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August 22, 2014

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DJ Z-Trip bringing his revolution to Rain

Turntablist named ‘America’s Best DJ’ to begin spinning Oct. 16 at Palms nightclub

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DJ Z-Trip will take on the Friday night turntable duties beginning Oct. 16 at Rain nightclub at the Palms casino resort in Las Vegas.

DJ AM (1973-2009)

DJ AM performs at Rain Nightclub at the Palms. Launch slideshow »
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DJ Z-Trip Revolution poster art by Shepard Fairey.

Rain has a new resident and his name is DJ Z-Trip.

Z-Trip, aka Zach Sciacca, was named “America’s Best DJ” on Sept. 12 and today he was announced the Palms’ newest Friday night resident.

The “Z-Trip Revolution” starts Oct. 16.

“I’m taking a page out if the Perfecto book,” he told the Las Vegas Sun, referring to Rain’s innovative Saturday night party headlined by DJ Paul Oakenfold. “When I play in Vegas, my vision is to, musically, push boundaries more.”

In addition to the audio hip-hop mash-ups, Z-Trip is known for, “Revolution” will feature visuals courtesy of and inspired by counter-culture and oft-political artist-icon Shepard Fairey.

While Fairey first became famous for his underground “Obey” artwork, he achieved mainstream appeal during the 2008 presidential election campaign for the red, white and blue image of then-president-elect Barack Obama, titled “Hope.”

Z-Trip and Fairey joined forces for Friday night’s “Revolution” in much the same way Oakenfold previously collaborated with award-winning VJ and director Vello Virkhaus to create “Paul Oakenfold Presents: Perfecto Vegas” on Saturdays.

Z-Trip opened for Oakenfold after receiving DJ Mag’s top honor on Sept. 12.

“I thought it went well,” Sciacca said after the show. “I played a little bit of dub-step, a little bit of electric … and they were really into it.”

“I had to dip into some of those tracks,” he admitted, “but it wasn’t a lot.”

When the Los Angeles-based DJ refers to “those tracks,” he is referring to the typical top 40 songs that are played ad nauseum in nightclubs across the country.

“I try my hardest to not play the most familiar stuff all the time because what separates you from the next guy? Anybody can play the hottest commercial pop tune and everyone will dance but really, to me, what defines a DJ is what he plays before that and after that and in between that,” he said.

“For me, I’m always trying to push it a little bit more, … it’s not like I have to just play the hits,” he explained, noting, “It’s kind of a double-edged sword because you try to do the whole set without having to play that song but every so often you have to break down and dip into that.”

He compares the songs he plays during a set to the food he eats throughout the day.

“It’s like a musical diet, you know? If you give somebody cookies and ice cream and candy the whole time, that’s not a good diet. But some people, that’s all they want, they want the real sweet stuff,” he said.

He said people who claim to only like top 40 need to open their minds a little.

“That’s like saying ‘I only like ice cream’,” he said – and while some audiences claim to only want to hear bubblegum pop and super-sweet top 40, Z-Trip refuses to give them the club equivalent of cavities.

“You have to balance it out,” he said.

“If I can go a whole night an have people rocking without having to play that stuff, I’m into it, but it’s not beneath me to play that stuff, I just don’t prefer it,” he concluded.

While yes, he does play top 40 mash-ups, he tried to do so while “not completely stripping (his) soul away.”

“Every so often you have to dip in and play the Black Eyed Peas song or the Britney Spears song or whatever it is because … that’s the only button that you can push to get (the audience) on the same page,” he sighed.

As far as his vision for his Friday nights at Rain, the Sciacca said “it’s going to be along the lines of the set that I did on Saturday (Sept. 15) … and see how far I can push it.”

While Vegas’ tourist-filled audiences can be a toss-up and Sciacca admits he was “a little apprehensive” opening for Oakenfold, he was pleasantly surprised by the reception he received three weeks ago.

“That crowd was well-grounded enough that … I was able to do what I wanted to do, and do it how I wanted to do it,” he said. “For me to be DJing on Paul’s night, technically, it’s not the same crowd … (but) I could still be me and still dip and dive,” he said.

“In Vegas you’re dealing with crowds that are mostly transient crowds that come from all over the States to be there so when they come there they just want (to hear) what they know,” he observed. “But because … Oakenfold has built it as the Perfecto night, he’s … had the ability to push it a bit further and that actually made it a bit easier for me to play.”

“I played drum and bass there,” he pointed out, adding, ”I don’t know DJs who are (expletive) with drum and bass, never mind playing it in Vegas.”

While Z-Trip is known for hip-hop-infused mash-ups – along the lines of what Rain’s former Friday night resident, DJ AM, was known to play – Oakenfold made a name for himself, and his Saturday night spot at Rain, in trance.

As such, the Sept. 15 edition of Perfecto was a particularly diverse night at the Palms’ popular nightspot.

Still, the award-winning mix master appreciates techno’s appeal.

“I have a respect for both worlds … but I still consider myself anchored in hip-hop,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to bring those worlds together and I think that they could live together really well.”

Z-Trip is the first hip-hop, mash-up DJ to be named the country’s No. 1 DJ by DJ Times since the highly-respected magazine started giving the award four years ago.

DJ Mag and DJ List.com (and others) also release annual lists of DJ rankings, though Z-Trip doesn’t rank on most of the techno-based polls. Oakenfold, meanwhile, factors in at No. 14. on DJ Mag’s list, and No. 15 on DJ List.com.

DJ Times named progressive trance DJ, Christopher Lawrence, to their top spot last year.

The recognition from DJ Times was not only big for Z-Trip; it was big for hip-hop DJs across the country.

“To actually get recognized and get awards for it is really good because for a long time I felt like we were totally shunned and nobody recognized us,” Sciacca said, “(Yet) there’s all this intense technical stuff that’s going into it.”

He said it felt like “the same guys (were) getting these awards over and over” and, as a result, “There was a moment that I kind of had a sore spot for all those guys.”

“I was like, man, there are all these house, techno and trance guys getting all these awards and I looked at us as the hip-hop guys, never getting any of the credit,” he said. “(Meanwhile), we’re doing all this extra hard work, having to learn how to scratch and beat-juggle and we’ve got to buy doubles of records in order to do what we do.”

But with his shiny trophy in hand (a gold-plated Pioneer DJM-800 mixer) and a shiny new residency in Vegas, Sciacca has little to complain about these days.

“It seems like, finally, our time has come,” he said, noting, “I sort of gave up on having a chip on my shoulder a while back.”

“This has been a really good year for me,” he smiled. “I’m still processing it.”

Z-Trip’s Revolution begins at Rain on Friday, Oct. 16, and the DJ will return on Oct. 30 (with DJ P); Nov. 6; Nov. 13 (with MSTRKRFT); Dec. 4; Dec. 31; Jan. 8; Jan. 22; Feb. 5; and Feb. 26. Will.I.Am will fill his spot on Oct. 23; DJ Jazzy Jeff will take over on Nov. 20; DJ Skribble will spin on Nov. 27; and Tao/Lavo resident, DJ Vice, will perform a guest spot on Dec. 11.

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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