Breaking Boundaries with Carly Wilford: ADE, Inclusivity, and Inspiring the Next Generation of Producers

ADE is a massive event with countless activities and shows.  As someone deeply involved, could you give us an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to be part of this grand organization?

There is no other conference in the world like ADE and it’s a real highlight in the electronic music world calendar. From talks, workshops and networking events to pop up raves, secret sets and world class club nights. The music industry descends on Amsterdam every October and whether you’re looking to learn about how to step into music or make a next level career break, everything is possible. The things that you learn and are part of at ADE can change the path of your career forever. From hearing a valuable piece of advice during a panel discussion to bumping into someone in the streets of the city. If you go with a plan of what you want to achieve, you never know what the conference can help to unlock for you. 

You have had an impressive line-up of events during ADE.  Among the numerous appearances, is there one event that particularly excited you or holds a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Absolutely, loved interviewing Don Diablo this year. He was so open and not only really easy to talk to but massively talented in so many different areas of music, art and fashion. He has always been at the forefront of navigating new trends in technology so hearing his take on the future of the music landscape was really inspiring. 

Many aspiring DJ producers attend ADE to network and showcase their work. What advice would you offer to fellow DJs and producers and how can they make the most of their experience, and what should they aim to take away from the event?

Go with an open mind, speak to as many people as possible and be flexible with your schedule. So many of the unplanned moments become the most impactful. Talk to the people next to you at events, ask questions at the panels and connect with people at parties. Some of the most unexpected people in music can be the ones that open doors. 

Your journey into music production is inspiring, especially considering you started during the lockdown. What motivated you to begin producing, and how do you see this new aspect of your career evolving?

Music Production was always something that I wanted to try but I had no idea of where to start or whether I’d be any good at it. Lockdown was the perfect moment to learn as much as possible. I’d lost nearly all of my work and so spent time on Ableton every day. I was always so inspired by my musician friends and loved being in the studio with them and being part of the creative process. I feel so lucky that I get to do that as a career now. I’m still learning, still soaking up as much as I can about the production process and collaborating with new musicians along the way. I have some really strong releases coming this year that I can’t wait to share with you all. 

What’s the most interesting conference or panel discussion you’ve attended at ADE this year?

Loved spending time with Dillon Francis and his team during the ‘Amplifying Digital Momentum’ panel. The way he’s grown his online world alongside releasing music is so powerful. He’s a brilliant person, really funny and works massively hard as well as knowing his audience and what they want from him as an artist. For any musician now, you have to understand how to market your music and connect with people online. His advice was invaluable and I know everyone in the room during that session took so much away from it.

If you could create a dream conference with any artists, industry figures, or topics, what would it be like?

Creating a conference that is purely based around creativity would be incredible. Instead of musicians listening to panellists talking, you get people collaborating with one another, coming up with new ideas for projects, from music production and song writing to marketing and building business plans. I often think that there are so many talented people in the room at these conferences, imagine if we got them all to work with one another. It could be led by the figures in the industry that are breaking ground within their field and paying forward their skills to the next generation of artists. 

What’s the key message, memory or valuable lesson you’ll take away from ADE 2023?

Innovation is happening quicker than ever and as musicians we have to find a way to understand the changes that are happening and decide which elements resonate. Technological advances mean that the music making process is evolving and the way that we connect with our audience is too. If you can be at the forefront of taking risks as things change then it can be a really revolutionary time for creativity. 


Diversity and inclusivity are crucial topics in the music industry.  As someone who’s making strides and advocating for female producers, what changes or initiatives would you like to see to promote a more inclusive music industry?

So much of this is down to us having the confidence to try new things and to step forward instead of stepping back. Move towards the things that scare you the most, don’t be afraid to learn new skills, sign up to a course, find a mentor, start a new business. There is so much to learn in music and more resources than ever before, it’s a very fast moving and progressive time. 

ADE is known for bringing together music professionals from around the world. Can you share a memorable experience or connection you’ve made at ADE that had a lasting impact on your career or artistic journey?

Last year, I went along to the Nervous Records showcase to watch Louie Vega play. I ended up behind the decks and met the team from the label. We all got on amazingly and stayed in touch. I ended up sending them some of my demos and they signed ‘Virgo Season’ that came out in August this year. Not only did it fly on Apple Music, it now sits alongside some of house music’s most legendary releases. I’d always had so much respect for the label and ADE made the connect possible. 

How do you see the future of the music industry evolving, particularly with the rise of streaming platforms and digital innovation? What are some challenges and opportunities for artists in this ever-changing landscape?

When it comes to music production AI integration will be really interesting as it brings new creative elements to the music making process. With that, I feel like musicians may merge more traditional and analogue styles of creation with faster, new advanced ways of electronic music production. The immersive and visual element of artists sets will evolve further as technology moves forward and with that audiences will become more connected to the performances. Alongside this trend, I think that there will be a kickback against those advances and we will see a more authentic and raw push back to underground clubs and raves and new sounds and genres emerging from that. 

You’ve played at some iconic festivals and events. Is there a standout performance or moment in your career that holds a special place in your heart?

The Glade Dome at Glastonbury this year was one of the best sets I have ever played. The crowd in that area of the festival are always so connected and up for it. When I stepped on stage there had been someone playing Drum & Bass before me so when I switched to House I didn’t know how it would go down. Over the next 70 mins, I tested new music, played the tunes that I loved and watched the crowd grow so much that I couldn’t see where it ended. Arielle Free was playing on the main Glade Stage at the same time and at one point there were over 10,000 people that had gravitated to that area of the festival, so much so they had to stop people coming in. Glastonbury is always magical but standing on stage this year and seeing such a tide of people as I was performing is something I will never forget. 

What’s next for Carly Wilford?

Got some stand out releases signed for the early part of 2024 so can’t wait for you to hear them. Been busy collaborating in the studio with artists and producers that I admire. I have taken my sound slightly darker and if you’ve been at my sets over the summer you might recognise some of the new releases. Would love to travel and tour more this year too and always have my eyes on America, house music is having such a moment there right now and would love to be part of it. 

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