The Spin Set: 7 DJs That Rule the Las Vegas Nightlife Scene

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What do Tiesto, Arnin Van Buuren, Martin Solveig, Avicii, Afrojack, Steve Aoki and Kaskade have in common? That’s easy. Not only are these guys among the top DJs in the world, but they also rule the Las Vegas club scene. We sat down with each of the top DJs to discover what makes them tick, how they got their start and what they love about Sin City. Read on for a few facts about your favorite spinner that might seriously surprise you.

TIËSTO
Photography FRANCESCO CARROZZINI
TIËSTO
Real Name: Tijs Michiel Verwest
Signature Track: “Traffic” “Red Lights” “Secrets” “Adagio for Strings”
Place of birth: Breda, Netherlands
Where he spins in Sin City: Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Age: 46

How did you get your start?
I went to a small club in my hometown of Breda in The Netherlands. When I saw what the DJ was doing and the relationship he had with the crowd, that’s when I knew this what I wanted to do for a living. So I started small and kept building.

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
Yes. This is what I always wanted to do, and I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to make a successful career out of DJing. What would you have been doing instead? I really don’t know. I was always into music, but at first it was rock and metal, so who knows? I also love sports, so maybe I would have been doing something with that.

Did you have an “aha” moment, when you finally realized you’d “made” it?
Probably when I played a large gig in Holland for the first time. In Holland we’ve long had a great dance scene, so to be recognized at home for the first time, and on such a scale, was special.

Which of your tracks would you call your “signature” and why? Is it the favorite tune you’ve done?
There are definitely classics fans like to associate me with such as “Adagio For Strings,” “Traffic,” my remix of Delirium’s “Silence” and some more recent songs like “Zero 76,” Maximal Crazy,” “Red Lights” and my remix of John Legend’s “All Of Me.” I don’t really have a favorite because all of these tracks are part of my journey. I also like to evolve my music, so I’m always looking to keep pushing forward.

Which artists do you love working with the most and why?
Working with Hardwell and Martin Garrix is always fun. I also collaborate a lot with Dzeko & Torres and MOTi—two artists signed to Musical Freedom.

Where do you call home, or do you have more than one?
Right now I spend a lot of time in Las Vegas and New York when I’m not traveling.

What do you love in particular about spinning in Las Vegas?
I just love how the city is always up for a party, and that it’s home to some of the most amazing restaurants and nightlife.

What is your favorite aspect of Las Vegas?
I like how you have the bright lights and energy of The Strip, but travel just a small distance and then you’re right out in the middle of the desert with complete silence. It’s very calming and such an interesting dynamic.

What are some of your favorite spots in Las Vegas?
Of course I love Hakkasan, but I’m also a big fan of places like LAVO and Tao—the food is great. What’s your favorite hotel and suite to stay at while here, and why? I always stay on the MGM Grand property while I’m in Las Vegas as part of my residency.

What’s the best perk of your job?
I’m fortunate to travel the world, meet many people and experience so many cultures. That’s really amazing to me.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I really enjoy sports. Many people might not know I have a fantasy football team.

What is the biggest luxury in life?
Time. I never have enough of it.

KASKADE
Photography ERIC ITA
KASKADE
Real Name: Ryan Raddon
Signature Tracks: “Atmosphere” “It’s You, It’s Me”

Place of Birth: Chicago
Where he spins in Sin City: XS, Encore Beach Club
Age: 44

How did you get your start?
It was kind of a hobby. As a kid growing up in Chicago, the preferred format of buying music was vinyl. I was collecting a lot of records back then and when I went away to college I had three crates of records in my dorm room and started playing records for my friends by default. I was the guy with the great record collection.

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
No, I never really set out to do that. It was always just a super fun hobby for me that turned into something extremely serious. I got really into writing music 20 years ago and that just kind of went hand in hand with DJing. It wasn’t until later in life that I started taking it seriously.

What did you major in during college?
I graduated with a major in communications and a minor in Japanese at the University of Utah.

What would you have been doing instead?
I’m not really good about thinking about the future. College was something that was expected and more of a diversion from music and snowboarding at the time.

Did you have an “aha” moment, when you finally realized you’d “made” it?
A really big moment for me was when I went to Winter Music Conference in Miami [in 2002] and was booked to play a label showcase. It was my first record and “It’s You,  It’s Me” was the title record of the album. It was a packed club. I put on that record, which had only just come out right before Winter Music Conference assuming no one would know and it just brought the house down. I was kind of like a rookie on the bill that night, but it was a huge moment: the club erupted when the record came on and I thought, “Oh my gosh. Maybe this isn’t a hobby. Maybe this is something I can do seriously.” It definitely changed things for me.

Which of your tracks would you call your “signature” and why?
“It’s You,  It’s Me” is definitely a track that changed me and changed my course in life. It was a big moment in the underground. If it weren’t for a track like that, you wouldn’t know or hear of guys like David Guetta or Avicii. It changed the course of a broader sound of what dance music was.

Which artists do you love working with the most and why?
I haven’t worked with that many DJs. The most well-known guy I’ve worked with is Deadmau5. I’ve worked with the Galantis guys. I’ve pretty much worked with the guys I want to work with.

Where do you call home?
My mail goes to a home in Los Angeles.

What are some of your favorite spots in Las Vegas?
Downtown is really cool. Occasionally I go to a show; I’ve gone to see shows at the Wynn and I’ve seen the Garth Brooks show. What I loved about his show is he told why he makes the music he makes. For any artist or performer, that’s a story I’d love to tell one day.

Do you have luxury tastes?
I like nice things. I love my Range Rover. I was never a car guy but my wife bought me a Range Rover and now I don’t want to drive anything else. For Memorial Day weekend I had a lot of shows and I flew around privately in a G4, which was great.

What’s the best perk of your job?
Meeting interesting people. I’ve traveled all over the world for the last 15 years and have gone places people only dream about going to. From standing in Cape Town to hanging out in Singapore, I’ve seen and experience so many amazing things because of music.

When you’re not spinning, what are you doing in your free time?
I don’t have a lot but I like to be outside, and to be active. I enjoy running, surfing and snowboarding. I like to be doing things.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
People are always surprised to learn that I can speak Japanese. I lived in Tokyo when I was younger.

How would you describe yourself?
I’m extremely happy and very satisfied with where I am in life. I’m always trying to enjoy the moment and not get caught up in what should have or could have happened. I have a lot of happiness. I’m very fortunate.

What is the biggest luxury in life?
My biggest luxury is having time and moments with my family. I’m married and I have three children, so being able to make sure that we get enough time together is a luxury. What is your personal motto? Enjoy the moment. [People get] so caught up with everything around them that they forget to enjoy the journey.

Afrojack
Photography ERIC ITA
AfrojackReal Name: Nick Van De Wall
Signature Tracks: “Take Over Control” “No Beef” “Give Me Everything” “Ten Feet Tall”
Place of Birth: Spijkenisse, The Netherlands
Where he spins in Sin City: Omnia Nightclub, Wet Republic
Age: 27

Did you always dream of being a DJ?
Not always. I actually used to go to graphics school; I dropped out halfway through to become a DJ. When I was 15, I went to a nightclub for the first time and was like, “I want to spend the rest of my life in this place.” Music sets people free. People go to nightclubs or festivals to experience that feeling of freedom where the world doesn’t matter for a second.

How did you make your dream of becoming a DJ happen?
I’m from a really tiny city near Rotterdam and most people [from my area] are hustlers—so that’s what I did. I went to the clubs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, just meeting people. I was making websites for DJs so I could get close to them. I would ride my bike to the subway, subway to the club and walk for 15 minutes to the club because I couldn’t afford a taxi. That’s what I did for a year so I could learn about music, hear more music and just be constantly surrounded by the celebration part of life instead of the serious part of life.

What do you love about spinning in Vegas?
People go to Vegas to party. It’s an insane money machine of course, but it’s also one of the few places in the world where people can purely focus on having a good time and forget about the other shit.

What are you doing when you’re not working in Vegas?
I’m gambling with friends just a little. I’m rarely in my hotel room unless there’s a party in my hotel room. I enjoy the food, going to restaurants with friends, checking out the other DJs.

What do you love about working with David Guetta [who you collaborated with on the track “Hey Mama” with Nicki Minaj]?
I met David for the first time six years ago, and he was really excited about my music. He said, “Let’s work,” so we sat down and swapped a couple of tracks. We then made music together and partied together. That’s how a lot of the best tracks happen. We’ll come back from the club or we’re hanging out in the hotel room drinking, and someone runs with a crazy freestyle so we’ll set up the mobile mic and a laptop and start rocking it. That’s how a lot of those big hip-hop songs get recorded—people just having fun.

Who would you love to collaborate with?
Prince! In terms of DJs, I’m actually trying to get some tracks together with Kelvin. We’ve been talking for a long time. I like his music and he likes mine, but we haven’t done a track yet. David Guetta and I work together a lot, and I’ve started working with Avicii and Martin Garrix.

What are your favorite luxury brands?
I love G-Star and Audemars Piguet. I like watches [because they] are expensive, but also because they’re an investment. I’m not really saving money. I’m like, “Have fun; work hard.”

What is your biggest indulgence?
Most DJs don’t fly private jets because they think it’s stupid expensive. I do, but I fly 330 days out of the year so I basically live on an airplane. The first time I took [a private jet] was with David Guetta. I was like, “Oh my god, this is awesome!” No security, no passport control; they even had sushi on the plane.’ It was ridiculous. I said if I make enough money to take private jets, I’m going to take private jets, so I now I take them almost everywhere.

What’s your motto in life?
Never give up on your dream. You only get one life, so why not try your absolute best to make it your dream life? You’re going to be happier doing what you want to do in life than doing what you think you’re supposed to do because that’s what society tells you. That’s why I called my last album Forget the World. The world tells you to be honest, but [it doesn’t mean it]. It’s difficult sometimes in this fucking business, but I have no complaints.

What is the greatest luxury in life?
The real definition of happiness and luxury is getting to live your dream. [In terms of material goods], I own 350 pairs of shoes; some of the shoes don’t even fit because I see a pair that I like and they don’t have my size—I’m 15.5. I have a few houses and five cars—a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, a Lamborghini Aventador SV, a Ferrari 458, a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe and an Audi RS6. I like to race cars, and I’ve made the mistake of not always doing it in the daytime. Fast cars are meant to be driven fast. Financially I feel like I’ve hit the lottery. I’m not here because this is a phase; I’m here because this is my life and this is what I’ve always wanted to do. This is my dream life.

Avicii
Photography SEAN ERIKSSON
Avicii
Real Name: Tim Bergling
Signature Tracks: “Hey Brother” “Wake Me Up” “Levels”
Place of Birth: Stockholm, Sweden
Where he spins in Sin City: XS, Encore Beach Club
Age: 25

How did you get your start?
A friend of mine showed me FL Studio, and I was hooked from the moment I started using it—I would spend almost 12 hours a day producing. When I met my manager, Ash, I continued to focus on producing. DJing was something I kind of held off at first, because Ash wanted to make sure I was completely comfortable behind the decks. Luckily, I started off with pretty good gigs almost right away. Then, once I started touring, I never really slowed down until this past year, due to medical reasons.

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
Producing always came first for me, and it still does. It wasn’t until I stepped behind the decks that I knew I’d want to actively pursue a career as a DJ as well. You get this incredible rush. When you drop the track and the crowd just goes fucking nuts… that feeling is indescribable.

What would you have been doing instead?
I honestly have no idea…I never really had a chance to think about it! What other DJs do you admire? There are many, but I’d have to say [I admire] Eric Prydz [the most].

Where do you call home, or do you have more than one?
If so, where? Definitely more than one! I’d have to say Los Angeles, since I spend so much time there, record there and have a house there. Las Vegas and Ibiza, because my summer residencies there are always incredible, and Sweden, because it will always be my home!

What do you love in particular about spinning in Las Vegas?
That there’s always a new crowd every week all year long, and that the energy level is always so incredible. It’s definitely one of my favorite places to play a show. The feeling that you get in Vegas is almost euphoric, and that’s what a lot of music is about… that sense of euphoria.

Are you a watch guy? If so, what’s your timepiece?
Yes, I am! At the moment, I’m wearing an Audemars Piguet.

What is your favorite aspect of Las Vegas?
Ah, so many things—but [firstly] I’d have to say the people. Vegas always draws a really interesting yet unbeatable crowd. [Secondly] of course, all of the phenomenal restaurants. I can’t even think of any specifics because there are way too many to choose from.

What are some of your favorite spots in Las Vegas?
XS is one of my favorite places to play. I headlined the XS nightclub six-year anniversary this year, which was incredible. Encore Beach Club is also insane—I love a good day party!

\What’s your favorite hotel and suite to stay at while here, and why?
Definitely Encore. It has everything you need all in one place! What’s the best perk of your job? I’d have to say the traveling. It can be exhausting, but it’s incredible to experience so many different cultures, and perform for my fans all over the world.

When you’re not spinning, what are you doing in your free time?
I recently got into photography. I have a Canon EOS 5D, which I love. I also like to work out, go out to eat and hang out with my friends! What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you? My guilty pleasure is gossip magazines.

What is your biggest luxury in life?
I think my biggest luxury is that I’m able to do what I love for a living, and that I’m able to put everything into my music and focus wholeheartedly on what makes me happy.

What is your personal motto?
To do what you love, and keep on keeping on!

Martin Solveig
Photography ERIC ITA
MARTINSOLVEIGReal Name: Martin Picandet
Signature Tracks: Intoxicated” The Night Out”
Place of Birth: Paris, France
Where He Spins in Sin City: Encore Beach Club, Surrender Night Club
Age: 38

How did you get your start?
I asked Santa for a pair of vinyl decks when I was a young teen. I got lucky.

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
At age 17 I managed to sneak in the notorious club Le Palace in Paris and watched Armand Van Helden play for the first time. Since then I have been obsessed with playing in front of that kind of crowd in that kind of club. I had no idea it could actually get bigger than this. At the time it was the “Himalaya of DJing.”

What would you have been doing instead?
I don’t know, but I feel I’m a creative mind so I would have tried creative stuff, like cooking maybe. I love cooking.

Did you have an “aha” moment, where you had finally realized you’d “made” it?
When I hung up the phone with Madonna after our first conversation. I remember saying in my head a lot of explicit words. She is a genius who has collaborated with fucking geniuses like Mirwais and Pharrell, two guys I respect so much. To have collaborated with her is precisely that “aha” moment.

Which of your tracks would you call your “signature” and why?
Is it the favorite tune you’ve done? My two signature tracks to date are “The Night Out” and “Intoxicated”; they are both very Solveig. I perform even the vocals in both. “Hello” is obviously very important too because it changed my profile.

What other DJs do you most admire?
Calvin Harris is the one who impresses me the most for his exceptional ability to continue making good records one after the other. They may sometimes be a bit similar, but I’d see this more as a signature. He’s also made my favorite EDM song with Florence and the Machine. Behind the decks, the guys that get me going are A-Trak, Laidback Luke, 2 Many DJs, Tiga, Louie Vega and Dimitri from Paris.

What is your personal motto?
Do it now because when you’re 80, then what?

What do you love in particular about spinning in Las Vegas?
Vegas is a genuinely happy destination. Ibiza, for example, is great too, but it’s a bit darker and more complicated to apprehend. I’m a very happy character so I have the kind of music in my bags that will get the party rocking in Vegas. It suits me well.

What is your favorite aspect of Las Vegas?
I will always see Vegas as a film set. When I walk into the Encore Casino, I have the impression that I’m Sid Bernstein in the Martin Scorsese movie or Danny Ocean in Oceans 11. Every once in a while I’ll go check the fountains at the Bellagio and feel the Ocean’s Eleven vibe. It makes me emotional, although it sounds corny.

What’s your favorite hotel and suite to stay at while here, and why?
The Wynn Hotel and spa—I insist on the spa—are so good. Whenever I can have a day off in Vegas, which is rare, it’s paradoxically the best recovery moment I can think of.

Do you have luxury tastes?
I have one guilty pleasure: I like vintage watches. They have a story and they’re with you all the time, so you can enjoy them more than any other thing you could collect. I collect old Rolexes, Patek Philippes and the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak series. I currently wear an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402 jumbo yellow gold from 1984. I also happen to own a Military Submariner, formerly the property of Sir David Brown, the post-war savior of Aston Martin. It’s my biggest piece.

When you’re not spinning, what are you doing in your free time?
I play tennis and do all kind of sports like cardio training to compensate for the fact that I love food and fine wines. I have a place in the mountains where I regenerate. Most of my free time goes to my friends and family. I have the most normal life in my free time.

What is the biggest luxury in life?
The biggest luxury in life is time, and this has actually nothing to do with watches—time for your friends and relatives, time to read, time to think.

Steve Aoki
Photography ANTHONY MAIR
SteveAokiReal Name: Steven Horiyuki Aoki
Signature Tracks: “No Beef” “Delirious (Boneless)”
Place of Birth: Newport Beach, CA
Where he spins in Sin City: Hakkasan, Wet Republic
Age: 37

How did you get your start?
It all boils down to being involved in the straight-edge hardcore scene at the impressionable age of 14 and learning how to play in bands, pick up instruments and just figure it out DIY style. Every major brand or company that has built throughout the years has started with that kind of motto, the DIY, passion-fueled introduction. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, why do it?

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
No, to be honest with you. I was in bands and was a late bloomer as a DJ. I started after I left college; I was an even later bloomer starting to produce electronic music in my mid 20s. If you weren’t a DJ, what would you have been doing instead? If I wasn’t DJing now, I would be involved in science or technology in one form or another, raising money or awareness for scientists to push the tech and science culture forward.

Did you have an “aha” moment, when you had finally realized you’d “made” it?
The term making it is obviously relative, and for me, it’s not about how popular I became at a certain point or how much money I made, but that I was happy doing what I was doing. I was happy to do it even if I was in debt and trying to make it work and would do whatever I could to make it work. So the first “aha” moment for me was when I moved to L.A. and focused entirely on my label in my small apartment and said fuck everything else right now—I am going to make this happen.

Which of your tracks would you call your “signature” and why, and is it the favorite tune you’ve done?
The track that has stayed with me for the past six years is my remix to “Pursuit Of Happiness” by Kid Cudi. After doing over 40 different remixes, I learned how to gel two worlds together in a way that caused a phenomenal launch pad for my sound.

How would you describe yourself?
Caring and hardworking.

Which artists do you love working with the most and why?
I like working with all kinds of artists—that’s the beauty of electronic music. Take my album Neon Future II for example, where I collaborated with a wide range of artists like Snoop Lion, Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, Walk Off the Earth, Linkin Park and Nervo.

Where do you call home?
Los Angeles and Las Vegas are places I call home.

What do you love in particular about spinning in Las Vegas?
I treat it like my laboratory, my backyard. I’m very comfortable here and I test out my ideas before taking them on the road. The Vegas crowd will tell you if something works or not.

What are some of your favorite spots in Las Vegas?
The best Japanese is at a place called Izakaya Go; I’m always there. The spa at the MGM is good, and since I’m always there it’s convenient. I go to the Mayweather Gym for training. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the Money Team have treated me like family.

What do you drive?
An Audi W12 and Scion Custom Aoki DJ Mobile. What’s the best perk of your job? Making people happy!

When you’re not spinning, what are you doing in your free time?
Producing music and running Dim Mak, my label. I also recently launched Dim Mak’s first ever menswear line. It’s available exclusively in Japan.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I want to be a robot—or a cyborg.

What is the biggest luxury in life?
Sleep.

What is your personal motto?
By all means necessary.

Armin Van Buuren
Photography: KRIJN VAN NOORDWIJK
Armin
Real Name: Armin Van Buuren
Signature Tracks: “This is What It Feels Like” “Communication”
Place of Birth: Leiden, The Netherlands
Where He Spins in Sin City: Omnia Nightclub
Age: 37

Did you ever dream that you’d be a DJ one day?
I was always a fan of dance music—all my friends were listening to it. When I started listening to dance music, it was completely unthinkable to DJ outside of The Netherlands, but right now it’s become this big thing. [Back then] there wasn’t room to dream to have a residency in Vegas.

What would you have been doing instead?
I’m a lawyer; I finished my law degree, but I don’t see myself in a suit sitting in an office anytime soon.

You’re the fourth trance artist ever to be nominated for a Grammy. How did that make you feel?
It’s just amazing making music for so many years. I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing, really—I’m just following my heart—and to get nominated for a Grammy is quite spectacular.

What do you enjoy about playing festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival [EDC]?
It’s just a kick to play for such a big crowd. I can’t really believe what’s going on. I think [EDC] will be as big as The Beatles playing Shea Stadium or Woodstock, because this is what’s happening. It’s a cultural phenomenon.

Playing at Omnia must be a trip—it’s the biggest club in Vegas.
It’s the biggest club in the world, if you ask me. I’m not just saying that because I’m a resident there. I truly think that it’s the most beautiful club that I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of clubs.

What is your favorite aspect of Las Vegas?
I’m not a big gambler, so what I like about Las Vegas is the weather, and that there are so many great places to eat and shop—which is what I like to do most if I have time. Fortunately in the hotels there’s usually a good gym—I like to work out three times a week. If you want to be a DJ and have this lifestyle, you have to work out; it’s as simple as that.

What are some of your favorite spots in Las Vegas?
I have two children—a daughter who’s almost four and a son who’s almost two—so I usually go to the kids’ shops at The Forum and end up at the Apple store for way too long, although I already own every single Apple product. I don’t have the Apple watch.

What’s the best perk of your job?
The fact that I’m my own boss and I don’t have to answer to anybody [as well as] seeing the crowd going crazy, creating a tune in the studio with other people or alone, and seeing that tune rocking a crowd is just the best feeling. It makes up for all the jet lag, all the delays, all the airports.

Who do you love working with?
I’m always open to working with anybody. I don’t have beef with any other DJs. The most important thing for me is the song. You can work with Chris Martin from Coldplay, but if the song is not good, you won’t have a hit. Having said that, if Chris Martin sings something, I’ll make sure that I’ll record it.

When you’re not spinning, what are you doing in your free time?
I can only relax if I’m with my family. When I’m traveling I’m always in work mode.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a life-sized Darth Vader in my game room. [I haven’t been to Star Wars conventions] yet, but I would if I had spare time!

How would you describe yourself in a phrase or a sentence?
Overambitious, perfectionist, family man.

What is your personal motto?
Don’t be a prisoner of your own style. It goes for everything in life: life is much more interesting if you’re open to everything it has to offer.

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