If anyone’s musical outlook can pull you out of a slump, it’s Angel D’lite‘s. The London-based DJ, producer and party set designer puts euphoria front and centre — no matter what she’s putting her hand to.
Already revered for her energetic stints behind the decks, in the club and on her regular Netil Radio show, this year – in part down to the time and freedom that lockdown has provided – she’s been putting her focus into her productions — and the output has already been lethal. After several track contributions to compilations she put out her debut EP earlier this year on Banoffee Pies, a collection of slickly produced UKG and pop-inspired cuts that belies her years.
In signature style, her Diggers Directory mix dives into the Hi NRG sounds that are continuously woven into her sets and productions, delivering two hours of old and new Happy Hardcore finds to soundtrack your kitchen or bedroom party. This sits alongside an interview about her love of digging, the best spots in London and why hardcore is good for the soul.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
My mum wasn’t into records when I was growing up but she was into CDs! It’s very sweet but I think she mostly let me pick the waves as a kid! We had lots of reggae and Rnb. My mum is not much of a digger really, lots of Jimmy Cliff, but mostly she’s happy with Magic Fm on. When I was a kid my favourite band was Sugababes (I still have a cheeky sugababes sesh every now and then) and then as a teenager it became The Prodigy. They deffo got me through school. I didn’t start digging properly until I was about 18, and then I was mostly into 80s synth pop, and Depeche Mode became, and still is, my fave band. They even have their own record shelf in my room!
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
Haha, well the first reason is because I have mostly been into older dance records and synth pop, mostly 90s stuff, and a lot of it isn’t available digitally, or at good quality. I guess it started out of necessity, but as the years have gone on I have totally fallen in love with records and the feelings each one on my shelves brings me. I have always been fascinated by record sleeves and artwork, and definitely bought a few extra cheesey ones coz I love the cover! That was about 5 years ago I think, I haven’t been keeping count!
The first record I bought was from a charity shop in Lewisham, a clear blue 10” speed garage version on ‘Yeke Yeke’ which I still bang today. I Keep digging in shops because you find stuff you would never find digging via Discogs or Youtube, or you hit the jackpot where the shop you’re in has just bought a collection from someone who’s into the same tunes as you!!! It is a massive rush leaving with freshly discovered plastic discs of joy that you’re going to love and play with. I love being able to physically look through them, and so many of them bring back memories of parties and raves that they’ve travelled to. I also love the artwork of old trance and happy hardcore records and the DIY-ness of so much old hardcore.
Also, mixing records is VERY fun, now I’ve finally mastered it, ish. A Vinyl spinback will always win over a CDJs! Rediscovering records from your shelves is such a nice thing to do with other people also, as opposed to pressing shuffle on your iTunes. It’s interactive! I love the idea that they will outlive us; technology, or at least access to our hard drives. Hardcore will literally never die!!!!!!!
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
Well, the ones I play most, mainly live on the floor next to my decks, but I have a pretty standard Kallax situation, which is about to get a very glittery upgrade v soon 😉 Pre-2020 they kind of stayed in piles of ‘vibe’ or gig, but lately they have actually been in they’re little boxes of genre / BPM.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Container Records in Brixton – I always leave with a lot when I go, it’s pretty dangerous! Jack, who runs it, has amazing taste across the board. Can’t recommend it more! Always top of my list…
Vinyl Hunter, in its many incarnations across London. Soon to be a new one in SE London too, for esoteric to NRGetic.. V cute guy runs it too.
Newly discovered Jelly Records in Hackney, hit rate is high for me there!
Tome Records, now in Hackney Central – I used to live on Ormside St just a few doors down from the old Tome, and I used to go there most days off, as you would. I have so many bargain bin synth pop and 80s wave gems from the £1 boxes! Dalston Superstore basement definitely heard a lot of them 😉
Spotty Vinyl in New Cross for all sorts. It’s a pretty wild selection but I’ve found some incredible garage I would never have found otherwise digging there, also it’s in the back of a sweet health food and plant shop called Green Onions, which is also banging.
Rye wax in Peckham, run by wonderful people and have an amazing local label selection. If anything, just go for the vibes, you’ll probably end up buying something!
Digging on Discogs is never as good, for me, and sometimes can feel like hard work, but oh so rewarding when you find that one good donk tune on the whole label!
Also there is a relatively new shop called Discworld in Deptford for all your breakbeat needs, jungle, garage, dnb and hardcore specialists!!!! Worth a check if that’s your ting! They cut dubplates too!
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
I met Jack who runs container records at a launch for Borai’s THEM EP , where a couple of my friends were going. When I got there it was so hard not to want to dig through all the ‘ardcore, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t discovered the spot of heaven before! Over the years Jack and I have become good friends, and also had one of the best b2bs of my life with him at Corsica Studios, room 2!
I met a really cool guy at Container Records who was selling t-shirts of his graffiti stuff, ‘Def Threads’ it’s called, and I ended up buying one of the t-shirts via text the next day, which he came and dropped to my house that evening!
I also Met Natalie, (who worked at Rye Wax for a while who has since moved back to Glasgow) at Rubadub in Glasgow a couple of years ago, and I thought, “wow I’ll never forget her”. There was something about her that really stuck with me, then a couple of years later I saw her in Rye Wax! In my mind I was like… is that?!?! Since then we’ve been great friends!
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Is there a record that never leaves your record bag?
LOL – yes. DJ Jedi – Artificial Intelligence. I totally rinse it but it bangs every time, so fun to mix also. There is this trance comp that I bought in MVE bargain basement about 6 years ago probably for a quid, (maybe because the sleeve is a bit fucked) called ‘Made on Earth’ its amazing and I play it so much.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
There are pros and cons to both situations haha. Being alone means no time restraints, I could happily spend hours and hours in one shop, and I know that some people don’t feel the same way. I’ve had some pretty hot record digging dates though, saying that! (And some sexy after hours record shop moments!)
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
I can’t really remember that far back to when I was nervous, but I know that I was when I didn’t really know what I was doing, walking into Greenwich MVE not really knowing what I was looking for. Artwork is really important for me — I think you can really take a gamble in a bargain bin based on the vibe of the artwork, either way the outcome is always fun if it was under a quid.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
Its two hours of non stop ecstatic euphoria, on a Happy Hardcore tip! It includes personal favourites from playing at the rave, and a few newly discovered ones. It was sooooo fun to record, even though it was the third time I did it due to a broken RCA cable. It was really great to be able to play all these records again and I actually felt super emotional going through them to pick. I never play quite this fast for that long at home so Im grateful for this solo rave mission, hopefully it can do the same for y’all.
It’s probably the first mix where I have played the same genre throughout, (although the mix does explore the many moods of Happy Hardcore, mostly old but some new bits too) it’s not something I’m usually a fan of. Obviously there are exceptions, if Stingray or Helena Hauff are playing electro for two hours, I’m there, d’you know what I mean?
Anyway – the mix is music to dance hard to in your bedroom or kitchen. Apologies there are a few extra crispy ones 😉 I’d recommend getting the strobe out, drop four pingers whilst closing your eyes and get your housemate to bump into you every 10 seconds for the full clubbing experience at home.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
The last track by DJ Vibes I bought at Reckless Records. It was also the last track of an amazing night where I played b4b all night with Big Leg, Sonice and Stockwell at ‘YEAH YOU’ at our beloved Rye Wax last year. And an orange Kniteforce 10 inch from Container. It doesn’t say much else on it, it has a wicked euphoric vocal that makes me well up. Also the first record which is from Vinyl Hunter when it was at Grow Tottenham last year during an ‘Endless plenty’ – Brunch, rave and digging. THE DREAM!
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Eliza Rose — I’m always impressed at her selection, whatever she’s playing on her shows, especially those sexy UKG deep cuts. Always a fun vibe and man does she dig deep!!
Joe Roberts, (Corporeal Face), who I’m forever impressed with. His collection spans so far and deep, from disco to gabba, it’s always amazing.
Excelsior Ruth, I’m always blown away by her records; tripped out ethereal trance tip whether she’s playing techno, trance, jungle or reggaeton.
DJ Marcelle who is incredible to watch and has a mind blowing selection from really heavy face melting techno to traditional west African recordings, and a wild way of mixing them together on triple turntable madness.
Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?
I have a couple of RavEEEey EPs coming out in the spring, on two of my favourite labels. One has a very special collab with a vocalist who’s voice I’m totally in love with at the moment! And they’re run by amazing people which I am V XXXcited about, and maybe a desserts based music vid.
I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to spend these months with more time at home making music and writing new stuff, playing with new toys and focusing on choons more. Hardcore is good 4 the soul, I literally felt like I was high on shrooms the other day after a day of digging for hardcore – that’s the real shit!!!