Up until now, Mayo-based electronic music producer Dustin Fraser has stuck to relatively local gigs, with sets at the Whitehorse-area Paradise Electronic Music Festival and a resident DJ title at an Edmonton club under his belt. He’s also friends with fellow DJ and producer Alan Walker and been backstage with him, with Walker playing two of Fraser’s songs during a performance at Edmonton’s Northern Lights Music Festival.
Not bad, for a 22-year-old from a town with a population of 200. But in about a month, Fraser, who performs under the name Dustin Miles, will be hopping on a plane and heading out of the country — and out of the continent — for his biggest show yet.
He’s heading to Oslo, Norway, where, at the end of April, he’ll be playing two 45-minute sets at the Tryvann Festival in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 attendees.
“Right now, I’m still kind of shocked,” Fraser said in a phone interview earlier this month. “I’ve never left North America before … It’s not like playing Arts in the Park in Mayo, you know?”
Fraser said the opportunity to play the festival, which is part of an annual celebration for Norwegian high school students in their final semesters called “russefeiring,” came via a friend he’d met through producing and who works for Tryvann.
“Out of the blue, I’d say about four months ago, he just asked me, ‘Hey, what would you think about playing this festival in April?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure, that’d be fine.’ Like, I didn’t think they were going to book me,” Fraser said. “Two months later … I got an email from his manager saying that they wanted to book me, they’re going to fly me up there and they really like my music and stuff, so I was like, totally flabbergasted — just like, I’m from Mayo, right?”
“This is actually my first time playing any festival like that,” he added. “I’ve tried to get a spot in Canada, but I guess it didn’t really work out that way.”
Though he’s carved out a space for himself in electronic dance music, Fraser said his musical roots actually lie in “old-style country songs” and playing the acoustic guitar, which his dad taught him when he was six.
“I tried creating a band when I got a little older, but being in Mayo, there’s not a lot of kids or people here, you know? Especially to find enough kids who have the same passion or drive to want to make a band, so I always just jammed by myself,” he said.
His introduction to electronic music came when he discovered French duo Daft Punk’s first album, Homework.
“(I heard that) really catchy bassline and I was like, ‘That’s cool,’ and I started Googling stuff like, ‘How to make electronic music, dance music, house music,’” Fraser said. He taught himself how to use the audio workstation program FL Studio and found his new hobby gradually taking over all of his free time.
“Before, I didn’t know what my passion was,” Fraser said. “This is the only thing I’ve really done and enjoyed and am able to do and not get bored of it, so I just kept on going for five, six years and I didn’t start to try to get famous or anything, I just started because I wanted to know how to make this type of music.”
The Tryvann booking was perfect timing, arriving as Fraser said he’s trying to transition from composing and producing music for others to making music for himself and taking on more of an artist’s role.
Part of that was triggered by the success of a song he composed, mixed, mastered and produced for the artist ALIUS, called “Nobody Can Hear You.” The song has more than 1.7 million views on YouTube and hundreds of thousands of plays on streaming services, but although Fraser is given proper credit in the notes, his name isn’t exactly visible when someone, for example, checks out the song on Spotify.
He’s been releasing his own music on Spotify, Soundcloud and iTunes, putting out his his latest single, “On My Own,” in February, a collaboration with singer K.O. that Fraser described as a “very personal track.” He also has an upcoming collaboration with fellow producer and DJ Kenn Colt where they’ll be creating a “revamped” version of “Fever” by Peggy Lee.
“We’re going to try and make it into a modern (version), but still jazzy, kind of burlesque-type vibe to it, still dance and house vibe,” he said.
On top of trying to create his own sound as an artist — he’s tentatively settled on a new-disco type style, influenced by listening to Daft Punk early on — Fraser said he’s also hoping to improve his live show, too.
“What I’m still working on now is being able to read the crowd.… And another thing is just, be comfortable behind the decks, because sometimes it can be pretty daunting and I think sometimes I think I get a little bit nervous, especially if I’m not aware what crowd I’m playing for.
“It’s something I’m still working on — interacting with the crowd is key. Just make it look like you’re having a good time, like, have a good time, enjoy yourself, don’t worry, people are there to just enjoy the music, you know?”
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com