Artist of the Month: Hot Since 82 Opens up About his Childhood, Trauma, and Recovery

With his upbeat attitude and relentless work ethic, Hot Since 82 has achieved what most only dream of. But personal tragedy rocked his very foundations, and threatened to take everything. As Alice Austin learns, the road to recovery has given him a second lease on life.

17 min
Hot Since 82 Artist of the Month Beatport
Nov 9, 2020
Alice Austin

Daley Padley is having a manic day. His dog is sick, so he had to take it to the vet. But then he forgot his wallet in the car, and his wife Abbie is renovating her beauty salon. So the man who’d normally be touring the globe as Hot Since 82 is looking after their newborn son Enzo, AKA Hot Since 2020, who’s 10 weeks old and has a jam-packed schedule of pooping, crying, and sleeping.

“Sorry I’m late,” he says (twelve minutes to be precise, which is basically early in dance music). “It’s all just crazy at the minute. Jesus, one sec — I can hear my son crying.” Daley disappears off camera. His kitchen is open plan, in case you’re interested, with sleek grey cabinets, a cream breakfast bar with matching stools, and a crystal chandelier tinkling overhead. It’s all clean lines and rectangles, feng shuied to high heaven, the kind of home Marie Kondo would take one look at and say my work here is done. It’s as sleek and polished as Padley’s house productions; as stylish as his unending supply of designer t-shirts.

Daley comes back in view holding a minuscule human. “This is Enzo,” he says. Enzo stares at the camera, slightly startled. “Everything’s mad right now,” Daley says, but he doesn’t look stressed. He looks delighted.

Hot Since 82 is such a house heavyweight you’d think he’d have some kind of superstar DJ affectation. He could’ve picked one up after his Pacha Ibiza residency, his recent track “Be Strong” with Rudimental hit 500k streams almost instantly. Or when he lapped the world about 20 times playing every festival under the sun, or when his Green Velvet remix hit number one on Beatport, or when he released chart-storming tracks on Defected or Get Physical. But he’s somehow managed to maintain the air of that one bloke in your friend group who always offers to buy the next round even if it isn’t his turn. He might be one of the biggest names in dance music, but Padley’s Yorkshireman persona has prevailed. He is the happiest of chappies, always grinning and his eyes are bright and curious. In fact, he’s so interested in what I’m up to, the interview has to be steered back in his direction multiple times.

One of four siblings, Padley was raised by his mum in a three bed council house in Barnsley. He describes it as a kind of musical funhouse. “We’re all the same, we all need ambience in a room,” he says. “So we’d have BBC Radio 3 in the kitchen, MTV in the living room, hip-hop or soul in my room, Madonna or TLC in my sister’s room.”

Padley’s father faded in and out of their lives, but his mum was and still is a reigning figure in the family. “We call her the jukebox,” Daley says. “She can pick any genre from any decade and tell you what label it’s on when it was released, where it got in the charts. It’s insane. She’s a very cool mum actually. She’s a bit mad, but aren’t we all.” He chuckles. “This is great. It’s like therapy!”

They didn’t have much growing up, but they didn’t know any different. The estate Padley lived on felt more like a community, and he had his siblings to bounce off of. He’s always liked fashion and remembers being so hellbent on copping designer gear he’d use catalogues to buy Lacoste shirts and Adidas creps, paying it off in instalments like a mortgage. His mum would save all her five- and ten-cent pieces in a jar and use it to pay the electricity bill. He speaks of it warmly. “We were just good kids,” Daley says. “There were heroin addicts around but we never went down that route. I was a little shithead to be fair, but I never brought trouble to the door. I surrounded myself with good people.”

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Padley started playing clubs in his home town under his own name in the early 2000s. Barnsley is an old coal mining town located in northern England between Sheffield and Leeds. It’s famous for its football team, Barnsley F.C., who are currently skidding towards the wrong end of the Championship, and for the Barnsley Chop, a double-loin rib steak slow-cooked in gravy. But the town has always had a small and mighty nightlife, and back then it consisted almost entirely of Padley’s mates. “There was about 50 of us and we all lived in each other’s pockets,” he says. “So whenever the owner of a bar booked me they knew they’d make it back tenfold from my crew.” Daley became resident at a local club called KGV and soon rose to prominence in the Yorkshire region for his extended sets. “I’d go back-to-back with my friend every Sunday. We’d start at lunchtime and finish at 1 a.m. That taught me how to play long sets, how to build it up, drop it down, how to be a DJ, really. I learnt the craft there.”

Padley still thinks of those years as the best of his career. He’s a raver at heart and that time was pure — unclouded by money or status. Twice weekly he’d go crate-digging in Leeds. And on the train home, white labels in hand, he could hardly sit still with anticipation and excitement. Soon his never-ending sets were becoming legendary in Ibiza, London, Miami. “I was doing the DJ circuit, trying to become something,” Padley says. “At that age, you don’t even know what you’re trying to achieve. Just plugging away at something.”

Padley’s standing up now, holding Enzo like a rugby ball. Enzo’s staring at the camera, tiny limbs dangling off his dad’s non-sleeved arm when his expression turns from startled to alarmed. “Did you hear that?” Padley says, beaming. “He pooped! Anyway — I was putting records out, had some success, but it was consuming me. I was so passionate about it but not really getting to where I wanted to be. I didn’t have a day job to keep me grounded, I was just putting everything into DJing.” So in 2008, in a bid to preserve his marbles, Padley stepped away from nightlife and spent two years renovating a house.

In 2010 he moved to an apartment in central Leeds and found himself in the epicentre of the deep house explosion. Padley instantly felt reconnected to the early days. Vocals were back, as were big basslines and disco. And more importantly, people were dancing. “I started raving again,” he says. “It felt like I was 21. I made one particular record and that popped off. And since then everything’s snowballed so fast I never got the chance to catch my breath.”

Hot Since 82 went from playing 3 gigs in 2011 to 61 gigs in 2012. That same year he released his Forty Shorty EP on Get Physical, then his first full-length album, Little Black Book, on Moda Black in 2013. By then his name was firmly established amongst the world’s leading house artists. He was sharing the booth with Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Annie Mac. And in 2014, he launched Knee Deep In Sound, “house music for the next generation” — a label that champions undiscovered producers. The lad from Barnsley regularly cites luck as a key ingredient to his career, so giving young talent a leg-up is his way of paying it forward.

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In 2014, Padley and his manager James Drummond launched their uniquely branded club night, Taken, which throws parties in venues that have never hosted events before. Buying a ticket even gets you voluntarily abducted. Punters are blindfolded by masked men, piled on to a bus and deposited at the venue, which could be a log cabin in the Austrian alps, a warehouse in Brooklyn or an abandoned gasworks in LA. It’s an exhilarating experience, but the true pull is Padley. When Hot Since 82 emerges behind the booth, silhouetted against the smoke and lasers, the vibe goes into overdrive. “It’s been a few years since the masked man has been active,” says Drummond. “We’ve not seen or heard of his whereabouts for some time. It wouldn’t surprise me if he returned at some point. It’s out of our control.”

Friendship has played a continuous, central part in Padley’s career. And in April 2017 his world came to a jarring halt. Padley’s best friend of 15 years, Paul “Coop” Cooper, took his own life. When Padley got the news at Frankfurt airport, everything froze. He didn’t cry, he says, it just felt like all feeling had been sucked out of him.

It was the beginning of the Ibiza season, and Padley was hosting his first Labyrinth residency at Pacha. The show, somehow, had to go on. “I went into self destruct mode from May until the end of October,” Padley says. “I was being an absolute arsehole. Partying when I shouldn’t have been, just caning it.”

He hid it from everybody. He’d ask his driver not to tell his friends or partner that he hadn’t slept all weekend. “I was in a really bad way,” Padley says. “I was just self-medicating.”

When the season was over, he got support and learnt how to channel his grief in a healthy way. He cleaned up his act, locked himself in his studio, and produced 8-track, an emotive, and brooding house record that steps away from the dance floor and into a more introspective space.

“Just a few days ago I got up early with Enzo and listened to 8-track from start to finish. I was sat on the window ledge, Enzo was asleep in my arms, and I could just feel the story. I’m really proud of it.”

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Since then Padley’s reduced his partying to a minimum. He loves tequila, he says, because it loosens him up, but apart from the odd shot he doesn’t drink much. “It’s invigorating, being on the money all the time,” he says. “[Partying] has been fun, but now it’s more important I play as best I can and make the best music I can.” His face lights up. Abbie’s home. “Heya love,” he says. “We’re just having a therapy session.”

Padley donated proceeds from 8-track to the mental health charity, Mind. Losing Coop, Padley says, “took a lot out of me for about 18 months.” And that’s why his next album, due for release November 27th, is called Recovery.

It’s a return to his disco and house roots, a restoration of those halcyon days in Barnsley, except he’s gone nuts with production. He collaborated with singer-songwriter Liz Cass, Hot Creations boss Jamie Jones, and worked with Sam Smith’s producer to create some radio-ready tracks. “But only a few,” Padley says. “I want to come back from 8-track with something a bit more dancey.”

Boy George also makes an appearance. They met, kind of, on a flight to Heathrow a few years ago. “When George is not dressed in make-up and a hat, he’s not Boy George,” Padley says. “And when I got off the flight he tweeted to say he’d been sat next to me. So I responded and said, ‘Let’s make some music.’”

Padley asked George to record his memories of 1982. “It’s like eight minutes of just Margaret Thatcher, mining strikes, Italy won the world cup, Haçienda, Kraftwerk. He just gave me this big blurb.” The result is “Body Control,” a fearless throwback to the thumping bass-lines and trance drops of the eighties.

Amongst the damage and debris of a year that’s decimated the music industry, Padley’s new album is full of hope, and feels like a subtle return to the dance floor. It’s not overly jovial — it is 2020 after all — but a sense of optimism and strength runs through it. “Eye of the Storm,” a dark pop track, is an unflinching encapsulation of dance music’s current mood, while “Barefoot” is a return to minimalism; a stripped-back reminder that, although it’s hard to imagine, one day this will all be over and we’ll be dancing shoulder to shoulder once again. Recovery is a tribute, it seems, to the healing power of house, and to the resilience of our industry.

Alice Austin is a freelance writer from London, based in Berlin. She writes for Mixmag, Beatportal, Huck, Dummy, Electronic Beats, and more. She likes to explore politics and youth culture through the lens of music, a vocation that has led her round the world. She can be reached and/or followed via Twitter and Instagram.

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