A flyer for the nightclub LIV at the Fontainebleau catches your eye. It's a fancy party Saturday night, and you see the name Rony Seikaly hyped. OK, so the former Miami Heat center is hosting a shindig, helping fill up the VIP with the hope that other NBA stars (LeBron? D-Wade?) might also be hanging out, right?
Not so. Seikaly - known as the "Spin Doctor" during his playing days - is actually spinning. As in DJing.
No, really. And not only that - the night is a CD-release party for Seikaly's new disc "Subliminal Essentials Presents House Calls By Rony Seikaly," on superstar DJ Erick Morillo's label. So this guy - who has been a partner for years in clubs such as Mokai, Bar None, Mynt, and Club Wall - is apparently for real. He's performed all around the world, from Chicago to New York to Paris to Ibiza, and New York's Village Voice even raved: "If you're going to see one DJ this weekend, make it former Miami Heat center Rony Seikaly."
So how did this happen? Seikaly talks to Miami.com about his journey from on the court to behind the decks.
What inspired you to start DJing?
I've been doing it since I was 14, so it wasn't something that just came about. I always had equipment at my house and always played music for my friends, and it's a passion I had as a young kid. And I'm really living my childhood dream, I guess.
What were some of your early musical influences?
I grew up in the disco era, so anywhere from Barry White, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and then it kind of graduated to early stages of hip-hop with LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Run-DMC and stuff. And then I got into house music in the early '90s when it first came about.
How did you hook up with Erick Morillo?
Erick has been a close friend, and me being a music fan, I'd always go watch him play. And he would come over to the house sometimes and I would play music, and he was like, "Why is this talent hiding? Why is it bottled up?" And I said I do it because I love to do it, and I don't need to show it to anybody. I didn't want it crossing my business career and nightlife career - that's two different worlds. And he said to follow your passion - the business world is always gonna be there, so do your stuff in the day and then do your stuff at night.
Did you encounter any skepticism from being an NBA star?
Well, obviously, with the way DJing is going, there's a lot of celebrity DJs, and I didn't want to be grouped as a celebrity DJ. On flyers and invites I refused any link to my NBA and basketball career because I wanted the music to do the talking and not the status.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is a very particular sound. It's more on the happy vibe - it is electronic music and it's underground, but I call it "happy underground." It's fun and energetic, and a different sound. That's what Erick and all the biggest DJs in the world have told me - that I have a particular sound. Usually what DJs do is play somebody else's sound and try to be somebody else. It's very rare to have your own sound. To be in such an infancy stage in DJing and producing music, to have my own sound is a lot of fun.
Who gave you the nickname "Spin Doctor"?
That was [Heat announcer] Jack Ramsay. That's what I was known as, for my low-post moves and spin moves and stuff like that.
So it had nothing to do with music?
Absolutely nothing to do with the music, and that's why it's bridged itself 20 years later.
Are you close with any current Heat members?
No, I know all the guys, but they're not really the house-music types. I don't think you'll see them in an atmosphere with this kind of music.
Hasn't LeBron James been known to hang out in DJ booths around town?
If it's hip-hop driven... not so much house music.
So you don't think he's eyeing that scene after basketball?
Listen, the guy is so talented, God knows what he could do. He's already an animal doing what he does, so it wouldn't surprise me if he became an astronaut.
What do you think of the Heat's offseason moves?
It's been amazing. The only thing that could work against them is injuries - those things are out of their control. And playing together, sharing the basketball. As you know, we've had a few USA teams with plenty of NBA talents that have not done anything because they're not used to playing together as a team. These guys are different because LeBron is so unselfish and Dwyane Wade is so unselfish, that they're gonna make it work.
What can we expect from your show Saturday night? How long will you play?
Well, usually, I play anywhere between two and four hours, which lets me develop a set and go somewhere with it.
Have you performed at Winter Music Conference?
Yes, two years. I played three years ago at Mokai - I had my own night there. And then last year I played at Wall on Friday night, at LIV Saturday night with Erick Morillo, and then Sunday at the Surfcomber, which is a beach party.
How about the upcoming conference?
I have my night at Wall and will probably play another night at LIV, and then at Ultra or a big outdoor venue.