Electronic dance music has become as synonymous with Las Vegas as gambling, partying and all the dubious decision making barnacled to both.
But even three or four years ago this wasn’t the case, as some top DJs were wary of coming here for fear that they’d be expected to play Britney Spears remixes and Nelly hits for drunken tourists.
Patrick Moxey, founder and president of powerhouse dance music label Ultra Records, started thinking differently about Vegas in 2010, when one of his artists, DJ-producer Kaskade, began a residency at Encore Beach Club.
“I just remember the excitement from Kaskade and his manager telling me about the quality of the venue, the number of people, that it was something very fresh. They were raving about it,” Moxey recalls. “I think that was a point where I really pricked up my ears and thought, ‘Ooh, something’s going on, something’s changing,’ because prior to that, open-format hip-hop had been the music of the clubs.”
A trip to town last summer to catch the local debut of the Electric Daisy Carnival as well as a pool gig by Avicii at Encore sealed the deal for Moxey when it came to Vegas.
He was so impressed with what he saw here that it inspired him to launch a new label imprint, Ultra/Wynn, which will release four compilation CDs annually tied to the various nightclub and dayclub properties at Wynn Las Vegas, including Surrender, Tryst, XS and Encore Beach Club, featuring tunes by Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki and others.
Moxey says the releases will spotlight a mix of established talent and up-and-coming Vegas artists.
“With all the world-class talent coming through Las Vegas, it’s natural that we should create an environment where we could nurture local Las Vegas talent,” he notes.
Moxey launched Ultra in 1995, long before dance music began infiltrating the mainstream.
He’s seen the music peak before, a decade and a half ago, but this time, he doesn’t envision a bust following the current dance music boom.
“There was a moment in the late ’90s with Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers, where it looked like electronic music was going to really take over the mainstream, but it didn’t happen,” Moxey recalls. “What’s happened since then is that all the kids now, their first instrument is the computer. We’ve even got producers taking airplanes and mixing a record at 35,000 feet and turning it in.
“There’s been this huge change,” he continues, contemplating the future of the music. “This time, I think it’s really here to stay.”
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.