Dinner with the Top DJs in Las Vegas

by Marc Jay
03.05.2010

This week, I’ve discovered a kind of undercover meeting place for the guys who are considered some of the biggest DJs in Las Vegas. It seems like they go out every Tuesday, on the DL, and tonight, I’m going to be joining them at the place they go out for a nice steak dinner. Out of all the hotels they could pick to go and eat, and you know there are some beautiful hotels in Las Vegas, they’ve chosen make their undercover meeting place at the Las Vegas Hilton. The Las Vegas Hilton goes back to Elvis Presley’s days; in fact, there’s a statue of him outside. I think this hotel is about 60 or 70 years old, so not the sort of place where you’d think these guys would hang out. They just come here to relax and talk about clubs, music, drinking, and women, so it’s a really unique experience to be a part of.

Marc Jay: So I get to TJ’s Steakhouse and the first DJ I bump into is the famous, and French, Mr. Chris Garcia. Tell us how you’re doing tonight.

Chris Garcia: Very good, actually. I’m really happy to meet all these guys for an amazing dinner.

Marc Jay: I was telling the listeners earlier that this is like a secret club you guys have that no one knows about at a kind of old school hotel, but tell us, what’s going on with your life? Where are you playing now?

Chris Garcia: I usually play Drai’s in town, but I play a lot out of town now.

Marc Jay: Where have you been in, say, the last six months?

Chris Garcia: Everywhere. I played in San Francisco last week, I play in San Diego this weekend coming up, I will play in Brazil in April and I’ll be in Miami, of course, for the WMC. I played in Europe, like at the end of the last year in December and I will go back to Europe in May. A lot of stuff is going on. Between my agency in Europe, Darkness, and my agency in the USA, SKAM Artist, a lot of stuff is going on.

Marc Jay: So tell us, how do people find you? Do you have a website or a Myspace? I know SKAM has a website…

Chris Garcia: Yeah, I’m on the SKAM website, of course, but I have my personal website too – it’s DJchrisgarcia.com – and I got Myspace, I got Twitter, Facebook, everything.

Marc Jay: Now I love Chris Garcia for one reason: he made Tao Beach at the beginning; he was like the superstar of Tao Beach. Every Sunday he’d put these songs on and people would just go crazy. Do you think we will see you at any pool parties this summer?

Chris Garcia: Yeah, we will work on that. SKAM actually will work on that, but probably yes.

Marc Jay: I hope so – they’ve just got to pay the right bucks.

***

Marc Jay: So, one of the legends in Las Vegas is joining me at the table now, after eating his Lobster Bisque, DJ Eddie McDonald. Hello, Eddie.

Eddie McDonald: Hello, Marc.

Marc Jay: So, I know you’re all over the place and playing in many clubs, but what are you up to at present?

Eddie McDonald: Still trucking along with The Light Group, going on my 12th-13th year with Andrew and currently at JET and The Bank.

Marc Jay: I would say you must be their longest employee by far, in Vegas for sure.

Eddie McDonald: I might have Michael Ray beat, but me and Neva, Neva’s had about a month more on the company than me.

Marc Jay: You seem to have your finger on the dance music pulse in Las Vegas, and really all types of music. How do you see Vegas nightlife? What is it up to at the moment?

Eddie McDonald: I see with a lot of the music in the clubs that the tempo is changing. It’s getting much more danceable and steering away from the slow hip hop. The mashup vibe is going more towards the house music direction again, you know, which is good.

Marc Jay: Now you’re one of the guys responsible for opening up Haze and kind of, you know, giving them your inside information. Anyone who hasn’t seen Haze, it’s amazing. It’s in the CityCenter, honestly it cost like $60 million or $80 million to build, is that right?

Eddie McDonald: I think that’s about right.

Marc Jay: Tell me about the club. I know you opened up with Tiesto, David Guetta, I mean you’re booking the biggest acts there. Who else is coming, can you tell us?

Eddie McDonald: You know what, I don’t know if I can actually [laughs]… I just don’t know. I do the special events – when Tiesto would be there, and on their house music nights I’ll be their opening DJ – but other than that, I’m not too heavily involved with that property.

Marc Jay: You’ve been spinning for so long, so you probably know all of the best parties. Tell us about your favorite nights in Vegas? What nights stand out from the rest of them?

Eddie McDonald: Tiesto nights, for sure, have been legendary. Other than that, um…

Marc Jay: What about your own gigs, which ones stick out in your mind?

Eddie McDonald: I would say my New York gigs. My first residency at JET Lounge was huge for me, and then one-offs I’ve done at places like Sound Factory, The Tunnel and Limelight. They’re all legendary places that are no longer around, so I’m glad I got to be involved with those places, even for a night or two.

Marc Jay: So, you moved from New York to Las Vegas – when did you move and what made you come here?

Eddie McDonald: I moved here in February of 2002, and I moved out here to open up Light Nightclub at the Bellagio for Andrew and I’ve been with it ever since. It worked out really well and, you know, I miss Jersey and the East Coast, but I love my life out here and I’m glad I’ve been able to maintain a career in DJing with a good company.

Marc Jay: Back in the college days, did you always know you wanted to be a DJ, or did you have a passion for something else?

Eddie McDonald: I always had a passion for music. I wanted to get involved with radio when I started going to college, but the DJing thing really took off. I started doing it, saved every bit of money to buy my own equipment, and I started when I was about 13 or 14 and luckily I made some good moves and met the right people, and it worked out well for me.

Marc Jay: What equipment do you work on these days?

Eddie McDonald: I’m still on the Serato, hung up the turntables for the most part, using CDJs, and you know, I prefer a mixer or something with knobs, which people laugh at me about, but I deal with the 800. I like the Pioneer 800.

Marc Jay: I remember years ago when I used to book DJs at RA, I’d turn up at the airport to meet Skribble and he’d turn up with probably about 15 suitcases of records. Things obviously have changed now, but do you miss the old days and the feeling of vinyl and playing on records?

Eddie McDonald: Absolutely. I totally miss hunting for records and finding that record you’ve been looking for. There’s not that excitement anymore; hunting down an MP3 is much easier than hunting down a piece of vinyl that might be limited or a promo copy. I feel bad for a lot of the guys who never got to experience that. Just as much as we talk shop now, getting a new laptop or getting the new Serato update, we used to discuss, “Where did you get that luggage cart to carry all those records?” I totally miss that even though Serato and the digital age of DJing has made it much easier than carrying 500 records with you at every gig. It has its pros and cons, but I miss the good old days.

Marc Jay: It’s funny because I grew up opposite a place called Black Market Records in London, and these record shops were almost like coffee shops for DJs, where people would just go and talk about music. That must be a thing of the past now.

Eddie McDonald: Yeah, it’s a shame. You used to spend days at record stores and the one I ran in New York was like that. We would have couches in the back and we’d hand out Redbulls and stuff like that. People would bring in a six-pack and just hang out and you’d make a day out of it. Now you can have that to a certain extent; you can have your friends over your house to swap files and stuff like that, but still, it’s not the same.

Marc Jay: So if people want to find you and listen to your music, how can they do that?

Eddie McDonald: I’m at JET Saturday nights, I’m at The Bank Thursday nights, I’ll be starting Gold Lounge at CityCenter starting next Friday, and that’s it. I’m in the process of finishing up my first two tracks in the studio and those will be posted on my Myspace account (myspace.com/eddiemcdonald), so there will be a music update soon.

***

Marc Jay: So at the dinner table is the incredible Mr. DJ Faarsheed. So tell us, Mr. Faarsheed, you’re obviously another Vegas legend and have played at hundreds of clubs here and everyone adores you – and me too. What’s going on in your life? Where are you playing right now?

DJ Faarsheed: First of all, I adore you, Mr. Marc Jay. I am travelling a little bit and working a lot in the studio, I’ve got an album deal with Pacha Recordings and I have done the first four tracks – two originals and two remixes.

Marc Jay: Now let me tell everyone out there, honestly, this guy changed my life when it came to dance music in Vegas. When we were working together you created nights – I don’t take drugs, and never have done them – but basically on those nights I was like on a roller coaster. Do you remember those nights? How did you make them so special?

DJ Faarsheed: We all made them special. I think just the group we had at Ice was amazing and it was an amazing club and it was here at the right time, you know. The timing was perfect for Vegas to have something like that. Vegas was finally ready and we just had the right setup – we had the right sound, amazing DJs and an amazing cast of workers, so that made it a lot of fun. I miss those nights just like you do.

Marc Jay: I remember the times at night when we would just switch on the fog machine and literally you couldn’t see anything, it was like you were covered in a cloud and those times I’d just run to the dance floor and just hug somebody. It was always good fun.

DJ Faarsheed: There were times I would run out from the DJ booth while I was playing, to get on the floor, that’s how fun it was.

Marc Jay: I also remembered a time when we’d be closing that club like at 10, sometimes 11 in the morning, and I’d be walking around with a cup of tea and I’d literally come back in the club and see you in there, jumping up and down, spinning, and your girlfriend dancing around. It was almost like a camp for kids, but we’re all adults at nightclubs. It was like a gang of us who would all go there, like the Cheers of the nightclub world.

DJ Faarsheed: It was our Chuck E. Cheese [laughs].

Marc Jay: It was just so much fun. So I know you just signed this deal, you have a couple of tracks coming out. Where can people track you down now?

DJ Faarsheed: Right now, a lot of these tracks are already out on iTunes and Beatport and then also I have a monthly show, a podcast on iTunes, which is free, and every month I do a podcast – either a new mix from myself, whether it’s live or a new mix that I made in the studio, or friends. Last month I had Paul Harris of Dirty Vegas on the show, so there’s a lot of friends and other DJs and producers that I’ve had on the show. So you can find me there or check the schedule and see where I’m playing every month.

Marc Jay: What’s your website? How can people follow you?

DJ Faarsheed: Faarsheed.com or facebook.com/faarsheed, either one of those.

Marc Jay: Wonderful. Now let’s talk a bit about your background. When you were growing up and going to college, did you always want to be a DJ, or was there another profession you wanted to do?

DJ Faarsheed: I mean, I always loved electronic music. I always loved music in general growing up and I started messing with it in later years of high school and early years of college, and throughout college I just burned a lot of CDs for friends, just like how everyone else starts. I don’t know if you remember Stevie B, he did a lot of freestyle music back in the ‘90s, and he got me started. He was a family friend and gave me a radio show, an internet radio show, which was, at the time, something new. It was an internet radio show which basically played electronic music for the world and I didn’t even have a clue how to mix. He just put me on there and said, “Play the music that you burn for everybody.” And that’s how it all started.

Marc Jay: You’re from California, right? So how did you end up in Las Vegas?

DJ Faarsheed: I grew up there and then for college I came out here to go to UNLV and study computer science. When I graduated from UNLV I decided that I just want to do what I love to do and start DJing, and then I did that and had all the residencies in Vegas and started producing a few years ago.

Marc Jay: How would you describe your style of music? For people who haven’t heard you before, tell us about the kind of journey you take people on when you DJ.

DJ Faarsheed: I mean, it’s electronic, I can say that, but besides that I really can’t pinpoint it or label it just cause it’s so many different styles, as you’ve heard at Ice when we had those long nights. It starts out really chill and sometimes gets banging or tribal-y, just so many different styles that I like. If you check out the podcast, you’ll see that I love producing ambient music and chill-out music as well.

Marc Jay: Now I remember paying some of these other DJs, these superstar DJs, you know, tens of thousands of dollars to play for two hours and you’d come along and play for eight hours. How do you have the stamina to play there for eight hours? What keeps you up there?

DJ Faarsheed: The love of the music.

Marc Jay: Very good answer. Well is there anything else I should be asking? Anything else that’s going on in your life?

DJ Faarsheed: I’m getting married in May.

Marc Jay: Wow, very good things going on in your life.

DJ Faarsheed: And I have to say, you’re pretty good at this, Marc. We’ve worked together for many years and I know you’re a jack of many trades and good at many things, but I didn’t know you were so good at this as well.

Click here to follow Marc Jay on Twitter!


 

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