Written by Matt Kalkhoff
Remember all those great mixes of your favorite songs you heard at the club last weekend — and probably lots of others you didn’t recognize but loved anyway? There’s a very good chance Dave Audé had something to do with many of them, either as producer, or, if you’re lucky, as the live DJ himself. From Madonna to Rihanna to Gaga, it’s the rare diva who hasn’t benefited from Audé’s dance floor treatment.
With such an impressive discography of chart-topping hits spanning the past decade and a half, and our community’s longstanding embrace of his production prowess, it’s hard to believe that it was just last year that Audé (pronounced “Ah-Day”) headlined his first major gay event. Many more followed. If you thought that was a big year for the prolific Grammy award-winning songwriter/producer/DJ, just wait until you hear what he has in store for 2012.
Based in Los Angeles, Audé started out back when there were just two types of dance music: House and techno. “I grew up playing keyboards,” he recalls of the ‘80s, “always believing that one day I would be the keyboard player in Journey or some similar group.” While pop and rock were early influences for the aspiring musician, it wasn’t until one fateful night in 1991 at the L.A. club Truth that Audé found the puzzle’s final missing piece: House music. With new friend and business partner Steve Levy (whom he met that same night), Audé founded Moonshine Music and built a studio that helped launch the careers of many notable contemporaries, perhaps most famously DJ Keoki.
“Moonshine was at the forefront of DJ culture,” he proudly notes. “This was before today’s ‘DJ explosion,’ before guys like Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, and Tiësto had really come on the scene. So my career was really born out of the underground club and rave scene of the early ‘90s.” Audé wrote and produced Keoki’s first (and only) two albums, catapulting the club kid-cum-Party Monster to superstar DJ status. Two years after Moonshine folded in 2004, Audé launched a new venture, Audacious Records, “as a way to put out my own music without having to rely on another label or major one, just to get my music out there for people to listen to; as an avenue to release Dave Audé stuff.”
One #1 After Another
Often working up to 14 hours a day in the studio, there has been quite a lot of material to release in recent years. In addition to remixing everyone and her fierce diva sister, Audé has had four original productions on his new label; hit Number One on the Billboard charts; and won a 2010 Grammy for his remix of Dean Coleman’s “I Want You” (featuring DCLA). Of the latter, he calls it “a crazy song I didn’t think anybody knew about. It was a great remix, but wasn’t a particularly popular song.” Somehow, he manages to find time to spend with his Gretchen and two baby boys. Oh yes: plus a Saturday night remix show on SiriusXM BPM with fellow superstars Bob Sinclar and David Guetta.
About those remixes … Audé boasts an amazing resumé. He’s shepherded 74 records to Billboard’s top dance chart spot thus far. In 2011, he estimates he “only” had 13 or 14. In 2010, he had 18; the year before, 19. “So I’m slowing down a bit,” he jokes. While most of these have been commissioned remixes, Audé has placed more than a few original productions at the top, including 2010’s infectious floor-filler, “Figure It Out,” featuring Isha Coco.
Isha Coco is the pseudonym sometimes used by Audé’s good friend and songwriting partner, Luciana Caporaso, with whom he penned (and she ultimately performed) the infamous “I’m Still Hot,” another chart-topper which boasts the unique twist of featuring none other than an 89-year-old Betty White on both the single and, perhaps more famously, the video.
“I actually wrote it for a Playboy centerfold,” he admits. “A sort of tongue-in-cheek ‘Barbie Girl’ type song for a girl who couldn’t really sing, wasn’t really interested in having a music career.” So he reworked the lyrics with Luciana, and in what Audé fondly recalls as “just one of those great moments in life,” hooked up with (still very hot!) Betty White and filmed the video. It went viral, hit Number One, and resulted in Audé eventually meeting the Golden Girl, a cherished experience he likens to working with Sting a few years prior.
More Original Songwriting
Perhaps it was inevitable that the big gay promoter-producers would come calling. Among the first was legendary Circuit party impresario Jeffrey Sanker, who invited Audé to headline his signature event, the White Party Palm Springs, in 2010. Audé will be back in April spinning what is perhaps the world’s largest Tea Dance on Easter Sunday for Sanker and thousands of desert-worshipping revelers. “I’m bringing along a huge, huge artist I’ve worked with, and that’s all I’m going to say,” he (semi-)reveals. He’s also played Gay Pride events around the country, and one of the spookiest gigs imaginable: a Halloween party benefitting L.A.’s Gay & Lesbian Center staged at the Hollywood Cemetery.
Audé is certainly best known for his relentless remix work. He’s “worked with everybody that I’ve wanted to work with.” He even turned down a request from Mariah Carey solely because it was a Christmas song, something he had no interest in doing. Now, he’s looking forward to doing much more songwriting with Luciana, Gypsy Woman Crystal Waters, and other new artists. He just finished songs with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Nadia Ali, Lazonate Franklin (co-writer of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”) and Australian electronic duo The Nervo Twins. He also plans to release a new album of original material sometime in 2012.
Audé credits producers like “Mutt” Lange, Erasure’s Vince Clarke, Stuart Price, and Axwell from Swedish House Mafia as heavy influences. In return, he believes in helping others kick-start their own careers. In order to give everyone a fair chance, he decided to host a remix contest on Audacious Records. “I don’t have time to listen to all this stuff you guys are throwing at me,” he told his fans. “So let’s do a remix contest.” He offered “Something for the Weekend,” co-written with Luciana.
At the end of each 14-hour day, Audé counts his blessings, having made it in a profession where few achieve success, let alone making a living wage. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he proclaims. “I’m very fortunate to have found a way to make money doing something that I love. I’ve got lots of work, people calling me every day to work on their stuff, and a beautiful family. I can’t really ask for much more — except maybe for two more of me, so I could do even more music.”