Becoming a DJ came to Orlagh Dooley in a dream. No, really. During her first year of university, Dooley had an epiphany, in the form of “a dream where I could see myself DJing... and I’d never even thought of DJing before. It was so weird.” Dooley woke up, downloaded some free DJ software onto her ancient laptop, and got started as Or:la.
Perhaps we should all choose our careers through epiphany, because it seems to be working out pretty well for Or:la. For an artist still in her twenties, she’s managed to do just about everything you can within dance music. She DJs and produces original music, runs record labels and has years under her belt hosting parties, even breaking into abandoned office blocks to do it — all while garnering support from a growing international audience, particularly across the UK and Europe.
In recent years, Or:la’s hit the road with as much force as the pandemic has allowed. She’s helmed the booth at UK festivals like Lost Village and Field Maneuvers, and in make-or-break clubs like Ibiza’s Circoloco, Berlin’s Berghain, Tbilisi’s Bassiani, London’s Printworks and Corsica Studios, and New York City’s Nowadays. Though global, ever-changing restrictions on touring necessarily slowed her touring momentum over the last year or so, she still played major sets in 2021 that saw thousands lock into her groove, most notably at Belfast’s AVA Festival.
And it seems like the wider industry is embracing Or:la’s vibe. In 2020, she recorded an Essential Mix for Pete Tong’s legendary BBC Radio 1 show, and starting this month, she’ll be part of the station’s taste-making Radio 1 Dance Residency, sharing top billing with Goldie, Sama’ Abdulhadi, Scratcha DVA, Folamour and LCY; spinning an eclectic mix of dance tracks during the station’s primetime slot.