FROM L.A. TO LAS VEGAS TO OVERSEAS
HE GETS THE PARTY GOING
The resident Saturday night DJ at Las Vegas’ it club Tao, DJ Vice is one of the country’s premier DJs. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he’s gone from DJing school dances to a stint on Power 106 FM before conquering Vegas and becoming in demand all over the world.
Calling his schedule these days “non-stop” you can catch DJ Vice in Las Vegas every weekend in between gigs in L.A., Miami, New York as well as in Oslo or Dubai or anywhere else people want to party.
When it comes to creating the mood at a club so we can get our rocks off, Vice takes his job quite seriously. “I’m the lucky one,” he points out, “I get to go on at the peak of the party and it’s my job to take it from wherever it’s at, whether a 2, 3, 4, 5 and I take it to a 10; all the way up and bring everyone off their seats or out from their tables and onto the dance floor and make sure that party goes until the sun comes up.”
Vice has branded his name to be synonymous with high-end, A-list nightlife. A hip-hop devotee as a shorty, he was influenced by his older siblings’ record collection and discovered a fondness for all genres of music that eventually led to him wanting to rule the party and handcraft the setting himself.
“It started when I was young and going to weddings and house parties and watching the DJ control the crowd with music,” Vice notes, “and I just loved music from an early age. I never had an end goal. It was always just day-to-day. I wanted to be a DJ so I got turntables and I would practice and then I wanted to DJ a house party, then a high school dance. I’ve always been climbing the ladder and looking for the next thing. I knew there was no direct way to the top. I knew I had to pay dues and build myself up.”
Originally from Eagle Rock, Vice built his name at L.A. tastemaker radio station Power 106 FM while still a teenager fresh out of high school. Now, you can find him every Saturday night at Tao at the Venetian, “that’s where all the craziness happens,” Vice declares, as well as Sunday afternoons at Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel, and at Lavo Sunday nights back at the Venetian.
Never one to pre-plan a set, every DJ Vice party is a unique experience. “There are nights when it takes me a little while to catch the groove,” he confesses, “maybe the crowd is not in the party mode yet. There are nights where it might mean I take a shot and kick it in gear and I really get it going. There are nights where I have to put in my work and those times are rewarding because it is a challenge to figure out what exactly people are looking for.”
Having recently spun at a Kentucky Derby party one day, and the opening of Tao Beach in Las Vegas the next, DJ Vice is an expert at gauging exactly what partygoers crave. “I just got back from an Asian tour and a party is a party wherever I go. I’m known as being a rockin’ party DJ playing an open format. I cater a bit to what the people want but I also am supposed to do what I’m known for. I’m not going to go in there and play all hip-hop, or all house. I’m going to do what it takes to make the crowd happy and keep my style consistent.”
A Vegas fixture for some time now, DJ Vice looks at his Sin City experience as the pinnacle of his young career, but having witnessed the nightclub landscape change so quickly he’s not one to ever stand idle. “Vegas opened my name to the whole country because I was a local L.A. DJ. L.A. has its party scene but it’s not known as the party capital whereas Vegas is the party capital and a world destination. Vegas opened my name to New York and Miami and Chicago because all of those people are in Vegas on the regular and I became a household name to them. It took me a little while to get into that scene and to where I can play anywhere in the country and now I’m taking it overseas, and little by little I’m bringing that Vegas style to an international level.
“When I first started playing Vegas,” Vice continues, “the whole rock and ‘80s mash-ups were really popular and that has faded out because it became so confused and abused by people playing the same records. Vegas has became more of a hip-hop/house scene. Those are the two genres that get played the most now.”
One of the new trends that have taken over Las Vegas is the rise of the mega-club that has helped fuel the bigger-is-better mantra of Vegas nightlife. “The mega-clubs have taken over Vegas and it’s not over yet. Before, there weren’t that many. It was only a handful of smaller clubs and old school venues like Studio 54. Now, it’s a race to see who has the biggest and most expensive nightclub in Vegas and it hasn’t even stopped, there are more coming.”
Maybe that’s why one of Vice’s favorite gigs is his Sunday night residency at Lavo where he gets to spin for many Vegas locals.
“I get more locals there,” he explains, “so I get to go deeper with hip-hop and I can play some more classic songs than I could play on a mainstream Saturday night. The Vegas locals crowd is real fun because they’re usually stuck working, watching everyone else party. It might be a bartender or a VIP host or a stripper stuck on a pole watching everyone else party so on Sunday night they all come out and let loose, so it’s a whole different energy.”
Vice’s current go-to song includes Usher’s “OMG” (“it’s the big pop record that I’m playing right now”) but that doesn’t mean he can’t really getaway from the other party standards.
“I do play what I like but at the same time I do want to please the crowd. Like Blacked Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feeling,” I’ve heard that song a million times so do I really care to hear it again? No! But the people on the dance floor, they’re waiting to hear it. Of course I’m going to play it, but I’m going to play it with my own twist.”
A resident DJ at Hollywood’s Playhouse whenever he’s in town (May 27 should be his next local night), Vice notes that’s as close to a Vegas vibe as you can get in town. “The reason I’m a resident there is that’s the closest party vibe to Vegas or Miami, 100% everyone goes in there for a good time. I don’t like to play an L.A. club where people come to people watch so I love playing Playhouse because people let loose and party.”
A hardcore fan of shoe culture, DJ Vice is a co-owner of CRSVR (pronounced Crossover), a sneaker boutique in downtown Santa Barbara that specializes in a wide variety of limited edition sneakers and men’s fashion featuring brands such as Nike, Supra, The Hundreds, Diamond Supply Co., Brixton, SLVDR, Nike Sportswear, Five Four Clothing, Stussy, and Fyasko.
The idea to open CRSVR literally came out of the air on a plane ride from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara as DJ Vice, en route to a gig, happened to sit next to Nick Sakaai who was on his way home. Talking about shoes during their flight a friendship and partnership was formed and CRSVR was born. Adding local businessmen Asaf Dimant and Mark Lawrence to the team, the store soon moved in between two of the hottest spots in Santa Barbara, Tonic Nightclub and Blush Restaurant on trendy State Street.
“That’s me growing up listening to hip-hop and hearing songs like ‘My Adidas’ by Run DMC and breaking hip-hop culture to a bigger culture and looking at album covers and seeing people wearing Jordans and Nike Air Max or Adidas with the tongue out,” Vice says of his love for sneaker culture.
“Our next goal is to continually open more stores,” the young mogul continues. “This is not just our first store, we’re working on where and when our second store is coming. By end of the year we should have a new store, most likely Las Vegas, at least that’s what should happen. One of our goals is to open up in Vegas.”
Working on producing his own music, DJ Vice is always looking for that next level. “I’m trying to come out with the right tracks. I’ve grown up listening to so much different music that my influences range from Run DMC to Dougie Fresh to The Cure to Joan Jett to Prince and Michael Jackson, so my musical tastes are all over the place which is why it has been such a long time to fine tune my sound.”
For now, DJ Vice is determined to keep rockin’ the best parties around wherever that may be. When asked what people can expect from a DJ Vice party, he’s quick to answer.
“Dance! You get your fix of what’s popular that you can dance to but you’ll also hear some cool records that you’ve probably haven’t heard in a long time.”
Catch DJ Vice tonight, Cinco de Mayo, at Club 740 at 740 South Broadway in downtown L.A.
10 Things Not To Say to A DJ According to DJ VICE
1. Play something we can dance to
2. Would you play something with a beat?
3. I don’t know who sings this or I don’t know the name of the song but it goes like this…please, please, please don’t sing for the DJ
4. Everybody wants to hear it (Did you just poll the entire club?)
5. I can get laid if you play it (If you’re good enough you can get laid to anything)
6. I wanna hear it next (only the people that write the DJs paycheck can get away with that)
7. I don’t know what I want to hear, what do you have?
8. Nobody can dance to this (not advisable to say when the dance floor is packed)
9. Everybody will dance to it if you play it
10. If you’re at an event that doesn’t play hip-hop, don’t ask for hip-hop