When it comes to well-regarded veterans of the dance music scene, Doorly comes to mind as one of the most beloved and technically gifted artists to have made his mark. Over an impressive 20-year career he’s had acclaimed releases for the likes of Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical, Cajual, Dirtybird, Hot Creations, Relief, Play It Say It, Southern Fried, Sony, Ultra, Trax Records Chicago and more as well as studio collaborations with Green Velvet / Cajmere, Todd Terry, DJ Pierre, Switch, Idris Elba, and Grandmaster Flash.
He’s the label head of Reptile Dysfunction, which has hosted some of his more leftfield productions whilst also championing the wealth of world-class talent like Soul Clap, DJ Sneak, Idris Elba, Mike Skinner from the Streets, Skream, and Patrick Topping to name a few.
It’s been a massive year for Doorly, most recently dropping the collaboration ‘Never Ever’ with Colour Castle and Ruby Turner, and also having releases like ‘Brothers & Sisters’ with Chicago legend Gene Farris and an acid house vinyl release with Bez from The Happy Mondays.
He also created two albums of music under two band project aliases, including his project MISINGO, a main stage world music-influenced collaboration with Australian multi-instrumentalists Colour Castle and USA Industry titan Gary Richards aka Destructo. The second project has yet to be announced, but it has been teased to involve two true global superstars.
Up next for Doorly will be an appearance at Your Paradise in Fiji. Your Paradise has risen as one of the most coveted music destination events in the world, showcasing a wide-reaching artist lineup while fostering a community of travelers in search of something more. Doorly will join the likes of Vintage Culture, Netsky, Ben Böhmer, Jody Wisternoff, Cinthie, and more for an intimate journey into the heart of the Mamanuca Islands this December 10-16.
We got the chance to speak to Doorly about his highlights from the year, his storied career in the industry, his upcoming appearance at Your Paradise, what he has in store for 2023, and much more.
WWD: Thanks for joining us Martin! We hope you’re doing well.
Thanks for having me, doing great here thanks.
WWD: Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to recently. Any recent highlights for you on the release front, live music front, or otherwise?
I’m currently in the middle of an amazing and long awaited tour across Australia, New Zealand, Bali & Fiji (Your Paradise festival). This is my Favorite place in the world to play but due to the pandemic I’ve had to miss out for 3 years so I’m super grateful to be back and having a great time! I have a collab with Aussie boys Colour Castle coming out on 25th November feat legendary vocalist Ruby Turner called “Never Ever” and just finished a remix for Sweat It Out that I’m really excited to share for a band called Karma Fields feat Kah-Lo. I’ve also got an arsenal of Doorly records dropping at the start of next year that i’ve been saving up during the pandemic and been doing some production on the Sugarhill Gang’s new album that is a bit of a dream come true!
WWD: If you had to choose one, what would be your favorite record you’ve put out this year and why?
I think it’s going to be this Karma Fields remix honestly, can’t wait for people to hear it! It just really works in the club.
WWD: You’ve got a storied 20-year career in the industry at this point. Who were some of your biggest artist influences in the scene coming up and who are some today that are inspiring you?
Cajmere / Green Velvet, Derrick Carter, 2manydjs, Fatboy Slim, were all huge influences when I was starting out and still fully are now both for the music as well as the positive energy and consistency they have during such long careers. Daft Punk also made a huge impact on me and that whole french house movement. I’m inspired as well now by everything DJ Tennis does with his label “Life And Death”, same with Gerd Janson and his label “Running Back”. As a performer i love to watch Kink play as he is an alien and my fave out and out DJ at the moment is probably Sally C.
WWD: What’s some of the best advice you’ve received as it relates to music? What’s another piece of advice that you’d give someone based on the experiences you’ve had over the years?
The best advice i received that helped me the most is probably being A&R’d by Cajmere when releasing on Cajual records who really helped me learn to simplify my tracks and take out unnecessary elements to make more space as up until that point i was doing things like putting vinyl crackle on everything to make it sound more authentic old school chicago!
Based on my experiences and being fortunate enough to have had it in my life my advice would be to look for a mentor that you really align with and try to get to know them and impress them. Learning from artists that you are inspired by is such a wonderful thing and lots are more than happy to pass on their wisdom to the next generation. I have been so lucky to have such great mentors in my career like Fatboy Slim , Green Velvet, Pete Tong and loads more artists as well as so many great managers and agents behind the scenes who have got me to where i am today, there’s a wealth of talent and experience out there, you just need to find the people that suit you best.
WWD: You have your own label, Reptile Dysfunction – what are some of the ultimate goals you have for the label and how do you hope to see it grow in the future?
It’s been a strange couple of years for record labels, we slowed down a lot over the pandemic as most of our releases are more dance floor focussed. We’ve always primarily focussed on trying to help break new talent so we will always keep that at our core but i have a lot to put out next year and lots from my friends in the house music and we also want to start putting a lot more out on vinyl again now that things are starting to recover. We’ve built a lovely little community within the label now and our artists so we will be re-starting the label party events again in the spring.
WWD: Tell us a little bit about the difference in approach and preparation as it relates to preparing a set for a festival vs something like a warehouse party. What’s your favorite thing about each environment?
I tend to prepare for each set in its own way and try to curate a playlist of how I THINK it’s going to go and build out a skeleton of a set from that although you can never absolutely tell how it’s going to go until you get there but it’s good to have a rough plan in place. But then if it’s different than I planned I’ve got thousands of other playlists ready from previous gigs I can revert back to to look for ideas. I also try to make special edits, find new acapellas and make tools that will create some nice moments in keeping with the event to anchor and build a set around and I can use my Pioneer DJS1000 sampler to really perform live on as well so that gives me even more freedom to tailor what i’m doing to the environment.
It’s really important to me that i’m always playing new music (at least new to me anyway) so that I’m on my toes and fully interested as well hearing tracks on a system for the first time, so I do a lot of vinyl shopping weekly to find rarer stuff and love bandcamp for the same reason. So for each gig I will have a playlist tailored to what I think the vibe will be, often broken up into sub folders based on styles and energy. Plus a folder of brand new finds from that week that I’m excited to try out, so it gives me a really wide pallet to choose from. Outside of super important sets like live video recordings / Radio 1 essential mixes stuff like that, I prefer not to get too bogged down in the exact running order as i really trust my instincts in the moment more than my guesswork before seeing the crowd but i am a firm believer that preparation is everything from creating your sound palette for the gig, to making edits and DJ tools, practicing a few special moments to grab the audience’s attention and lots and lots and lots of digging for new music to inspire you and everyone listening to you play hopefully.
WWD: What are some of your favorite festivals or destinations that you’ve toured and played around the world throughout your career?
It’s really hard to pick as I’m so lucky to get to play the best places on earth! Festivals I tend to really enjoy the destination festivals that I can take my wife to really enjoy in full. We really love the Friendship Cruise that Gary Richards does in the USA, we will never miss one of those whether I’m playing or not! There’s festivals that I’ve been playing my entire career like Hideout Festival in Croatia and Snowbombing in Austria which will always hold a special place in my heart. Your Paradise festival in Fiji is always really good as well, I mean it’s in Fiji for starters one of the most beautiful places on earth! I’m really looking forward to my last show on this tour in Queenstown, New Zealand, there’s a promoter there called Electric Rush and it’s without doubt always one of my favorite gigs of the year and this year they have set up their own festival called “This Kinda Day Festival” Queenstown is such a beautiful part of the world and the crowd are just absolutely nuts every single time, it’s going to be the perfect way to close out this tour.
WWD: There’s also some amazing festivals in the USA like Desert Hearts and a new one called Love Machine which have beautiful vibes.
Special shout out to Revolver in Melbourne, gutted to not be playing this time around on the tour but will most certainly be popping my head in for a dance!
WWD: Speaking of destinations, you’ve got an appearance coming up at Your Paradise in Fiji. Tell us a little bit about this one and what you’re excited about.
It’s one of those magical places that you never thought that you would get to experience, it really is as beautiful as it looks in pictures. I’ve done almost every year from the start except one and it’s been really great to see it grow especially seeing how much blood sweat and tears the people behind it have put into it. What’s great is that it’s still small enough to keep its intimacy, the stage is right on the the beach so you can be in the sea listening to your favorite DJ and they have the most amazing special add on parties on Desert island sandbanks that pop up out of the sea at low tide and a floating bar called Cloud Nine just before a surf break which is always really special to play on. Also as a busy touring artist it’s one of the rare festivals that leave you feeling rejuvenated as it’s so relaxing there and not as hectic as most festivals. I can’t wait to get back to the island.
WWD: Are there any other artists on the lineup that you’re looking forward to seeing or catching up with at Your Paradise?
Loads of people but really looking forward to watching The Illustrious Blacks, Cinthie, and Heidi in particular.
WWD: What else do you have coming up the rest of this year and into 2023? Anything you’re most excited about currently whether that’s upcoming projects, releases, or anything else you’re working on?
Lots of touring which feels so good to be back at it after such a weird couple of years. I was a little burned out pre-pandemic so I think that was a rest that I really needed to re-group and re-evaluate everything. The break has left me super motivated and grateful for this career so I’ll be out on the road lots next year. I’m also putting a lot of my focus next year into my DJ and production academy www.orbitdjretreats.com as again we had to slow down during the pandemic but the last one we did in may was so life changing for so many of our students that it reminded me why it’s so important that I make the time to do more of these around the world as it gives me unparalleled satisfaction. We’ve just announced the dates for the next one in Ibiza (1st-6th October) around the closing parties and we’ve found some pretty special venues in other countries for 2023 as well which is really exciting.
I’ve also got a really special collaboration project to announce in the new year as well which I think will be a lot of fun for next summer 🙂
WWD: Thank you Doorly!