Diplo Headlines Huge Hush-Hush Event Tonight

Last night I bartended the Help Heal New York benefit at Pacha. I had not bartended since before you were born; the game has since changed. Here I am writing everyday about how to do this and how to do that, and my afternoons are spent designing bars so it was good to have this hands-on experience. I didn’t actually make a drink; I had minions to do that. I better correct: the love of my recent life, Amanda, made the drinks while I interacted with the patrons. It all went to charity – the price of admission, the drink revenues, and even the tips. The real Pacha bartender assigned to me, Megan, was amazing. Her smile and demeanor while slinging drinks for the cause and putting up with my antics was above and beyond. She is a great bartender and a wonderful new friend. Twenty-dollar bills and even some Benjamins flew over the bar to the tip bucket, which also benefits the cause. At one point I was squatted down picking up loot that slipped down from the bucket.

The DJs were just grand. I particularly loved Afrojack. I left before Erick Morillo went on, as I have to be up early for you…and looking good at that. At one point, Pacha owner Eddie Dean came by to hug and heckle me . He was accompanied by his sidekick, partner in crime, his "Tonto"… Rob Fernandez and DJ Sunnery. These guys threw money at us for the bucket as well-wishers gathered to shake hands and take pictures. All around us, thousands rose with the music… the love was apparent. DJ Sunnery , a big deal, was waiting to go on. He seemed as calm as a thoroughbred at the gate on derby day, ready to get this party started. I was told he is the nicest of persons and is married to the most beautiful girl in the world… Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes. I looked her up and, for sure, she is real, but alas I only have eyes for Amanda.  

Pacha is a monster. On every level, from the door to the staff to management, they are pros. Everybody talks a good game, but Pacha walks the walk. As those who know me know I am a rocker, and house or  EDM or whatever label is put on it in whatever decade doesn’t sooth this savage beast . That being said, being in a big room with a big DJ, big lights, effects and a big crowd is an experience unlike any other.

Before the bartending gig I was at 1OAK, tasked to DJ for Richie Romero at his birthday. I was to open for ?uestlove and Jesse Marco, and I had M.Ortiz opening for me. M.Ortiz was so great that I didn’t bounce him off, content to hear what he was offering. Amanda told me if I kicked him off, as some told me to do, she would "moida me.” Mr. M. Ortiz is getting ready for a British tour, and I expect we will be hearing his name often. He is really great. 1OAK was starting to fill up when the birthday boy finally showed. Richie Romero was zonkered as I wished him well. He has dodged almost as many bullets as your humble servant and it was good to see him surrounded by hundreds of friends and tacky balloons and such.

Tonight I will be at a big event in a big location…off the beaten path and super hush-hush as it’s sold out. Dos Equis is behind this shindig. Diplo will headline. There are six or so rooms of music and other distractions. I’m going to DJ for a short set along with Cobra Krames, Sam Valentine, David Katz, Justine D. Daniel Leyva, Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy), Hayley Pisaturo, Shayne (Hood By Air), and 7aywana. There will be a lot going on at this happening and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. If you see me today, ask me nicely. I think there are three tickets left.

If I wasn’t obligated elsewhere, the place I would surely be is the Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel up on 55th Street. A photo installation by Marko Kalfa will bring the sharp set. Liquid Lab, which I have to tell you about in depth on a later day, will provide fall cocktails. Fannie Chan wil DJ.

Another party worth checking out is the five-year anniversary of the Thursday Punk Rock Happy Hour at Otto’s Shrunken Head. My pals Traci Danielle and Joy Rider are doing the inviting.

A Conversation with 4AM DJs Co-Owner Adam Alpert

Adam Alpert interned for me when I was running Spa. He was going to the University of Pennsylvania, as was my very significant other. I used to commute everyday from NY to Philadelphia and back to be with her. I even helped renew and rebrand a joint down there, Egypt, and design and brand a new joint called Shampoo. Shampoo is still there, and it’s over 10 years old. Adam had the stuff I was looking for: educated but cool, and having the itch to work at night. Now he is my manager for my DJ career, and he works very hard for my money.

This Thursday, he is part of a unique experience which I am watching very closely. He is part of a concert at Irving Plaza where some of his DJs will perform in concert, rather than the traditional club setting. Sure, I am aware of the Tiesto/Paul Van Dyk kind of festival gigs, and bookings of super DJs in clubs, but I think there is a subtle but significant difference in this event. These DJs enjoy a world wide reputation but are mash-up or mixed format DJs, not the house gods usually associated with advance ticket sales and such.

Adam Alpert, you are the co-owner of 4AM DJs and Talent Management. And you are partners with Johnny Lennon.
Jus-Ske and Jesse Marco and myself

Did the name have anything to do with AM the DJ?
No, the reason we call it 4am is because we’re from New York City, and that’s what time New York City closes, as opposed to our friends on the West coast who close at 2am.

On the West coast are you called 2am?
Still four when we go there.

So next Thursday, you have an event, and it’s unique. It’s a foray into new ground for you guys, and you’re killing it. Right now your DJs are everywhere.
We had ten DJs going down to Art Basel where we did tons of events. Some DJs did as many as four events in one day. We did events for brands like Dior, Architectural Digest, Scope, Louis Vuitton, and a lot of cool stuff.

You’ve taken the DJ, and made him a commodity that’s absolutely needed now more than ever. A name DJ who is reliable and accountable is required all over the United States, wherever things are happening. DGI is another agency that also does this: Yoni Goldberg and Damon DeGraff own that.
Yes, they’re great.

And you’re all friends.
Yes. Nightlife in New York City, as you know better than anyone, is not the same as it was during the days of Life and Spa. People want something different all the time and that comes down to talent and entertainment. People want great music no matter what, and they are looking to DJs that produce, that make remixes, that do clever mashups, ones that they’re fans of and listen to. And that’s why DJs are the new celebrity. They’re sweeping the world.

Tell me about this event coming up next Thursday.
Our DJs, not only do they produce and do nightclubs and private events, but they really are the show these days, and we wanted to create a different kind of experience for our New York fans, in the form of the a live concert. This is something that has been sweeping the world in the festival arena, live concert arena, everything from Electric Zoo to Coachella, and 4am is a part of that, and we wanted to do a 4am DJs concert. We partnered with our friends at brobible.com, which is a great website, and they throw a lot of great concerts, and we were happy to be partners with them. And we have Jesse Marco and Jus-Ske headlining, Mia Moretti will do her DJ and violin set with violinist Caitlyn Moe, and DJ Sinatra and DJ Price will also do some sets, with some special guest surprise performances.

Did you guys rent Irving Plaza?
No, we didn’t rent it. We’re doing a regular concert along with Live Nation who owns the venue. Tickets are for sale on livenation.com, they’re $15 in advance, $20 at the door.  

How is it being promoted?
It’s being promoted as a regular concert. We’re promoting it to our VIPs and friends. We encourage anyone and all people that love great music, and want to dance and have a special night, and maybe not necessarily go to a nightclub can come and have fun.

What are the hours?
Doors open at eight, the show will get started around nine, and we go until one.

Are you nervous about it or do you think it’s going to sell out?
We’re definitely going to sell out. I’m not nervous about that. I’m looking forward to seeing the show that my guys put on.

And you think you can sustain an energy at like, say, 11 at night?
Absolutely. I mean, we’ve got a lot of talent that’s going to be performing, and they’re all doing something different. You’re going to hear original music you’ve never heard before, you’re going to see some surprise performers come out, and we have a lot in store for all five senses.

We were talking before about the West coast being 2am. People are not used to  leaving a dance party that early, in this town anyway. They’re going to a dance party at 9 o’clock at night. I think that’s your biggest hurdle.
Well, I think you’re limiting yourself to a younger demographic, and our fans range from 21-61, so I think that there will be a more mature, diverse crowd at this, but definitely entertaining for all ages.

I would go, but you have me booked for next Thursday at Hotel Chantelle, so I actually cannot go and see this. You used to intern for me when you were a young stud. You were a great intern, and you went on to do this, and now I work for you.
I work for you, Steve. I’m the manager, you’re the artist.

There you go. But you also used to work with Scott Sartiano, who also worked with me. You went to work with him at 1Oak, and I guess you left the club business and moved on to doing this. You, like Scott, who went to Columbia, have a big education. You went to UPenn. Most club owners and operators don’t have that kind of resume. You spent a lot of time in clubs. I always write about exit strategies, how do people get out of the club business. I think I probably had that speech with you when you worked with me. The old roller-coaster speech, which I always lay on newbies:  You get on the roller coaster and first thing is you go up the big hill, and you think you see the whole world, but you’re only seeing a little bit more in reality, then it’s a fast ride, a lot of turns. But for most part, they end up in the same place they started in. Tell me when you decided, I’ve got to get the  fuck out of the club business. Of course, you’re still in it a little bit and using the knowledge you’ve learned from me and Scott and others. So when did you want to get out, why did you get out, and how did you come up with this idea?
Well, you and Scott and Richie are definitely on my list of mentors, and definitely helped get me to where I am today. The thing that attracted me to nightlife was how you get to interact with people in all different industries, all different demographics. You get to work with people in fashion, in film, in banking, in music, in finance, in TV. And I love that part about it, and I love working with people from all different industries, because nowadays, all these different industries are intertwined. And you know, although I knew that I loved that industry, owning nightclubs and working in nightclubs wasn’t best suited for a New Yorker who went to UPenn. I knew it was just my first step. Jesse Marco, Jus-Ske, and Lennon were good friends of mine. We realized the void for a DJ management agency in New York City. We all had a lot of contacts over our collective fifty years in the nightlife business, and we knew that we could take our friends, the DJs that were already killing it in New York, and take them to Tokyo,  Paris, Milan, Russia, LA, and Vegas.

You haven’t even gotten me to the Bronx.
You’re new. You’re the oldest new DJ we have.

I replaced Ani Quinn, I understand. He was the oldest before me.
He was the oldest but he works like nobody else I know.

Terry Casey: “There Are Big Changes Happening in Montauk”

I don’t do The Hamptons. Although I have great friends that love the prospect of driving hours in a car through the cultural desert of Long Island to hang with people I strive to avoid in Manhattan while eating $50-a-pound potato salad, the idea has never appealed to me. I have done it and done it right, but I do remember spending a year there one night . I did design Dune at one point but never actually graced it with my divine presence. During the winter months, my clan treks out to Montauk to huddle around fireplaces and beachcomb. The water, the light, and the lack of crowds made me a believer years ago. I’ll be there come the cold. Apparently they have built this wondrous place called The Montauk Beach House and I have been told it’s a game-changer. My pal Paul Sevigny DJd there recently. When I was considering a story about Bastille Day and looking through my online emails and evites, I saw a big name pop out at me: Paul Oakenfold, one of the top DJs in the world. He’s doing a gig at The Montauk Beach House this Saturday, July 14th at 3pm. Take a look at the pics – it’s gorgeous. My pal Terry Casey is booking the joint and DJing as well. He called me about playing there come August so I asked him what the heck is going on.

What the heck are you doing out there? Who have you had already and who’s coming up and who’s coming to this place and …tell me all about it!
I GOT ASKED BY EVENT SOCIETY (RENE AND FRANCOIS) TO BOOK AND PRODUCE A MUSIC SERIES AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE WITH A GOOD FRIEND: MATT THOMAS. HE’S A BRIT AND WANTS GOOD MUSIC AND IS VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE. OWNER CHRIS JONES ALSO DESIGNED NIKKI BEACH, AND MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE FEELS LIKE A MIAMI HOTEL SO IT’S A NEW CONCEPT IN MONTAUK…RENE MANAGES OPERATIONS AND DOES IT WELL AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE; HE’S  THE OWNER OF EVENT SOCIETY. IT EXCITED ME TO DO AS I’VE BEEN GOING OUT TO MONTAUK FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS – I FEEL MORE AT HOME THERE THEN IN THE HAMPTONS. I USED TO DJ IN HAMPTONS CLUBS AND FEEL LIKE I SOLD MY SOUL. I STILL DO A FEW WILD HOUSE PARTIES IN THE HAMPTONS, BUT THAT’S VERY DIFFERENT TO THE CLUBS…THE CLUBS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE NOT MY THING. MONTAUK IS MORE LAID-BACK AND LOT OF SURFER CULTURE …THERE ARE  BIG CHANGES HAPPENING IN MONTAUK; PLACES LIKE SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S HAVE SET THE PACE…LOTS OF FRIEND HAVE MOVED TO MONTAUK AS THEY PREFER IT.

WE DID A SOFT OPENING WITH PAUL SEVIGNY LAST WEEK AND HE PLAYED A LOT OF GOOD ROCK, SOUL, FUNK ..HE ROCKED THE PLACE….A GREAT DJ AND REAL RECORD COLLECTOR PLAYS VINYL AND LOTS OF IT. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET HIM OFF THE DECKS. I GAVE UP AT 4AM, HAHA. I PLAY ROCK AND ELECTRONIC SO IT’S NOT ALL ONE STYLE …AND THE MUSIC SERIES WILL MIX UP BANDS AND DJS…ALL SUMMER…

FOR THE DAYTIME BY THE POOLS, WE HAVE DJS LIKE BRIDGET MARIE AND SARAH RUA. THEY PLAY MORE HOUSE, AFROBEAT, SOULFUL VIBES.I’ve rarely enjoyed the music out east during the summer.. you told me Montauk is different… tell me why that is.
MONTAUK IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU FEEL AWAY FROM NYC. THE HAMPTONS FEELS LIKE AN EXTENSION OF PEOPLE’S BAD BEHAVIOUR IN NYC…PEOPLE ARE STILL RUSHING AROUND…YOUR SUPPOSED TO BE CHILLING OUT…ON VACATION.

I GO TO PLACES LIKE BANZAI BURGER AND FEEL LIKE I’M AT THE BEACH OR IN THE CARRIBEAN.  BANZAI IS ALEX DUFFY AND STEVE KASUBA’S NEW PLACE OUT EAST. THE FOOD THERE ROCKS…I GOTO SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S. THEY’RE ALL GREAT PLACES AND ALL VERY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER.

Are the townies coming or is it a hipper visitor, vacationer, weekender?
ALEX DUFFY LIVES IN MIAMI AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM MIAMI, NEW YORK, AND OUTSIDE THE US COMING IN. AND, OF COURSE, THERE ARE LOCALS.  ON WEEKENDS A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SICK OF THE EVENTS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE COMING TO MONTAUK FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT…IT’S THE SAME REASON PEOPLE IN MANHATTAN GO TO WBURG …THEY’RE OVER MANHATTAN AND ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING LESS CHEESEY.

At the end of the summer, will you try to continue this series in a NY venue? How would you describe the state of NYC clubland?
I’VE BEEN APPROACHED TO DO MORE EVENTS IN NYC AND MIAMI AND I HAVE PROJECTS IN MUSIC IN THE WORKS. I LIKE THAT THERE’S MORE CLUBS BOOKING MUSIC ACTS AND LESS MODEL PROMOTERS …BUT NYC NEEDS MORE BALANCED MUSIC AND SOCIAL CLUBS. I WISH THE FESTIVALS WOULD BOOK MORE LOCAL DJS…WE ARE BOOKING TALENTED LOCALS LIKE JESSE MARCO ,CHAINSMOKERS, DJ VIKAS, JULIO SANTO DOMINGO, KRIS GRAHAM, LIQUID TODD, SHORTY, AND MANY MORE..THESE GUYS ARE LOCALS AND TRAVEL THE WORLD.

Paul Oakenfold. Like …how do you swing a name like that?
PAUL OAKENFOLD AND YOUNG EMPIRES (LIVE) …YES, ME AND MATT HAVE CALLED A LOT OF FRIENDS TO GET PEOPLE TO PLAY ALL SUMMER FOR SMALL FEES IN A 200-400 PEOPLE VENUE BY THE POOL….WE HAVE A LOT OF ACTS COMING LIVE AND DJING….I DONT WANNA SAY WHO, AS EVENTS ARE INVITE- ONLY..  BUT EXPECT MORE HUGE ACTS. 

This Just In: DJs Erick Morillo & Afrojack Join Pacha Benefit

This old guy once wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…." The quote begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  He continued  "…in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Mr. Dickens offered this tome in 1859, but was referring back to the French Revolution days. He might as well have been talking about now, for New York is a tale of two cities. While many of us are sipping lattes and talking football and going to parties, others are struggling in the cold, displaced and in despair.  It is the worst of times for so many of our neighbors while most of us are busy as bees, forgetting the destruction and "inconvenience" the storm brought, and readying for the holidays.

Last night at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle, a packed house laughed and squealed with joy as regular hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson returned to the stage after a two-week Sandy-induced hiatus. They were joined by Michael Musto who proved to be a joy. Like almost every event worth mentioning these days, this night was dedicated to raising money for victims of Sandy. Specifically, BINGO raised much-needed funds for the Ali Forney Center which was flooded by the imperfect storm. Homeless LGBTQ homeless youth can drop in when they need a place. 

Tonight I will party like nothing ever happened at The Electric Room where the dapper Nick Marc will celebrate yet another birthday. Partner-in-crime Justine D. will DJ. Kodi Najm of Hypernova will host. There are rumors of a proper English celebration with everyone involved partaking in heavy drinking and partying. This is rock and roll, followed by some rock and roll and then quite a bit more rock and roll. I’ll be there.

Tomorrow night, Richie Romero will celebrate his birthday and has tasked me to open up for real DJs Jesse Marco and ?uestlove. This affair is at 1OAK and I am very excited about it. I love the staff of OAK and, of course, Mr. Romero. As is his way, Richie was complaining about his age and other trivialities. I’m going to play tracks older than him to cheer him up. I reminded him that I have shoes that are older than he.

As I wrote the other day, I will then whisk myself up to Pacha for their Help Heal New York Sandy benefit where they have me bartending. Since I will have my CDs and headphones with me, I stand ready to pitch in if one of the following DJs fail to deliver: DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K, SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO,  Chainsmoker, SHERMANOLOGY, DANNY AVILA, D BERRIE, AUDIEN HARRY, CHOO CHOO ROMERO, SHAWNEE TAYLOR (live), CARL KENNEDY, HECTOR ROMERO ,DAVID WAXMAN, CEVIN FISHER ,THEO, HEX HECTOR, PAUL RAFFAELE, CODES, ROXY COTTONTAIL ,SAZON BOOYA, DALTON, SIK DUO, CARL LOUIS & MARTIN DANIELLE, PAIGE, BAMBI and THAT KID CHRIS. 

Just added as we go to press are superstar DJs Erick Morillo and Afrojack. This is a serious not to be missed event. There are some fabulous surprises that, because of conflicts and dotted i’s and such, can’t be listed here but will be appreciated there. Among that illustrious crew are DJs from my management company 4AM. Chainsmokers are whisking in from Singapore and are off on tour but are stopping by for this fundraiser. Dalton has been debuting his new house tracks along the Northeast corridor, making stops in D.C., Boston, and Philly. 4AM just booked me for New Year’s Eve … yeah, it’s coming up fast.

Please help those still without, and as the holidays approach, be aware of those unable to have a normal celebration. Help where you can.

Jesse Marco on His Thriving DJ Career & What’s Next

Music is often looked at as a means to bring us together and to take us far away from the troubles and challenges of our daily routine. Today, a great divide exists between the clubs that offer house music and its derivatives, and the clubs that feature what has been called mixed format or mash-up. Without going into all the convolutions and left turns that got us here, my addled memory remembers people like Mark Ronson and Stretch Armstrong—and I’ll throw in Kid Capri and Funkmaster Flex into the mix—as innovators who took music without labeling it, and mushed it all together to put smiles on our faces and movement in our feet.

To many in the house community, this type of music has little merit. They are true believers who worship at the altars of DJs who require stadiums and 6 figure fees. The mixed format types are doing well with a global movement of table service and venues with a multi-city presence. They bounce around from city to city as their names are used to fill seats and sell bottles of swill that wholesale at 40 bucks, but retail with a sparkler, a strawberry, and a hot server for $500 and more. To some, this era marked some sort of end to some sort of perceived era of glory and nightlife perfection. To those young men like Jesse Marco, they are public enemy number one. They see these guys and a few gals as sweet faced pretenders with the computers doing all the work.

In some cases, the point is valid, but the technological revolution that allows almost anybody to try to DJ (even me) creates even more competition, and those who ride to the top have earned it. I could spill off a handful of superstar names like Cassidy, Sevigny, Jus-Ske, Mel DeBarge, Ani Quinn, and Rashida, who have risen through the ranks. But no conversation about this type of player can be complete without mentioning Jesse Marco. He has made his mark in a short time, and became undeniable just about when he turned legal. Yes, there was a time when he was not old enough to drink , but he is now one of the most sought after New York-based DJs. Jesse is smart, polite and respectful, but you can catch a hint of brashness when the dimples come out. DJs need that sassy side. I asked him a few questions. We are sitting in the basement of Snap, which I’m building, 10 feet from a new DJ booth which I’m also building. I’m building a great deal of DJ booths lately. Are there enough DJs in New York to fill them? Yeah. Are there too many? Absolutely not. If you’re a DJ and you love what you’re doing and people are liking what you’re doing that’s good, you should keep doing it. If you’re a DJ and what you’re doing is the contrary, then you should stop. I may be stopping soon, but that’s a whole other story. I’m not knocking you. Everyone else does so, don’t worry. You’ll have to stand in line. How old are you? 22. You’ve been DJing in clubs before you were allowed in them. Yeah .The first clubs I was up in were Snitch and Vella, when I was around 16. Snitch was one of my favorite places. Well, I was carrying other people’s records and doing that whole thing. How did that happen? When did you decide you were going to be a DJ? My best friend growing up got turntables for Christmas Where did you grow up? I grew up downtown in New York, in Union Square. I had friends of all types; poor, rich, everything. One of my friends had turntables. He had the scratch records and this hip-hop record, and he was like, ‘Yo listen to this, watch me do this,’ and I was like ‘What?’ I got turn tables after that, the little starter kit ones, but you know, it was just a hobby, it was just something I liked doing. And when did you know it was going to be a career? It became a business after I knew what I wanted to do, after I decided just to do it all the time, no matter what, or just be around an industry based on that. Whether it was interning for record labels or carrying other DJs records, I just chose to surround myself with it.

That opportunity is no longer there because nobody carries records anymore. Now a DJ can carry his own computer. He doesn’t even need the headphones anymore. Yeah, but you can have someone download music for you too, I guess. I have not gone to Serato. I’ve been fighting it. I like CDs. I like the feel of going through the book and finding the record; the spontaneity. It’s a great feeling. Is that feeling lost in Serato? Is there something in the Serato that has to be fixed? It’s not lost because it just depends where you’re playing. Depending on the venue, or wherever you’re playing, especially in New York bottle service clubs, which I’m trying to get away from, to be honest, you kind of have to please the audience. It’s a game, like Donkey Kong. How many bottles can you sell with your music, and that’s how you get hired, let’s be honest. And of course, you’re hot. The girls like you, the guys like you. There’s a certain image you need. Yes, but maybe it’s more along the lines of, this person comes in and how hyped up can you get this guy? I can do that all day, and there’s more things you can throw in and be creative with that, which can be fun, but that’s not really what I’m trying to do. So you’re moving more towards being an artist rather than a worker bee. Oh yeah. The difference is that everyone’s gotta experience all different facets of what they want to do to really hone in on what they like. I’ve been around the world twice at a young age, and people have given me great opportunities all over the world to DJ, and I love it. But right now I have a record deal, I have music coming out, I’m recording music all the time. I still do the clubs because I enjoy it.

Tell me about your music. The word mash-up has been used—maybe overused—and sometimes not really recognized. House culture doesn’t recognize mash-up DJs as being talented. Many people discount the entire genre. Is it a genre? I think if a DJ is wack, or not good, and he’s playing a bunch of pre-made mash-ups, there’s reason to tell the world that he’s no good. You’re saying the word match-up as opposed to mash-up? Oh, mash-up, but I don’t even know what the words mean anymore, to be honest. It means you mix genres, and you mix records up, the easiest example being a hip-hop track with a rock track. Think, Aerosmith and Run DMC’s “Walk This Way.” I think Mark Ronson really started it, and Stretch Armstrong, too. Funkmaster Flex and Kid Capri from the hip-hop side also did it, and there were many others who weren’t afraid to be locked into the labels. Tell me about your music, and where are the lines blurred between hip-hop and rock? Is it all just good music? To me it’s just good music. The whole proverbial line in the sand, it’s all bullshit. If you’re a good DJ, you play good music. You make people dance, and people respect that. It’s about taste and timing. I’m a rock and roll dude. I go to rock clubs like White Noise on Friday night, or Lit. If you like rock, you’re gonna like my shit. If you want to hear hip-hop, you have listen to you. I don’t play it. When I’m in that booth and I’m putting on Alan Vega, The Hives, Iggy, or The Verve, somebody will walk up to me and say, “You got any Gaga?” And I’m sure you get this all the time, but how do you make records that are unbelievably great but completely played out, work in a club? Do you just abandon it or give them what they want? It’s a balance. You know that they want to eat dinner, but you gotta give ‘em a little appetizer, you gotta be courteous, but maybe you throw a little flare in there and make ‘em laugh, and then you drop the steak that they want.

So you give them what they want, but you manipulate it into your set. You sort of teach them. Well, yeah. I mean, it’s all about having fun, so if you’re giving them what they want, they’re not going to have as much fun as if you play around and have fun yourself. There’s an old saying in the business: “That particular DJ plays to the DJ booth.” Meaning, he’s only playing for himself and the four or five friends that are hanging out with him—the crowd is being short-changed. They like what he’s doing but want to hear the other stuff also. How much do you learn from other DJs? I’ve learned a lot from a shit ton of people, to be honest. Do you still go out and hear a DJ and go “Jesus, shit, what was that track?” I go out sometimes, but not to clubs, unless it’s a really awesome DJ. I’ll go see Clark Kent or someone like that, someone old school. With them you know what you’re gonna get. Who was the greatest DJ you ever saw? Gotta be DJ AM. He was my favorite DJ and, coincidentally, I became friends with him, which I was very lucky to do, and he did a lot of stuff for me. The last time I saw him, he was playing with I can’t remember I think it was at Quo. They were tag-teaming. Oh you mean Jazzy Jeff. That was crazy That’s right, I knew I was missing it. It was fucking unbelievable. Yeah, I was there too. I opened for them that night. Yes you did. It was unbelievable. Yeah, it was pretty unbelievable. But feel like everyone likes to talk about him and Mark, and I’m more like rest in peace, he was our friend, and that’s it. Where are you going to be when you’re 30 years old? I’m going to hopefully still be DJing, not so much, probably doing more stuff that I like to do. Producing? I’m producing right now. I have a record deal with Atlantic, so I’m doing that, and a couple of singles I have are coming out in December. Roll out in December, push in January. And I’m working with other artists. Is it all encompassing, or do you have other interests? It’s far reaching. I have interest in film and TV, and writing, clothes and fashion, and all this stuff. But it’s good to have a focus. I think a lot of people try to do too much. I mean, just on the table now, I’m starting a label called Canvas Creative Group, and we’re just gonna be a digital label, release music and stuff. Coincidentally, I acted in a movie last year that’s coming out in March. It’s a Todd Phillips movie called Project X. I can’t really talk about it, but it’s pretty cool.

4AM DJ Tour Diary: DJ Theory Hits the Sundance Film Festival

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 stories about the kinds of wild adventures I rarely get to be a part of as a desk 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 fourth 4AM DJ Tour Diary, you’ll read about DJ Theory‘s wild few days in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival, where he spun at our Sunday Funday party at Tao. Yours truly, Adam Alpert.

Saturday, January 22: Sundance is a festival for independent films. We, however, set out to Utah for a much different reason — to DJ, of course. The events included our famous Funday event at TAO at the Samsung Galaxy Tab Lift, thanks to Strategic Group’s Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. Our journey out West started where many often do — at Terminal 5 of JFK, throwing back shots of Patron. I arrived to the airport to be greeted by Kirill of KirillWasHere.com, Loren Whalen, Vanessa Lennon, DJ Sinatra, and Vanessa Ratnavich. Jonny Lennon, my manager at 4AM, had assembled a strong team of individuals. We were meeting him and DJ Jesse Marco who were already in Park City, and we ran into XIX’s Ruben Rivera, who ended up joining us on our JetBlue flight to Salt Lake City.

During the flight, most of us slept, myself included. Row 3E-F, comprised of Kirill, Sinatra and Vanessa R., played “Black and Yellow” on repeat, and drank mini bottles of Jameson until we touched down in Utah. As soon as we landed, our entire group decided that it would be a good idea to head straight to Park City and check out what was up. We were all a little stir crazy and ready to meet up with everyone else. Thanks to Thrifty Car Rental and driving from Loren, we all arrived quickly and in one piece. We hit some gifting suites and got some cool swag. Later, all of us headed to Tao Sundance. The venue looked great; alcohol was flowing like it came from a water fountain. Our entire team was in one place.

We met up with Kristina Marino of Downtown Diaries, Sarah Appleton, PJ Monte, Julian Cavin, and the rest of the crew. The group made their way around the room, saying hello to their respective friends and colleagues. I enjoyed many a Stella Artois from the seemingly endless buckets positioned every 10 feet. Despite being in Utah, there was an overwhelming presence of New Yorkers. I ran into fellow DJs the Chainsmokers on my way to the bathroom. Finally, around 3:30 a.m., we decided to begin the long trek back to the 4AM Sundance house, a huge 7000-square-foot ski chalet outside town. Our group finally pulled into the driveway around 5 a.m., exhausted and ready to crash. image

Sunday, Funday, January: I woke up and wandered upstairs into the kitchen to find a delicious breakfast being made. A few brave souls, Jesse Marco included, had headed off to the Park City Slopes to get some fresh powder. We watched the AFC championship football game. The Jets lost, only briefly dampening our spirits as we prepared for our party at Tao. Some friends prepared an Italian feast for the entire house. Jonny, Loren and myself headed into Park City in our 4AM-stickered Ford Excursion before everyone else, as I was DJing Jamie Patricof’s Little Birds premiere after party before Sunday Funday.

While walking down Main Street on my way to the event, I realized I had left my laptop sitting on the counter at the house. Luckily, one of the guys was nice enough to drive into town to deliver it just as the event was starting. I took a deep breath and began spinning just as the doors opened. By 11 p.m., the venue was filled front to back. The crowd enjoyed the music, chatting with each other until midnight, when Sunday Funday began. As the room loosened up, it shifted from an event into a real nightclub party. I played a quick hip-hop set, dropping Slick Rick’s “Mona Lisa” and Naughty by Nature’s “Jamboree,” as well as Big Boi’s “Shutterbug.” By the time Jon Lennon, Jesse Marco, and DJ Sinatra made their way through the packed crowd at 12:45, there wasn’t a single person standing still.

Jesse hopped on the decks next, opening with the Kill Bill theme, a song that fit both the mood of the party and the film industry crowd. Soon, the room was dancing to club anthems like A-Trak’s “Barbara Streisand” and “Heads Will Roll.” After our kind waitress kept the bottles of Patron coming, our night blurred. At one point, our table of friends had 4 circulating handles of alcohol being passed around. While the overall music wasn’t as loud as we would have liked, the DJ booth monitor kept the immediate area towards the stage well fed with sound. Much to our dismay, it overheated throughout the night, causing it to turn off.

The room didn’t seem to notice the lack of sound, as party revelers continued raging late into the night. Recent 4AM signee, DJ Mia Moretti, who had performed at the Day & Night brunch and many other events, came by to say hello. Diplo showed up and dropped a quick but memorable set. Cee-Lo, Shwayze and Jermaine Dupri were there too, and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Just as expected, the Tao space was at capacity until 3:59, when the speakers were promptly shut off. A “Broooooooklyn” chant erupted, led by DJ Sinatra. We exited as a group, piling into the 4AM-mobile out front.

The drive back to our house was complete with a stop at 7/11. Sinatra discovered what the inside of a walk-in beer fridge looked like, a life-long desire of his. We bought enough frozen pizzas to feed a medium-sized town. An anonymous superstar DJ learned what a bottle of Patron felt like the second time around. Some slept, some fretted over the location of their wallet. Back at the house, we reviewed pictures taken that night by Kirill, and ate like kings until the wee hours. image

Monday, January 24th: After 5 hours sleep, the entire house arose at noon to go snowmobiling. After last year’s inaugural outing, we were all very excited to spend the afternoon cruising around the snow-covered woods. We managed to pack 15 people into our Ford Excursion, and set off towards Salt Lake City, traversing through the mountains along the way. Upon arriving at our destination, we realized we had entered the wrong city into the GPS, and were 80 miles away from the correct Thousand Peaks, Utah’s largest mountain ranch. After our slight course correction, we met up with friend Jon Alagem, and got ready to hit the snow.

I can only describe snowmobiling as riding a motorized polar bear. We spent the whole afternoon ripping around flats, finding jumps, and racing each other before ascending into the mountains. After hours in the cold, our entire group headed to the grocery store to gather supplies for dinner. Back at the house, each person helped prepare our feast. Jesse showed us his signature steak marinade, a combination of Italian and Japanese cooking. I prepared a delicious vegetarian-friendly meal. Our Utah-family dinner was served, and afterwards everyone relaxed, still recovering from the night before. I played a few matches of ping-pong before falling asleep at 11:45. Tuesday, January 25th: Much to my surprise, I was the first one awake on Tuesday. I hadn’t seen 8:45 a.m., in a while, so it was nice to experience a real morning. I was heading to the slopes with my friend Sarah for a day of skiing. After breakfast, we both grabbed our gear and drove into town. It had been 3 years since I had been on a pair of skis. After many years of ski racing while growing up, I was excited to be back on the snow. We had a nice dusting of fresh powder as well. By 10:30, we were at the summit of Park City Mountain. The two of us spent the morning gathering our bearings. After a quick stop for lunch, we were fortunate enough to be shown around the mountain by a local who was familiar with the terrain.

In no time at all, we were standing at the tip of the infamous Jupiter bowl, terrain so steep that if you stood too close to the edge, the ground underneath you would crumble. After some contemplating, we all dropped into the steep pitch and experienced an exhilarating ride through the back woods, miles from any other skiers. Late in the afternoon, we met up with Jesse and Natalia. All of us finished the day with a quick meal at lodge and headed back to the house. We headed to the airport to catch the redeye flight back to New York. I was asleep before we left the ground, tired after a long day of skiing. We landed as the sun was coming up. I was back home, comfortably in my bed a little before 7 a.m., happy with the successful weekend I just had in Utah.

DJ AM: Alive Last Night At Santos’

It was a mandatory event. One year after his death, DJ AM was memorialized at Santos’ Party House. He was great in so many ways: DJ, performer, person, friend. Everybody was making their own list last night. Santos’ honcho, Dave Delzio, was furiously texting me to get there. “Damn man, every club owner, can’t even drop names—it’s that crazy. It’s insane, it’s packed. Amazing!” It’s hard for me to get from my house to Santos. Even though it’s a short jaunt, I have to stop and chat with the local yokels. My path took me by Goldbar, where I waylaid Jon Lennon, who couldn’t leave ‘cause he was working—but he realized had to pay respects, be part of it. As we walked the final few blocks, we talked of gin and beer, Greenpoint, my ex-assistant Nathalie Glanzman (who we love), and the state of our art. Santos is almost amazing, but falls short too often. They need to become more dynamic to reach the full potential of this ridiculously perfect space. Last night shows what it can do, and I hope management gets it done this fall. As we approached it from Canal street, we spied the eclectic crowd in line and felt the good vibrations. Jon was happy he skipped out for the half hour.

“Adam DJ AM Goldstein” still lives, even while he rests with Elvis, Morrison, and the rest. Last night, all of clubdom came to support his charity. From the one-sheet:

“The DJ AM Memorial Fund carries on his legacy, raising funds and cultivating media partnerships to bolster the efforts of several organizations and projects combating addiction.”

Jon and I shook a hundred hands as we worked our way to the booth. DJ Jus Ske was murdering it. When he is on, he is as good as anyone. Everybody respects that. Last night he was over the top. You can always tell when that’s happening, as an inordinate number of heads are looking at the booth. I shook hands with Stretch Armstrong, Andy Brown, Jesse Marco, and half a dozen other great DJs. I looked around for Mark Ronson. I think the word is melancholy. Everybody was having a great time, seeing how good clubs can be and all that, but under it all loomed the tragedy of addiction and its terrible tentacles. The best DJ wasn’t there. The booth would be crowded but missing at least one player. Drugs, addiction, and other nocturnal distractions have taken DJ AM, and Larry Levan, and too many other talents. Drugs are one part of our culture that doesn’t discriminate, evaluate bank balances, popularity, or potential. It cuts a deep swath, and never stops knocking at the door. I’ve lost way too many friends to remember. Last night, we remembered, and realized our loss, and the gift that was DJ AM. I never met anyone who didn’t like or respect him. I asked Santos’ co-owner Larry Golden to give me his take.

“We had a really special night tonight. Lots of legends—lots! Too many to begin to name, but the main thing was the music, fucking sick! Highlights for me were Clark Kent and Stretch, but all the DJs were amazing, and I’m not just blowing smoke. The crowd was a downtown who’s who, beautiful. This is why I love my job, and why I love NYC. Legendary shit, people will remember tonight for years.”

Larry sent me that at 3:30 am. He’s more eloquent at 4am. Dave Delzio got in the final word, as is so often his desire:

“Everyone is here to support their true friend, and to honor his memory. They were friends, peers and fans. They want to keep his memory alive, and plan on a annual benefit in his name and support of the am charity/benefit.”

For NYC’s Most Talented DJs, It’s Always 4AM

4 AM is a way of life for thousands of people in nightlife. It is the traditional time that liquor-hawking establishments in NY state must stop selling the booze. Some places have been restricted lately to 2 AM licenses. I wonder if a place that has a 2 AM license could ring up sales on a customer’s card and his liquor could be served and enjoyed until 4:30? I’m going to find out. Although nothing can be sold after 4 AM in our clubs, bottle service has allowed the party to go on for at least another half hour. This means the service employees who make everything possible still need to hang around. One person who can’t go home is the DJ. At this time of the night it’s his job to wind things down so that the patrons can leave quietly. Adam Alpert, Jon Lennon and Jus-Ske have formed a DJ management company, the aptly titled “4am.” I met up with Adam and Jon while we connected with the touring DJ Jus-Ske via the wonders of modern technology. I’ll continue with Jus tomorrow, today Alpert and Lennon have the floor.

Give me and overview. Adam Alpert: 4AM is “4 Artist Management”. That’s what time NYC closes, as opposed to Philly, DC, Boston, LA which close at 2. The partners are myself, Jon Lennon, and Jus-Ske. DJ management is a recent trend.

But Judy Weinstein and tons of others have been doing DJ management since back in the day. AA: Back in the days of Spa and Life, Steve, you usually called a DJ directly.

This is true it was only the large floor or really famous guys who had a manager. Social/Mashup DJs generally don’t have management—outside of Yoni Goldberg’s stable. He handles a number of the best DJ’s around. AA: there are VERY talented people working the best events/clubs in NYC but are not getting marketed on a national/international level. Jon Lennon: Adam and I have been building the careers of DJ simply based on need, bringing them to events in Philly, LA, SF and thus making them irreplaceable to us.

Jon, you are the face of GoldBar and Adam you are the promotional director of 1Oak. You have been hiring many DJ’s in these high profile places, sometimes breaking their careers in NY and then you have booking them in other cities as well. Am I right that, up until now, there hasn’t been a cohesive plan in terms of their careers. AA: Yes, that’s our company’s purpose. This talented family of DJs are all friends, even though they are competitors they like working together. We wanted to take the help we’ve been giving them and organize it, turn it into a movement. We are a family.

So there is a group of DJs without management who have reached premium level, like DJ Sinatra who has paid his dues, but isn’t getting his due. AA: Young DJs have to be out there grinding for themselves, promoting themselves, calling owners. With our friends and relations around the world it was a win-win situation. It makes sense to secure our best DJs with gigs and fame. JL: I was working for Deckstar and Adam and Jus wanted to start an agency. I was the NY exec of Deckstar, a company that also wanted to open a NY agency. The two would’ve been in direct competition, but now we have a bridge to LA and they have one to NY.

So you are partners with NY Deckstar? AA: I like to say we have a strategic alliance.

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Tell me the names of some of the DJ’s in 4am’s roster. JL: Ani Quinn, DJ Vitale, DJ Price, DJ Phresh, DJ Sal Marole, DJ Orazio Rispo, Jus-Ske, Suss One, DJ Theory. They are all of the ‘open format’ style, except Orazio, he’s House. AA: In NY there have grown to be a lot of DJ—based nights Sunday at Goldbar, Tuesday at 1Oak—where you’ll have 5 DJs in the booth and 25 more in the crowd. Its’ a culture of camaraderie, and we wanted to organize these guys together.

When does an agency become a union? Because right now a DJ has to pay you a percentage. Your stated goal is to make DJs money, raising fees. Why wouldn’t a club go out, like I did, to find the next young stud? AA: Cause they aren’t good enough and don’t bring people.

Many DJs, basically all of them— Frankie Knuckles, David Morales—all started out as no-names at clubs that were known as venues with good music. Everyone gets there first gig. I started countless DJs, developed them, gave them higher profile spots, until the whole world clamored for them. JL: I’m from that school. My two biggest DJs were Jesse Marco and Cassidy, who I took a risk on when they had no name.

If the prices become too high, the owner will go back to the old way. However, this current crop of owners are more administrative, not from the streets and wouldn’t necessarily recognize a good new DJ. AA: Any kid can get a laptop and Serrato can call themself a DJ. It’s not like the old days where you had to buy vinyl. Being the new young kid DJ is like being a starving artist. You have to grind, call owners, promote. So every young DJ in NYC has emailed me saying “Will you rep me?” Because we have those connections. JL: On my Facebook, all day its DJs from around the world.

In the old days it was harder, Record Pool, Judy Weinstein’s management company, would distribute new tracks to 200 DJs nationally. Those DJs would have the latest greatest version. So other DJs who didn’t have the latest greatest, newest mix were considered second class. Now, with the internet, you can’t control who gets that kind of access as easily. Everybody gets everything. AA: Correct

You two work at specific clubs. Why would a rival club use you guys? AA: Because we have 12 DJs and we’re friendly with everyone in this industry. Outside of OAK, I work with Satsky in the Hamptons, Noah in Miami on New Years. These guys at other clubs are some of my best friends, who would’ve booked these DJs anyway. This has got nothing to do with 1Oak. We’re friends with everybody, every owner, every promoter. Mark Birnbaum and Eugene as well. Everyone has a different clientele. There are enough clubs and gigs and nights to go around.

How about out of state gigs? AA: Another thing I’d like to mention are the secondary, or nontraditional markets. Butter in North Carolina has the “I Heart NY DJ” series. Every Thurs a 4AM DJ flies down to Charlotte to DJ there. Now people are going out on Thursday nights there.The people in Charlotte haven’t heard anything like this before, its like night and day. Charlotte is the 25th biggest city in the US. JL: 10 of 12 of the 4AM Djs work at 1Oak and 8 of 12 work at Goldbar. We’ve sent DJs to Miami and they stop in Charlotte. Bring an LA DJ to New York City and he flops, but bring a NY DJ to LA and they’re calling him back for double.

Aspiring 4AM DJs and clubs can find out more about the talent pool at 4am.tv.

Resident Remix: Jesse Marco @ Avenue

He used to be DJ AM’s protégé and Mark Ronson’s intern. At 22 Jesse Marco has already racked up an impressive resume and though he has taken up residency, in New York City’s lounge-du-jour Avenue on Thursday nights, but his long-term plans defy time and place. The powerhouse kid DJ is actually a man with a plan, angling to become a household name like his predecessors, by collaborating with artists like Peter Bjorn and John on one-of-a-kind remixes. “A DJ is a leader and a risk taker,” he says with a boyish charm. “Music is a language; the way a DJ plays it is like slang, in a way.”

How did you get into DJing? When I was about 12 I got a pair of turntables because my best friend had them and I was very intrigued by the way he could manipulate the sound of the records he played. From there it just progressed falling in love with music and seeing (even working with) DJs like Premier and Jam Master Jay, Mark Ronson, and AM. After working for Mark doors were opened for me and I practiced my ass off. Eventually AM took notice, and I guess here I am.

What’s your favorite part of DJing? Seeing the crowd respond to something creative I’ve done. Emotionally taking people up and down, keeping them on their toes, surprising them–breaking new records. Music is a language. The way a DJ plays it is like slang in a way. Traveling is an amazing benefit as well.

What’s the most annoying part of Djing? Playing terribly overplayed records for people you’d assume would have great taste. The super cool celeb-type is a good example.

Stoli Filthy Dirty Marco Martini

3 Parts Stoli® 1/2 Part olive juice

Combine ingredients and shake well. Serve up in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with olives on a cocktail pick (4 small/2 big).

BlackBook’s Resident DJ program sees six of NYC’s best resident DJs playing bartender as the remix their own specialty Stoli cocktails. To watch a video of Jesse Marco mixing a Stoli Filthy Dirty Marco Martini, click here. And for more interviews, recipes, and videos, click here.