Music

Don Diablo evolves along (and sometimes ahead of) music trends

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Don Diablo plays Hakkasan Sunday night.
Deanna Rilling

Don Diablo’s name makes him sound like an international man of mystery, but he’s actually a Dutch DJ/producer—and a journalism major, just one bit of trivia he revealed during a recent phone chat.

You dropped your first record at age 14. How would you say that’s shaped your sound? I think music is like fashion: You have these certain styles and vibes that just go around in circles [and] keep coming back. For instance, the whole ’90s sound is super-current, so it’s very lucky for me when I was a teenager we had those vintage sounds that were very standard at the time. Now I can just grab them from my hard drives from back then.

How do you set your tracks apart from all the EDM releases? That’s the ongoing struggle, isn’t it? You have to sound different than everyone else, but at the same time you have to stick within a certain style of music because DJs have to actually play your music in a set. But two years ago I started with house music that kind of has a mainstage feel to it, and later on it grew into the sound they call future house, and I really gave that sound my own twist ... The sounds that I use are very layered so it’s not just a standard preset [or] Auto Synth. A lot goes into it, creating new sounds and [coming] up with a strong idea behind a track.

Since you have a degree in journalism, what would you ask yourself in an interview? (Laughs) That’s a really good question, actually. People kind of see DJs as very one-dimensional characters. They never really ask about the meaning behind the records—they [believe] the DJs just buy certain vocals and toplines they haven’t written themselves ... For instance, I made a track called “The Artist Inside,” and it was a song that I wrote as an open letter to my father when he passed away. ... The track and the video became a big part of a huge campaign called Stand Up Against Cancer.

Don Diablo March 8, doors at 10:30 p.m., $30+ men, $20+ women. Hakkasan, 702-891-3838.

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