His way: Dirty South on crafting his own go-to tracks

Dirty South returns to Omnia this weekend.
Deanna Rilling

Dragan Roganovic has been a staple of Las Vegas nightlife since the electronic music takeover. The DJ and producer better known as Dirty South has amassed an impressive following, received Grammy nominations and nabbed coveted megaclub residencies. Ahead of his gig at new home Omnia, we caught up with Roganovic to find out what’s inspiring him these days.

As someone who’s played Vegas for years, what have you noticed about the sound of the city, and how has that impacted your sets? I’ve been playing Vegas since 2007 or 2008. Vegas is a little more commercial than the rest of the country and there’s a lot of tourists. I’m gonna do my thing, but it’s definitely a little more commercial than Los Angeles, for example, where I can play like four or five hours, play deep and techno and do all kinds of stuff.

Do you have a ritual when going through music for your sets? It’s part of a DJ’s job to make sure you have great songs, and as a producer, I have to spend time making new songs so I can play them out. I don’t really have a ritual; it’s more whenever I get a chance to. I’ll go through new music and play it loud through the speakers and see if I catch a vibe. If I do, it ends up being in my record box.

What’s been your go-to track for this summer? I just finished a new record myself and it’s called “Find a Way” and I’ve been playing it a lot—I’ve actually been playing it since March and Miami [Winter Music] Conference. It’s been a work in progress since then. It’s a summery record that really works, vocal and uplifting.

That song encapsulates that energetic, big-room EDM sound with the build and drop and other familiar nuances. What do you feel are key elements to the track that are unique? It’s quite melodic, a very catchy melody. [Australian artist and collaborator] Rudy wrote lyrics that are quite emotional. I don’t think it tries too hard. I think it just works with a lot of melodies. For me, melody is very important. It’s the thing that people remember.

Last year you released a short film and accompanying album called With You and said a crime drama was your next project. What’s the status? We are right now editing and are probably on the third version. We shot it in March. It’s called Suburban Cowboy. The next thing to follow is the sound and I’m making the soundtrack as well. Hopefully we will be complete within the next eight weeks.

Will it be a full LP of music? It’s going to be more of a traditional soundtrack where some parts will be songs and others the score itself. I’m doing some Dirty South tracks in there, and other friends like FMLYBND. So maybe five or six original tracks and some score as well.

Dirty South with DJ Shift. August 29, 10:30 p.m., $40+ men, $30+ women. Omnia, 702-785-6200.

Tags: Nightlife, Music
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