How do you see the DJ’s role at a nightclub?
You’re the host; you’re the reason they have a good time or bad time. You’re the one that makes them buy that extra bottle or not. ... Go in front of a full club and start playing sh*tty music for an hour—or playing good music but not for that crowd— they’re gonna leave. The club owner’s gonna be upset, because he didn’t make any money. And if it happens, he will tell all the club owners.
How do you pick which songs to play during a set?
I used to play my hits and a cappellas and sh*t, and now I play lots and lots of new music. ... If you see 10,000 kids, play Nicki Minaj “Starships.” If I get booked as Afrojack for the president’s daughter, I’m not gonna go in there and say, “Make some f*cking noise!”
How did you decide to become a Wynn/Encore resident DJ?
I got started in this city when my agent introduced me to Jesse Waits [co-owner of Tryst and XS]. And Jesse took care of me and showed me around the city and helped build the club to the next level. I decided together with him to put the DJ booth on the other side of the club. I want to stay with the people I hang with, you know? He took care of me in the beginning when I was, like, complete sh*t.
Who did you look up to when you were getting started?
I looked up to Missy Elliott. She was a rapper from Atlanta when there were still some white/black issues, and look at what she did. And she didn’t do it because she has special lyrics in her head. She goes in the bus to work, she writes. She’s at work, she writes. She’s writing all the f*cking time. Ronaldinho, like the biggest trick football player, he’s been on his garage for maybe 15 years, eight hours a day, putting a ball to the wall and back all the time. If you really wanna do something you just have to work hard.
The Nightlife Issue
- Cocktails and confessions with Las Vegas’ ambassadors of booze
- Enter the supper club: Are nightlife one-stop shops the wave of the future?
- Light Group resident DJ Aaron “Ikon” White looks beyond the booth
- The Bank Nightclub (Las Vegas) vs. the Bank Club (Pioche)
- Meet Marquee’s hard-partying mascot: Mr. Q
- Marquee’s costume menu: It’s not just for Halloween
- Three reasons Kandy Vegas should be part of your holiday weekend
- LMFAO’s Sky-Blu rains champagne at Wet Republic
- Have pinata, will party at Ghostbar Day Club’s second season
You’ve worked hard enough to headline your own Jacked tour. Tell me about that experience.
I do the timetable; I make sure that everyone’s updated; I make sure that the club security acts nice—like if you’ve been an asshole, I’m never f*ckin’ playin’ here again. Four years ago, I was going to clubs myself. I had a fake ID for the Miami Winter Music Conference, but I got in. If you go to a club and someone acts like, “I’m the boss, you can’t get in,” that’s really something bad for the scene. You have to buy a ticket, but once you’re in you’re part of my own personal party. It’s not about if you’re important or if you’re rich. No, we’re just partying together.
In the fake ID days, did you know you had a future as a DJ?
The main biggest thing was when I went to WMC three years ago and Sebastian Ingrosso, Swedish House Mafia and all those guys—I was and I still am a fan of those guys—I met them and they said, “Oh my God, I love your music.” And I’m like, “You love my music? I love your music.” It was dope.
Since then, you’ve hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, debuted at No. 19 on the DJ Mag list—you’re at No. 7 now—and you’ve won a Grammy. What’s next?
I want to become an actor.
(Laughs) No, no, no, just joking. ... I love playing my music, but what makes me the most happy is when I’m Twittering to people and I not just inspire them but actually teach them to live life and love life and be happy and take everything in. I don’t come from anywhere. I’m not on a rich family; I’m not musically super-gifted; I don’t have a golden egg. I just worked really hard and I said, I don’t care if I’m gonna be broke or I’m gonna be super rich, I just wanna make music and play it to people.
How did EDC compare to other major music festivals?
I think Woodstock was, like, millions, but this is the closest thing ever to something that size. ... It’s like Burning Man without hating the machine. We come together, we party, we listen to our favorite DJs and meet sh*tloads of people that are exactly the same wavelength ... People come here from all over the world to experience freedom.
What advice would you give young DJs?
Listen, listen, watch, learn. It’s not just about the mixing thing; like, no one gives a f*ck if you f*ck up mixes. ... Everyone’s looking at you to make the party. Make the f*cking party. Make sure the night is fun. Adjust to the situation. That’s the most important thing.