Astronaut? Rock star? Pirate? When you were dreaming of what you wanted to be when you grew up, folks probably told you to think of a back-up plan. As with anyone in a non-9-to-5 career, local DJs still have to pay the bills. From waiters and accountants to graphic designers and life-drawing models (maybe not that last one … that we know of), many turntablists seek alternate jobs to keep the cash flow on a steady drip.
As a pharmacy technician pursuing his degree in respiratory therapy, Mark One told his co-workers little about his other life. He cites some stereotypes about the prevalence of “wild women” and drugs in the club scene, and avoids intertwining his two careers. “I just wanted to dedicate myself to something where I can say, ‘You know what? I went to college. I graduated with a degree. I can do it …’ But once I’m done with that, I’m definitely going to hit my music full-time, hardcore again.”
Double Down Charlie Brown initially had difficulty balancing his day job in retail sales at John Varvatos in the Forum Shops. “It’s hard having the double life of DJing at night,” he says. “I’d get home late, and I wouldn’t have a full eight hours of sleep.” Eventually, DDCB switched to working in a different capacity at the store to allow more freedom for accepting gigs, but still retaining those oh-so-important health benefits.
FunkyBadChad, aka Chad Stolarick or simply “Dad” to his two children, agrees with the importance of day-job stability. “I deal blackjack at this little hotel called the Wynn,” he jokes. “It helps, because it’s the backbone of fueling my DJ career financially … I’m also able to promote at my blackjack table. People come in from out of town, and I build relationships with them, and when they come back they hit me up to see where I’m playing.”
It appears, however, that the majority of Vegas DJs find day jobs (night jobs?) in club marketing and promotions, such as Deryk Anthony at Tao and Lavo, or Jordan Stevens with Vegas Alliance. “It becomes second nature when promoting yourself as a DJ, because you already have the clientele,” says Stevens. British import Damien Jay has only been in Vegas six months, but has already booked numerous gigs. “The first thing I did to get into the clubs was working as a photographer,” says Jay. “That’s initially how I got my foot in the door and started meeting people.”
Further up the ladder, Omar Galeano, Hollywood and Brian Hart all guide the music at their respective venues, as does Lisa Pittman. “I do special events, promotions and also music direction over at Krave,” she says, in addition to DJing for CandyBar, Tao and Lavo.
Then there’s the tech contingent. DJ Bobby Robertson is a Mac specialist for Apple Computers, and KC Ray is an audio/video engineer. “You end up helping out and saving people/clubs,” Ray says. “If you’re standing right there, you can quickly hit a button or whatever it takes to fix whatever problem they have. It also gives you an additional skill.”
Creating custom playlists for clients such as Ra Sushi, CatHouse and Downtown Cocktail Room, Robert Oleysyck remains involved in music when he’s not DJing. “I have a business where I provide music programming and background-music solutions,” he explains.
It’s not that they don’t want to be DJs full-time; many the Weekly spoke with are booked on February 9 for Spundae’s Full Moon: Rising Stars party at Voodoo Lounge. “Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in the world of DJing. You think it’s going to be great one day, and then the next day you never know what could happen,” Stevens says. “I would love to absolutely, 110 percent focus every bit of energy I have into DJing, but for right now … I have to focus on both and kind of divert my energy 50/50.” DDCB agrees. “The main focus is the DJing. That’s my passion. That’s my drive. That’s what I wake up for every morning. The day job is just to pay the bills and support the dream.”
(Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly and at LasVegasWeekly.com.)