DJ Jus-Ske’s Adidas All-In Asian Tour Diary

As a manager and partner at 4AM DJs, I’m constantly arranging for performances, events, and photo shoots around the world. Every day, I get reports back from my DJs filled with the kinds of wild adventures I rarely get to be a part of as a desk jockey. The people who flock to their stellar international events get to experience the end results 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 4AM DJ Tour Diary, you’ll read about DJ Jus-Ske‘s trip through Shanghai, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for the Adidas All-In Tour. Yours truly, Adam Alpert.

In May, I was given the opportunity to be a part of Adidas’ All-In Tour. The tour took place in Asia and lasted a week. I flew from NY and landed in Shanghai, where I had a car waiting for me. The hospitality from the guys at Adidas was tremendous. I was taken to my hotel, where I slept off a bit of jetlag before getting ready to start my week of events. I stayed at Puli Hotel while in Shanghai, and it was sick.

During my first day in Shanghai, I met up with my buddy, Kevin Poon, who owns a clothing company called Clot Inc. Kevin is deep in the fashion world in Asia, owning stores like Juice Shanghai and Juice Hong Kong, which I was able to check out while I was there. He’s also opening the WOAW pop-up store in Hong Kong, which will feature a bunch of luxury eyewear brands all in one store.

Kevin was extremely helpful during my entire stay in Asia. The day of my first show, we went through the event that was about to take place that night. Later that day, I went for sound check at the venue, Block 6, and after did a ton of press in the green room. Eventually, it was time for the main event. I was set to go on after Edison Chen, who is a huge actor and musician in China.

After doing sound check and press, I was ready to rock, but then I found out that the party was getting stalled due to overcrowding. The cops in Shanghai showed up to the venue because too many people were trying to get in. There were problems with fans forcing themselves past the barricades at the entrance because they were so excited for the event, but they ended up just getting the show postponed for three hours. During that time, I just chilled backstage and became cooler with Edison. He’s a great individual. The cops stalling the event only created more anticipation for the show we were about to put on.

Edison went on first and killed it for the crowd. After his performance, he was nice enough to introduce me to the crowd. Edison being such a huge celebrity in China really helped the crowd to accept me. By the end of my set, the crowd was totally into it. The show ended up being totally official, even though it was pushed back for a few hours. The next day I left for Hong Kong first thing in the morning. Hong Kong was where I spent most of my time during my trip. I was there for five days and I was able to travel around the city, go shopping, and eat traditional Hong Kong cuisine. I stayed at The Upper House, another sick hotel.

In Hong Kong, I met up with my business partner Daniel to talk about my sunglasses line, Illesteva. The first thing we did was meet up with my friend Gilbert, who owns the biggest club in Hong Kong, called Dragon-i. We all got dinner and then made our way to Dragon-i, which always brings out the best crowd in Hong Kong. The next day I went sight seeing around the city. I luckily had the best driver, Jonathan, who took me all around in a Mercedes minivan. He took us to the gold and electronic market and to some other shops, including Juice HK. Shopping in Hong Kong is crazy. I met back up with Kevin Poon and we eventually got dinner.

My second Adidas event took place during my third night in Hong Kong and the crowd was amazing. The event was held at the Ocean Terminal Rooftop. The next night Gilbert hosted a dinner party at his insane penthouse in the hills. It was great running into all my Tokyo and Hong Kong buddies who were there. After dinner we went back to Dragon I and then later to Volar with my Hong Kong fam. Later that night, we all met up at Hong Kong’s best late night spot, Tsuewah, for traditional Hong Kong cuisine.

The next day I had some meetings and then left for Taiwan for the third and final stop of the Adidas All-In Tour. I stayed at the W Taipei. It was my first time in Taiwan and I didn’t know what to expect. After I landed, I went straight to sound check, then I met up with my friend, Soda, and went to a traditional Thai barbeque spot. The food was on another level. What was so great about the show in Taiwan was the event was held in the biggest shopping center in the country at No. 8. That night I did the red carpet with Edison Chen and I was able to watch and enjoy the show before performing. The crowd in Taiwan was extremely hyped. After the show I went to check out my boy, DJ Vice, because it’s always good to see friends especially half way around the world. The next day we went around Taiwan and went to Eskuche, one of the most amazing stores I’ve ever seen. I also stopped at Juice Taiwan to go shopping. One of my favorite things about Taiwan was the culture and watching some of the dudes there break dance, I’ve never seen anything like it. From Taiwan, I flew back to Hong Kong where I finally caught my flight back to NY. The hospitality I received during my stay in Asia was incredible. Everyone went above and beyond. The Asian culture is completely different and my friends who live there were gracious enough to show me around and make me feel at home during my stay.

DJ Jus Ske Shapes the Music of the Club Age

As we told you yesterday, a new DJ management company called 4AM is set to take legions of talented NYC “social” DJs national—even international (maybe even interplanetary, these guys are that good). Jon Lennon, Adam Alpert and DJ Jus Ske have the abilities, the connections and, most importantly, the respect to manage these people. The New York DJ with his Serrato, skills and charisma is sought after in LA, Vegas and all major metropolises. With a few notable exceptions, the DJs coming in from out-of-town to play here are not getting anyone’s panties wet. NY DJs are the go-to guys at store openings, festivals and events on the national party circuit. Yoni Goldberg has a roster over at DGI that includes DJ Cassidy, Paul Sevigny and Berrie. Up until now, he’s had a stronghold on the industry, catering to the smart set, the jet set, the bottle/model crowd. 4AM steps up and handles a roster that includes Ani Quinn, DJ Vitale, DJ Price, DJ Phresh, DJ Sal Marole, DJ Orazio Rispo, Jus-Ske, Suss One, DJ Theory among others. Jus_Ske is a partner at the firm along with long time friend Richie Akiva.

I met Jus Ske when I was running LIFE. Richie and Jus along with Mark Rose were the young, brash, in-the-know kids that I needed to have around to stay relevant and to be credible. That element, street credibility, is what separates 1Oak and some other clubs with the wannabe joints that don’t understand that edge. At LIFE, I had the high end, the euros, much of the promoter-driven crowd and wealthy men and model crowd. I added in the gays and trendoids and we had it all mixing up and had a great party. But it was the edgier crowd, the cool hip-hop crews these three dudes brought that gave that club the realness I needed. The “hip-hop” room at LIFE was always where the party was and I believe it is the model for the all the great (non house-head) places since. DJs like Mark Ronson, Funkmaster Flex, Grandmaster Flash, Kid Capri, Riz— and I’m sure many others I cant think of now—paved the way for this new generation of talent who find a market that craves their “street cred” sets.

“Mash-up” or “open format” is the musical genre of our club age. The organization of these talented DJs by 4AM and DGI will ensure career growth and fair pay. To me Jus Ske has always been there, trying to push the music forward. I have great respect for him as a DJ, but more importantly, as a person. Nobody is perfect, especially in the world of clubs where most take 2 steps forward but then 3 steps back and think they’re making it. I have always felt that Jus was in it for the art of it, while so many others around him were motivated by other things. Whether its his clothing line or his collaboration with Pharrell or his foray into club ownership, the underlying truth to DJ Jus Ske is his true-to-his-school mentality. Any beef I ever had with the man (and it was always short-lived beef) ended with his trade mark “its all good” and it surely was always a little better than that. I caught up with Jus Ske and asked him a few questions.

What’s your musical style? Open format. Good music is good music

Where are the trends in music going? Electro, retro, yet organic. Fast, yet slow—meaning 140bpm and 70bpm in between on the break down.

What are your favorite tracks? Jus Ske and Junior Sanchez electro dance remix of Drake’s “Over” called “Far From Over.” “Broken” from Gorillaz, “Flashing Room” by 2AM Club (Yacht remix), “Elevator” by Junior Sanchez featuring Good Charlotte and Maino, and “Animal” by Miike Snow (Fake Blood remix).

How did u start in the business? Steve Lewis.

How did you decide to be a DJ? What year? Probably around 1997 when I started promoting. I felt it was more fulfilling for the soul to dabble in the music aspect of the night and became a DJ.

(Editor’s Note: Yeah, you’re gonna want to download these tracks now.)

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.

Industry Insiders: Fabrizio Brienza, Signor West

Mr. West’s exuberant Italian door person Fabrizio Brienza on looking marvelous, not being a crackhead, and how he selects New York sexpots to cross his velvet ropes.

Where do you hang out? When I don’t work, I never go out. For me, it’s like going to the office on a Saturday. I don’t want to do that. I live in Tribeca, and I go this little Italian place called Capri Café. It’s very low key, but they are my friends who run the place, and they cook just like my mom. So I go there all the time. I like the Tribeca Grand sometimes. For places to go out, I like the Box and Rose Bar. I like places that are a little bit underground and not commercial at all. I like to hide sometimes. I don’t like to be in the club with all the club people all the time. I like to be the opposite. Low key. For outdoor bars, I like the rooftop at the Gramercy Hotel.

Who are two people that you admire in the nightclub industry? I admire Suzanne Bartsch. I really admire her. She used to do my parties when I worked at Pivali (a club in New York). And I admire her because she’s the real deal. Nobody can do a party like Suzanne. Her parties are guaranteed to be incredible. I also admire of course, the people I’m working with now — Danny Devine and Jus Ske. They’ve been in the business so long, and they know what’s up. I admire Danny A, because he is a great promoter. He really knows everybody in town — in the entertainment business, in every business.

How would you describe yourself? I think I’m pretty unique. I don’t really like to describe myself. I’d rather other people describe me. What am I going to say? That I’m the best? No.

How are you different when you’re working? When I’m working, I always put up a show. I try to be the idea. It’s like being on stage. I like to dress up. I like to look different. I like to look like I’m in a movie. I wear a big fur coat and suits. I think the look of nightlife is everything. It’s a superficial world. If you look good, you are good. If you don’t look good, you’re not good. The sound and the visual are everything in nightlife. Visually you like to see beautiful people and with sounds, you always love to hear good music. I try to give people these two things the most.

What is one thing that people may not know about you? That I’m not a crackhead.

What is one positive trend that you see in the nightlife industry now? I think that in the moment of recession, it’s a good time to be creating and doing something different. Because I think that’s what the nightlife is all about. I hate the corporate parts — they all look the same. I like the edgy stuff. I like when people take risks, and people are leaders and not ships. I like when people open up their clubs, and they want to do something different that’s not all about the trends. They know that a trend isn’t going to work, and they’re never going to be original. I think that now is the time to create art. Nightlife is an art. So to me, the more original you are — the better it is. Respect yourself, don’t be afraid, and have fun with it. It’s not like you’re murdering anybody. I like when people express themselves, and I wish they expressed themselves more. Especially in New York — it’s supposed to be the best city in the world. I would like to see more crazy people out. Crazy good, crazy fun. It’s not like the nightlife is corporate work. It shouldn’t be like Meryl Lynch. I would like to see more free minds and free-spirited people doing whatever they feel like they need to do.

What’s the crowd like at Mr. West? Mr. West has a very nice crowd. Upscale, cool people. Lots of models, some industry people, lots of hipsters, some celebrities. A very cool crowd.

If someone came to the door at Mr. West who wasn’t on the list, what would make you want to let them in? First off, I’m just gonna look at the fashion. If her fashion looks good and she’s stylish, that’s enough for me. Cool, stylish, dressed like she knows what’s up. If she’s beautiful — done. That’s all I need to know. Then if she’s like a serial killer once she gets in, that’s her problem. To me, if someone looks good, that’s enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’m working. Unfortunately.

Photo: Chelsea Stemple

Industry Insiders: DJ Jus Ske, Master of Western Decks

Mr. West co-owner and DJ Jus Ske talks about blowing up, speeding up, and building up.

Favorite Hangs: When I’m in Tokyo, I love Feria. It’s a very high-energy, New York-style club abroad. David Guetta’s “F*** Me, I’m Famous” parties are always insane, and I love those. When I’m in NYC, you can usually find me at Mr. West, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, or Rose Bar.

Point of Origin: I was born in Manhattan and have lived here my entire life. I think a lot of my musical influence comes from my dad. Everywhere we went, he was constantly playing music in the car — funk, 80s, jazz, classic rock, Latin — you name it, I heard it as a kid. When I was 21, I started at Life, promoting Friday nights with Mark Ronson. Mark was really the one that got me into DJing. He taught me the basics, and I took a big interest in it from the start. A few years later, I was promoting and starting to DJ at Lot 61 with Richie Akiva, and from there, everything started to snowball. Before I knew it, I started getting recognized by a lot of big-name people and was being asked to spin at clubs all around with world.

Occupations: I just opened a new club with Danny Divine in West Chelsea called Mr. West. I’m also continuing to DJ all over the place — I just DJed at Diesel’s XXX party in Brooklyn and was also in LA for DJ AM’s welcome home party. I really want to own more properties. I’m loving what Danny Divine and I are doing with Mr. West. and I’m excited to see what we can do next … maybe a hotel. I’m also thinking about possibly getting into acting and maybe releasing a DJ album soon.

Side Hustle: I have a clothing line called Danucht. Its very street couture, and I have a good handle in the design process, which is a pretty cool new world for me. I’m also a part owner of Oso energy drink, which can be found all over the city at places like Mr. West, Rose Bar, Marquee, etc.

Industry Icons: I really respect Richie Akiva as a veteran of the industry and his ability to pull together all the right elements of a party in order to make it perfect. I also admire Danny A for the way he can bring together the best crowd. Noah Tepperberg has proven time and time again that his business savvy is unmatched in the industry today. No one can run a business like Noah. All of these guys have the ability to maintain the sexy and classy integrity of a party by recognizing that it’s not always about making money.

Deck Trends: Music in NYC is definitely changing. It’s becoming a lot faster, which is great because it really increases the energy in a club. I’m starting to hear less hip-hop and more electro and dance, but I can never get enough of my hip-hop and rock and roll.

Known Associates: Shout out Pharrell, Zac Posen, Kanye, Noemie Lenoir, Mark Ronson, Mario Sorrenti, Jessica Stam and Kaws — all of these people have been huge supporters of Mr. West, and I can’t thank them enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Mr. West.