DJ changes tune on Vegas

Coming to Vegas used to be a job for him, the DJ equivalent of punching a time clock, spinning crappy Top 40 records with all the enthusiasm of some bored factory hand staring at his Timex in anticipation of his next smoke break.

“I used to not really enjoy coming to Vegas, ’cause I was like, ‘I’m gonna have to play Britney Spears and all this crap that I don’t connect with at all, but that these people connect with,’ ” DJ Z-Trip admits. “When you had a Vegas gig, it was usually like, ‘Ugh, I’m going to work.’ You can ask 98 percent of the DJs out there who were doing it over the past seven years or so, and there’s still some who are like, ‘Bro, it’s a paycheck.’ ”

And yet, as of Friday, Z-Trip, renowned for genre-bending mashups that map the common ground among pop, rock, electro, dub step, metal and just about any other phylum of music you can name, is starting a new residency, “Revolution,” at Rain at the Palms.

So why the change of heart? Well, in a city posited on perpetual reinvention, Z-Trip sees an opportunity to ride the shifting tides.

“I think Vegas is ready for something like this,” he notes. “Musically, it’s been a little bit tough in Vegas for a long time. People sort of locked into a sound when they’d DJ there, myself included. For many years, we all sort of had to play a certain way to keep people engaged. It’s not like that has gone away, but I feel like a little bit of it has been stripped away over the past five or six years. You’re starting to get that clubgoer who doesn’t really want the same thing they can hear at every other club.”

And striving to be different has always been Z-Trip’s thing. This is a dude who initially came to prominence by being able to seamlessly blend, say, Metallica and Midnight Oil tunes, into something fresh, reinvigorated and dance floor friendly. He has since become a bona fide headliner, touring constantly, and is ready for his first prolonged stay in one spot.

Still, the timing of it all has been a little bittersweet for Z-Trip, as he’s following his recently deceased friend, DJ AM, as Rain’s resident DJ.

“I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around what has happened and mourning him, and it’s a bit tough,” Z-Trip admits. “He pushed a lot of boundaries and definitely helped take people on a journey musically. That helped make Vegas evolve.”

And now Z-Trip hopes to further scale the slopes of that evolutionary bell curve.

“The cool thing about having the residency is that every night is going to be different,” he says. “There could be a convention going on that weekend, there could be a concert going on. Say U2’s playing, that’s a whole different dynamic, ‘Oh, I can probably play The Smiths for all the old school U2 fans.’ That’s the kind of thing that’s really interesting about it, because it’s constantly going to be evolving. I’m hoping to push it as far as I can.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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