We had the good fortune of connecting with Joel De Villiers (Spaceman Dela) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joel, how do you think about risk?
I think that risk taking is an essential component to making progress in life. Whether it be creating art/content, running a business or inventing some new product, the idea of leaving one’s comfort zone and taking (calculated) leaps of faith is always a crucial factor in becoming great at what you do and blazing a path. Now this might not be the ideal way to go about things for most people, meaning you have to be prepared to fall flat on your face, to be humbled time and time again, and to face failure with resilience. I feel like many of us are way too caught up with our image and live with a deep-seated fear of messing up in front of others. If you operate out of fear, decisions never get made and therefore progress is hindered (trust me, I’ve learned this from experience). The goal is to not be stagnant; the path to success is not linear and it is far from easy, but you need to keep moving. Sometimes you make the wrong decision or take the wrong risk and have to course correct… that’s part of the game! But if you sit around all day and wait for the stars to align, you’ll watch seasons go by and miss your piece of the action. Now, I’m also a firm believer in going at your own pace and feeding off momentum, meaning you need to take risks but try not to rush the process too much and act out of desperation. Timing is key. A well assessed risk means you’re considering all of the outcomes you can at the time, and the potential return outweighs the potential loss. The thing is, we live in a chaotic universe and things move fast, so there’s only so much “assessment” and calculation you can do. I think people need to find a balance when taking risks, to make these decisions not just with their minds (logically), but with their hearts (intuitively). I’ve always believed in betting on myself. I don’t go to casinos, I don’t play the lottery, I just put my money where my mouth is. I feel that I’m really the only one who knows how deep my passion is, and therefore I’m the only one who is fully equipped with and connected to a long-term vision of my own life. So I invest, but I can’t say I’ve seen a huge ROI so maybe I’m not the right person to speak on this yet. Regardless, I feel that I know what’s coming to me. Call it intuition or call it delusion haha. Patience has to come into play as well. Some risks really only pay off down the line, and if you’re not willing to stick it out and wait for the right moment you’ll probably end up missing your widow. You can’t expect to plant a seed and have a tree the next day, right? A lot of risks and investments are kind of like seeds in that way; they need nurturing and attentiveness over time to come to fruition. I think that with the right intentions and a strong will, the right sequence of calculated risks can change someone’s whole life. There’s no fun in always playing it safe, if you want more out of life you need to take the right risks to get it. And despite not seeing a large return monetarily in my own personal career as an artist (yet), I’ve received so many blessings in the form of strong connections, priceless memories and countless learning/growing opportunities. I credit most of those to taking my life and path into my own hands. So I don’t consider the money I’ve put into this journey as a loss, I just watch my connections and opportunities appreciate in value and charge the rest to the game.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’ve been surrounded by music since a young child, with my father being a jazz fusion guitarist and my mother a classical violinist. I’ve been blessed with a multi-generational, deep-rooted love for and understanding of music. So I played many instruments as a child but never really stuck with anything except for the drums. I’ve always had a natural sense for rhythm and a gift for writing and words. So I played in a few bands in my early years of high school, til I became friends with my homie Chase through a talent show we were both in. He was singing, songwriting and making beats in his basement and I wanted to take a go at it. Listening back that stuff makes me cringe, but at the time we were making some really cool shit with the resources we had. I can say it’s been about 8 years since then, but I’ve only been taking it really seriously for the last few. Regardless, I spent years writing and experimenting in studios, doing little talent shows and gigs, and freestyling at house parties and events. I haven’t seen significant success in terms of “making a huge hit” or “blowing up” but I can say I’ve made some amazing records and created some beautiful moments in time with my gift. I put in a lot of work behind the scenes and my main goal was always to make the end product undeniably good, and I think I’ve reached that point. I’ve learned that the proof is in the pudding, or better yet the sauce. What ever you put into your recipe is what people will get out of it. I started really channeling authentic and genuine vibrations through music when I got my intentions aligned, and started focusing more on what’s inside rather than what’s outside. I write and create to heal myself and in turn help heal others, to plant seeds of optimism and hope in people’s hearts. I use music as my outlet and process to try and see the bigger picture everyday, so I think that when people listen it really resonates because the intention, as well as the skill and the talent, is all there. I’ve also learned, and am still learning not to take things personally. Everyone is going through their own shit and dealing with their own karma, and the scope is usually much larger than how it feels to us in the moment. I operate with the utmost respect from the jump, and when people don’t reciprocate or start to sabotage a relationship or opportunity, I try to step back without becoming offended personally or causing any offence. What I’m trying to say is don’t burn your bridges; tables turn and everybody goes through phases. Stay open to the narrative and energy changing as time passes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would definitely spend a day at Mount Royal, it’s a Montreal staple. This huge park is absolutely buzzing with life on a sunny summer day; people dancing their hearts out, playing all kinds of sports, or just laying around with a blanket on the grass, drinking and smoking weed like free souls do. Taking a stroll in the plateau is also beautiful, it’s a super artsy area filled with cool little record shops, restaurants and cafes. Downtown is also cool but kind of overrated in my opinion. Saint Henri is a must though, Notre-Dame street is packed with great places to grab food and chill! Honestly the amount of good eating spots is overwhelming for such a small city, you could spend your whole time just tasting the wide array of cultural flavours the city has to offer. There’s the legendary poutines of course, the best bagels in the world, amazing Caribbean spots, killer Indian food, pho and ramen holes in the wall, comforting jewish delis, decadent French bistros… don’t even get me started. Montreal has so much to offer and is definitely one of the most slept on cities in the world! We also have so much talent in terms of musicians and performers so we’re hoping that we can get back to showcasing that as soon as possible. Pre-covid Montreal nightlife was a blast.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to shoutout my father, Jerry De Villiers Jr, for being a huge mentor of mine and always encouraging my dreams and helping me to grow as an artist. Also, shout out to the words of Alan Watts & Ram Dass for helping me to become a part of the whole and better understand my existence and gifts. A little unrelated but super related, I think everyone should check out Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss for some more “down to earth” guidance as well. Mad love goes out to all of my fans, friends and family that support my music everyday, so thankful for every one of y’all!
Photo credits to David Tran, Pronce Biersing, Thomas Hawes, Manuel Rios, my guy Serge and Ron Gold
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