From Old School Controller to Center Stage: The Journey of Dillon Nathaniel

Aug 10, 2023

Carolina Quijano

3 min read

Dillon Nathaniel might be a prominent figure in the house and tech world, but it wasn’t always that way. A self-proclaimed audio nerd, Nathaniel was bitten by the technical bug while still in high school.

At 16, he discovered his father’s M-Audio 4-channel controller, a USB super old school controller, just collecting dust. Nathaniel never thought much about the controller; he was more into playing guitar and learning to sing.

However, after a chance attendance at a little rave called EDC, a new inspiration arose: to make music. He took over the DJ equipment, and his uncle bought him his first set of headphones and a laptop. Then, he got into DJing.

Entering his senior year at Costa Mesa High School, he decided to take a music tech class, one that focused on audio engineering. He discovered Logic and began to immerse himself in the more technical aspects of music. His music teacher was obsessed with engineering. That teacher served as an inspiration to Nathaniel, and soon he found himself making beats and sharing them with his friends, not much different from how he is now.

This teacher and class lit a fire in him that he didn’t know existed. He wanted to be involved in music in some way. To help achieve that goal, he enrolled in The Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, and the whole experience was life changing. He got his first apartment and threw himself into his studies for the two-year course.

Dillon in Engineering School

He interned at Atlantic Records as part of his final year at MI, and though the internship itself wasn’t more than being a coffee gofer for artists, the connections, and realizations he made were priceless. He wanted to return to making beats, not to audio engineering.

He began attending Merge, a dubstep/drum and bass night that featured a second, smaller room for house DJs. There, he connected with someone who encouraged him to apply to Icon Collective, which he did. That decision turned out to be incredibly monumental, as it introduced him to many others taking the music world by storm, such as Jauz and MaKJ. Jauz was instrumental in helping Nathaniel become the DJ he is today.

Jauz and Dillon Nathaniel

From there, he connected with Dateless in Costa Mesa. Dateless, who is Argentinian, was just getting into Dirtybird. He taught Nathaniel about rhythm, explaining that rhythm is everything in music. The Latin-fusion music Dateless was creating inspired Nathaniel to slow his records down and adopt a less aggressive sound.

Nathaniel loves experimenting musically. He's all about finding his sound. He knows how important it is to evolve as an artist, to make forward progress, and not stay stagnant. And that's just what he strives to do with every beat he makes.

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