A Luke Bryan/Eminem mashup track is probably the last thing you’d hear on the dancefloor at a Vegas nightclub, but not when Dee Jay Silver is in the booth. The country-remix DJ has been thinking outside the box of EDM, Top 40 and hip-hop for more than two decades, which explains how the Las Vegas local has toured with some of the genre’s biggest stars and was the first DJ signed to a major record label in Nashville, country music’s capital.
Silver will spend the week playing the National Finals Rodeo’s Gold Buckle Zone afterparty (and a few clubs, including GBDC—what?!), so we got on the horn with the Austin native to talk country’s place in Vegas, his upcoming album and more.
Where are you calling from? Nashville, Tennessee. We just finished the Kip Moore tour and I just ended up [playing] the University of Kentucky football [game] and [am] enjoying the holidays at home with my parents and my wife. First Thanksgiving in the house!
So, you’re from Nashville? No; I’m from Austin, Texas. Nobody’s from Nashville—it’s kind of like Vegas.
Not many DJs work country music into their sets. What was your motivation? Some people know hip-hop, some know rock ’n’ roll. I knew country. It’s just what I grew up on. ... The typical Las Vegas DJ, you play everything in order to gig. But I was always known as the guy who mixed in country.
You were the first DJ signed to a major label in Nashville, which is very much a live-music city. When you play there, are audiences receptive to the electronic-music format? Oh, for sure. A lot of those bands will go on at 5 or 6 o’clock. We don’t start till midnight. We do the whole club vibe, club format. It’s just a good time. It gives them a different way to hear the music that they already know and they love.
Las Vegas has become a destination for electronic music. Do you think Vegas is a good town for country? Country music is growing in Las Vegas. This is my third NFR, and to see how far it came in the last three or four years, it’s just leaps and bounds.
Why do you choose to live in Las Vegas? I’ve been a professional DJ for 20 years, and in order to be considered a good DJ—a legit DJ—you basically have to have Las Vegas on your résumé. And Las Vegas has always been an easy sell for me, because everyone I know travels to Vegas and Las Vegas is a party town where people just come to have a good time. … They want to hear something different than they can hear in small-town Kansas or Texas or Tennessee.
How do you go about choosing tracks for your mashups? Honestly, if I hear a song and it reminds me of another, I just put ’em together. Or wordplay or the keys of the song or the tempo. One song will remind you of another one and you take it from there.
What can you tell us about the new album you’re producing? It’s all original stuff. I do remixes for a living, but I want to come in and do a complete original album—an original production, original writing. We’re gonna write and produce it. One-stop shop.
Will you also sing on the new record? Oh, lord no. I don’t sing. (laughs) A little auto-tune will help it out! I want to do the whole DJ Khaled kind of thing for country music, where we write and produce and bring our friends in on the record, like Austin Webb, Tyler Rich. Stuff like that.
You’ve worked with and toured with some of country’s biggest names. Who is still on the bucket list? I still have never worked with Zac Brown Band. ... I toured with Eric Church [but] never when he was a headliner; I’d love to get in there with Eric Church. And as funny as it may sound I think touring with Taylor Swift would be awesome.
Do you think T-Swift will ever return to country? No. ... She did what she did and does what she’s great at. Her fans stayed loyal and made her the superstar she is.
You’re playing the NFR afterparty. Think you’ll have time to check out the rodeo? No. I’ve been to a few of ’em. To be honest with you, I’m a trained professional in Las Vegas. I know during the day we’re probably going to be recovering from that hangover.
You’re also playing a few clubs, including a return to GBDC at Ghostbar. My favorite party in Las Vegas. I know how weird it sounds. … Ghostbar Dayclub is the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of, and I can’t wait to do it again.
The NFR week tour dates are the last on your schedule. What are you doing after December 12? Oh, I am done, buddy. Just going home and finishing the record. … From September to Thanksgiving I was home two days, so I’m just going to enjoy the house. And I’ll be married a year in January, so I’m sure we’ll take off and do a little vacation.
Tell me about your Country Club radio show. It’s on every Friday, Saturday night, nationwide. I want to say it’s one of the only syndicated country mix shows on the planet.
Giddy Up and Twerk with Dee Jay Silver December 5, 1 p.m., $20 men, $10 women. Ghostbar Dayclub, 702-942-6832.