When Melbourne-based DJ/producer Dirty South (real name Dragan Roganovic) hit the top of the Beatport charts with his current single, “City of Dreams,” he took to the water to revel in the occasion. “We were celebrating with the jet ski and having some fun the day after my show in Miami,” he tells Rolling Stone.
Though a somewhat experienced jet-skier, Roganovic wiped out. “I was doing, like, 70 miles per hour. I did a sharp turn, it threw me off and I slid onto the water. It’s like hitting concrete at that speed,” he says. “[I] broke some ribs, hurt my back real bad, spent a day in the hospital, all that fun stuff. I can’t laugh, I can’t cough, I can’t sneeze. It’s interesting, but it’s getting better.”
The accident forced him to cancel two weeks of tour dates right as the song was taking off. What should have been a frustrating experience turned positive when the song continued riding the top of the charts while Roganovic was on bed rest on painkillers. “It was funny – the song kept being number one,” he says. “I had time to watch and see what’s happening and maybe even plan a bit what’s to come, what else we can do with the song when I head back on tour. So it was kind of a good thing to have that break.”
He also used the forced respite to work: “That was kind of cool, almost like having studio time working on my laptop, while I couldn’t do anything else.”
Given that he is currently crafting songs for two projects – a new EP under the Dirty South moniker and a singer/songwriter band called Ruben Haze – the additional work time was a boon. In fact, “City of Dreams,” which features vocals by Ruben Haze frontman Rudy, was originally written for Ruben Haze, and that version will still see the light of day on a full album he hopes to have out in the next six months.
“It’s more instrumental, more singer/songwriter, sort of indie-electronic. It’s another vehicle for me, exploring and experimenting more with different types of songs,” he says. “It’s a complete body of work. I really can’t wait to show people that project as well.”
Roganovic sees himself as the architect for the band, but not necessarily a permanent part of the group. “I probably couldn’t be part of the whole touring process. I’m more of a studio person and producer behind the project. In that sense, I won’t have time to be part of it, because I’m still touring all my Dirty South stuff,” he says.
There is also new Dirty South music on the way. “I’m working on a bunch of new tracks. I don’t want to say an album, because ‘album’ is a scary word for a dance artist. You kind of need to stop for six months to do an album, and I can’t really stop touring,” he says. “So maybe it’s an EP.”
Before the new material drops, he is focused on a two-month tour, the biggest of his career, which will see him hit festivals and venues such as Roseland in New York City and the Hollywood Palladium. Though the tour is his largest in terms of dates and audiences, it won’t be a visual extravaganza, because he’s over the slick production values that have become the norm in the EDM world.
“I think that’s getting a little tiring, the LED walls and all that,” he says. “I would love to see it go back to just playing the music and people really responding to music, rather than LED shows, fireworks, smoke machines and all that. A good example is I went to see a Wolfmother concert – it was four guys with instruments and a couple of lights and the crowd was going mental. There was no production. There was just a band playing the music, and it was amazing.”