Dada Life’s Stefan Engblom powers Dada Land with ROG

Articles: Gaming
Jul 21, 2020 Written by:Chris_Barr

You may not be able to find a place called Dada Land on any map of the world, but if you’re lucky enough, you might just find yourself in a club or at a festival that has been transformed for the night. So what exactly is Dada Land? It’s a happy place where everyone is welcome, and the only rule is that you must have fun. It’s also the only place where you’ll find the music of Dada Life performed live.


Dada Life is a DJ duo from Sweden comprising Stefan Engblom and Olle Cornéer. The two friends formed Dada Life with the intention of making music that was fun not only to listen to but also to create and perform. For more than a decade, the duo has been producing and performing their brand of “happy face music” to fans worldwide and claiming venues in the name of Dada Land.

One ROG staffer who’s been a longtime fan of their music describes it this way:

“Among the hundreds of EDM artists that have risen to prominence over the past decade or so, Dada Life is one of the few acts that has permanently etched their sound into my brain. Their work stands out to me for how it takes what might be called "dark" or "deep" tonalities—not sonic landscapes you would generally associate with emotions like joy or exhilaration—and uses some kind of inexplicable alchemy to create music that's both joyful and exhilarating. It's not at all saccharine, though. The result is like bouncing around shirtless at a house party with a nine-volt battery taped to your tongue. It's a delightfully bizarre and unforgettable sonic trip that you can't help but move to.”

One of the most popular staples at Dada Life shows is a pillow fight. Pillows may not be typical at most concerts, but when we sat down with Stefan, he said that they were so important to the core of Dada Life’s music because it’s nearly impossible not to have fun in a pillow fight. In fact, the pillow fights became so popular that the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest pillow fight was broken at a Dada Life show in Chicago in 2013.


While the music is still a collaboration between the two artists, Stefan is the only touring member of the duo. But don’t worry—he’s got more than enough energy and enthusiasm to put on unforgettable shows night after night. We recently spent some time talking to Stefan about his passion for music, video games, and life on the road for a traveling DJ.

Who is Stefan Engblom?

Like many musicians and tech enthusiasts, Stefan’s passion for technology and creation started when he was still young. He first started experimenting with digital music creation around the age of 12 when he discovered a sequencing program called FastTracker 2. The software allowed him to record up to four different audio tracks on his MS-DOS machine, which was more than enough to pique his interest.

Playing video games and running software in the early 90s was challenging at times, which meant that a young Stefan spent a good deal of time tinkering and pushing his system to its limits. Even playing finished music could be a challenge in those days. He recalled the need to create two versions of every finished track: one at the full 128kbs quality he preferred, and another at 96kbps that would play on his friends’ older systems.


In those days, RAM was extremely expensive, so he learned every trick he could find to maximize his resources to run programs like FastTracker and games like Doom. One of his favorites that he recalls was having to manually allocate memory in DOS, which required him to disable his optical drive. He didn’t have the resources to operate it at the same time as the game he was trying to play. In fact, he was so obsessed with optimizing his PC that one year he begged his parents to buy him more memory for his computer. He said that the only thing he received for Christmas that year was a 16MB stick of RAM because it was so expensive. He wasn’t sad about not getting other gifts, because that extra memory opened up new possibilities for gaming and music creation.

While looking back at his long history with technology, he considers himself blessed to grow up with modern personal computers and watch how they’ve grown and evolved over the years, from the days of MS-DOS and dial-up modems all the way to the powerful laptops and broadband connections of today. These days Stefan takes his ROG Zephyrus S GX502 everywhere with him, and he uses it for far more than just gaming. It’s an essential part of his creative process.

Life as a musician on the road

When most musicians head out on the road, they switch gears from being recording artists to performers. Not Stefan, though. Unlike musicians who enjoy going out partying and drinking after each show, Dada Life’s touring half of the duo commits his time between shows to tweaking and perfecting his music.

One of the most exciting and necessary parts of touring and performing for Stefan is that he can get immediate feedback on his music. Every time that he goes on stage, he’s playing for an audience that reacts to everything he performs. This allows him to debut new tracks or edits and get an immediate reaction from the crowd that tells him if they’re hitting right.


While performing, Stefan watches and listens to see how the audience reacts to the music that he’s playing. When he’s finished the show, he heads back to his room and writes down notes from the performance. He specifically notes sections in a track that didn’t hit right or didn’t get the desired reaction. Instead of just compiling those notes and waiting until he’s back in the studio to make any changes, he spends the following day on his laptop, altering the tracks he identified the night before. Sometimes he’ll be working on these tracks up until his tour manager lets him know that it’s almost time for him to go on stage again.

What’s really amazing is that Stefan isn’t just editing his tracks on a near-daily basis while touring. He’s also editing the corresponding video elements that go along with each track he works on. That’s because there is no separation between Dada Life’s music and the visuals they create to go with it. Every track that Dada Life produces has video elements that can be seen at any of their shows. In fact, the two elements are so intertwined that when Stefan is working on a piece of music that he thinks may eventually turn into a track, he also begins thinking about how the music would flow visually and creates the corresponding video alongside it.

The digital road warrior

It may sound like a lot of work, editing music and videos between performances each night. And it absolutely is. There’s a reason why most musicians choose to do just one or the other. Just being on tour can take its toll on people who aren’t suited for life on the road. But Stefan isn’t your ordinary DJ. He thrives under these conditions.

It doesn’t matter where Stefan is. Whether he’s in the studio back home or riding in a car on the way to his next show, he’s almost always thinking about his music. It could be a new melody that’s worked its way into his brain or a drop that just isn’t hitting right in an existing song. Either way, when there’s work to be done, he can’t stop thinking about it until it’s done.

Stefan’s philosophy is that if he knows that he’s going to have more than 10 minutes to spare, he’s going to use that time to work, usually on his music. There’s a running gag where his tour manager will take pictures of him working in unusual places, such as sitting on top of his luggage at the baggage claim, or in some small corner of a room where he has just enough space to open his laptop.

As you can imagine, Stefan needs a computer that can keep up with his workload anywhere in the world. That’s why he trusts the ROG Zephyrus S GX502 when he’s on the road. Not only can it tackle the countless tracks that he needs to edit and mix together, but it allows him to edit and render his video files on the fly. 

Since writing music isn’t always a great task to do in short bursts with lots of people buzzing around, Stefan mentally sorts everything into “creative” and “non-creative” tasks. This way, he can knock out all of his mindless, technical work when he’s killing time. And that leaves more time to sink into his creative tasks like composing melodies when he’s alone.

When he checks into a hotel room, the first thing he does is hang the “Do not disturb” sign on the door, because he wants to get right to work and know that he won’t be interrupted. The music of Dada Life is about living in the moment, so according to Stefan, it’s crucial that he stay in the moment while creating it. Once he settles down in front of his computer, he’ll get into a flow state where he’ll work for hours on end, laser-focused on the task at hand until he’s happy with the result.

Powering Dada Land with the ROG Zephyrus GX502

One of the biggest hurdles to creating and working on music while on tour is that you don’t have access to the same hardware as you do in the studio. While traditional bands might need an array of string and percussion instruments, nearly every element of Dada Life’s music is created solely on a PC. The only exception to this is the vocals, which Stefan uses a specific pre-amp and mic to record. 


When he’s on the road, the only hardware Stefan packs for his music creation is his ROG Zephyrus GX502. It’s one of a long line of ROG hardware that he’s used, and he says that’s because on the road, reliability is the most important factor when selecting a laptop. He specifically describes a reliable laptop as one that he can pull out no matter where he is and know that it’s going to have the power to push through all of his audio and video editing tasks without making him wait—whether on excessive rendering times, lag during the editing process, or from charging up due to short battery life. And to date, he’s never had a piece of ROG hardware let him down.

For Stefan, having to wait when his PC freezes or is taking too long to render is a disturbance, just the same as having someone knock on his hotel door. When it happens, he’ll pull out his phone and check social media or just pace around the room. Either way, he loses all of the momentum he built up during his flow state. Since he’s started using the GX502, that’s not been an issue.

Gaming in Dada Land

When Stefan gets an idea about a piece of music in his head, it’s all he can think about until he’s able to sit down and work on it. While that kind of focus often leads to the creation of incredible music, he says it can be exhausting to have his mind always working on something. When he needs a break from music, he turns to an old pastime that he already has the perfect hardware for: gaming.

Playing video games is one of the few activities that Stefan describes as taking up his whole mind, allowing him to take a break from thinking about his music. His favorite games require strategy and constant decision-making, leaving him no time to think about anything else. His favorite game of that type, especially when his teammates are online, is League of Legends. Its fast pace and strategic gameplay provide the perfect level of stress and intensity while also relaxing his mind. In his words, “it’s a stressful game, but I’m not stressed when I play!”


Even when he takes a break from League of Legends and plays shooters such as Apex Legends and Valorant with friends, he finds that playing almost any game can give him that same sort of flow state that he enjoys while making music.

When he’s not touring, sometimes Stefan gets an itch for the same sort of immediate feedback that he gets from a crowd while performing music. During these times, he likes to stream his games to Twitch so that he can interact with fans and anyone else who drops by his channel.

He often ends up chatting with fellow “audio nerds” as he calls them, offering up advice and answering questions about creating music. Stefan isn’t shy about his process, either. He’s more than happy to share the tips and tricks that he’s learned throughout his career. So if you’ve ever wanted to get advice on adding reverb to a kick drum, stop by his Twitch stream sometime and ask away.

Live your best Dada Life

The music of Dada Life is all about living in the moment and just enjoying it. And when Stefan Engblom, one half of this world-renowned DJ duo, is producing music on the road, he relies on the powerful ROG Zephyrus S GX502 to keep him in the moment. Whether he’s laying down the melody for a new piece or tweaking a track for the next show, ROG powers every part of the creation process. And when it’s time to relax for a round of League of Legends or Valorant, that same hardware delivers the high-fidelity and high-refresh graphics that keep him in the game.

If you want to keep up with Stefan and the music of Dada Life, you can follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or the official Dada Life website.