Las Vegas’s dance music gold rush has seen buzzword clubs flip quicker than a winning hand at a hot table. But it’s Marquee Nightclub and Dayclub that’s gobbled up more column inches than any other. That’s down in no small part to the Who’s Who of DJ residents they’ve brought in. That, in clip-note form, is what’s brought us here today: a sit-down and pow-wow about Marquee, the universe and other things with one of their resident elite. Step forward Jeffrey Sutorius, DJ, frontman, mouthpiece and best-known-face of trance trio Dash Berlin. And a man it transpires that, like Las Vegas, has seen some boom and bust of his own.
So Jeffrey, how long has your residency been running at Marquee? Was it something you’d been looking to do for a while and ballpark, what’s your Vegas spin-count by this point?
“The residency’s been running for a couple of years. I never thought it would be an option until I was invited to play here. In terms of how many times I have spun, well let’s just say enough times for it to really feel like home. And that is a great thing to be able to say.”
So you have a fairly good handle on the Vegas crowds by now then?
“I’m not so sure actually. Every night is a new challenge, because in Vegas people come and go from all over the world. You will meet all kinds in Vegas. That's the cool thing about it. It's a great place to stay sharp as a DJ.”
Do you find the “EDM” sound — as opposed to trance — influences your sets over there?
“It’s the atmosphere of a night that’s really important. I am always focused on what happens on the dancefloor. Major or minor chords, the right BPM, the right emotion at the right time — all those types of aspects. I don't really think in terms of genre or sound. It's basically all electronic dance music to me.”
In comparison to Ibiza and Miami, how important do you think Vegas has become as a proving ground for DJs?
“Vegas is hot and it's happening more than ever before, no doubt about that. I’ve just come from Ibiza though, and it hasn't lost any of its magic. There might be more money in Vegas, so it will be crazier and more over-the-top, but that's also what's fun and different about it. Ibiza — the real Ibiza will always be special. Same goes for Miami. People that party in Miami know how crazy it gets. Nobody messes with that.”
If you’ve got an extra day or two in Vegas, which DJs do you like to check out?
“Man, so many awesome nights to choose from: Tiësto, Afrojack, Chuckie, ATB — you name them.”
Outside of the clubs, what would you say is the one thing a first-time visitor has to see or experience in Vegas on their first trip to the Strip?
“The Cirque de Soleil show is not from this world. These people risk their lives every time they perform. Never seen anything like that before. I was sceptical at first, but they really take you to another world. Beautiful — go see that, really.”
Any Vegas ambitions, club, festival or otherwise left to fulfil?
“I'm a lucky guy, I've officially opened the EDC Music Week again and this year I've closed it with thousands of people during my Sunrise set at EDC, so that was a huge honour and an unforgettable Vegas highlight for me. It's going to be hard to top that next year, but we'll see what happens!”
Rewinding a bit, where did you spin your first set in Vegas and what were your memories of it?
“My first gig was at Rain. It felt special to play in a city like Vegas. I knew Vegas only from the movies, so to actually play there, as a young DJ, seeing your own face on one of those big billboards was really weird.”
Let’s go back further and touch on the genesis of Dash Berlin. Tell us about the formation. Where, when and how did you first meet Seb and Eel?
“We met in the record store where I used to work — in Holland that was the place where most of the established DJs came to, to buy their vinyl. Seb and Eel where DJing as Pronti & Kalmani at the time. They were traveling a lot, so I always made sure they stayed up-to-date with all the latest music. I used to hang out at the studio when they were still working with Sander.”
“Kleinenberg, yes. We were already working on my ideas back then, but it started to get really serious when Armin picked up ‘Till the Sky Falls Down’. When the vinyl market crashed I lost my job at the store and was about to lose my apartment. From that point on they have been helping me out with everything, and we are still friends first today.”
Tell us about the ‘work division’ in Dash Berlin. How often do you head into the studio to see what the guys are working on? Do they travel abroad with you to gigs?
“We work everywhere, sometimes in LA, sometimes in Vegas and every year we rent a house in Miami, to be able to get together to work on music. When I'm actually away on tour we share projects and ideas via Dropbox. I always have a laptop with me with Ableton and Logic. When it's time to mix and master stuff, we work at our studio in Holland by the sea, because we have the right speakers and our familiar acoustic environment there.”
'#MusicIsLife (Dash Berlin’s debut album) #Deluxe' is out soon. Tell us what is putting the ‘Luxe’ in Deluxe?
“You get a bucketload of extra tracks for your money, so yeah, that's pretty ‘Luxe’!”
Your latest single ‘Jar of Hearts’ features Christina Novelli. It didn’t appear on the original album though. Is this a deluxe element, or the first single from a new project?
“This is one of the exclusive tracks on the deluxe version of '#MusicIsLife'. Christina is great. I loved working with her. We shot the music video during my solo concert in Mexico City where she performed with me.“
Speaking of Mexico, we understand you’ve become involved in charity work down there of late?
“I have. Most of the charity work that I do goes on behind the scenes. As soon as I started to make money with DJing we started financially adopting orphans. The Mexico charity concert was simply impossible to do without going public to be able to pull it off, so that's why I involved the local media. Visiting the Mixteca communities in Mexico has been a really humbling experience for me. Mexico has been and still is really important, not just for me, but for the global dance music scene.
I felt it was time to give something back to these people. This whole DJ thing, the fame, the awards and all the craziness that surrounds it, I want to give a real meaning to it. It needs a soul. I'm not naive, I can't change the whole world, but I can change at least some lives for the better. So this is part of that plan.”
Finally, the video to ‘Better Half of Me’ caused a bit of a stir last year, breaking down some music-vid norms with Hollywood theatrics and mini-movie length. What inspired that?
“The basic idea behind it was to invest in the trance genre with a big time motion picture-like music video. There was no chart success at all to justify the investment, but I just wanted to do something next level in a time when nobody was doing that. It was a real labour of love, really huge in terms of production and crew and just awesome to work on!”