“Check That List” Shows Talent Agent-Turned-DJ Dark Heart Has Arrived

A career change is a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. But, to go from Hollywood talent agent to up-and-coming DJ, it’s a nail-biter that has you on your seat every moment.

Dark Heart made this move a few years ago, leaving the movie industry and representing talent behind to pursue his dreams of music. Since then, leading producers like Diplo, Calvin Harris, and Tiesto have championed his success, and his works have received over 130 million streams. 

Continuing that progression, he dropped the single “Check That List” featuring vocals from Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Bipolar Sunshine. He pairs this output with lighthearted commentary on the music industry through his social channels.

These add to a list of original releases for Spinnin’ Records, Solotoko, Thrive, Repopulate Mars, Tomorrowland Music, Selected, Musical Freedom, Electronic Nature, Smash The House, Dharma, NCS, Circus Records, and Proximity and remixes for GASHI, Ocean Wisdom, and Dizzee Rascal.

What made you change careers from being a Hollywood talent agent to making music?

To make a long story short, I felt that my true calling was to be a musician and creative. I loved being an agent, it’s one of the most fun jobs in the world. It was hard to step away and start over. But I knew the cost of doing it would be far less than the cost of not doing it and wondering “What if…”

At a certain point, I could see what the next 10 years looked like if I stayed in my old career, and I didn’t want that. My gut instinct was telling me I was creative, and it was right. 

Tell us about your musical background: How did you start producing and making music?

I started it as a hobby when I was in college. I used to promote shows for rappers and DJs in the Midwest, and I just sort of did it on the side. I continued to do it as a hobby throughout my career, but I was never really great at it until I threw myself into it full-time. 

When I was growing up, I took piano lessons but was never any good. I also tried guitar and couldn’t do that, either. I also can’t sing. I really have no technical training to speak of – I’ve just spent a lot of time in Ableton, and I know what I like. 

How would you describe your sound?

Expensive, boner-inducing melodic house music

As an artist, who or what influences you?

My new music is very much inspired by classical music and movie soundtracks. One artist who I am constantly inspired is Colin Stetson because his talent and creativity are simply unmatched.

I always go back to classical music when I am feeling uninspired. There are so many movements in each composition, and it sort of psychologically tricks me into thinking it’s less work to make a full song. 

I also like going through presets in different synths to find something that gets me inspired. Once I hear a sound that I like, I try to create a motif to build the song. 

What was your inspiration or influence behind “Check That List”?

Old school rave music and Bipolar Sunshine. We made it from scratch that day in the studio. 

How did you and Bipolar Sunshine end up collaborating together?

I don’t know who set us up in the studio that day, but we had never met before and neither of us had any ideas going in. We started talking about what vibe we wanted to create, and we found the lead rave-y synth.

From there, we just started messing around, and Adio (Bipolar Sunshine) almost immediately was inspired to write the hook. By the time we left the studio, the song was mostly done. A few tweaks later, and we had what you hear now. 

You’ve received support from Diplo, Calvin Harris, and Tiesto. How does this feel for you as an artist?

I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of support from big DJs, and for me, it never gets old. I have a lot of respect for those guys, and it means a lot to have their stamp of approval. It’s also a good reminder to keep going. It’s kind of funny how this business works.

DJs usually don’t tell you when they’re going to play your music, so usually, I end up getting a video from someone saying, “Hey, is this your song?” It’s also surreal to see songs I made being played to people in countries all over the world – many places I’ve never been but my music has. 

You also take a unique approach to social media, poking fun at the music industry at times. What made you opt to use your channel for this purpose?

I was actually shocked at how well those did. The music industry is an easy target. There are a lot of ridiculous business practices and generally frustrating interactions that occur all the time. Might as well make fun of it. Also, I’m not the type of person to take this too seriously. We’re making music – not doing heart surgery. 

Funnily enough, I have both artists and music industry people approach me at shows and studio sessions all the time about my stupid TikToks and Instagram. I didn’t think they would get shared around the business as much as they did. Hopefully, the labels that I was making fun of have a sense of humor – haha. 

What do you have planned for the rest of the year, either new music, performances, or touring?

I have a massive pile of new IDs that we’re scheduling right now, many of which are already being played out by DJs that you’ve heard of. Trying to get the release dates locked is like doing a puzzle, except the puzzle is really stressful and impacts your daily life. All of that stress will be worth it, though. The music I am sitting on now is easily the best I have ever made, and I can’t wait to share it. 

As far as the live side goes, I had to take a bit of time off from shows, as I had a pretty intense surgery in early February. I’m fine now, but I just couldn’t perform for a bit. That said, I may or may not be doing a show this Saturday at Exchange LA…

Writer

Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.

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