You wouldn't think that, having dominated the international dance scene for nigh on a decade, the Dutch DJ elite like Tiësto, Ferry Corsten and Armin van Buuren would really be suffering from what their fellow countryman Dash Berlin calls "an inferiority complex". "It's a small country, barely visible on a map, so that might be behind our drive," he laughs.
"But the truth is that even though our country is small, our individual dreams have all been big and we all have a matching work ethic." Signed to van Buuren's Armada label, and with a recent remix of Corsten in the box, Dash Berlin has now fully risen into their ranks. His artist name might be a tribute to the German capital, where a young Jeffrey Sutorious span at Love Parade in 1999 - "Seeing all those thousands of people dancing in the street made a deep impression on me" he recalls - but the sound he exhibited on 2009's 'The New Daylight' album and this year's follow-up '#musicislife' couldn't be more Dutch if it came clad in clogs; all bombastic breakdowns, epic trance riffs and vocals that don't so much tug at the heartstrings as ping them around like yo-yos. And the first half of his moniker is far from misleading, since 'dash' is exactly what he has been doing between over 30 countries this year, playing to thousands at festivals like Ultra and Global Gathering, with untold others tuning in online.
"The internet has connected most of the world now, which can create these amazing snowball effects," he says. "When I DJ in New York for example, somebody in Egypt might be listening to the live feed. People are sharing music like never before, which can really catapult things." It was the worldwide web that inspired '#musicislife' - whose title, Dash explains, came from "the twitter hashtag that people starting using a lot after I tweeted it one day, when referring to this feeling, so it felt right to choose it as the album title, it's a dedication to them". There's still plenty to get those hardcore fans reaching for the lasers on '#musicislife', but with vocal collaborations such as with Australian singer Emma Hewitt on recent single 'Disarm Yourself', it sounds as if Dash is now eyeing up mainstream radio play as well, although the man himself begs to differ. "I worked on "#musicislife" for over a year with my co-producers Molijn and Kalberg," he explains. "In the studio we always had my DJ sets in mind, stuff that would work on a dancefloor.
That is where the music comes to life, mainstream radio doesn't play it. People share my sets online, because they enjoy the music, not because some big time marketing budget forces it down their throats. So, in that sense it is still as underground as popular music can be. If the music somehow attracts a more mainstream audience I consider it a compliment, because it happened in an organic way.
The intention behind the music is pure." He also sees any distinctions between 'trance' and 'EDM' as equally redundant as notions of 'mainstream' and 'underground.' "All music genres are branches from the same tree," he believes. "Instead of focusing on the superficial differences that divide us, I prefer to focus on the fundamental things that unite us. It's like the white light that comes from the sun, all possible colour combinations are hiding in it. Some like the colour red and some like the colour blue, but we all share the same light." And it keeps Dash Berlin growing and growing.