Young & Desirable: Talking to DJ Price

One of the perks of my new DJ career is working with "real" DJs. I can put a great track on after a great track and so on, but the art form of DJing is, of course, way more than that. I am also a specialist, playing mostly rock and roll, while most gigs require a broader command of genres. Mixed format DJs provide just that; they take their dance floor or table floor through a journey that includes hip hop, R&B, house, pop, rock, soul, disco, and even mash-in or "up" spoken word and …well, it never ends. Even the electronic music  DJs playing in front of tens of thousands are dabbling with mixed formats. More and more DJs are musicians, not just people playing recordings of musicians. I asked someone recently if another term other than DJ is becoming necessary. Although I was told no, I kind of lean toward a term like “dance artist,” or something similar to this. I, of course, would still be described as a DJ. To use the same term to describe what I do with Tiesto is ridiculous. The mixed format DJs are the bread and butter of the small club or model/bottle business. They command high fees and are in constant demand. I am signed with 4AM Artist Management and am easily the oldest and least talented of the crew. At the top of the heap are a bunch of young studs who amaze me every time I hear them. Jonathan Totaro is “DJ Price;” he is a resident DJ at multiple venues in multiple cities. Adam Alpert, mine and DJ Price’s manager, gushes like a proud soccer mom when asked about him. I had the pleasure of working with him one night at Avenue.

We DJ’d together one night at Avenue and you spoke of being a DJ that typically works where bottle service rules. Is this situation challenging?
I don’t consider myself a "bottle service DJ" because it’s the art and music and how it affects people that inspires me, regardless of the venue. It’s the best; every night I have to prove myself and my craft. The job can be challenging, but with the right amount of preparation and experience, it can be immensely rewarding. On top of that, DJs working in these environments need to be confident.  Often times we are forced to change musical directions quickly, and please a large audience. This takes countless hours of practice and determination to your craft.

When we worked that room, our conversations were about music fundamentals rather than the usual DJ banter. You seem to be totally involved with music. Tell me about that and where it will lead.
I take pride in the job and career I have created for myself.  I enjoy working on mixes of my live performances and spending time working on my own personal music projects, from remixes to original tracks.  This summer, I will release several tracks from my personal project: "Avalanche", "Let it Feel," and "Daylight."  Music can take you anywhere.  I never would have thought I’d be traveling the country, playing music to different crowds, and getting paid to do it!  I’d like to take it the next step and bring my personal tastes to their ears – music I have been working on for a year will finally be released!

Most DJs are very image-conscious, with clothing/dress playing a major role in branding and marketing. You have taken this farther; talk about your line.
I have always compared music with fashion, and I am really proud of how my line Reason has matured with my musical tastes. What started as a small hand printed t-shirt line has blossomed into a complete cut-and-sew men’s collection, with a retail flagship store in the East Village. The store, named Reason Outpost, is one of my proudest achievements.  Inside, you can find our full collection of apparel, as well as a carefully curated selection of vintage clothing from the 1940s to 1980s. The Reason Outpost is located at 436 East 9th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, and we are open seven days a week from 12pm to 8pm. One of my favorite interests is marketing and design. I have always thought of DJ Price as a brand; mMusic and live performance was the product it sold. I am committed to expanding the brand and taking it to the next level.

The music festivals feature electronic dance music (EDM) almost exclusively. Is this a form of snobbery ?
I don’t think you can say that festivals have snobbery in the DJ sets. These are the best producers in the world. They are putting out the music that everyone wants at the moment, and they test out and introduce the EDM music fan community with new music at these festivals. They put on a show and they are creative. Even Skrillex will throw a hip hop song on in the middle of his set. Timbaland and Lil Jon will come out during Steve Aoki’s set… so will Madonna and Avicii. These are just some of the things that happened at the Ultra Festival that show how all music types are being mashed together with EDM, such as hip hop, reggae, pop, and rock.

DJ management has become almost a necessity, especially on your level. With so much work coming at you, what have you learned and how else do you benefit from management?
I’ve learned that with someone like myself who is always busy and pushing myself to be more creative and productive, it is essential to have management. Promotion, booking, invoicing, and invoice collecting is a ful- time job. I value the personal relationship I have with my managers and I value the commitment they have to seeing me succeed. The 4AM team is a family, and it’s comforting to know you have teammate DJs by your side. Having management allows me to know that I am not alone in this business, and that I know I will have some time to talk to about my product. With that being said, you only get back what you put in. You need to be giving your team material to work with; that includes constant new mix recordings, remixes, and your own unique sound and music. On top of that, you need to be able to brand yourself and market yourself. You need to find ways to separate yourself from the pack.

4AM DJ Tour Diary: DJ Price Spends Halloween in Miami

As a manager and partner at 4AM DJs, I’m constantly arranging performances, events, and photo shoots around the world. Every day, I get reports back from my DJs filled with the kind of wild adventures I rarely get to be a part of as a desk – rather than a disk – jockey. The people who flock to these stellar international events get to experience the end result of months of prep, but do they really know what a day in the life of a DJ is like? In this monthly column, you’ll hear first-hand accounts of DJ war stories, with photos and videos from the world’s best to show for it. In this second 4AM DJ Tour Diary, you’ll read about DJ Price’s insane Halloween weekend in Miami. Yours truly, Adam Alpert.

Miami has to be one of my favorite cities to play in. South Beach’s energy and excitement for music is among the best in the world. From the moment I walked off that plane and threw on my Ray Bans, I knew it was going to be a great weekend. I’ve been to Miami many times before, most recently this past year for the Winter Music Conference and the 4AM launch party at the Mondrian hotel. You can download our CD recorded live that night here. Also, I was excited to have just received my new indie house mix CD, Dynamics of Moving Bodies Volume 1, fresh of the press to bring with me to give out. I gave out over 500 copies in 4 nights. You can download it here.

This time around I had a full tour booked: 4 gigs in 4 nights. I landed Thursday, October 28th with my best friend and Reason business partner, Phil Bassis, and headed to our room at the Fontainebleau. I have nothing but good things to say about the Fontainebleau. My room was huge and the view was amazing. If you’re looking for a hotel in Miami that you won’t ever have to leave, this is the spot. I started the weekend off spinning at The Wall at the gorgeous W Hotel South Beach.

The club hasn’t even been open a year and they recently renovated it and re-arranged the layout. The new lay out is very conducive to dancing, and the new state-of-the-art DJ booth has been relocated front and center to have a great view of the room. One of my favorite design elements of the room was the custom designed crystal color changing disco ball in the center. That Thursday I was hired to DJ the after party for the launch of Lou La Vie’s Miami Premier Exotic cars. I played an open format set, ranging from hip-hop, rock, and house, and even sprinkled in some of my favorite indie, disco, and ‘80s tracks. The crowd was rocking way past 4am. Thanks to Navin Chatani for showing me a great time.

I headed back to the Fontainebleau for the next 24 hours. Spent the day by the beach, ran into the great hip-hop artist, Pitbull, went jet skiing, sorted through some new music, and had dinner at Chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta inside the hotel. When we walked into LIV, we knew Halloween had officially started. They transformed the 30,000 square feet into an Alice in Wonderland-themed adult playground. Bartenders were dressed as Mad Hatters, and waitresses like Alice. Someone was running around in a giant rabbit costume. My manager/mentor DJ Jus-Ske had requested that I open and close for him, knowing that I would be in Miami.

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LIV is undoubtedly one of the largest rooms in the country, and was formally an ice skating rink in the Fontainebleau. It’s a nightclub that has the feeling of an arena. The DJ booth is massive, with two banquets on each side, and 2×4 turntables set up (2 mixers, 4 turntables). The club is busy by midnight and you’ve got to keep the energy up. I warmed the night up nicely with an assortment of hip-hop, rock, and house records. Some of my favorite’s of my set were Tinie Tempah’s “Pass Out,” Auburn’s “La La La,” “XXXO” from M.I.A., the new Ting Ting’s single “Hands,” Duck Sauce’s crossover hit “Barbara Streisand,” and I even threw in “Samba De Janeiro” and some Brazilian records to spice it up. The room was slammed, and dancers and performers were dressed in costumes, bouncing around throughout the night. I turned around at one point and Gumby & Pokey were jumping on the banquets behind me. Out in the middle of the room Marty McFly was holding a magnum bottle of Belvedere in the air.

Jus-Ske came on at around 1, and proceeded to tear it down flawlessly. Jus is one of my favorite DJs and crowds love him wherever he goes. In Miami, if you’re a good DJ, the clubs won’t close until 5 a.m. Jus let me finish them off with enough time to still play some high energy joints, check out this short video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OmoOj9LsLQ&feature=email

We woke up the next day and took it easy around the hotel. My manager, Adam Alpert from 4AM, arranged VIP tickets for us to go to the Miami Masquerade Motel featuring the Swedish House Mafia, billed as one of the largest Halloween parties in the country in a 55,000 square foot tent. The Masquerade Motel has been making waves over the summer at Pacha Ibiza as the go-to party every Monday night. They have been mixing talents with an assortment of costumed dancers and performers, and a mind-bending array of visual effects.

The party was amazing. I’ve never seen so many people in unison, jumping around and enjoying the music simultaneously. Some of the highlights of the night was when the trio played their hit “One,” and without a doubt Steve Angello’s “Knas.” After the show, I ran to my gig at Opium Group’s Louis nightclub inside the Gansevoort South hotel. We headed there around 12:30 a.m., as club-goers in costume were pilling in. Halloween in New York is always impressive, but I have to say the costumes in Miami were well-thought out and fun. Louis is a great nightclub experience. Designed like a royal Parisian palace on an acid trip, it’s one of the most exciting backdrops for a Halloween party I could imagine. One of the highlights of the night was when a little person dressed as Napoleon started dancing around on top of the bar and sprayed the crowd with a fire extinguisher. I couldn’t have asked for a better Halloween crowd.

Sunday’s weather was a bit overcast, so we headed to South Beach to check out some shops. We had lunch at La Sandwicherie, one of my favorite lunch spots in South Beach. I recommend the Pate sandwich on a croissant. We checked out the Versace mansion and even some retail, which has gotten better recently with shops including Barney’s and Polo Ralph Lauren within walking distance of each other. A trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without paella, so we had to get that for dinner. Sunday was October 31st, and I was going to DJ at Coco de Ville, also at the Gansevoort South hotel. The crew at the Coco DeVille is great. Roy Alpert, Tatanka Guerrero, Paulo Cardoso, and Sebastian Puga run the best intimate, dance lounge in the city. I have to say Tatanka and friends had the best costumes I’d seen all weekend as Chilean Miners, including someone dressed as the actual mine hatch and a Spanish speaking reporter.

My set at Coco DeVille was great and included a lot of New York flare: ‘90s hip-hop, reggae, baile funk, rock, and house. Highlights of the night include Kanye West’s new hit “Runaway,” “Fancy” from Drake and Swizz Beatz, and one of my all time favorites, “Juicy,” by Notorious BIG. We crawled out of there around 5, which concluded a very successful Halloween 2010 Miami tour. We headed back to NYC the next day ready for another great week in the greatest city in the world.

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For more info on DJ Price go here.