A few months ago, a man by the name of DL Jones added me on Facebook. I wasn’t sure how I knew him -- usually, I can weave a past narrative through mutual friends (athletes, from my basketball days; Jewish last names, summer camp). But this one stumped me.
That isn't to say we didn't have plenty of crossover, because we did: there were former coworkers, summer camp Jews, tech entrepreneurs, business owners, basketball players, musicians, someone I hadn’t heard from since grade school. It’s like this guy knew everybody.
A few nights later, a friend dragged me out to a nightclub on a Thursday. At one point in the evening, I walked to the bar to get a drink, and who do I run into? None other than DL Jones. We exchanged pleasantries, and then, before I knew it, I was being taken to my own private booth. Waitresses were delivering extra-large bottles of Belvedere with sparklers in them. Since that night, I’ve come to realize that such is a night out with DL Jones, the archetype for the successful man-about-town.
But what does he do, exactly, that he knows seemingly all of Montreal? He hosts parties. I’ll let him explain: "From curating the artists to promoting the event and making sure the right people show up... I take care of the guests and make sure that everyone is having a good time." You could call him an event organizer, but that wouldn’t even do it justice. His name is synonymous with Montreal's nightlife.
DL got his start as a 17-year-old handing out flyers for an after-hours club. "I did the rounds with that for a while," he recalls, "then I started doing my own events with a few friends under the name Peer Pressure."
Twelve years later, DL has come a long way from peddling flyers outside of clubs. Although the scale may have multiplied from his first events, his core goal remains constant: do cool, different things. One of those "things" is his involvement with Diplo’s Mad Decent label. This particular relationship began eight years ago, when DL met Diplo at one of his gigs.
“He was playing with Chromeo. We hit it off, and have been friends ever since,” DL recollects. "He hadn’t even started Mad Decent at the time, but we had similar visions. [He was into] the events I was doing, so he put me on a lot of his shows [in Montreal]."
As a testament to Diplo’s trust in DL's acumen, he was recently handed the keys to a new monthly Mad Decent party in Montreal after Diplo and Madonna rolled through the city for back-to-back shows on her latest tour. DL was in charge of the after-parties for both evenings.
"The first of the two [parties], I named the 'Mad Decent House Party,' since I wanted to highlight the label as well," he says. Luckily, it paid off: "[Diplo] really dug it, and the next day, while we were backstage at the concert, we had a quick brainstorm about ways to [expand] it.”
What resulted was a monthly party in Montreal showcasing some of the best talent the city has to offer, always hosted by DL Jones.
Montreal might not be the first city that comes to mind for monthly Mad Decent parties. It's one-eighth the size of New York City; hell, it's not even the most populated major city in Canada. It may seem like a weird place for the label to plant its flag... which is exactly what makes Montreal a perfect fit. What it lacks in size, it makes up for tenfold in scope, especially in its output of music. How else could such a tiny city produce such a wide array of successful electronic acts? Just look at Chromeo, A-Trak, Adventure Club, SNAILS, Kaytranada, Tommy Kruise, and High Klassified. The city's distinct aura has made it fertile ground for a thing like Mad Decent (and company) to flourish.
As DL puts it, "I believe Montrealers are more open to different experiences and sounds than they have been in quite some time. It’s been fun to watch the burgeoning subcultures, too. Things always seem to grow more organically here."
It isn’t all about the parties, either. DL Jones is passionate when discussing his charity initiative, Naïve Melodie, a project he put together alongside Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, as well as Herve K of Moonshine.
“We felt that it would be cool to give charity events a twist and make it more of a party. You never really hear about crazy fun charity jams,” he says. The team hosts a monthly event that raises money to help rebuild Haiti through Régine’s KANPE Foundation.
"[Naïve Melodie] was an important project for me to help start because, as much as I love being part of the nightlife and the culture, certain aspects of it can end up feeling vain at times," he says. "So, being able to crew up with some amazing people and help make a real difference gave me a sense of purpose I hadn’t felt before with organizing events."
When asked about his reputation as an organizer, philanthropist, and general coolest-guy-in-the-room, DL responds modestly: “I just try to do cool shit differently. I never found it healthy to make a habit out of patting yourself on the back; you just keep it moving and try to surpass your own expectations as often as possible.”
He may not want to pat himself on the back, but I sure as hell will: DL Jones has an unprecedented reputation in Montreal.
It’s rare to find someone with a reputation these days, which should not be confused with popularity. It isn’t defined by Twitter followers or Soundcloud plays; it’s something that you have to earn.
That’s what makes DL different. He doesn’t have a million social media followers. In fact, I find his Instagram account hilarious because less than 200 people are privy to his candid shots with Diplo, Skrillex, and Will.I.Am, to name a few. The Montreal Gazette featured him as one of their 20 Hottest Montrealers of the Year for 2015, a list that included P.K. Subban and Justin Trudeau. He may not be known by the masses, evident by my "who is this dude adding me on Facebook?" attitude at first, but he can show up to any bar, club, or venue in the city and be treated like royalty. That’s what a reputation gets you.
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