It was in Vegas where he encountered his biggest fan — literally, all 7 feet 1 inch and 320-plus pounds of him, with hands the size of baseball mitts.
Nghtmre was about to perform here last year when retired NBA rim-bender Shaquille O’Neal dropped by backstage.
The 28-year old DJ-producer, whose given name is Tyler Marenyi, and the basketball Hall of Famer share a mutual friend, hence the visit, and a passion for DJing — O’Neal has been doing it for decades now.
They bonded over bass music, that feel-it-in-the-gut sound that doubles as the scourge of subwoofers and the delight of electronic dance music aficionados with a love of low frequencies.
Before Marenyi knew it, he was swapping sound files with O’Neal, the two collaborating on a track, looping in hip-hop’s preeminent yeller Lil Jon to get on the mic. And yell.
“Bang,” an aptly titled thumper with industrial-strength synth lines and beats that register like sortie fire.
“Everything came together pretty smoothly,” Marenyi says of his latest single, which was released last month. “I wanted to do something with Lil Jon for a long time, and then I think the fact that Shaq was on it, obviously it was like a no-brainer. It worked out perfectly. It was easier than I thought to put together.”
‘A little more wild’
Chances are Nghtmre will air “Bang” when he helps kick off Las Vegas’ bustling dayclub season when he returns to Wet Republic on Saturday, one of the many top-flight DJ-producers who will perform here until summer’s end.
Of course, partying beneath the sun conjures a different atmosphere than doing so in a nightclub. You’ve got to pace yourself — or so the theory goes — not that Marenyi follows suit, really.
“Going to a pool club, you want to drink and have fun with your friends, but you’re not trying to absolutely go insane, crazy — I mean some people are,” Marenyi says. “It’s definitely a little bit chiller of a vibe, but I think for me, in terms of preparation and performance, I don’t really change that much, because for Vegas, I kind of have this separate playlist that’s eternally building of all the songs that I think work well, all the throwback songs and that kind of stuff.”
A “chiller” vibe is a relative term when it comes to Wet Republic, though, which has earned a rep as one of the more raucous spots of its ilk.
“I think one of the reasons I love Wet Republic is that it kind of has a pretty big space for the dance floor for the people right in front of the booth,” Marenyi says. “Whenever I do it, it’s always a ton of energy still, because there is that huge group of people right up front going crazy. You can interact with them, you’re close to them. It kind of helps it feel like everyone’s turning it up and having a party. It gets a little more wild.”
One big party
Marenyi has done his thing at Wet Republic a number of times now, part of his whirlwind entree into EDM.
After graduating with a degree in finance from Elon University before moving to Los Angeles to embark on a career in music, the North Carolina native got his first big break when Skrillex played one of his tunes, then unreleased, during a set at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival in 2015.
“I wasn’t even there playing; I was just there watching the show,” Marenyi recalls. “Like immediately, (Diplo’s label) Mad Decent hit us up, ‘Hey, we want to sign this song. Put out on EP.’ I did a song with Dillon Francis like the next week. Then Flosstradamus and Flux Pavilion and all these things came in all at once. I immediately went on the road and there was a good three years where I didn’t have more than a weekend off ever. I had over 500 shows in two years.”
His profile has risen as a result, and last year Marenyi cracked DJ Mag’s prestigious list of the top 100 DJs, coming in at No. 83.
Of late, Marenyi has taken a break from touring so heavily, focusing on making new music and performing mostly in Vegas.
“I definitely approach Vegas pretty differently, just because it’s such a different crowd each time,” Marenyi. “Vegas is kind of like this huge melting pot of every person you could possibly imagine: the guy who’s here for the printing conference next to the table with the guy who’s here for the Chinese New Year next to the table with the guy with a bunch of models. In Vegas, the only thing that links everyone is that everyone is trying to party.”
Testing the waters
Here’s a look at what’s in store as pool-party season kicks off:
■ Wet Republic at the MGM Grand: After Nghtmre gets the party started this weekend, Steve Aoki (March 23), Cash Cash (March 31), Zedd (April 6), Tiesto (April 27), Calvin Harris (May 11) and Martin Garrix (May 24) keep it going with plenty of help from other celebrated peers.
■ Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: French house stalwart Cedric Gervais soundtracks grand opening weekend (March 22), with hip-hop heavyweight Mustard also on the decks (March 23). Among the many other notables dropping by are Boombox Cartel (March 29), Chuckie (May 11), Timmy Trumpet (June 21) and San Holo (Aug. 2).
■ Drai’s Beachclub at The Cromwell: Hip-hop-loving identical sisters the Deux Twins kick things off Friday with “Jersey Shore” veteran DJ Pauly D (Saturday). Kat Nova (March 22), Brooke Evers (March 29), Showtek (March 30) and Eric Dlux (March 31) highlight Drai’s early schedule.
■ Go Pool at the Flamingo: Dive into an eclectic mix of hip-hop, R&B, pop and country with the likes of Flo Rida (May 4), DJ Camilo (May 5), Vavo (May 18), Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas (May 26), Ginuwine (June 9), Bow Wow (June 15), Jesse McCartney (June 29), Mase (July 13) and more.
■ Tao Beach at The Venetian: DJ-model Konstantina Gianni christens grand opening weekend (March 29) with DJ Vice (March 30) and Kay the Riot (March 31). Residents Vtech (April 11), DJ Cla (April 13) and DJ Kittie (April 11) continue to bring the beats on the loaded roster at Tao Beach.
■ Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas: Expect some of the biggest names in the business, with Flosstradamus (Friday), Diplo (Saturday) and Galantis (Sunday) setting the tone early along with the Chainsmokers (March 30),David Guetta (April 6) and Kygo (April 26), just a few of the superstars appearing throughout the summer.
■ Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay: Vegas’ own DJ Que gets loose (Friday) with Saint Clair (Saturday) and Whoo Kid (Sunday) before hip-hop favorites such as Rick Ross (March 23), Too Short (March 24), Souljah Boy (April 7), Jeezy (May 5) and others take over.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.