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The “people’s DJ”: An interview with Carl Cox

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DJ/producer Carl Cox

Beginning his career behind the turntables before most of the people packing Strip nightclubs were born, Carl Cox is a staple in the world of electronic music. The DJ/producer returns to Las Vegas this weekend fresh off of playing Burning Man to spend more time in the sun headlining the Fabulous pool party at the Palms on Sunday. Yet the “people’s DJ,” known and admired worldwide, is sometimes just another pair of hands behind the decks to clubbers in Vegas. The Weekly caught up with Cox before his stop in Vegas on Sunday.

For Fabulous, you’ll be closing out the daytime pool party starting around 5 p.m. How do you think the time of day affects your set?

It does affect the set, because you can’t play as tough as you would do for a nighttime set, and it being so hot in Vegas, as well, you just want people to cruise all the way through the day. I will be able to play a lot of music that I wouldn’t normally play in the nighttime as well. So, it’s going to be challenging and it’s going to be something which I’m really looking forward to doing because I actually went to the last party there at the pool [for Love Festival] and really enjoyed the fact that so many people went there just for the outside party. It was a different energy and people were having a lot of fun and the music was complementing that. For me, I want to do something a little bit different and unique and to be able to play something more conceptual is something, which I’m really looking forward to doing.

Carl Cox spinning at Love Festival in May at the Palms. The "People's DJ" will be back for Fabulous Fest this weekend.

As someone who’s spun in Vegas multiple times, do you think it’s possible for this city to pull off a giant massive like Ultra in Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival in L.A., or something you'd see in the U.K.?

Not really, because the thing is with Vegas, it’s a town that basically only on the holidays you get something like this happening. When you’ve got parties in Europe… it’s a culture that comes from within, the whole time. Half the time [in Vegas], there’s a lot of people who have no clue who I am.

What have you noticed about the evolution of dance music and is the media negativity about the scene deserved?

It’s not negative at all, because the thing about this music, when it started, it really brought a lot of people together… And it’s still doing that now today after 20 years of me being involved in this music. There’s still people from all over that really embrace [it] and they still want to enjoy this style of music.

Is there anything new in the works for you, production wise?

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Carl Cox

I’m working on my new artist’s album. It’s been long overdue… I’m going to be going into the studio the whole of October into December to finish up the album, and that will be released for March next year at the Winter Music Conference. The album is going to be called All Roads Lead to the Dancefloor, so we already have a working title...

I’m releasing a compilation through Global Underground. It’s actually my experience of going to Burning Man… When you get the album, there’s a story about the reason why we put this out… I’m also bringing back my record label.

Talking with Mark Lewis about a month ago after he headlined at Moon, he mentioned something about you two working on a TV show, DJ Diaries. Is that still in the works?

It is, yeah… Most of the storyboard is about my life growing up in South London with Mark… So we have actors who are playing me and Mark and our friends in this whole thing… My life wasn’t as easy as people expect it to be based on the story of it… This is going to be pretty strange, but interesting once it comes out.

As you mentioned, many people here might not know who you are. What should they know about you and your music?

The thing is no matter what, I’ve always come to pump the party and rock it as much as I can. There is a level of how high you can go in Vegas before people go, “You know what? I have no understanding of this music. I’m going to go and play the tables.” So I find—apart from when you have the Fabulous parties or something like that on the weekend—I find that my sets really keep people interested between two and three hours maximum…

RICHARD BRIAN/STAFF PHOTO.Carl Cox performs during the Ultra Music Festival at Bicentennial Park on March 28, 2009 in Miami.

We’ve become a part of the entertainment system in Vegas. So for me, if you go to see someone like Celine Dion or Elton John and you see them for a couple of hours, you’ve seen them; you’ve done it; and you move on. For us as DJs, we’re asking people to have an attention span of about five or six hours. If you still have them in that party and they’re still enjoying it and they still have their hands in the air, our work and our job’s been done really, really well. … It’s not just about a DJ playing for one and a half hours, two hours. I could play for 12 hours straight if I needed to. But obviously there’s no way I could get Vegas people to stand there for twelve hours and listen to my journey of music. But what I can do is at least play two or three hours of the very best music that’s going on in the rest of the world and bring it to the tables to Vegas and give people a really good time. And I think they’re happy about it.

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