I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Dash Berlin after his spectacular show at Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub in Las Vegas. What I find most fascinating about this talented artist is not that he’s currently one of the hottest EDM DJs in the industry, or the fact that he’s been in the DJ Mag Top 100 list for several years now, nor his rugged good looks that could make any lady swoon- what I find most enamoring about him are his humble beginnings and the particular emphasis of how he got to where he is today.
Every successful person can recall the exact moment they found their true calling and passion. For Dash Berlin, whose real name is Jeffrey Sutorius, that moment began at 14 when his older sister took him to his first club experience. For any party goer, it’s common to look for people you know and want to meet while enjoying the sound of the music. For Dash however, he found his eyes fixated purely on the DJ. After convincing the DJ to let him sit with him in the DJ booth, Dash watched in awe as this artist wowed the crowd all night. In Dash Berlin’s words, “the rest is history.”
How important was that moment for him? When I asked him what he’d be doing if that moment never happened, he speculated:
I think I would be jobless actually. Before Dash Berlin started I lost my job and at that time I still had my friends backing me up, we had great times but I was unsure what life was going to bring me…”
Dash Berlin’s big break came in early 2007 when his track “Till the Sky Falls Down” hit the top of trance charts worldwide; a big part of this achievement is credited to Armin van Buuren, who included the song in the his critically acclaimed “Universal Religion” mix album.
When you hear advice from people who’ve reached some pinnacle of success, you’ll hear many things from “work hard” to “hustling” and “not depending on anyone but yourself.” This is certainly great advice and definitely a factor for being successful.
For Dash Berlin however, he emphasized that the biggest factor in his success was the help and support he received from the people who believed in him. While this may sound corny and simple, one can argue that this is the basic foundation for any successful business.
I’m very aware of my position as it is right now, and I always tell people I’m the guy next door. Like you just said for that matter, if I didn’t have friends who I can start making music with, what would happen if I [had to] do it all by myself? And I think you cannot do it by yourself, you need to help each other out, and that’s kind of a small reference to who “We Are” as an album title.”
As some people know, there are actually two other talented music producers behind the Dash Berlin brand- Eelke Kalberg and Sebastiaan Molijn. Dash Berlin is also a big proponent of working with great people. He seems to understand the true meaning of a quality partnership.
“…we have our differences but in the end we also have the same goal and that’s enjoying what we do and doing something we’re good at. [With] Dash Berlin, we all have a different background and when you combine that together that’s something which stands out to somebody who has to do all the production by himself or herself for that matter… And we are always able to listen to each other and I think that makes Dash Berlin unique also in terms of looking at the future… If you’re standing still you’re looking backward, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to work.”
When it comes to building a solid business or a startup, Dash Berlin’s notion of a good partnership certainly rings true in that area.
After receiving prestigious awards in the EDM space and being named the 10th most popular DJ in the world by DJ Mag, Dash Berlin shares his own formula for success.
“I think it’s really, really important to believe in yourself and to find what your true passion is and live up to that, but not in a way it doesn’t become pathetic really. You can dream of stuff but I think the time is always right for certain steps in your life… Like I mentioned before you definitely need people who help you on the way and you should be open for that.”
Whether it’s a coincidence or not, Dash Berlin’s belief of never being above accepting help from others and making sure you offer help to others when you’re successful is a testament to the theme of his newest album “We Are,” where he works with a number of artists who are either coming up or still unknown in the industry. Aside from that, he’s taking risks with new sounds, dubbing it “Dash Berlin 2.0.” When it comes to his personal philosophies, Dash Berlin certainly follows what he preaches.
Want more Dash Berlin? Read the full interview below:
You just finished a show at Marquee a couple days ago. What do you like best about performing at Marquee?
“Marquee is in Vegas and Vegas is where it’s all at at the moment. I mean it’s definitely the EDM hotspot on the map right now where everybody comes together and where the crowd is always fresh. Combined with the dashers coming to the shows, it’s a unique atmosphere and you can only find that in Vegas, and combined with the entertainment and the decorations and the amount of production we have on the shows here, they make it super, super nice.”
Tell us about your struggles as an artist before your big break.
“Well it was the end of the days of vinyl and that’s where I started out with DJing so it was quite weird to me to see that happening with the whole electronic dance music family growing more and more. Things are getting more and more electronic and [there's] more stuff happening on the internet and it’s weird when you see that fading away while something else is really growing. And it’s almost like it’s life, you’re talking about life, because things are coming and going constantly.
And I see myself as super fortunate that I got onto it, the bandwagon of the Armada Music family, and they started pushing “Till the Sky Falls Down.” I got featured on A State of Trance and it got some really nice compilations and I think it goes for a lot of things that you need a lot of support and people who believe in you in life and who are willing to help you out. I think it goes for every career or every point in life that you need some help. And I had that help by my friends. I had that by a record company who believed in me. I had that by fans who are still standing out for me sticking by me and consistently coming to the shows.
And the “We Are” part is where we have a new part and a new point in the career of Dash Berlin where we want to go for the future where we created a solid base and where we have a particularly new environment in the U.S. territory, where things are getting bigger, bigger bolder, better. And we want to show that we are ready for the future and we’re willing to show how cool and how nice Dash Berlin shows are, how nice the music is and that people are able to enjoy that.”
Where did the name Dash Berlin come from?
“Well it sparked in the Love Parade in Berlin itself, in Germany in 1999 or 2000. I was performing under different aliases at that time and I witnessed one of the [most crowded] Love Parade editions ever being held at one million people, going through the city streets of Berlin, following the trucks with electronic music playing. You have to see these DJ booths which are placed on the trucks. People were dancing on the trucks but also following the trucks through the city and it was just one big gathering of people who are liking electronic music. And when I saw that whole spectacle going by I climbed into a lightning pole and I started making pictures like a panoramic view, I still have those pictures. And I knew from that moment on I wanted to do something with Dash Berlin or with Berlin at that point, with Berlin as a name for my DJ name eventually.”
“Till the Sky Falls Down” kind of actually got things rolling. A lot of people started asking the question who or what is Dash Berlin and that’s really the starting point for Dash Berlin. When I knew, okay I want to use Berlin in my DJ name, I have to find some kind of a combination because just DJ Berlin sounds weird and although still a lot of people think I’m from Germany, I’m not, I wanted to make some kind of a couple combination so I just started making combinations with the word of Berlin, random combinations, and I punched in Dash Berlin and I got a blank Google page. So it sounded fresh to me and I thought it was a good starting point to have a fresh name like that and that’s why I choose the name Dash Berlin.”
You seem to believe in the philosophy of giving unknown artists a start much like how you got your big break. Tell us about helping new and upcoming artists in your new album.
“I’m very aware of my position as it is right now, and I always tell people I’m the guy next door. Like you just said for that matter, if I didn’t have friends who I can start making music with, what would happen if I [had to] do it all by myself? And I think you cannot do it by yourself, you need to help each other out, and that’s kind of a small reference to who “We Are” as an album title.”
And as Dash Berlin was taking off we took the time to look around us and see, “Okay how can we participate in a world evolving around us?” and we started contributing to orphanages for orphans in Bali. We have 23 kids now. We started doing special project. We arranged a huge concert especially for a poor community in Mexico and stuff like that. I think that really adds spice to your life and adds extra melodies in the idea behind “Till the Sky Falls Down” which actually got everything kind of skyrocketed.
What would you be doing if you weren’t DJing?
“I think every life has its course and you have to see that the guys I worked with, they are so experienced and especially at the beginning I was learning so much from them and while that was going on we just created a way of working where we feel comfortable. They have been DJing for 20 years and they have their share of fame and they know their way of running the business and they know that I’m really enthusiastic when it comes to DJing, that’s my core, that’s my true passion, [and] that’s where I originate from. So they were really open-minded about that and they were like okay we’re doing this together but if you want to go DJing, go ahead and we can make the music together while travelling using Skype, using a Dropbox and we’ll go back and forth over that. You can make melodies easy now with those programs on the road. I mean if use a good laptop you can go at it.
And they were really open in working that way and that’s, I see that as super unique where people put their ego aside and where they put their accomplishments so to speak aside, and they’ve worked on remixes for Janet Jackson, for Justin Timberlake, Röyksopp, Junkie XL, really big names in the industry. I think it shows of great compassion, of great heart that you are willing to sacrifice something in order to help somebody out in doing, in seeing that grow and that whole thing kind of happen under the huge umbrella of friendship and that’s just amazing.
I think I would be jobless actually. Before Dash Berlin started I lost my job and at that time I still had my friends backing me up, we had great times but I was unsure what life was going to bring me, out of nowhere really. “Till the Sky Falls Down” got picked up by Armada Music as a record company, they brought that out. Even though we were unsure to do something with it because we had that lying on the shelf and whatever studio makes which is actually my studio neighbor Isaac, he’s a huge hardstyle pioneer he was like “Guys what you have here, that’s quite unique. You should send that to the record company.” And that’s what we did and that’s how things really got started.”
Have there been times when your friendship and partnership has been tested?
“I mean we have our differences but in the end we also have the same goal and that’s enjoying what we do and doing something we’re good at. Dash Berlin, we all have a different background and when you combine that together that’s something which stands out to somebody who has to do all the production by himself or herself for that matter. And we can always throw stuff at each other like, okay what if we do it like this or what if we bring down the tempo or what if we bring in this melody. And we are always able to listen to each other and I think that makes Dash Berlin unique also in terms of looking at the future. We don’t want to stand still and do the same thing we did uh with The New Daylight, the first album. We don’t want to do the same types of approach like we did with Music is Life. We want to move forward. And I think that’s also one of the things dance music stands for. It is really fast, it is really ongoing but that’s also what you know keeps you really sharp as a producer. As a DJ, you want to stay on top that’s a drive you need to have to you know keep going. If you’re standing still you’re looking backward, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to work.”
What advice do you have for anyone looking for success in business or entertainment?
“I think it’s really really important to believe in yourself and to find what your true passion is and live up to that but not in a way it doesn’t become pathetic really. You can dream of stuff but I think the time is always right for certain steps in your life. So when you know you want to reach a goal, I think everybody is able to make it but you also should keep in mind that some things need time and with internet, with things that are really based on individuality right now and on speed like we’ve talked about, everything is going real fast- give things some time to breathe. Give life some time and I’m certain that if you really, again when you want to reach something in your life, you can reach that but there is a right time for everything. Like I mentioned before you definitely need people who help you on the way and you should be open for that. And if you’re just like narrow-minded and just”‘I want to reach my goal, it’s me, it’s me, I want to reach my goal,” I think it’s going make it even more difficult for people to reach it than be open-minded and to look at things in a bigger perspective but also towards people and who are willing to help you. So if you’re open for that you can make big steps in life.”
You’ve been changing your sound, you call your new album Dash Berlin 2.0, tell us about your new direction.
“It’s also a challenge for the people listening to Dash Berlin and what their musical taste [is], what they are willing to listen to and what kind of feedback we get on that and how can we maybe feed off of that and take it somewhere [with] unique growth maybe, I have no idea. But that’s the whole cool thing of dance music, it’s a consistent moving, living, breathing organism and you just want to keep up.”
What artists do you listen to that aren’t in the EDM space?
“Oh, a lot, a lot, I think I should actually get my iPhone”
“Yeah go ahead.”
“I will, it’s here. Let’s just for the fun of it… Let’s run through it and see what happens. Obviously there’s a lot of EDM in there.”
“Right, of course.”
“Sade, ever heard of that? “Smooth Operator” I mean that’s definitely not EDM. Alicia Keys… let’s just browse through this.Paper Aeroplanes is just an amazing band, the lead vocalist is Sarah Howells I’ve worked with her before on “Go It Alone,” on a remix as well and she’s amazing. That’s great music, Paper Aeroplanes, it’s fantastic. Let’s see, Rick Ross he’s there, Rick B., Rihanna and this is all albums right? Tribe Called Quest, old school stuff. Whitney Houston even… Let’s see what we’ve got, Caro Emerald, fantastic vocalist from The Netherlands, it’s amazing. Coldplay, obviously, big fan.
So there’s so much. I’m quite an all-around music lover when it comes to that. I like a lot of EDM stuff. I have [lots of] EDM stuff, but I also like to listen and to look beyond the boundaries of dance music.“
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans?
“Well I like to be in contact with everybody on social media so I have my own platforms called DashBerlinWorld.com and that’s like a platform where I share everything Dash Berlin but also a lot of stuff which is not Dash Berlin. So I think it’s cool for a lot of people to take a look over there and I just like to be in contact as much as I can over social media whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, that’s always really cool to me that no matter where I am at, there’s always somebody who is awake and who is willing to speak their minds or to talk to you or to share something about what you are doing or have been doing.
And I’m very happy and fortunate that I’m in the position to be a top-ten DJ for three years in a row now. And I’m very happy with the support I’ve been getting all over the world and that things are going so well so far. And I just want to thank everybody for believing in Dash Berlin and listening to the music of Dash Berlin and just enjoying like you should. Just uncompromising, enjoying music, enjoying life.”
And when are you going to be launching your album?
“It’s going to be at the end of August and note to mind it’s part one. So that’s the big thing- when is part two? It’s going to be this year. So I’m already working on a new material for part two and I hope to speak to you about it the next time I’m here.”