Interview with Richard Durand: “I Have a Normal Life”

It is a Thursday night and I have a scheduled call with Richard Durand that has played in EXIT Club at Trancextasy event this Saturday. I start to be a little nervous, I don’t call with DJs every day, right? But let’s go back a few days so you know how this all started… 

I’ve been asked by my friend from the Trancextasy team two weeks ago if I can take care of Richard during the event. I gladly accepted his offer. I prepared some questions for a “usual promo interview” before the event however, how I found out later, Richard never received it… 

During the day of the event on Saturday, I was prepared to pick up Richard at a hotel before his set. On my way to the hotel, I’ve thought about topics we can talk about. I think I was pretty calm, however, I felt some responsibility. I also met Kristy Jay (read our interview with her) and then I continued to the hotel. I sat in the lobby and waited. When Richard stepped out of the elevator we shake our hands and I offered him a seat. We had a quick chit chat. I asked him about the interview. He did not receive any but he gave me an offer that couldn’t be refused – ”Feel free to call me on Tuesday evening. It will be better for me too so I can express myself in spoken words. I don’t do written interviews very often, I don’t find them as funny. When we call, you can do your own unique story.” Of course, I accepted even if I was a bit nervous how can I handle it but it was a challenge so why not. 

/Exactly 60 hours later/

I’ve checked if everything works 10 minutes before the call. I’ve asked my roommate to double-check my pea soup every 5-10 minutes so I don’t singe it. Five minutes left to the call and I told myself: “Let’s do it!” I am ringing Richard’s number. He answers positively tuned within a few seconds. One of my first questions was if I can record our interview to review it later. When I had Richard’s agreement we could start.

Of course, the interview had to begin with a question on how he enjoyed the party in EXIT. The answer was not surprising: “It was nice, a small venue with an intense crowd and everybody enjoyed my set. Hopefully, I can come back and play longer, let’s say for 3 hours.” I’ve continued with a question about ‘club vs festival’. Richard answered that he gets this question a lot but according to him it all depends on the people. “It doesn’t matter how many people do you have. Well, if you have less than 50, it is not that fun…” But then he corrected himself. “Actually, I also played a set for friends in the living room and it was also a great party. So it always depends on the people.” 

I’ve met with Richard already at CityFest 2018 and back then, we talked about the Burning Man festival with his girlfriend. I find this festival fascinating and I knew that Richard visited this festival before (3 times already). In 2014, as a “Cpt. Jack Richard Sparrow”. 

Richard Durand at Burning Man 2014
Source: Richard Durand Facebook

Would you recognize him? 🙂 

Naturally, I was curious about what Burning Man means to Richard. “Of course, Burning Man is a great festival. I didn’t know what to expect and it was fun to be there with my girlfriend. It is a life-changing thing to do. We did 3 Burning Man together and every time it was different – 70 thousand people in the desert… It is kind of hardcore because it is 2 weeks in the desert and you have to take care of everything. But, in the end, it is a really nice festival with a lot of music, DJs, but the most important things are art, the community and also the builders from the camps. They are [the people] building a city for a few months and within a few weeks, it’s gone. It’s amazing.” During my research, I’ve found out that Richard never played there officially but he told me that he played at his camp. What an experience! Of course, if he would get an offer to play at Burning Man officially, it would be “really nice holidays”.

When Richard used the word community relating to Burning Man, I was curious about Richard’s point of view on trance festivals. We all know that it is not easy to get people out and fill the dancefloor with thousands of people, especially in the Czech Republic. I’ve asked Richard, what he thinks (from a DJ point of view) is the main reason why people attend festivals. And here things started to be interesting. “It is not only about booking huge names like Tiesto or Armin van Buuren. Sometimes, it’s all about art, food, etc, sometimes is important to have a beautiful stage, sometimes it’s about loud music. It is a whole package. It is not only about a DJ. For example, in Holland, there are so many festivals. It is not about a DJ at all. It is nice to be there, sometimes you have a market there so you can sell and buy stuff. For me, it’s pretty hard to say what works and what doesn’t. I think everything is important.” After a quick exchange of opinions, Richard added: “If I will have an idea for a festival and there is a bigger festival a week before / later my festival is fuc*ed up.” And this is one of the problems in the Czech Republic I think. We have dozens of club parties and some festivals every year so it is natural that people have to decide where they spend their money. In comparison, the Netherlands is kind of lucky according to Richard because the people there have a good education and earn a decent amount of money so they can afford to attend more events. 

The next topic I wanted to discuss was, of course, Richard’s production. Richard released dozens of track but you will probably remember especially The Air I Breathe [Tune of the Year 2018] and Save You [2019]. I was curious if something (like number of bookings) changed after these releases. Richard told me that his brand has been growing gradually. He confirmed, however, that he had more gigs and more people that wanted to work with him (bigger artists – remixes, collaborations, etc.) after these releases. As he later pointed out: “It is just one track, one award. And this year will be another award and every year you have to start again. It all helps and I am thankful for that. But you have to realize that you cannot stop producing and be like I don’t have to do anything for the next 10 years. You still need to go and see what is next.” 

I continued with the social media & money topic because these days are very fast and fans are asking for new tracks, new music, new shows… Richard convinced me that as a producer, it’s great to share his music through social networks. The story of The Air I Breathe is particularly interesting. ”I did not anything about the promotion for this track and this year, I will do anything as well. If people want to vote for my track, they know how to do it and where to find it. It doesn’t make any sense to me if I ask a lot of people and maybe get 10 % of the votes.” He also added: “I didn’t believe that my track could be a tune of the year and then I won.” At the same time, we found out that probably no Tune of the Year was elected due to paid promotion. However, the situation is different with DJ Mag voting. So we can say money can’t buy you #1 spot in the TOTY chart.

To be honest, I’ve been pretty nervous during our interview. It was getting better but still…There is room for improvement! I’ve asked Richard if he gets bored to play some tracks in his sets over and over again and I’ve got the following response: “If people want to hear that track and ask for it and then you see their reactions, why not play it for them? Of course, I’ve played Lethal Industry remix for 10 years and asked myself: Do I really need to play this track?” I think you understand what he meant. Before I asked the next question, I signaled to my roommate to check the soup. I completely forgot about it! In the meantime, I’ve asked Richard about the importance of being in the top 10 charts like on Beatport, etc. According to him, Beatport is a pretty small and more important medium for him is Spotify. “It is maybe fun to have top 1 downloaded track on Beatport and show it to your friends but that is everything. No promoter in the world would book DJs just because they had the number 1 track on the Beatport. The charts are less important than they were 10 years ago.”

With this answer, Richard helped me with my follow-up question. I’ve asked him about the differences between the music industry today and 10 years ago. “The music business is changing so fast but I also told this story 10 years ago. You know… We are coming from times when we played on vinyls, then, you could burn your own music on CDs and after that, you could download it from the internet. So, there are so many big moments in the music industry. And every time something like this happens you are like ‘WOW’ the previous days were better, and that was better, etc. The positive thing about today is that I can press the button and all my fans can hear what I just did in a studio. It’s amazing. I can put my track to Facebook, Soundcloud,… I don’t need to sell it and my fans can hear what I’ve done in the studio today. There are many positive things about the internet and these days… Everything is changing and you need to deal with that.”

Everything is changing and you need to deal with that.

– Richard Durand

I had the last few minutes so I wanted to end with something from Richard’s personal life. I was curious how he recharges his batteries, I mean, where he gets the energy. “The first thing I need to say is that I don’t do 10 gigs per month so I don’t feel so exhausted. I don’t know, how would I recharge my batteries if I had 15 shows per month. If I look at what I do now, I have a normal life. I do gigs on the weekend, I work in the studio during the week and I can go to a swimming pool, do some workout, go out with friends, etc. I have a normal life I think. If you are a DJ that plays 10–15 shows per month, then you have an extreme life and you need to take care of yourself really good. For me, it is a big deal to take care of myself.” Naturally, we spoke about the huge pressure that is put on the artists. Unfortunately, some of them could not handle that and did not end well. It seems that we [the society] don’t talk about mental hygiene as much as we should. But more on this topic maybe next time.

Unfortunately, the time run out and we had to end. We could talk for hours about the last topic, but of course, the time was limited. I have to say it was an inspiring conversation and I am grateful that I was a part of it. I would like to thank Richard that he took his time and also to Trancextasy owners that made all this possible.

Thank you. 

And for those of you wondering how it worked out with the soup, we managed to burn it…