How ACRAZE broke the internet with viral hit 'Do It To It'

DJ, producer and songwriter Charlie Duncker, better known as ACRAZE, recently sat down for a chat with Headliner to reflect on the viral success of his 2021 hit Do It To It, his creative process when it comes to production, and his latest single Take Me Away, which samples Natasha Bedingfield’s pop banger Pocketful of Sunshine

When Duncker released his house anthem Do It To It during the height of the pandemic, nothing could have prepared him for the mass hysteria that would ensue. While music lovers were hard pressed to hear the track in any kind of live environment at the time, it set the dance and pop worlds alight with its pulsating bassline and nostalgic vocal hook. Incredibly, the track has now clocked up over 12 billion combined streams – a figure that seems to rise exponentially two whole years later. It’s more than fair to say that it’s a true club banger for the ages.

“I made that song just as a club record, like all the other ones I was making at the time, and had no intention of it being big at all,” Duncker reveals as he joins Headliner over Zoom. “I first played it when I opened up for Tchami going into the 2021 New Year, and the club just went crazy. The next day I woke up to like 600 DMs asking about the record, at which point I knew it was going to be big, but didn’t know how big. I started sending it to other DJs, and then DJ Snake brought me out at the Brooklyn Mirage and named it the song of the summer. And the crazy part is that it wasn’t even summer!”

Now the biggest weapon in every one of his sets, Duncker admits that, “it was crazy how it all unfolded, and now I'm just trying to make some crazier stuff.”

Do It To It’s popularity reached even greater heights when fellow DJ Zedd created a Squid Game mashup of the song, fusing elements with the seminal theme tune of the hit Netflix series which garnered similar viral popularity around the same time.

“Zedd hit me up during EDC on the day he was flying there, and asked if he could use the song as his intro,” Duncker recalls. “I was curious to see how he would do that because the track is quite long and suspenseful, but when he ended up doing the Squid Game version I was so pleasantly surprised. I was actually all the way over the other side of the festival when he played his set, but I saw the fireworks from afar, and two minutes later my manager sent me the video. I just knew it was gonna go crazy on the internet, and that’s exactly what it did.”

As the live touring world started to find its feet again in 2022, Duncker used it as his chance to play as many gigs as he could – racking up a staggering 160 plus shows that included his first Ultra and Tomorrowland, and a huge performance at the PSG Stadium with DJ Snake.

More recently, Duncker dropped a new single Take Me Away, a song which had been in the works for almost two years, as he reveals:

“I couldn't figure out a drop for it for the longest time, and I was close to giving up on it. But then I did that show with DJ Snake at the PSG Stadium and I needed a new intro, so I thought I’d try something new and made this crazy drop for the opening, and then that became the second drop for Take Me Away. So that was where I got the inspiration to finish it and I worked on it pretty much all year.

“I try to look for those big moments in pop songs,” he adds. “There’s the part in Pocketful of Sunshine when Natasha’s screaming 'take me away', and I thought that would sound crazy in a house song – I was surprised no one had done it yet. I really love that record; I used to listen to it in the shower when I was a kid! And I’m always looking for samples that nobody has done yet.”

When it comes to creating a track, Duncker says he usually starts with a top line or vocal, and builds a beat around it. On the flip, sometimes it starts with a beat and then he adds in a sample – “I usually have all these beats just laying around, and then I put something on top.”

And while he does have his own production setup at home, Duncker mostly finds himself working out of a house owned by his label, Thrive Music. That being said, Headliner proceeds to quiz him on his go-to production tools:

“Diva and Hive from u-he are some of my favourite VSTs right now,” he says as we delve deeper into his creative process. “Anything Kontakt is amazing, and Astra from Splice is a great little synth plugin that I’m loving at the moment. Effects-wise, I use a lot of native FL Studio plugins. Little AlterBoy from Soundtoys is one that people usually put on vocals, but I think it sounds really cool on synths. Granulizer is one I use a lot, and time stretching is one of my favourite things to do as well.”

I always try to keep the ceiling open, and then go above it.

Looking ahead, Duncker reveals that he will be dropping a slew of new club bangers this year, and will also soon be teasing a song with British dance music vocalist Hayla: “It’s a short song but very to the point, and impactful,” he says with excitement. “The melodies are crazy, and I think it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. I’m always striving to find what’s next through experimenting heavily with production.

“When I'm working with new people, I’m constantly looking for what we can do differently to how things are sounding right now. I don't want to be boxed in as just this producer; I always try to keep the ceiling open, and then go above it.”

As our discussion comes to a close, Duncker highlights that something he lives by is, “never take no for an answer. Just because it doesn’t happen now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. The biggest thing for me growing into the artist I am now, is being consistent and persistent.

“It’s about being fearless, and doing stuff that’s out of your comfort zone – not just doing what feels normal. Going out of your way to do something different that you haven’t done before is how you find the next wave of new stuff.”

Much like his stage name, everything in Duncker’s life seems to be a craze right now, and with plenty of new music on the way, it’s likely that the crazy times are set to continue for this tenacious DJ and producer on his journey towards global stardom.

Listen to the full interview with ACRAZE on Headliner Radio, here: