Meet the industry’s brightest new talents… This month, Oli Welch, A&R, D4 D4NCE, talks us through his journey so far...
How did you forge a path into the world of dance music?
“My career in music started during my first year at university. I had been running parties in Bristol and wanted to fill my summer with as much music work experience as I could. I approached Simon [Dunmore, founder] at a Defected event in Shoreditch and within a few days I was working at the Defected Store. The following summer, I moved to Ibiza for the season, running marketing and artist liaison for Defected on the island. That set me up for a marketing job at Motion in Bristol while I finished my time at uni, before eventually landing a job in the Defected A&R team once I’d completed my studies. Those early years set a great foundation.”
Describe a typical day at work…
“It’s very much centred on working on new releases and new talent. Once I sign a record, I’ll then continue working on the release alongside the marketing and plugging teams. I’ll be in listening sessions one minute, and then calling pluggers or checking in with the streaming team on what we can do to further existing campaigns. Being hands-on beyond the signing of a record is important to me, and I feel that it’s essential to my future signing strategies.”
Talk us through some of your career highlights so far…
“Launching D4 D4NCE with Wez Saunders [CEO] and the Defected team during lockdown is absolutely up there as a career highlight so far. Apart from the club records I was signing pre-pandemic, I was always in touch with artists that sat in the slightly more commercial space – so when Wez asked me to A&R D4 D4NCE, and dig in to make it a success during lockdown, I really put everything I could into it. Release-wise, it’s been great working with artists like LP Giobbi, John Summit, Camden Cox, Bklava and Joel Corry’s club music campaign at the beginning of the year. The beauty of being part of the Defected family is the wealth of knowledge I have picked up in relation to working on club tracks, radio tracks and anything that sits in between.”
What excites you most about dance music right now?
“I am excited to see how the traditional way of writing is diversifying. Putting writing camps together with a brief around the next hit is great, as is the artist in their bedroom with a laptop, phone and an internet connection who also has every chance at writing the next No.1. That level playing field is keeping everyone on their toes. The importance of TikTok and other social media is undeniable right now: artists can test out new ideas and regularly communicate with their community, creating a space for fans to engage with records from early on, as opposed to just hearing about them on release day.”
Finally, what’s your ultimate goal in music?
“To continue growing as an A&R and to continue working with exciting new talent. Being able to look back at the records I’ve signed, and be proud of the artists I’ve supported and nurtured is what I work towards every day.”
OLI’S RECOMMENDED TRACK: Saint – Poison