All hail the DJ decks. EDM producer mastermind Darude will represent Finland at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. He will be scratching the decks while singer Sebastian Rejman hits the high notes on their track “Look Away”.
The electronic icon is no newcomer to the music scene, having brought the sounds of Finnish EDM to dancefloors around the world since his breakout hit “Sandstorm” in 1999.
Finnish broadcaster YLE chose Darude internally. Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) 2019 was then used to select his Eurovision entry. The public and international juries had three songs to choose from, with “Look Away” rising to the top. Darude and Sebastian are hoping to secure Finland’s second win, the first being with Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah” in 2006.
As we count down to Israel, we’ve compiled 10 facts you need to know about Darude. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
1. The name Darude was made up by his classmates
Born Ville Virtanen, Darude got his DJ moniker from his classmates. At first, he was nicknamed “Rude Boy” for always playing the song of the same name. Eventually, the name became abbreviated to Da Rude and morphed into the alias that is known to audiences today — Darude.
2. Darude has mixed music for over two decades
Darude is no overnight success story. Darude started mixing music back in the 1990s with PC software while studying at Turku Polytechnic University in Finland. When asked in a Reddit AMA discussion how he started mixing music, Darude explained:
“I started when I was around 20 years old. I had played some keys before, but wasn’t a great player then, nor am I amazing now, but I know my chords and melodies enough to get by. A couple of my buddies at a new school I started studying at made music with tracker programs.
They showed me what they were doing and all of a sudden I realized that I could do that, too. I had been a huge music fan for long, but never had really heard the different layers of music and never thought, due to my lack of live instrument playing skills, that I could make music myself. All of a sudden my world was filled with kick drum this, hi hat that, and I started putting together my first tracks.”
3. From noise maker to touring artist
Darude signed with Finnish producer JS16’s 16 Inch Records label, who mastered the final version of “Sandstorm.” Within three months of submitting the demo, he had become an international touring artist.
4. He claimed the #1 spot for 17 consecutive weeks
Soon after its 1999 release, “Sandstorm” became an international, platinum-selling hit. The song held the No.1 spot on the Finnish Dance Chart for 17 consecutive weeks and the single went on to sell more than 2 million copies worldwide.
5. Darude won three Finnish Grammy Awards
The success of “Sandstorm” made way for Darude to make a clean sweep at Finnish Grammy Awards in 2000. He won Song of the Year for “Sandstorm”, Best Debut Album for After the Storm and Best Dance/Hip Hop Newcomer.
6. Darude has released four albums
Over the course of his two-decade-plus career, Darude has released four albums; Before the Storm (2000), Rush (2003), Label This! (2007) and Moments (2015).
7. Darude has featured at funerals
The power of “Sandstorm” is alive and well – even after one’s death. Darude told Kotaku,“I don’t know if strange is the right word, but I know of a few people who have requested Sandstorm being played at their funeral… I was told about one older lady, who had said it was her fave pick-me-up song fighting a nasty illness, and they indeed played it at her funeral.”
8. Darude was part of a YouTube April Fool’s Day joke
The love for the perfect sandstorm is still felt today with the song receiving heavy rotation in video games, TV shows, sporting events and even a YouTube’s April Fools’ Day joke. In 2015, users were treated to a “Sandstorm” button on the popular video-sharing site.
YouTube also took the joke to its main search page. When users were searching for a music related video, they were asked if they were meant to be searching for the Finnish DJ’s 1999 hit instead. It was in reference to a joke with site users. When a user would post a comment seeking out the name and artist of the song being played in the YouTube video, there would be at least one person in the comment thread posting “Darude – Sandstorm.”
9. Darude has two children
Darude is a proud father of two children; a son (born 2009) and a daughter (born 2017) with his American wife, Michelle. They reside in his native Finland.
10. Darude has been royally shortchanged
When asked in a Reddit AMA discussion if he is adequately compensated for the amount of times “Sandstorm” has been played in its lifetime, Darude told users:
“Sometimes, often not, due to ridiculous ‘blanket licenses’ like at stadiums and other sports arenas. Oh well. Radio, Spotify, some other streaming services, yes, partially. There are so many unauthorized uploads etc that if I got $ for those, I wouldn’t have to worry a thing for my grandgrandgrand kids…”
Darude may be the headline act, but Sebastian Rejman is an accomplished artist in his own right. Here are some quickfire facts about the “Look Away” vocalist.
- Born in 1979, Sebastian is from a bilingual family. He grew up speaking both Finnish and Swedish.
- He is a father of two. His son arrived in 2016, while his daughter arrived earlier this year. He is engaged to actress Iina Kuustonen.
- Before finding solo success, Sebastian was part of a band called The Giant Leap. Currently on hiatus, the group released two LPs and multiple singles.
- Sebastian and Darude first released music together in 2015. He featured on two songs from the DJ’s Moments album, including the title track.
- In an interview with our William, he branded himself a “songwriting singing actor”. That’s because he’s also an accomplished actor. He currently stars in the medical drama Syke. The show’s latest series launched last week.
- He is also a prolific TV host. Through the years, he has been involved with Finnish versions of Got Talent, The Voice and Splash.
We can’t wait for Darude to bring the beats to Eurovision in May. How do you think he will perform? Will the EDM icon give us “Sandstorm” 2.0? Let us know in the comments below.