Meet: Q&A with Dirty Vegas

 With their debut release for d:vision “Let The Night” still riding high in the Italian Official Top 40 singles chart and currently signed to Capitol Music in France, Germany and the UK, Grammy award winning duo Dirty Vegas return with their new single for the label in the shape of “Setting Sun.” Poetically lovely with more than a tinge of romanticism, “Setting Sun” is an optimistic song, emotionally alluring yet compellingly danceable. We caught up with Paul Harris from the band to discuss the new album and to find out more about what’s been happening in the world of Dirty Vegas . . .  . .

It’s been 3 years since the release of your last album Electric Love. How have you been keeping busy since then, aside from producing Let The Night of course?

We’ve been touring on and off, playing some great shows and everyday other than that I can be found in the studio writing & producing for various artists.

New single “Setting Sun” is a decidedly summery and optimistic song. The album’s lead single “Let The Night” had a very similar feel-good vibe to it. Both feature infectious choruses with an undeniable nod to pop. Is that the prevailing sentiment/sound of this record? Are you feeling optimistic?

Feeling happy yes, for sure. Myself, I’m a sucker for good pop music so that can’t be helped. We have actually recorded all the songs for the album now (well, we keep on writing), and yes they seem to have the same vibe. We just need to finish them now.

It’s over 13 years since you released “Days Go By.” It must feel like a lifetime ago now. Let The Night is set to be the bands 6th official release. In what way would you say the band’s sound has evolved in that time? 

We started out as a band making house music and we’re still a band making house/electronic. I don’t think much has changed since the first record. It’s just the scene has had a full circle around us.

Technology has evolved exponentially since you started out as a band. Limited possibility has been replaced by almost limitless possibility with the evolution of DAW’s in the last decade. Has this been a help or hinderance in how you approach record making now and do you ever feel too much choice can be counterproductive? Do you miss the print-and-be-damned approach that came with having limited options?

All of the above! Of course it’s amazing to have all these tools, plug-ins and much, MUCH faster computers. But you’re right! Too much choice does make the process longer too. Another big advantage is the internet speed , when we started dial-up was the best you could get. Now I can work with Steve (Smith, vocals) via Skype.

UK dance producer Simon Duffy was heavily involved with mixing the Electric Love record. Who was given the reigns this time around?

Simon’s back again! He gets the sound we’re after, that hybrid of dance & rock/pop. We might look at somebody different for a track or two but mostly it’s Simon . . . He’s part of the team!

Do you like to sit in on the mixes or do you enjoy the freedom that comes with paying someone you trust to do it? 

If you trust someone let them do their job first. Then maybe go to the studio to make the extra tweaks/edits needed.

You’re a DJ when you’re not busy with Dirty Vegas. No doubt that helps to keep you well apprised of rising dance floor trends and genres. Is there ever a temptation to respond to them in an obvious way when writing new songs? Or is  doing your own thing always going to be a far more important and, dare I say rewarding approach when applied to the band?

Dirty Vegas making an EDM record . . . It just wouldn’t be or sound right! It’s not who we were or who we are. We just try to make a Dirty Vegas record. It’s great that the old house sound is coming back around again though. It wouldn’t be a bad thing getting on that vibe. M1 pianos never sounded better!!

It’s probably fair to say that a brilliantly written song is one that stands up on its own, even without all the production smoke and mirrors. With the obvious exception of out-and-out electronic tracks like “Throwing Shapes” are all DV tracks approached in this traditional song-writing way? Does the essence of a brilliant track have to be there before the studio wizardry is applied? 

Yes, historically most of the DV songs were written acoustically and as of late all of them are written that way.  We just want them to be great songs. But I’d have to admit these days you need both a great song AND great production.

You’ve worked with Ben Harris (no relation) from as far back as your Hydrogen Rockers days, recruiting Steve along the way to evolving into Dirty Vegas. Has he had any involvement in this record and can you tell us why he left the band?

It’s a shame but after we’d finished touring Electric Love Ben just seemed to have had enough of being on the road. He’d also started an internet music company called Pulse Locker which he wanted to commit more time to. Of course the door is always open for Ben to come back . . . . And he knows that!

Has having one less creative force/opinion you trust within the DV ranks affected your approach to making this record?

It’s perhaps made us go in a slightly more Pop direction with the songs i would say and i guess I’m the reason behind that.

Can we expect a tour off the release of Let The Night and if so can we expect to see a full band line-up? With rhythm section??

Yes and yes . . . We’ve been doing a few live shows and once we have the album done we’ll be doing a proper live tour. There’s usually 3 or 4 of us on stage and whatever happens we always have a drummer when we play live!

More importantly, can we expect to see any Irish dates in the schedule? 

Let’s hope!

You’ve been together as a band for a long time now . . . How difficult has it been to keep Dirty Vegas sounding current, attracting new fans, staying  faithful to existing fans while perhaps most importantly of all, keeping things interesting for yourselves?

I guess we’re always trying to sound current . . . . But without compromising the original DV sound too much. Making music is ALWAYS interesting!

And on a personal level, if you could work with any producer/vocalist combo in the world right now who would it be and why? (we won’t tell Steve!)

Far far too many to mention. But off the top of my head . . . . anyone from Pharrell (Yeah boring i know!), Joris Voorn (love his productions!), Classixx, RAC, HAIM, Jessie Ware, Lana Del Rey  . . Do you want me to carry on??

Brian Higgins of Xenomania Productions said recently that there wasn’t much money to be made from song-writing anymore and that the biggest revenue streams for pop acts were in touring . . . worrying for any out-and-out songwriters out there trying to break into the business. Coming from a dance background, how difficult is it staying afloat purely from a band perspective?

Being a writer, producer, DJ etc . . . . It’s completely true! I’ve had some (I guess) hit records in the charts with various other artist. But what some DJ’s earn in a weekend is more than a hit single would make in the UK. It’s just the way the music world is now. It’s becoming much, much harder for the writer to earn good money.

A new video for upcoming single “Setting Sun” is in the pipeline. Some of your previous videos have featured, I think it’s fair to say, beautiful looking women with Helena Christensen (Simple Things Pt.2) and Jena Malone (Electric Love) both making cameos. May I ask, who from the band is put in charge of casting and can we expect to see any more gorgeous women in videos releases from Let The Night?

HA! The video has actually just been done and yes, there’s a lovely looking women in it i must admit . . . . This video was made by the Surrender Monkeys and it’s a very fun video. We like videos that have a great little story. AND that make you smile. This one does that!

You’ve always been very good at giving a nod to artists you like by giving them a chance to remix your work. I’m going to put you on the spot and ask you for your favorite remix of new single “Setting Sun.”

Fuck . . . Far too many to mention. But seeing as though his mix was the first one to come in and blow me away I’m going to have to say Grum’s. That mix is special!

And finally, what’s next for the Dirty Vegas boys?

Trying to finish this album!


About the author:

Nicky Dempsey is a freelance music producer and composer. For further musings on all-things-music feel free to follow him on any of the following platforms:



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