It used to be that entertainers moved here in the twilight of their careers. It’s been the exact opposite for producer/DJ Mark Eteson, who moved from his native U.K. to Las Vegas in October 2013 after landing a residency at Hakkasan. A year and a half later, he has added Omnia to his enviable DJ résumé. And on May 4, “Heart Like an Ocean,” his collaboration with Paul van Dyk for the German trance icon’s third Politics of Dancing album, came out, which follows another new release of his, “Let in the Light.” So it seemed like a good time to ring him up.
How did the PvD collaboration come about? It’s been happening for awhile. I knew it was coming out for a long time ... I sent over four different demos, he picked one and we worked on it together. I’m stoked, and I’m really happy it’s the first song on album.
I [remember being] 16 years old, literally just learned how to DJ, and Paul had tracks in the Top 40. It’s a dream to work with him on this level.
Where do you see these two new songs in your evolution as a producer? Do they mark any sort of artistic shift? I always played and enjoyed all sorts of music. It didn’t matter if it was labeled trance or progressive or whatever. I hope that could be replicated in my productions and that the fans would understand. In my productions there has been a kind of shift, but there will always be melodies in my tracks that reign supreme. I’ll never make a track with just noises and then a drop.
Do you miss the U.K., or are you too caught up in your busy Vegas schedule? I miss it in a few ways. I miss the countryside and friends and family, but I don’t miss the weather—although it gets incredibly hot here. I wish it could always be March!
How have the Vegas residencies changed both your career and how you DJ? I don’t know any DJ that doesn’t adapt slightly when they play Vegas, and if they don’t, they won’t last a year. They’re stuck completely to their sound. The clubbers here aren’t here to be educated; they’re here to be entertained. People often go to the club because of the club’s name, not the DJ name. You really do need to understand the crowd is mostly holiday-goers rather than fans.
I don’t think I’ve compromised my sound too much, but I’ve never been only a trance DJ. I’ve definitely had to make a few changes, but only for Vegas. If you’ve seen me in San Francisco and New York, my style is still me. Here, it’s Vegas-me.
What’s the best thing about playing clubs like Hakkasan and Omnia? It’s the unknown. I [generally] know what’s going to happen, but it can be a Thursday and … you never know who will show up in the DJ booth because there are so many DJs in Vegas at any time, darting around from one club to the next and saying hi to their friends. Recently I was playing support before Above and Beyond and then Disclosure was in the back of the booth. They’ve created these mega-tunes and there I am, still there, chatting with [one of them] and drinking gin and tonics. That never gets boring.
From your vantage point, how does Vegas nightlife evolve from here? It definitely needs to evolve slightly. These DJs can’t keep playing these songs with huge drops and no melody … it’s definitely in our hands and our responsibility to lead it the right way with real music. I wanna hear more vocals and melodies, and I think that’s beginning to happen. We need to be mindful that people are here to party and they’re drinking and they want to rage. But they need to walk out of the club humming a melody or hook. That’s what is going to create the memories.
Mark Eteson May 7 & 9, doors at 10:30 p.m., $30+ men, $20+ women, Hakkasan, 702-891-3838; May 8, doors at 10:30 p.m., $50+ men, $30+ women, Omnia, 702-785-6200.