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?
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.”