- Sunny grooves from a major fan favourite.
- Joe Delon loves music. You might think that would (or should) be self-evident in someone who DJs for a living, but the electronic music world would be a better place if everyone cared and thought as much as he did. In addition to being an increasingly in-demand DJ, he runs a stellar label, Welt Discos and moonlights as a music writer, with a beloved Substack newsletter that he usually updates twice a week. A blend of touring DJ travelogue and mix recommendations, it's a rich source of information and music from an artist with a warm, friendly voice—and perhaps more importantly, impeccable taste.
It's that taste that has endeared him to many dance music fans around the world over the last few years, developing a dedicated fanbase who greet every new mix with bated breath (including, hopefully, this one). He's something of a record digger, but not in the clichéd way—he just loves to find records new and old full of melody, springy rhythms and a generally quirky, positive vibe. The music he selects often has an '80s tinge to it, even when it's not from the '80s, but it's hard to pin down what he plays, both because his sets are so unpredictable, and because it wouldn't be fair.
His RA Podcast, as he explains below, is meant to sum up his last year of DJing, a carefully put together selection of favourites from 2022 (meaning records he played that year, not that came out last year). As always, it's a mix of familiar and far-flung records, mixed with Delon's breezy, unique style. Part of the reason why people have come to love his DJing so much is that it just kind of puts a smile on your face. Listen and you'll see.
What have you been up to recently?
I spent a chunk of January on tour in Vietnam and South Korea. Now I'm back in Lisbon and catching up! I have several hats: DJing, running a label (Welt Discos), writing a newsletter, doing translation work for arts organisations in Portugal and a few other bits and bobs. I recently started doing my own bookings again too.
How and where was the mix recorded, and can you tell us the idea behind the mix?
I planned it quite carefully. I had to borrow a second CDJ to record the mix—thanks Manu!—and then there was only one evening between trips where I was at home and could get it done. So I sequenced it while I was on the road and when I got back I recorded it in one take. (Actually, I did quickly do an alternative ending before going to bed, which I spliced in the next day.)
I wanted to make a kind of time capsule of this past year. If you saw me play in 2022, you will have heard a good few of these tracks out. If you didn't, you may yet hear me play them again in the future! It covers a lot of ground in terms of genre, era, geography, feeling. And the mixing has a disco sensibility even though (this time) I'm not actually playing disco.
I made sure friends and artists I admire were present in the selections, and there are tunes linked to particularly meaningful places or moments. There are also a couple of upcoming Welt Discos releases in there—by Rafiki and Stephen Howe—to point towards what's in store for 2023. I think the music selection and the mixing style are a good representation of my DJing, and I hope capture something of me as a person: thoughtful, warm, a little bit sexy.
What's one club or party that had a major impact on you as an artist?
I've talked about this before but the party that changed everything for me was Prosumer and Maurice Fulton in Hewitt St Car Park in April 2008. That night was like a big gay slap round the face and became the blueprint for much of what's happened since. You can draw a meandering but firm line from that experience 15 years ago to this time last year, when I played for Prosumer at his party Heyday in Edinburgh, and on to a few weekends after that, when I played at Panorama Bar for the first time. I'm looking forward to the next big slap whenever it comes along!
In addition to being a touring DJ, you also run a newsletter on Substack that you update very frequently. Why is this important to you, and how do you find the time to update it between touring, playing, etc?
I started writing my first blog when I moved to London in my early 20s, about going out and discovering dance music and DJing and drugs. It was an outlet for the kind of self-expression I hadn't yet nailed in real-world interactions (still a work in progress). I made several lifelong friends through that blog but, over the years working in a corporate job and getting stressed, I lost the excitement and spontaneity and ended up stopping.
Fast forward ten years, and when the pandemic started I quit my day job and decided to start writing again. I still see it as a way of processing and sharing the feelings I experience through music and DJing—a kind of therapy that I'm always willing to make time for. Sometimes it veers towards attempts at actual journalism, but I hope that most people can see it's really just a glorified Bridget Jones's Diary, if Bridget Jones were a DJ.
You're a voracious consumer of new music, but you're also known for being an especially good digger, adept at finding old records. How do you balance the two—is it something you think about?
When I first started DJing, I did spend a lot of time trawling through old records. Then doing a radio show for four years got me buying a lot more new music. But over the past few years, and especially since the pandemic, my habits have changed significantly. These days, having easy access to loads of music—new or old—actually makes me uncomfortable. I'd much rather come across things slowly and naturally and build a relationship with them, without forcing it or rabidly listening to everything I can "find" (itself a contentious concept). I also realised that my strength as a DJ is not just about the specific records I play but how I put them together. With this mix, what I take pride in isn't just the provenance of the tracks, but the way I combine them into something cohesive and me-sounding.
What's one social or political cause you want the world to pay more attention to?
Flooding in Pakistan. Both the ongoing immediate need (millions of people still living in flooded areas without basic food, health and education provision) and its broader significance (the global climate crisis). If you want to contribute to the relief efforts, you can find local grassroots activists (e.g. Leela Ram) who are directing funds to areas the larger organisations don't reach.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
In April I'm holding the first ever Welt Discos party, in Lisbon, with two DJs I greatly admire: Nick Kagame and Chima Isaaro. Then I have a couple of transatlantic trips planned in spring/summer to visit my sister and her family, with some gigs along the way. Festival-wise I'm at Horst in May and Dimensions again in September, and I'm hoping there'll be more festival action in 2024. But mostly I'm just looking forward to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.