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Poll 2019: Don Diablo

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Don Diablo proves once again that he’s the Godfather of future house, claiming the gong for highest placed DJ of the genre in 2019, and edging up another place, landing just outside the top five! This year saw Big Don feature on the cover of DJ Mag North America and join our crew for our annual pool party in Miami. In his cover story, Don remembered how he used to have a Top 100 DJs poster on his wall growing up. “For my family, it’s very hard to measure how successful I am,” he said. “They don’t go to a show in Brazil where you play for 50,000, it doesn’t mean anything for them if I have a gold record — it’s tangible but it’s not tangible... But when I entered the Top 100, and they knew I had a poster over my bed, they were like, ‘OK, this is becoming something, it’s getting bigger’.” 

He went on to tell us all about his rollercoaster of a career — all the occasions when he almost made it but was done over by unscrupulous characters in the industry. It was the passing of his father which spurred him on to give music one last try — “I was trying to figure out a way to channel the grief into something positive,” he said — and his hard-learnt lessons which guided him in shaping his own destiny this time around. Now the boss of his HEXAGON empire, Don heads up his own label — releasing the likes of Landis, Retrovision, Mo Falk and Tom & Jame — distribution and management wings, and his signature clothing line, which even includes official collaborations with his beloved Star Wars. 

In 2019 he’s taken the HEXAGON brand even further; he launched a new HEXAGON comic book series at Comic Con in New York, (promising five new editions next year), and hosted a stage at Tomorrowland for the first time. Elsewhere he says highlights included remixing Panic! At The Disco’s ‘High Hopes’ into a massive future-meets-piano house anthem, and Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’, which he flipped with a deep emotive vibe and neon-splashed synths. Don claimed more firsts when he landed a platinum record in Russia — with intergalactic downtempo cut ‘Survive’ featuring Emeli Sandé & Gucci Mane — and topped 10,000,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. 

Not one to rest on his laurels, Don has big plans for the near future, too. Having sold out his FOREVER tour (taking in New York, London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo) he says: “I will be releasing my new studio album ‘FOREVER’ early 2020. I also just announced my biggest stadium concert thus far for next year at the Ziggodome, in my hometown Amsterdam.” Now that’s an offer we can’t refuse...

 

Do you submit your DJ setlists to the relevant royalties collecting society?

“Sometimes.” 

What more can we do to combat the mental health crisis in our scene?

“Always be kind, patient and open-minded towards each other.” 

Are you personally doing anything to improve the gender balance of line-ups?

“I have added at least one female guest DJ on the stages I hosted at festivals with HEXAGON this year.” 

What was your favourite toy when you were a kid?

“My Nintendo 16-bit console.” 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

“Desserts. In all shapes and forms. But mostly panna cotta. Oh, and homemade apple pie.” 

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2019-10-16 13:10

Style: 
“Future.”
Best known for: 
“Creating a HEXAGON-shaped universe.”
Tune of the year: 
“Monolink ‘Father Ocean (Ben Böhmer Remix)’.”

Poll 2018: Don Diablo

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From: Coevorden, Netherlands
DJ style: “Future.”
Best known for: “Creating a Hexagon-shaped universe.”
Fave tune of 2018: “Logic ‘1-800-273-8255’ feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid.”
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2018: “Big Pineapple.”

Dutch DJ and producer Don Diablo (Don Pepijn Schipper) is among the biggest acts in stadium-sequestering dance music. Last year, he ranked No.11 in this poll and clinched the highest entry in the Future House category, and this year he’s jumped four places into the top 10 and again claimed the Future House crown. With sold-out tours and megastar collabs under his belt, he makes it all look easy. His success wasn’t handed to him, though. It’s the result of two decades of graft, which began in 1998 with ferocious hard house and gabber tracks for labels such as Re-fuse. Since, Don has tried his hand at a variety of less strident dance genres, from electro-house to EDM, gradually distilling his sound into the sparkly hybrid it is now.

Don Diablo’s career was sent skyward by the Hexagon visual concept, designed to add a new dimension to his DJ gigs, which he first unveiled in 2014. Hexagon has since become a brand encompassing a record label, clothing line and radio show. Successful, pop-tilted releases for majors Warner and Universal and big dance label Spinnin’, followed in Hexagon’s trail, while a collaboration with Tiësto (‘Chemicals’), and a zeitgeist-chasing sound that nods as much to house as it does the commercial end of trap, have contributed to his notoriety.

Don Diablo’s recently released album, ‘Future’, his first in 10 years, was a snapshot of this shiny new sound, loaded with guest vocalists, and the accompanying Future tour of the US was sold out everywhere. This success has enabled Don to give back too, and a recent act of philanthropy saw him raising funds for a worthy cause. “In Europe I performed a whole month for free during my Better Future tour, raising money for the Cancer Trust,” he says.

It was also a big year for vocal tracks, with Don working with a broad spectrum of vocalists, from soul and country stars to rap demigods. “In the studio I collaborated with a wide variety of artists, ranging from Emeli Sande to Gucci Mane and from Calum Scott to Ansel Elgort,” he says.

Despite diversions into pop terrain, Don Diablo has maintained his dancefloor side, and new tracks such as ‘Anthem’, ‘Heaven To Me’ and ‘No Good’ have been rapturously received. “I was the first artist to have three records in the top five at the same time, so I am very grateful for all the incredible support on my music this year,” he says. 

“Touring around the globe is heavy, but if you add making music, doing interviews and photo shoots, maintaining social media, producing a weekly radio show, running a record label and a clothing line into the equation, you sometimes come close to the edge of exhaustion,” he tells DJ Mag. Considering all that he has achieved in 2018, Don Diablo has more than earned a bit of downtime.

Not content with solely touring and making music, Don has also maintained a heavy involvement in developing acts through HEXAGON and pushing his forward-thinking label to new heights in 2018. He's been working on a brand-new artist project signed to the label — a mysterious producer by the name of Big Pineapple. According to Don, fans should "expect big things" from the new production outfit in 2019.

Words: BEN MURPHY

Questions Top100 DJs 2004 - Becca Antoon - 2018-10-12 11:24

Poll 2015: Don Diablo

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The dawn of future house in 2014 heralded a new age for EDM, it seemed. It was the sound to nudge the continuum away from garish stadium noise towards the (relatively) deeper sound of classic house reimagined through EDM eyes, they said.

A slew of names such as Tchami, Oliver Heldens and Holland's Don Diablo were found carrying the torch, and it felt (at least) as if 2015 was going to be the year that the nubile, cool-cat friendly sound of future house would usurp the EDM juggernaut. 

And thus, after polling at 82 last year, Don Diablo is this year's Highest Climber. However, after remixing Rudimental, Ed Sheeran and Tiësto & KSHMR as well as teaming up with Khrebto to borrow Candi Staton's 'You've Got The Love' this year, it's not just Don's progressive approach to EDM that you kids love him for — it's his ear for an infectious pop hook! 

Questions Top100 DJs 2015 - Jon Dommett - 2015-11-13 10:55

Style: 
“Electronic music.”
Best known for: 
“Living in a HEXAGON-shaped universe.”
Tune of the year: 
“Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MO 'Lean On'.”
From: 
The Netherlands
Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2015: 
“Galantis.”
What’s the most important skill a DJ should have?: 
“You have to be able to connect with the audience under any given circumstances.”
Is the future still bright for EDM?: 
“People are exploring other options which is a very natural development, there is a lot of great music out there.”
Does the constant travelling and DJ lifestyle ever take its toll on you mentally?: 
“It definitely does, but you have to find a way to push your boundaries and try to survive on pure adrenaline. The absence of a private life is probably the biggest struggle.”
What cause is closest to your heart?: 
“I lost my father to cancer, so I have been working closely with several cancer charities the last two years to raise money for research and education.”
Which club would you like to bring back from the dead?: 
“Fight Club.”
Why aren’t there more women in the Top 100 DJs poll?: 
“Because women are better dancers than men, they don't need to hide behind the decks.”
What do you think of DJs who use ghost producers?: 
“I think they are missing out. Rocking a big rave is an amazing experience, but there is no better feeling in the world than creating your own music in the studio.”

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