Small town boy makes it big; that pretty much sums up Don Diablo’s career path up to this date. But who is this Don Diablo dude that everybody seems to be talking about? Well, for starters he is a producer, musician, imaginary friend, DJ, singer, writer, visualist, record label boss and to some people, the uncrowned King of hooligan house, but let’s start at the beginning. Don Diablo’s musical journey kicked off at the age of fifteen, when he started making music for short movies he was directing. With loads of time on his hands and nothing too exciting happening in the outskirts of the Netherlands, Don Diablo was able to experiment with music and fine-tune his production skills. Outcome of this all: he signed his first record deal before he turned 16. Two years later he realised he never got any royalties for the 35 records he released under many different guises, oops!
But, luckily things really took off for Don as a DJ when he exploded on the worldwide scene following the unexpected success of one of his records. Ever since his 2002 residency for then UK superclub Passion, Don Diablo has played for nearly every renowned event or club on this planet, such as Ministry of Sound, Lowlands, Creamfields, Mysteryland, Haoman 17, The Liquid Room and Turnmills, to name but a few. He has also played the main slot at Ministry of Sound’s legendary New Year’s Eve party at the Millennium Dome in London, which at that time was the world’s largest indoor dance event ever. Nowadays, Don always plays with 4 decks when he DJs, even though he only has two hands. His friends like to describe his sound as a mix of Punk Funk and Distorted Disco, while Don thinks it's just good music. His tour schedule takes him from Hong Kong to London and from Miami to Sydney. He has recently returned from the successful Stereosonic Music Festival Tour in Australia, where he toured with the likes of Midnight Juggernauts, DJ Hell, Carl Cox and Booka Shade. While travelling the world, Don Diablo also managed to complete his studies and scoop up a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. He put this to good use, when he hosted a monthly Saturday night radio show on Radio 3FM, which is the Dutch equivalent to BBC Radio 1 in the UK.
His rising popularity allowed him to release many different mix-compilations for clubbing brands and festivals. Eventually he signed a record deal with Universal Music, releasing his music through their ID&T imprint. During the summer of 2004, Don Diablo released his first artist album, entitled ‘2Faced’. Furthermore, during this period he found the time to make music for the 2005 MTV Networks’ TMF Awards Campaign, several TV shows, a motion picture called ‘Flirt’, and several commercials, including Nike. In November 2004, Don Diablo was planning to shoot a video for the first single from the album, ‘Just Let it Go’, for which Dutch filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh was penciled in as director. Sadly, this music video was never shot, as Theo van Gogh was assassinated on November 2 2004, just 100 meters from Don Diablo’s home. The brutal murder on the outspoken Theo van Gogh resulted in a heated discussion in the Netherlands on the topic of the Dutch immigration policy, but also put and end to Don Diablo’s ambitions to release ‘Just Let it Go’, or any other singles from this album for that matter. He saw Theo’s death as a sign to think things over and change his direction.
Soon after, Don Diablo set up his own record label and event brand ‘Sellout Sessions’, which sees him shaking up the music industry even more, distinguishing good music from bad music without any prejudice to style. Under the Sellout Sessions banner Don Diablo has hosted many events and areas at several music festivals, where he got artists from many different genres perform alongside each other. The label had its first success with the hiphouse anthem ‘Blow’ by Don Diablo, which received a tasty remix by Sébastien Léger and was licensed to over 10 territories. Sellout Sessions put out a string of top 20 hits by Don Diablo and the success of these singles even resulted in Don Diablo’s debut performance at Top of the Pops. Furthermore, several Don Diablo singles released on Sellout Sessions were used for TV campaigns to promote various Hollywood movies such as ‘Snakes on a Plane’, ‘Hoodwinked’ and ‘Shoot’em Up’. Record labels and industry were starting to take notice and Don Diablo continued to build his buzz by following the DIY route. Radio 3FM acknowledged Don Diablo’s success by nominating him together with Tiësto, Junkie XL, Armin van Buuren, and Ferry Corsten, as one of the top five Dance Artists of 2006 for their annual Award Show. Brands also started to embrace Don Diablo, as he did extensive campaigns with Bacardi (B-Live) and Nokia (Trends Lab) in 2006 and 2007. Don Diablo also proved his ability as an A&R during this period by discovering, signing and then licensing the UK top 3 chart hit ‘Exceeder’ by Mason through his former sub-label ‘Middle of the road Music’.
Fast forward to 2008: Don Diablo’s buzz continues to build, as he’s received several nominations and awards during an 18 months period, including: nominee for ‘Best Music Video’ (TMF Awards), voted ‘Best Dressed Man of the Year’ by Esquire Magazine, and he was named ‘Most Popular Dutch DJ’ at the GKA Awards. After almost a year of ruthless negotiations, Don Diablo pens a much publicized worldwide 360 deal with Sony Music Entertainment. Record label executives start breathing down his neck for him to finish his album and he delivers. During the summer Don records the title song for a major independent Dutch movie called ‘Radeloos’ (‘Desperate’), which debuts at number one at the Box Office. Don Diablo ends the year on a high, when the biggest Dutch radio station, ‘Radio 538’, announces that he was the ‘Most Googled Dutchman of the Year’ in 2008. However, Don is still wondering what the people were looking for…!?
Enter 2009: Don Diablo is finally set to release his forthcoming album ‘Life is a festival’ through Sony Music Entertainment and partners and people are starting to catch on. In fact, Pete Tong (BBC Radio 1, UK), one of the leading authorities on electronic music, recently dubbed Don Diablo as “a future star” on his radio show, stating: “This guy is massive in Holland already, he could be massive everywhere by the end of 2009.” Moreover, recent music blog press is adding fuel to that fire. Some samples:
BIGSTEREO "Don Diablo has officially become the most hyped dj/producer of 2009."
Surviving the Golden Age "Don Diablo has blown up the blog scene. I do not really recall another DJ ever doing anything quite like this. He has released at least one track a week since the beginning of this year and he has garnered massive support from the entire blog community. In addition to the blog's support, listeners have been rampant. He has been atop the hype machine charts for weeks now."
Fuck You on Friday "Don Diablo is about to steal the top spot on the “producers I wanna fuck” list."
Indiehere "Don Diablo is a Madman with a genius side, able to produce, DJ, and Remix like no other."
Welikeit.indie "This dude is so hot right now that everyone want his fingerprints."
I'm A Deckhead "...the busiest man in electronic music at the moment, his name is Don Diablo."
The Fast Life "Don Diablo: Dutch Superman"
Hot Biscuits "I’m actually a little disappointed in myself for not knowing about this guy before a few days ago. I’m not really sure what else to talk about until his album comes out in a couple months."
Subdrive "Within 2 days, every single blog has posted about Don Diablo. And they’re right too, he's got talent and his latest tracks are samples of a producer who will be blowing up in 09."
The Tape "Don Diablo has been seriously blowing up these past few months..."
Besides his own career as an artist, Don Diablo is also producing for other people. He’s currently producing part of UK rapper Example’s forthcoming album together with other producers such as Hervé, Calvin Harris and Chase & Status. As a producer, Don always works alone in the studio, because he has a very strange way of making music, or so the legend goes. His most recent remix for Example already appeared on the 2009 Ministry of Sound Annual. Don Diablo has recently remixed such diverse artists as Public Enemy, The BPA (ft. Iggy Pop), Stereo MC’s, Kraak & Smaak, Kaz James (ft. Macy Gray), Newton Faulkner, Walter Meego and Laidback Luke, with whom he also collaborated in 2008 under the guise ‘Imaginary Friends’ on Art & Craft. Most recently, Don Diablo also saw one of his forthcoming singles, ‘Too Cool For School’, used in an episode of the popular CBS hit series CSI: NY.
Don Diablo is also active on the charity front, as one of the first ambassadors for Dance4Life; an international UN-supported action campaign to fight back against HIV and AIDS. MTV Networks shot an intense documentary of one of his visit to several Dance4Life affiliated projects in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
Now, rewind and forget everything you’ve just read and remember, when writing a review for ‘Life is a festival’, that Don’s parents are really proud of him and his forthcoming album, although his father is more into Frank Zappa.