Both news outlets and social media in Las Vegas have been on a frenzy recently about apparent trends in the DJ world. We interviewed Joseph Gettright to get the inside scoop about what is really going on, and what the future might hold.
With an extensive background in all things music and entertainment in both LA and Las Vegas, give us a little background about yourself.
Well, I currently reside in Las Vegas NV transplanted from my hometown of Los Angeles, CA. I worked in radio at Power 106 for many years when I lived in CA. I spend a lot of time in the studio and deejay at various venues around town. I've had the opportunity to work with some well known artists and djs that have grown to be some of the biggest names in this industry. I've had the opportunity to open for many big name acts, more recently: Nelly, Journey, Wyclef Jean, De La Soul, One republic, & Big Boi of Outkast to name a few.
Recent articles in the Las Vegas news and social media channels have been focused on the decline of DJs they call the “world-famous knob spinners”. Being a Las Vegas DJ yourself, what are your thoughts on this?
Man! There's so much i can say here, but I'll try and keep it simple. There's a big misconception in general with what a deejay is versus "knob spinners." If you can't blend records without the aid of technology, you shouldn't be labeled as a deejay. If you're a producer standing behind a table and a dj setup, well thats exactly what you are, a producer standing behind a table and dj set up. Our society has to gain a better understanding of the difference between, lets say a celebrity actor that was approached to get paid as a "deejay" that has put virtually no time in learning the craft and a real deejay that has dedicated blood sweat and tears to his profession and art. So once you understand that a deejay will always be around long after the "superstar deejay" hype is gone you won't buy into some of the comments being made around town about how deejays are on the decline. Big venues and festivals have been around in the house music side of this business and when they weren't being made out to be huge acts they were still playing festivals (or raves as they used to be called). You have to remember, names like Tiesto, Carl Cox, Oakenfold have been around even before the hype of the current EDM scene. What they're hyping up to be a decline of deejays, I just see as shift in the music scene. Different genres grow popularity at different times during the course of time.
Do you think that the nightclubs and dayclubs will choose to move away from these headliners all together, or simply just pay them less?
I think many talent buyers, club owners and marketing groups have gotten themselves in this pickle where they held Vegas up to this image and brand that offers the best of everything. Mega clubs, big huge lighting set ups, the hottest girls, and the very best in entertainment. In this endeavor they've participated in this bidding war over the "hottest ticket" brands at the time and have now found it increasingly hard to make money as they feel the EDM scene has shrunk in popularity. I think natural selection will figure out its own balance. The hottest brands will continue to command top dollar but their fee will likely come down out of the stratosphere some because the best venues and stages around the world will stop booking and contracting them. They simply can't turn a profit.
If DJs are no longer the main focus what does the future hold?
I don't see a world where we have automated playlists and smart players playing tracks for a nightclub or day pool environment ever. I could be wrong! I can't see the future! haa, But deejays, especially good deejays, were always tasked with creating a vibe and creating energy and hype. That energy comes from the music he selects to bring the energy up, then bring it down. An environment with no deejay has no energy, so what do you have? A lounge?
Jesse Waits is heading up the new nightlife venues set for 2018 at the Alon Las Vegas casino and said he’ll “be creating a club for cool people”. What are cool people and what is going to entice them to future venues?
For me, the cool crowd of people are trendsetters. It's usually the individualist rebel that wasn't afraid to wear his/her hair differently or wear clothes that made them stand out when no one was into it and turned then it turned into a fashion trend in their community, nationally or globally. In the music scene, it was the emergence of EDM. House music wasn't this popular 10 years ago, but it was for some people, their hearts. Then as it popularized, everyone was making "EDM." Another example, was Pharrell wearing that Vivienne Westwood grammy hat. It became a huge parody initially but he popularized it so much that today, many of the "cool" kids are wearing similar hats. As for what the the future holds to entice them into the venues? The younger generation growing up these days have less and less attention span so first they would always go to a new spot that has the latest hype. I don't see the club scene changing that drastically in a couple years but I think variety is what is going to keep the future venues filled up. Constantly evolving visuals and musical vibe will keep the next generation of cool kids coming to the clubs.
When it comes to locals and tourists, what are most people interested in when it comes to choosing where to party in Vegas?
Many locals that go to clubs often work in them many nights a week already. They've been to it all, so they go where their friends go. This is related to the cool kids idea. Everyone thinks they're cool, but everyone goes where the "cool" kids go. So if the whole town is going to end up at a particular spot one night because word is, everyones going, then thats your cool spot for the night. As for Tourists, I've always broken tourists down to two groups in relation to this question, There are the ones that have zero clue about how Vegas works, and will go where they're told, because a promoter on the blvd told them this is the hottest spot. Then theres the tourists that come often enough and know where they want to go. After that, tourists always go where they can see their favorite artists perform.
What songs will always be popular in the clubs no matter the DJ?
This is tough to answer in a general sense. It depends on the club, Hip Hop club will be different than House club. I can say this: so much music has been remixed over and over over during the course of the last 10 years that many of these songs reemerge in popularity due in part to the technological advances in sound design and the ease of putting music out to the masses these days. So lots of songs never seem to die! I guess two that pop into mind, are:
Usher - Yeah
Robin S. - show me love
Victor Drai said “people are sick of DJs in Vegas”. As a DJ yourself how do you reply?
I'd have to say no, no they're not. How do you say that when you're still booking deejays heavily in your venue? He's released all of his EDM based acts and have gone with more traditional deejays combined with hip hop/pop acts in the last 6 months to a year. So how does that statement actually coincide with what your venue is doing? As for myself being a deejay and believing in the craft, a deejay is the backbone of any musical environment much like the drummer is to a band. A drummer is the heartbeat of the band. How do you have a nightclub without a deejay? They program songs, they program your night, they do your shouts out, they interact with your crowd ( the ones that don't is a whole other interview!). Now imagine a nightclub without a deejay, just an iPod. A song plays all the way through, it stops, another one starts. Plays all the way through and stops, another ones starts, and so on and so forth. Sounds more like a lounge than a nightclub, If thats what you want then let someone else run your venue that's passionate about music and cares about creating a an environment to party in. How does the saying go? Find something that your absolutely passionate about doing, then find someone willing to pay you for it.