Comedy Club: Dada Life
The Swedish electro house duo has been laughing all the way to the top of EDM’s elite performance acts
A Swedish electro house duo named after a 20th century European art movement? A gig rider that includes bananas and champagne; track names that parody the scene they belong to (‘Happy Violence’, ‘Kick Out the Epic Motherfucker’, ‘White Noise / Red Meat’) and a marketing campaign that includes the creation of a fictitious sovereign nation (Dada Land): Scandinavian duo Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom aka Dada Life bring a punk aesthetic to the EDM scene like few before them. And they´ve gone about their business with swagger and style, which Indian fans can sample at Submerge’s Dada Land India tour this month.
When they announced the creation of Dada Land, they followed it up with dashing off letters to embassies across the world (getting their passports confiscated by Swedish authorities in the process). They’ve broken the Guinness Record for the world’s biggest pillow fight and invited a full marching band to play with them on stage at Las Vegas’s Electric Daisy Carnival in 2011. ROLLING STONE India caught up with Corneer, one half of Dada Life in an email interview, where he chatted about all things Dada.
Tell me about your time playing in punk bands.
I played guitar and sang lead vocals. Let’s call it singing anyway. Sometimes I just jumped up and down with the guitar and a screw driver and made noise. I loved Sonic Youth. And I still love them. Dada Life is punk. Period. If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it.
Considering the bleak Swedish winters, you’ll both seem blessed with a great sense of humour.
When we started Dada Life the scene was so stiff. All these pretending-to-be-cool-DJs wearing sunglasses in the press pictures. We started Dada Life to do the exact opposite of what all the other DJs did. Now everybody is having more fun. Just look around, every other DJ is clowning around these days. That’s great. People should take themselves less seriously. I mean, that doesn’t mean that you can´t be serious about what you do. Which we are. Dead serious.
The Dada Life bananas and champagne logo is a potent phallic symbol.
The phallic symbol was completely unintentional. We made hundreds of revisions with the French designer who came up with the logo. And when we ﬁnally nailed it, we were so happy that we just moved on. It wasn’t until later – when it was already in use – that someone mentioned that it looked like two dicks. We never thought about it!
Your song titles are pretty “epic”.
It’s funny that you mention the titles, because we have always thought that if were to win an award – like a Grammy or so – we want the prize for best lyrics. We work really hard with the lyrics. Even when it’s just one line. I mean, in a way, it´s even more important when the lyrics are so short!
It’s been eight years since you’ll first met at a chilli cook-off in 2006. What are some of the things you’ll love and hate about each other?
A lot of things! We work really well together in the studio – which is probably also the reason why we’re still doing this. We have different attitudes and like different part of the creative process, so we match each other perfectly. Hate? When it comes to studio work we can argue for hours about where a note should end, or the swing of a hi-hat. And when it comes to touring, we just keep to ourselves most of the time so we don’t start ﬁghting. We even had separate buses on one tour.
How did you’ll end up breaking the record for the world´s biggest pillow fight?
We had been doing pillow ﬁghts for a while before the world record, but only with a few hundred pillows. Then we started thinking: how many do you need to break the world record? It started as a simple thought, but in the end was so complicated. On the show day three trucks showed up and we had to rent a fork lift. It took a few hours for 20-30 people just to unpack the 5,000 pillows. And after the show there show there was around half a metre of pillow ﬂuff all over that huge theatre (at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago and had 3,813 participants.)!”
Are you familiar with the Indian scene or Indian food?
We’re not familiar with the dance music scene in India so we’re really looking forward to our visit. It’s always amazing to travel to new places and have a show. It doesn’t matter if it’s a part of the US we’ve never played – as we did in Idaho last month – or a complete new country. We’ll see about the Indian food. You know we have a rule about no BBQ before our shows? I have a feeling that rule goes for Indian food too…All those spices and then jumping up and down for hours? Hmm.
Dada Land India Tour:
June 6th, 2014
Royal Orchid Hotel, Bengaluru
June 7th, 2014
I Kandy, New Delhi
June 8th, 2014
Kitty Su, Mumbai
Entry: Rs 2420 onwards
Tickets available here.