We caught up with Ardalan to chat about the journey he took in creating Mr. Good, the impact that the Dirtybird Family has made on him, and more!
Originally from Tehran, Iran, Ardalan has come a long way both personally and professionally. He started attending Dirtybird parties when he was just 17 and now twelve years later he can count himself as a full-fledged member of the flock. Over the years he’s learned so much about himself and truly gained an understanding of the kind of support that exists within the Dirtybird community.
His mixes and remixes are known for their energy and snappy samples, bringing a fresh perspective to the tracks he creates. Just two years ago he was releasing his EP, All Night Long on Justin Jay’s Fantastic Voyage label. Flash forward to this year where he’s completed a couple of tours, released quite a few singles, and just completed his debut album Mr. Good. He is intentional in the tracks he creates, wanting to ensure that his music can be enjoyed in the comfort of your living room as well as freeing you to get down on the dance floor.
We caught up with Ardalan last month to chat about his latest album and so much more. Take a listen to Mr. Good on Spotify below, download or stream it on your favorite platform, and read on for the full interview!
Stream Ardalan – Mr. Good on Spotify:
You have your debut album arriving in November, Mr. Good, and it sees you taking over complete creative freedom as you tell your story through music. Can you explain how therapeutic this has been for you and what kind of pressure does a project of this magnitude bring on?
You know honestly, I think, in the sense of therapeutic, it was a really stressful time actually. In some ways, that’s therapeutic because through pressure you get so much stuff done. This album was really like a learning experience for me as well as an artist. I learned how making decisions is so important in terms of what you want in a song.
Usually, I’m the type of person that’s extremely ADD, I just love ideas after ideas after ideas and I overthink it so much that I’ll never finish anything. So the pressure of having or finishing an album for Dirtybird was such a big deal because obviously there’s so much amazing stuff coming out of the label. Actually that part of it, the fact that Dirtybird, gave me creative freedom like they do with every artist.
I started working on the album, probably around Dirtybird Campout back in 2017 at Bradley. The song “Warped Soul” was the first song I made and we were going to do an EP but then I ended up thinking to myself, “you know what? I need new pressure, I need new something to push me to my limit.” So we decided to do an album. Barclay told me, “if you want to make an album, you should make 100 loops over the next 100 days,” something like that. I was like okay, and I did that and from there I started making more music and I was collecting a lot of hardware gear as well.
Yeah experimenting and at the same time, the pressure of wanting to have something that sounds really good on the dance floor but also having that emotion or emotional musical listening experience. The album basically is a dance floor album but I also wanted it to be a listening album.
The way it worked out for me is that people can experience it in their own way. Basically that’s how the single, “I Can’t Wait,” came together. Basically I was working on the track “Mr. Good” for so long because I felt that was gonna be the single and after that, I was like “wow, I have like three weeks, a month left to finish this album.” I have to turn it in in a month and I had to move out in a month as well.
That’s a lot of compounding pressure.
Literally all of it came together and it was such an amazing experience I felt like, just being uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone makes you do things in such incredible ways. That now that I’m thinking about it and I’m all settled in, I’m like, “Wow, how did I do that?”
But “I Can’t Wait” came together basically with my girlfriend. God bless her, because she put up with me for so long, while I was working on the album. Basically she was saying, “I can’t wait for you finish your fucking album” and I was like “wait, babe…” because after I finished “Mr. Good,” I was saying, “I don’t know what I can do,” and I need a really good response to that, and she was like, “I can’t wait any longer, let’s go watch Game of Thrones.”
So that’s basically how the track came together and it’s beautiful in the sense that this album is really really just completely me. I used my friends, people that are my friends on it, and I sang on it for the first time. I put myself in a lot of uncomfortable situations and in some ways, it really helped me. I’m still feeling… it’s weird, expressing yourself as an artist but I’m also really shy.
It’s a very vulnerable place to be.
Yes, exactly, that’s a great way to put it. It’s been crazy, man. It’s been a roller coaster ride. I finally moved and now the album is coming together. And this Campout is going to be like the biggest moment ever for me.
Working so closely with the Dirtybird brand has undoubtedly helped to mold you as an artist. What are some things that the Dirtybird fam has taught you along the way and how have you translated that into your new album?
Humbleness and being completely friendly. It’s such a great culture they’ve created that’s for a new generation of people just like myself. I’m 29 right now and I’ve been going to Dirtybird parties since I was 17 and it changed so much for me. It taught me how to be so open and also just being friendly with everyone and just enjoying it. Being a part of the crowd not just being a part of the other side. Because I just love to be hanging out with people, doing all the activities, and even just being on the dance floor. Dirtybird really taught me, this is what it’s all about. Enjoying your time, playing music.
This place of all places reminds you that it’s okay to be weird.
Exactly and everyone’s so accepting and there are so many different types of music in the sense of what you can do and I feel like Dirtybird has really given me the freedom of not just doing one thing. Not only just making music but also inspiring me in other ways from other artists on Dirtybird.
The idea to promote your album at Dirtybird Campout with a Mardi Gras parade is probably one of the coolest ideas ever. How did you come up with this idea and what kind of logistics went into its planning?
You know actually the people that came up with it were from Unitea and I just completely forgot their names. They created the mask for me and they presented it at Space two weeks ago when I played there. I wore the mask while I was DJing for a little bit too.
So it was their idea and when they told me about it, I was like “holy shit, this is awesome.” So what we’re doing is at 5:30pm we’re gonna have a chariot-like floatie. I’m just going to be DJing on it – it’ll be like an album listening party and we’re going to have 200 masks and beads. So it’s like a mixture of Halloween masquerade party with Mardi Gras with me and everyone else. They made the mask and created this idea and I’m so stoked, it was such a cool idea. So I gotta hand it to them, once I remember their names.
Over the years Dirtybird Campout has become one of the most renowned festivals to attend in North America. What do you feel makes this experience stand out from others?
There are just so many fun things to do. The activities make you feel like you’re a kid again obviously, but like at an adult camp. Obviously it’s so amazing to listen to music for three days straight, that’s so awesome, but if you ever want to take a break there are so many other activities, just so many different things from dodgeball to sack racing or even soccer at night. We played glow in the dark soccer, that’s what I did last night and it was amazing.
Besides that, I just love how there’s different team energy. Different teams, different colors, cheerleaders, it’s kind of like a dream actually. You know you always have these weird dreams where there’s so much crazy shit happening but also so fun and you’re like, “man I wished this happened,” and it’s happening and it’s happening on the West Coast and I don’t think there’s anything like that anywhere in the world as crazy as that is.
Coming from the Bay Area, this location is super awesome and having everyone come from around the world and all over the US and bringing their own experience. I think people leave wanting more and obviously Dirtybird responds to all the fans and what everyone wants. So everyone I think is making this happen. It’s kind of like… I don’t know how to describe it but…
It’s a community.
Yeah, it’s a whole community. It’s its own thing. It’s like a giant monster of fun.
Since forging your relationship with Dirtybird at the 2007 BBQ to rocking the Birdhouse stage in the present day, what are some of the major changes that you have seen happen within the brand?
With the campout? Obviously the locations. I think the fact that Dirtybird has been able to pull it off, it’s honestly insane. It takes so many people to get this going. So many logistics, so much creativeness, working together and working through differences. So I think what’s changed is that it just keeps getting better.
It’s become this thing. This is its sixth year and it’s become a staple and it just keeps getting better and better. It’s nice that they’ve had new locations and I love the fact that there’s water. For me the most important thing is water and it’s honestly the Bingo Disco that’s been happening is just crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it. I kind of wish that I could do this weekend about five more times so that I could do everything else.
The last time we spoke was back in 2017 ahead of your EP All Night Long. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist since then?
I’ve definitely grown by releasing an album now so I think that’s definitely been a big achievement that I’ve unlocked. I never thought I could pull it off, but I hope people love it. I hope they like it. Since then I’ve been touring a lot and also just living my dream.
With your album finalized and having played plenty of sets this year, have you given thought to what goals you have for the future? What’s next for Ardalan?
Oh, so much more. Now I want to do a lot more and I’m making more music now than ever. I want to make some new bootlegs and edits. I’m actually going to do some more Persian inspired music with electronic music. Bring something more from that side of my background into it. So that’s probably going to be the next thing I’m going to work on more. I mean, I did put some on the album but I feel like there’s more to explore.
And you’re more comfortable with it now.
Yeah, exactly so that pressure’s gone. Now that I’ve moved to my new place, I’m building my new studio as we’re speaking. So yeah, new music, doing more stuff with Escapade. So new music with the Walker & Royce guys. It’s awesome, so we’re doing more of that next year. We’re also doing more Ardy Parties and more Mr. Good album tour. Yeah so it’s insane, it’s awesome
Finally, what’s your favorite indulgence food?
Kabobs and rice. Kabobs all day! I love it, with yogurt. It’s Persian food basically. I just love Kabob’s all day yo. With the rice and the saffron and the grilled tomato and butter. Basically something you definitely don’t want to eat right before you go DJ.