To date Darude remains one of dance music’s most influential stars. At the age of 24 and at the height of the trance boom of the early ’00s Finnish DJ /artist/producer Ville Virtanen created the milestone single ‘Sandstorm’ under his pseudonym Darude. The track went on to become one of the biggest selling dance singles in the history of electronic dance music with global sales of over 4 million units and to date featuring on over 300 compilations worldwide.
What started out as a national release in Darude’s native home of Finland went on to become a worldwide phenomenon taking ‘Sandstorm’ to #1 on the Finnish Dance Chart; a spot that it would dominate for 17 weeks. Released in June 2000 by Neo Records the track would see Darude became the first Finnish artist to reach the Top 3 positions on the UK singles chart. Following this, ’Sandstorm’ went on to go Platinum and become the ‘World’s best selling 12” vinyl of 2000. The track attained cult-like status and gained strong support from industry heavyweights such as Radio 1’s Pete Tong, Tiësto and Paul van Dyk, as well receiving phenomenal radio support from national stations in over 70 countries. Still swelling in sales today ‘Sandstorm’ achieved Gold status in digital sales in the US in 2010 and Platinum in the UK in 2015, and re-entered the UK Top 40 Dance Chart in 2011, whilst finding new supporters in the likes of Calvin Harris, Hardwell, Zane Lowe, Diplo, and Laidback Luke.
The success of his first three singles (‘Sandstorm’, ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Feel the Beat’) led to the release of Darude’s debut artist album, ‘Before the Storm’. The album would go on to go double Platinum in Finland, and Gold in Canada. Worldwide sales to date are over 1 million units. The album was supported by a grueling 9-month worldwide tour taking in Europe, Australasia, and Asia. In the spring of 2002, he followed up this world tour by embarking on a 7-week live show tour across North America – a daring project but one that paid off, solidifying his name throughout the North America club scene.
In 2003 Darude released his 2nd artist album ‘Rush’. The first two singles from the album titled ‘Music’ and ‘Next to You’ went on to conquer the #1 position on various charts across Europe. In 2006, after several years on the road, Darude went back into the studio to work on his 3rd artist album, aptly titled, ‘Label This!’. Released in the fall of 2007 in Scandinavia, fall 2008 in the USA and then globally in spring 2009, the album was a melting pot of the modern sound of Darude; progressive euphoric trance, fusing elements of house and rock.
His resume of accolades is a testament to the exponential growth of his profile as an international artist. Over the years he’s appeared on TV networks such as BBC, NBC, CNN and MTV, as well as having won a number of prestigious awards that include 2 x German Dance Awards, Dance Star Award, USA Golden Turntable DJ Award and is a 3 x Finnish Grammy Award winner. His name has also appeared in numerous public-voted polls with previous entries in the Top 100 DJs Poll and Americas Favourite DJ.
With appearances globally across radio and TV, the sound of Darude has also been featured in various Hollywood movies, adverts for Nike, Playstation games and popular sports broadcasts like the America’s NFL, Ice Hockey World Championships, Wimbledon, Ultimate Fighting Championship (used by former heavyweight champion Wanderlei Silva), Euro 2000 and the 2006 Winter Olympics and video game series DJ Hero.
Hailed by the likes of DJ Magazine as “Finland’s biggest musical export”, Darude has gone on to perform in front of audiences up to 100,000 people strong, sweeping across continents and rocking clubs the world over. From appearing at prestigious festivals and events such as Tomorrowland (Belgium), LA Music Festival (US), Radio 1’s One Big Sunday (UK), Laserpoint (Finland), Groove Cruise (US) and Future Music Festival (Australia), to headlining some of the world’s best clubs including Ministry of Sound (London), Spundae (Hollywood), Rain (Las Vegas) and Government (Toronto).
In 2010 Darude and Randy Boyer announced the inception of a new electronic dance music label, EnMass Music., to be used as a platform for their own material, amassing support from spinners such as Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery, and Judge Jules. In 2011, he also unveiled his Salmiakki Sessions compilation series, which doubles as a solid reflection of his namesake radio mix show ‘Salmiakki Sessions’ which has been broadcasting bi-weekly to fans around the globe since 2005.
2015 saw the completion of Darude’s fourth artist album ‘Moments’, a new and exciting chapter in his career that showcases a range of style and influences, featuring both song-led and club-focused records, including the emotive and trancey sounds he’s become so synonymous with. The ‘Moments’ era of Darude’s career began on April 10th with the widely acclaimed first single from the album ‘Beautiful Alien’, followed by the release of the album itself on August 14th through Warner Music.
In September 2015, Darude also embarked on his ‘Moments’ tour, playing 10 dates across the US and Canada, culminating in a headline appearance at the after-party for the inaugural TwitchCon gaming and tech convention at the Bill Graham Civic Centre in San Francisco, an event which also saw an appearance from Canadian producer/DJ deadmau5. Indeed, just a week before playing the show, Darude took part in one of deadmau5’s ‘Coffee Run’ videos, which saw the pair chatting on camera while driving in deadmau5’s Lamborghini supercar. The Canadian DJ noted Darude’s almost unmatched influence on the dance music scene in North America, stating that “you (Darude) and a very select few others are responsible for the influx of electronic music into North America…it was Sandstorm – I’m totally being serious…that’s what all the clubs were hitting on. That’s the first time (electronic music) became less ‘underground and cool’…there wasn’t anything before that.”
So 15 years on from ‘Sandstorm’ and with four artist albums, one compilation, numerous awards and multiple world tours under his belt, as well as a sizzling record label to focus on, Darude’s presence in the world of electronic music remains an ever-prolific one, which continually sees him pushing the boundaries and igniting audiences around the globe.