By Fred Gonzalez
DJ AM (Adam Goldstein), Hollywood's A-list spinner, became popular for his mash-ups of '80s and '90s classics with current hits at the hottest night clubs. But it wasn't until DJ AM played at singer Melissa Etheridge's 40th birthday party in 2001 that he exploded onto the scene as the DJ of choice for private parties hosted by Hollywood's elite. (We're talking Ben Stiller's wedding, Madonna's birthday party, Steven Spielberg's son's Bar Mitzvah.)
He partnered with drummer Travis Barker of Blink 182 for a one-of-a-kind live DJ/drumming set which tours across the country and wowed Miami audiences on New Year's Eve 2006 at Mansion in South Beach and at the 2007 Bacardi B-Live concert in Miami's Bicentennial Park. A resident DJ at Vegas nightclubs Pure and LAX, DJ
AM plays at Mansion Friday.
We recently interrupted his lunch with a phone call and we got his take on various topics.
Q: What do you like about Miami?
A: For one, obviously, you cannot beat the weather. And there is Miami and then there is South Beach, which to me is like a division of Miami. It's a lot different than Miami as a whole. It's kind of the epicenter of nightclubs in America, I think. I think it's a statistical fact that there are more nightclubs per square foot than anywhere in the world. And that's a good thing for a DJ.
Q: What are your favorite places to play?
A: Probably Mansion is one of my favorite places. They have an amazing sound system there and it's a huge room and if you play your cards right you get a whole lot of energy and feel you are doing a great job for a lot of people. SET is much more intimate, smaller, but it's also very nice and new. I'm a big fan of that, too.
Q: Do you have any favorite restaurants or hotels you like to visit when you're here?
A: Definitely Prime 112 is one of my favorite places to eat dinner when I am down there. At Ago I'm a very big fan of the Caesar salad. And I really like staying at the Victor Hotel.
Q: Name three movie star parties you enjoyed playing.
A: Tom Cruise. Melissa Etheridge. I know she's not a movie star but her party was one of the most fun parties still to this day that I have ever done. And, Kate Hudson. In her living room we had a party in 2001, I think, or 2002. So much fun.
Q: What's on your iPod playlist right now?
A: LCD Soundsystem right now. I am obsessed with the last album they came out with, called Sound of Silver. It's a great, great album.
Q: You were here for the Winter Music Conference in March. How has the DJ culture grown?
A: I remember Winter Music going on since the '80s and it's gotten out of control now. I am bumping into people here from everywhere. It seems every club promoter that I work for, from San Francisco to Miami, I have seen here. It's kind of insane.
Q: Anything you would change about WMC?
A: It's tough because everybody is competing. There are too many different events going on at the same time that I would like to attend on one night, and I can't be three places at once. So I almost wish they would slow down, or everyone work together to make the times work. There's oversaturation, almost.
Q: You are renowned for your crazy mash-ups of music - like Frank Sinatra with Biggie Smalls. What provides your inspiration?
A: I just have no boundaries, I guess, or respect for the genre. I like music, so I don't really give a f**k, pardon my French, if it's not supposed to be. If Tom Petty is not supposed to mix with the Wu Tang Clan, I will do it because I love them both. That's what DJing is … you have the ability to do that and anyone who wants to stay in that box, I don't get it. What's the point? I mean you can play anything in a row, so might as well do it, you know.
Q: So how does it happen? Is it like you're listening to something and then it pops in your head, these could work? Like a DJ CSI?
A: Yeah. Or sometimes it's like, oh my God, this song is a complete rip-off. The other day I mixed the new Linkin Park single, which sucks because it's almost always bands that are friends of mine. Shadow of the Day is U2's With or Without You. Not only is it the same song, it is the exact same tempo. The other
day I just started them both at the same time, and they lined up perfect. It was absolutely frightening how much they are the same song. Sometimes when that happens, I just have to do it. It's a given. It's like having a pet peeve - like walking down a hallway all day long and there's one picture that is crooked. At some point you are going to have to stop and fix that picture. That's how I look at songs. I have to mix it with something.
Q: Do you think a DJ could play a concert hall and not a club?
A: It has gotten to that point with all the electronic DJs and that genre. You know Tiesto has sold out the Staples Center in L.A. But with the right production value, you could. . . . I would think whatever DJ is doing that would really have to put on a show. A real visual. It's not like a club where everyone is looking at each other and dancing. They want something to watch, so if the DJ has the right visuals and the right stage show, it could work.
Q: Do you ever pinch yourself when you realize what you are doing for a living?
A: Yeah. Every single night, no matter what, I get on my knees and I just say thank you. I never ask for anything. I am a very grateful, grateful guy and I just say thank you. And then the next day it always seems to work out. And it's been for 15 years now.