MAKJ sort of started at the top, and now he’s back.
The California-bred DJ (real name: Mackenzie Johnson) launched his first club residency in 2010—at Wynn’s Tryst Nightclub. “I was the only person at Tryst playing electronic music, but I was playing a lot of hip-hop, too,” he says. “They’re family to me. They put me on at Tryst, and that led to opening some shows for Avicii at XS, and some Surrender shows. But I didn’t realize until later how high-quality everyone is at Wynn, because that’s all I knew. It’s just the best hotel ever. I didn’t know how good I had it until I left.”
He played Wynn venues for more than three years before dabbling at other clubs on the Strip and logging some time touring around the world. Now, MAKJ returns to Wynn for 2017, for consecutive Saturdays at Intrigue (the former Tryst space) and at Encore Beach Club.
“When I started in Vegas, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it teaches you [that] it’s not about what I want to listen to; it’s what the client wants,” he says. “I learned to DJ for the crowd. And that’s why I’m back at Wynn, because the industry is going more that way, not DJs playing boring sets. People go to Vegas to have a good time, a very wide crowd.”
MAKJ, who just traveled for gigs in Australia and Thailand, is looking forward to the diverse crowds Wynn venues are known to attract, and that’s a better fit for his style. “I really don’t see making a lot of changes in my sets whether I’m in New York or Miami or Vegas,” he says.
Known for his amped-up remixes—he has recently reworked Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles”—MAKJ says this year will be “the year of content.” He’s planning to unleash several singles in the coming months.
“These days, you put something out and people forget it in a week,” he says. “The key is to create something that’s good that people will remember.” MAKJ at Intrigue, February 25.