Portuguese DJ Diego Miranda has been in a mainstay in this poll since 2013. And while 2020 is a very different year for all of us, when it comes to the Top 100, it’s business as usual for the Ushuaïa DJ. After an incredible run of Beatport chart smashers and an NYE set in Thailand to over a million ravers in 2019, Diego has spent the year refocusing on his family, his dogs, his label LESS IS MORE Records, his studio and a whole wealth of collaborations.
As always with Diego, we should expect the unexpected. With a sound that touches on everything from dreamy EDM (‘Next Step’ with Mazza on Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s Generation Smash imprint) to pumping string-laced hard trance (‘Techno Guitar’) by way of the best cover version of Yello’s iconic funk runner ‘The Race’ we’ve heard in years, Diego’s accessible, versatile style remains just as vibe-some as it did pre-pandemic. Now focusing on bookings in 2021, he’s looking forward to being the first Portuguese DJ to headline Tomorrowland next year. Bring it on!
What three things have most helped you through Coronavirus Lockdown?
“For someone who spent most of the time travelling around the globe, it was very hard to cope with being in the same place all the time. On the other hand, it was great to be able to spend more time with my family in Portugal, and I also spent more time in the studio producing new tracks.”
What lessons should the industry learn from this crisis?
“We all tried to do our best at keeping the interaction with audiences but let’s face it, streaming and broadcasted DJ sets are not an option because there is no building of memories through a screen. People need to be together to do that. I believe that society, in general, is now more aware that social dancing, DJs and partying has an important role in the livelihood of so many people around the world.”
What steps need to be taken to address the racism in the dance music scene?
“Telling the history of dance music and the importance that, for example, Black communities had in the development and promotion of dance music globally might be a way to help with this issue.”
What industry changes are you personally pushing for to make the dance music scene more inclusive?
“I do a lot of collaborations with artists and producers from different countries, backgrounds, genders and ideologies. Right now I’m working on a huge project with an amazing singer called Wuant and my partner WAO.”
What’s the greatest dance music track of all time?
“DJ Rolando 'Knights Of The Jaguar’.”
Diego Miranda has been on the road a lot this year, playing China, Japan and Thailand, where he signed a monthly residency at Illuzion in Phuket. He also laid down some of his thrilling electro sets at Ushuaïa and Hï Ibiza, as well as playing at home in Portugal.
"I did a lot of producing in the studio this year which makes me very happy," says the Less Is More boss who has had a number of Beatport hits in 2019. "I like to experiment with different influences and I always like to produce strong songs to play at festivals, but it also gives me great pleasure to produce more mainstream tracks with a lot of vocals, tracks that play on the radio."
Proof of that came this summer on 'Mala Suerte' with DAMA and WAO, which showcased a totally new approach featuring reggaeton influences. Next up are new songs with Nick Jam and Le Twins, then a bold mission heading into 2020: "After conquering Asia I am now focusing on working the United States of America dance scene.”
Do you submit your DJ setlists to the relevant royalties collecting society?
“I am a member of The Portuguese Authors Society (SPA) and my sets are mainly filled with my own tracks or mash-ups.”
What more can we do to combat the mental health crisis in our scene?
“It is very important to prioritise a work-life balance, take care of your body and mind to avoid getting ‘eaten' by the spotlight. Avicii’s film did a lot to bring awareness to this subject and it helped change the way the dance music industry looks after the wellbeing of artists, so I believe that more information, documentaries and films like this are great tools to raise awareness.”
Are you personally doing anything to improve the gender balance of line-ups?
“I believe the industry is finally acknowledging and committing to improving gender balance in line-ups. There is still a long way to go though. I do my own research into new artists across the board and try to do more collaborations with female artists to contribute to this commitment, and encourage more aspiring female producers and DJs out there.”
What changes have you made this year to be more environmentally friendly?
“I found out that to offset a one-way flight from New York to Berlin at least eleven trees should be planted and I was shocked! So I have been actively looking at ways to offset the carbon footprint that my tours generate."
What was your favourite toy when you were a kid?
“I was so into ET and He-Man!”
What’s your guilty pleasure?
“It's got to be gummies, for sure!”
DJ style: “Electro.”
Best known for: “Bringing dance music closer to being a mainstream genre.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Diego Miranda & Mr Black ‘Boomshakalak’.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “WAO.”
It's been a slow-burn of a journey to the Top 100 for Diego Miranda, but since his first release in the mid-noughties hard work and persistence has kept the Portuguese star in the ascendency.
A quick review of 2018 reveals his worthy standing amongst the biggest names in electronic dance music. A summer spent in Ibiza? Tick, thanks to weekly appearances on the revered and road-blocked stages of both Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa. An international following, including in the up-and-coming territories likely to define reputations and fees in the years to come? Tick, thanks to extensive tours in China, India and South America, plus the firming up of essential European shows like Tomorrowland. A Beatport number one? Tick, his collaboration with Mr Black and vocalist The Kemist snatching the top spot with its sawing electro bassline and ragga-inspired vocals.
There are, he promises, even bigger things to follow, including a host of soon-to-berevealed collaborations. Given all of this, it’s no wonder that his motto is: “The best is yet to come”.
Words: JOE ROBERTS
“I wish I had more time to do everything I have in my mind. I wish the days had 48 hours,” Diego Miranda tells DJ Mag. It’s not surprising to hear that the Portuguese DJ is hard-pressed for time. He’s been much in-demand, not just in his home country but also in Brazil which he considers his “second home”, playing there — and across South America — several times a year.
What free time Miranda’s had in the past year, he’s spent in the studio. Aside from making it into the Beatport Top 20 with ‘Tequila’, Miranda’s biggest hit so far has been ’Turn The Lights Out’. The single, featuring singer Mikkel Solnado, has received heavy radio play in his home nation, no doubt down to its anthemic, sing-a-long hook.
Miranda’s popularity in South America is also beginning to spread over to North America, thanks in part to his recent remix of Tara McDonald and Snoop Dogg’s ‘VAY-K’, topping off what’s been a great year for the DJ.