How a Ski Slopestyle Champion led Denis Sulta to His Music Career

May 3, 2023

Luca Rizzello

3 min read

Denis Sulta—aka Hector Barbour—is a globally renowned DJ and producer who’s never shied from doing things his way. A Mixmag cover star, with support from Ben UFO, Four Tet, Bicep, and Peggy Gou, Barbour also held a BBC Radio 1 Residency show alongside Jayda G, HAAi, Charlotte de Witte, and Saoirse.

Based in his hometown of Glasgow, he reached a career milestone in 2019 with the release of his debut EP on Ninja Tune, Aye Spoake Te Sumwuhn & They ListenhdOne of his most personal releases to date, the tracks were inspired by the people and places who have guided and nurtured Barbour on the path to where he is today.

Barbour met one of the most central figures on his road to success under unexpected circumstances. One day on Glasgow’s dry slope, he saw “this guy ski past going backwards with no poles, go off a jump and do a full backflip… and land,” he explains in an interview with DJ Mag. He soon discovered that this was Cal Sandieson, a future British Ski Slopestyle Champion, and soon after meeting, the pair became friends.

As he neared his twenties, Barbour headed to a virtually deserted ski complex with Sandieson and his dad, Wilba, in the Italian Alps. “This was when I realized drinking was actually quite a good laugh,” he says, explaining that he grew up in a dry household.

Wilba was the co-owner of Glasgow’s Rubadub, an internationally recognized record and music gear shop. He first visited Detroit in 1994 to buy records and build connections. As a result, the store has become a hotspot for American DJs when they pass through Glasgow for gigs.

After finding a vacant room with a speaker system, Barbour and Wilba attempted to host a party, which quickly spiraled into the pair “drinking an entire bottle of Laphroaig whisky, then having a quarrel about something.”

To his surprise, when Barbour woke the next morning and went to breakfast, Wilba welcomed him to the family and told him to call him when he returned home. “That was my job interview.”

Working at Rubadub, Barbour gained an expansive knowledge of electronic music and learned to mix vinyl. “That man is good at testing your ability — either do it, or fuck off,” he says of Wilba’s directness. “The thing is, I can do it, and I can do anything. He made me feel like that.”

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