When I was 19, I went out in L.A. for the first time and wandered into a club, and I was awestruck. There I was, listening to this amazing DJ…I remember being blown away. So I walked straight up to the DJ booth and asked “What’s your name?” and he said “I’m Vice, what’s your name?”
We became fast friends, and 13 years later he is still one of my all-time favorite DJs and a very dear friend. His talent constantly amazes me, and he pushes himself to always grow and get better. He is an inspiration and a mentor. He gives me advice and has always supported me, especially in my career as a DJ. He is one of the most sought-after DJs in the world and has taken Vegas by storm with his residencies at Tao and Lavo and, most recently, Marquee. I sat down with Vice recently to talk about where it all started: the turntables…
Follow Vice @DJVICE
Altice: When did you start deejaying?
Vice: I got my first pair of turntables in 1992. But in 1990 at about 10 years old, I didn’t know what deejaying really was. I had just seen a wedding DJ play at a family function and I couldn’t grasp how the music was blending together, but I knew it struck such a nerve within me and I was like “Whoa, this is something I’ve gotta learn.” Like a little kid seeing Jordan dunk for the first time.
When I was 12, that’s when I figured out this is what you need to blend these records together. It was a shitty belt-drive turntable and a mixer that had a fart noise effect or something.
Altice: So you are a self-taught DJ then?
Vice: Kinda. I had a family friend that had the same setup and I used to watch him and mimic him. At the time there was no internet to go watch a deejay tutorial, so a lot of it was hours and hours of just making up whatever you thought sounded good.
Altice: What is your favorite go-to equipment?
Vice: Technics 1200s and a Pioneer DJM-900 with Serato. I also use Novation Dicers.
But I’m fighting myself with switching over to CDJs. Nothing feels like turntables to me. But at certain gigs, being one of the last ones standing using turntables, no one takes care of the equipment. Overseas, like in Asia especially, they are so advanced that I have to use out-of-work turntables since no one uses them there anymore. It’s more just me fighting with technology, but if you don’t keep up with it you can get left behind.
Altice: What is your favorite style of deejaying? I know you are a DJ who can do it all.
Vice: My favorite style is the golden era of hip-hop. Like 1992, around when I started, ’cause it gives me flashbacks of being a young DJ and picking up records for the first time and saving up to buy my records. Like Pete Rock and CL Smooth. That to me is the golden era of hip-hop. It’s also hard to teach the new generation what that era was like, so the only way I can do it is by sandwiching them in my set with what this generation knows.
Altice: Do you feel the advances in technology are a positive or a negative when it comes to the art of deejaying? Some would say that now too many people think they can be a DJ.
Vice: I think it’s a positive thing because it’s only bringing more attention to the art, and when people really pay attention to art, it gives them a higher expectation level. For someone that has been doing this for so long, that’s where we get to shine. So a lot of celebrity DJs that come out and are new to this, it’s great, ’cause it’s bringing more people to see what this art is about. They say “I’m into this, now I want something more,” and that’s where they have to keep searching for people like me and Q-Tip, who have been doing it for so long and they really see what has taken 10 to 20 years to perfect.
This is something you can’t pick up and learn overnight. You have to constantly keep bettering yourself and growing as a DJ.
Altice: You were married last December to a wonderful woman, and friend of mine. Do you find it hard to deal with the hectic late-night schedules DJs keep?
Vice: Yes, you’ve got to have someone in your life that can keep up with your schedule because there is no schedule. “Late nights and early flights” is what basically our lives are run by. So when you find that key partner that understands that your life isn’t nine to five then you’re on a good track.
Altice: How much has Serato changed the deejay game?
Vice: So much, it has changed things. I used to have to plan two hours before a gig by going through what records to bring. And now it’s all there on the computer, no more crating records around.
Altice: What advice would you give to a young DJ?
Vice: Understand the art and understand who you are as a brand. When you know who you are and what message you want to give the crowd through your music, then you’re already on the right path to become a successful DJ.
Altice: Where are the hottest girls in the world?
Vice: In the States it’s Miami, and outside of the States it’s Hong Kong.
Altice: What are your favorite recent gigs?
Vice: EDC last year in Vegas was huge for me, and I’m a huge fan of playing in Japan, especially at this club, Vanity (Lounge). I just love how well they know their music. They have such high expectations, which makes you work harder.
Altice: What is your favorite song out right now?
Vice: The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” and my new remix of Rhianna’s “Where Have You Been.”
Altice: In the world of deejaying, SKAM Artists have really taken over as the go-to premier club DJs. How does it feel to have been a pioneer of that movement?
Vice: The SKAM Artist movement was so big because it was a lane that we created in the industry where you have every type of music mixed into one, properly. But in the end it was really me learning from DJ AM and his ways, and following in his footsteps. And the best lesson I ever learned from him was to continually put the work in.
Vice will continue to awe crowds and amaze anyone within earshot. Trust me, if you haven’t been to a show he’s played, you are missing out. To find out his schedule and keep up with him, go to www.djvice.com. You won’t be disappointed; I never have.
Vice has put together a playlist for your listening pleasure on Playboy’s Spotify account. Click here to listen on Spotify.
About the Author
Playmate Summer Altice first graced Playboy magazine pages in 2000. Since then there has been no stopping the multi-talented Altice: actress, model, business owner and for over six years, popular DJ. Much in demand for her Dj skills, Altice currently travels the world playing shows. To book her for your next event please visit summeraltice.com. Make sure to follow her on Twitter @SummerAltice.