“I pitch up with my computer, connect it, and press enter. We all do the same,” says leading DJ Deadmau5 in an article on his website. The Canadian is one of the biggest names on the electronic music scene right now. Forbes estimates his worth at €15 million: he has just been signed up by the Hakkasan nightclub in Las Vegas, where he is paid €300,000 a night. When Paris Hilton made her debut behind the decks in 2012 at an event in São Paulo, it was a disaster, with the Hilton heiress and some-time sex-tape star unable to cue up the tracks or control the volume, prompting Deadmau5 to comment: “Let’s face it, the Mayas saw this apocalypse coming.”
This week saw Paris return to Amnesia, in Ibiza, where she will be appearing on Wednesday nights throughout the month at the Foam & Diamonds event. “Paris is not a DJ, she is a celebrity,” says Harold Gallo, her manager. “But last year was a success. Nobody believed in us, and there was a lot of negative comment when it was announced she’d be performing at Amnesia. I know a lot of people only turned up to see if she would fail, but here we are for another year. Paris is now part of the island’s scene.”
It’s been more than a decade since celebrities stepped up to the decks, whether for money, more fame, or fun. And for some it has turned out to be a smart career move. At the same time, some DJs have managed to become celebrities. The end result has been pretty much a zero-sum game. It’s hard to know who has taken the most liberties: on the one hand there’s Tom Cruise’s son Connor, who uses streaming music service Spotify to find tracks by Coldplay or Beyoncé, and on the other, there’s David Guetta, multi-millionaire producer and DJ, urging the crowd on with over-the-head handclaps while the Holy Ghost takes care of the samples and special effects. “David has managed to move into the world of music, whereas Paris is coming from somewhere else and can bring a different public. They are two very different approaches, but not necessarily mutually exclusive. In Ibiza the name of the game is to forget about the competition and get on with having a good time,” says Hilton’s manager.
Ibiza is about forgetting the competition and getting on with having a good time”
Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood works under the name DJ Wooden Wisdom, and although he has earned himself a certain amount of credibility on the underground scene – he owns indie label Simian Records – he gets a lot of flack for his actorish facial expressions while behind the decks. Sasha Grey has a goth rock band, and also works as a DJ. The one-time porn star likes to quote Godard in interviews. Both her and Wood star in Spanish film director Nacho Vigalondo’s upcoming thriller Open Windows, proving that these days it is pretty much impossible to do anything without having a DJ aboard.
Kristian Bairn, the burly actor who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones is a DJ. Snookie, from US reality show Jersey Shore, is a DJ. And then there are the children and relatives of the famous, who increasingly seem to be moving into the profession. Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister is trying to make a name for herself, as is Asia Argento, the daughter of an Italian horror filmmaker.
Alexandra Richards, Keith Richards’ daughter, has had a go, as has Daisy Lowe, who is related to the singer of post-grunge band Bush. Alexa Chung, model Jesús Luz, and Pierre Sarkozy, son of the former French president, are all giving DJing a go, with the latter often making an appearance in Madrid.
“It’s just a bit of fun, I don’t have a record player at home, and I don’t take it very seriously,” says David Delfín. The Spanish fashion designer started his career as a DJ at a party in Barcelona thrown by illustrator and socialite Silvia Prada. He plays records alongside his pal, fashion designer Bimba Bosé (niece of Spanish musician Miguel Bosé) and musicians Mario Vaquerizo and Alaska. Meanwhile, he is preparing his latest collection: “I don’t get out much any more, but if I get the call to do a bit of DJing it’s a good excuse. I don’t have a great technique, but I studied piano and singing, so I have a good ear. I don’t prepare my sessions beyond the first song, it depends how things go. With Bimba, we each do a song, which is great fun,” he says.
I don’t have a record player at home, and I don’t take it very seriously” Fashion designer David Delfín
Aside from earning a little extra and keeping their face public, what’s really in it for the minor celebrities of this world? Wouldn’t they be better off appearing on prime time gossip shows? “Listen, they are all creative processes,” says Delfíin. “Spinning records is as well. I wouldn’t say that this influences my collections, but doing it keeps you alert to what’s going on, awake. I have no intention of going professional, but I like it and I’m getting better at it.” In 1998, Delfín’s rationale would have sounded like an excuse or just plain dumb, but today it makes sense. It may turn out that the amateurs end up doing a better job than the professionals. Macaulay Culkin has no doubts: his parties in New York are called Macaulay’s iPod. He plugs it in. People dance. Or look at him.