wild ride that has been his 2019. Ascending from Melbourne’s underground to being a house music household name is a feat furnished with sleepless nights and a make-it-work mentality. 

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

In 2018, Dom released the track “Take It,” which took the world by storm with almost 20 million streams on Spotify and a lengthy list of remix tracks. One of those remixes happened to be from the hands of creative companion, Sonny Fodera, and the two just announced their upcoming joint US tour that has house music lovers everywhere drooling. Dom Dolla’s breakout year is just beginning, so be sure to buy your tour tickets here and check out our interview to hop on the hype. 

You’ve had a crazy busy year. How are you feeling?

I’m excited for a break. It’s been the most incredible year ever, but I don’t think I’ve been home in Australia for longer than 10 days since January and we’re in August now. I’ve got three and a half weeks off and I think anything longer than two weeks, you get used to being home and feel like it’s enough time to reset. I’m looking forward to a home cooked meal.

And what will that meal be?

I’m not sure. My parents never go on overseas holidays, and they love it when I’m back. But, they decided to go to Bali as of yesterday. So, I’ll have to cook myself something. There’s only so many stale airport sandwiches you can eat. That’s my life- rolling the dice in the airport.

With traveling so much, how do you have time to produce music as well. With a song coming out in September while being at every festival possible, how did you find time to produce?

I actually don’t have a studio at home anymore, I got rid of it. The lease ended on my old recording studio, and it got demolished and turned into apartments in Melbourne. I was on the road so much I just had to learn how to write exclusively with my headphones and my laptop. My next few singles and a bunch of the recent remixes I’ve done I really did in hotel rooms with headphones. I’d visit friends and ask to borrow their studio for the day and go in and check the mix and make sure everything is really sound and there are no crazy frequencies happening that I couldn’t hear before. I just reference everything on different sets of headphones and different speakers that I can. A car that has a good sound system helps to check it out, but I really learned how to write on the road.

You said you can ask friends to borrow studios, and I think that speaks to how the community really supports each other. Especially artists from Australia seem to really support one another on their American journey…

Yeah, we all get on like a house on fire. There are so many Aussie’s that are making the move out to the states, so everyone understands how hard it can get and how tricky it is to navigate. Plus at home, Aussie’s support other Aussie’s in terms of audience. Like if they see you’re an Australia, they’ll fly the flag and be super proud about it. 

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

I want to talk about your sound as well. I think everyone associates you with an addictive-house sound. Was that the sound you set out to make or did you fall into it?

I suppose my sound is a fusion of all the genres that I love. Within house music, I’ve got a pretty strong R&B influence. I just love developing hooks and ear-worms in the studio. I think that’s born out of writing relatively slowly. I try my best to make that track perfect, it’s just born out of me wanting it to be hook-y enough that I can listen to it on repeat since it takes so long to put together. That’s the result that comes out, people are like, “Cool, I can listen to this all day.” I think from there my music started to get a bit club-y and a little bit more suited to my sets and other DJ sets. I think my style of writing a year ago or a couple of years ago were song based, where now it’s more DJ friendly. It’s been a pretty natural evolution. 

“Take It” is one of my most listened to songs of the year, regardless of I was listening to it myself, or heard another DJ mix it, or even in a restaurant! Have there been times where you heard “Take It” and been surprised to hear it?

It’s funny, I’ve heard it so much that my brain doesn’t really register it anymore. I’ll be sitting there and see my manager looking at his instagram story hearing the song and I’m like, “Oh wait… we’re in an airport in Dallas.” I think “Take It” was the first conscious decision I made to write more club-driven music. It is interesting, spending all that time trying to develop really hook-y, melodic ideas definitely influenced that track. Before hand, I didn’t really care if DJ’s played my music, it was more about just writing a good song and songs people could relate to, like “You” and “Define.” I suppose I took those skills, and wanted to make something that other DJ’s wanted to play. The result has been humbling.

“Take It” was a song that really boosted you up and then everyone could look at the rest of your music and see what you’ve been doing. I know Pete Tong named you a rising star of 2019. What was that like for you?

That was another moment when I was like, “Oh my god, is this really happening?” The man called me, and he was chatting to me on the phone about my music and where I saw my music direction heading. It was really surreal. I was chilling at home and had him on my loud speaker, and there were moments where I would forget to respond because I was so used to hearing his voice on the radio. It was wild. It was really cool and surreal having a guy like that as a contact that I could reach out to. And yeah, when he named me as a future prospect on the house music horizon, it was really emotional. 

Was there anyone else in the electronic music world that has reached out to you and validated what you are doing?

Yeah, guys like Gorgon City, Chris Lake, Sonny Fodera. I’ve been a fan of their music for so long, and I’ve always considered them to be on the level that I wanted to aspire to achieve. Now, seeing my name on lineups amongst those guys and seeing them at festivals and telling them I love their song and giving them my email for new music is awesome.

Photo by:  Paulette Ely

Photo by: Paulette Ely

So, you’re touring after there 3 weeks?

Yep, I’m going to Electric Zoo at the end of this month, and them I’m headed to South America for my first ever South American shows- doing Mexico and Brazil and a few festivals down there. Me and Sonny are playing B2B at a few of those festivals as well which will be awesome. I have a few other dates coming up, and me and Sonny have a headline US tour coming up later in the year, and then I go back to Australia for festival season.

Were you always a world traveler or was it music that allowed you to do so?

I grew up in Northern Australia, and the closet place for holiday would be South East Asia, so I did all of that before I was 23 and haven't really visited other parts of the world. But yeah, music has really allowed me to love countries but be so sick of airplanes. If there’s ever a train- I’ll go with that. I’m 6’2 as well, so most of the times my knees are on the person in front of me.

Anything else you want to tell the world?

I’m just really excited. I’m excited to see where things are at in a year from now. I know I’ve got new music that needs a listen and I’m excited to get people’s feedback.