We caught up with Sydney producer trio D.E.L to chat all things Purple, in-house production, and the true champion of Super Smash Bros.
We’re only days out from the release of D.E.L’s latest single Purple (Everything Will Be Alright), and the Sydney group are already eager to discuss their upcoming EP. It’s the kind of urgency that pulsates through the producer trio’s work, with Purple serving as a culmination of D.E.L’s masterful blend of electro-pop and surprisingly deft lyricism.
That single, which dropped earlier this month, see bandmate and siblings Timm, Nick and Joe de la Hoyde make a dance party out of unrequited romance, with Nick’s airy vocals assuring that “everything will be alright” before spacey production gives way to bouncy trap and hi-hats. A lesser producer group might let lyrics and vocals fall by the wayside to the forefront of such a danceable rhythm, but Purple proves that D.E.L can have their cake and eat it, too.
Purple adds to what is D.E.L’s already expansive sonic palette, from the house-heavy grunge of 2022’s Daisy to the trap-infused balladry of the I’m Too Emotional EP opener Tear Me Apart. Meanwhile, on 2021’s Yoko, the trio dip their toes into the kind of anthemic vocals reminiscent of a Joji number, complete with distorted synths and atmospheric harmonies.
D.E.L’s solid discography is a marker of the producers’ commitment to exploring the reaches of electronic music, and equips them with a stellar setlist worthy of their future plans to be “on world stages.” Fresh off the release of their single and with a follow-up EP in the works, we caught up with D.E.L for a chat about Purple, juggling side hustles and their affinity for Super Smash Bros.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
D.E.L: Nick – Today has been a content day. I spent the morning with the camera trying to get some inspiration for some of our up-and-coming releases. Writing the music for us is the fun part but when it comes to content our brains are always fried. So we want to make sure we stay on top of it all.
HAPPY: Tell us about your suburb, what do you love/not love about where you live?
D.E.L: Nick – We love our suburb! It’s quiet and a good place to think. Tim and I live around 40 minutes out from the city in a semi-rural spot – it’s quite a trek when we have to make sessions in town or when an artist comes up to us, but it’s nice to also get away from it all too.
HAPPY: Describe your average work day.
D.E.L: Nick – An average work day is always different. We’re either in a session working on our own tunes, working with a new upcoming act, or working with our label Gatcombe on our releases and the admin side of things. We all have our own side hustles going on too, so I guess the average working day is a juggle between keeping everything moving and making sure we are all on top of it all.
HAPPY: What about your ultimate day?
D.E.L: Nick – The ultimate day I would have to say would be coming out of the studio knowing we wrote a banger haha. Being able to listen back to the day’s work in the car on the way home is a super satisfying feeling.
HAPPY: Tell us about your creative community.
D.E.L: Nick – Our creative community is based around our family record label Gatcombe Music. Working with your brothers means every day feels like a hangout and also gives us the ability to get things done quickly, share responsibility, and flesh out ideas on the fly. Since branching out as producers/songwriters our community has expanded – we get the opportunity to write for major labels and independent artists all around Australia and the world and have met some awesome humans along the way. Community is everything.
HAPPY: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
D.E.L: Tim – Definitely watching anime and reading manga fuelled my passion for music. It felt so different and unique compared to what a lot of the other kids were watching and gave me the drive in pursuing art forms and sounds that were challenging rather than being the norm. I still listen to a lot of soundtracks from my favourite series (Berserk, Your Lie in April, Dragon Ball) on a day-to-day basis and draw a lot from them in the production of our own tracks.
HAPPY: What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?
D.E.L: Nick – It definitely wasn’t the last thing I opened or watched but the movie Interstellar is one of my all-time favourite films and I think it’s Tim’s too. That movie sent my brain into a thinking frenzy haha. Movies like that make you really think about everything and what’s possible. Joe’s watching The Last of Us, and he’s loving it.
HAPPY: Can you share some insights into the recording Purple (be alright)?
D.E.L: Joe – Purple and the majority of our upcoming EP was written while working out of our good friend Ryan’s studio in Surry Hills. Ryan’s room is this crazy space filled with beautiful vintage keyboards and pianos, amazing-sounding microphones and outboard gear and antique furniture. We do sessions there regularly but took a month there while he was travelling to work on new music.
Purple started as a chilled beat based around a simple guitar arpeggio. We experimented with sounds, grooves, and vocals, landing on this super sweet midway point between organic and electronic-sounding elements. Nick’s vocal is super chilled and emotive, as is the lyric – the lead in the drop sections is his vocal.
HAPPY: Can you talk about your creative process, from coming up with song ideas to recording and producing your music?
D.E.L: Tim – So the creative process for a song usually starts in one of the following different ways. Either Joe or I come up with a beat that we think has legs and fits the overall soundscape we are trying to push for D.E.L, we send that to Nick to lay vocals on. Nick finds a beat, either an old one from our library or a random sound bite online that he writes to before sharing it with Joe and me to work on it.
All three of us get in a room together and smash out a demo! If it’s worth working on we’ll spend another day polishing it off. Everything is done in-house, so when we have a really solid demo, we jump into final production and vocals and finish it off in no time. All Production, vocal recording and mixing are done by us.
HAPPY: Do you have a dream studio that you would like to work with, or are you more interested in creating the ultimate home studio? And if so, what does that look like?
D.E.L: Joe – We’re definitely more interested in building our own ultimate studio as well as keeping things mobile. We love the idea that we can rent a spot and set up anywhere that inspires us and write/produce music. We recently booked a week away in this epic house in the mountains to write an EP – it was like a converted church and had a Steinway piano in the living room – crazy. Our own studio is super moody – lots of natural light – we hate the idea that studios have to feel clinical. I feel like you need to feel a connection to the world around you to be inspired by it.
HAPPY: Can you talk about a particularly memorable performance or moment in your music career that stands out to you?
D.E.L: Tim – If I had to say one, it would be when we put out our song Running Away. I was new to production and the track was one of the first beats I made. I just remember how good it felt to have friends message me and say how good it was, random people tag us in stories whilst listening to the song, and getting streams on it. It definitely gave me the reassurance to keep working on my craft.
HAPPY: How has your music evolved over time, and what do you see as the key themes and ideas that run through your work?
D.E.L: Tim – I believe our music has evolved with our taste in particular genres. My core goal with D.E.L was to always be pushing boundaries. I wanted people to question if particular sounds or sections were the right choice and meant to be there, so I’ve tried to keep that core goal all through the different genres we’ve explored.
D.E.L started more RnB and future bass, as I was heaps into my Brockhampton and Flume at the time, but we’ve gone through Hyperpop, Garage, Pop, and now House. Whilst I can be stoic at times I try to make sure each track leans on a more emotional side with a high emphasis on really tight and creative production.
HAPPY: In the current music industry landscape, where streaming and social media play a huge role in how music is distributed and consumed, how do you navigate the business side of things while staying true to your artistic vision?
D.E.L: Tim – It is a truly hard thing to navigate as an independent musician, especially as ones who aren’t particularly great at using social media to promote ourselves haha. I think it comes down to one of two things to create long-term success. How often you can release music (Can you put out more songs and maintain a great quality)?
Is your music pushing the boundary enough? Can you find a niche market where you are one of the only ones making this specific type of music? Now we do everything in-house, I believe we have an edge in our ability to constantly be putting out high-quality tracks. For us, it’s about maintaining our creativity and inspiration and setting ourselves up to put enough out that eventually the right songs just stick.
HAPPY: Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future, both in terms of new music and your overall career trajectory?
D.E.L: Joe – We want to be on world stages playing our tunes, writing and producing music for the best out there and living good lives with our families. We want to grow our family label Gatcombe into an empire and explore the creative world through it. It sounds cliche, but having balanced lives is super important to us, and we believe to be creative all the time you need to be filling up the tank everywhere else in your life.
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
D.E.L: Joe – Being creative. Each of us loves music, loves art and any free time we have away from music is spent on creating other things – it keeps us fresh, and inspired and feels like we can take a break without the guilt. Other than that, we love chatting smack while playing Super Smash bros – Tim thinks he’s the champ but everyone knows Joe is better.