Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 | 9 a.m.
Six months ago, Spanish DJ Danny Avila turned 18 and was about to spin at the grand-opening weekends of mega-club Hakkasan Las Vegas at MGM Grand.
Fast-forward to now, and the teenager is on tour with Tiesto and Calvin Harris, two of the world’s top — and highest-paid — DJs.
The Las Vegas regular spins at Hakkasan tonight, and he answers questions while on tour via email — ha-has, exclamation points, emoticons and all.
When we were in contact back in April, you had just turned 18 and were about to spin during the opening weekends of Hakkasan at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. What’s new now that you’re 18 1/2?
Haha, not that much has changed, to be honest. They still have to escort me to the booth right before my set, and I have to leave right after my set. Apart from that, the main thing that has changed is that I’ve now played there around 20 times so far and I just love it! Hakkasan is 100 percent one of the best clubs in the world, and the whole team there has become a Las Vegas family to me.
How was the tour in Asia with Tiesto?
Oh my goodness, it was just incredible! I can’t say it any more than that, to be honest. Tiesto is such a legend, and it’s crazy to see how many people he is pulling as the one and only headliner at one show. For example, on just one night, there were 26,000 people who turned up just for him. Can you imagine how crazy that is? I got to DJ on all the dates on his tour; he even got me onstage a lot of times to play a track or two together!!! That was massive. I was with him one minute and getting my manager to take a photo of it happening, the next I was on Facebook and Twitter going, “LOOK!!!” The man is a huge inspiration to me.
And it will be Calvin Harris, Tiesto and you in the U.K.? Exciting working with two of the highest-paid and most popular and successful DJs in the world?
I really cannot wait for this; it’s going to be crazy! Apparently all the tickets were sold out super fast, and there is a crazy hype going on all over the Internet about it. It’s going to be a tour for the books, for sure; it almost feels like a dream that I’m going to be playing with them both, and then I see the fliers and the artwork and I get a big, crazy smile.
What does all this support from Tiesto mean to you?
I am so honored that the biggest DJ of all time, in my opinion, supports me in the way he does. I can learn so much from him. He’s always been there for me to give me guidance, talk about anything that I’m worried about or thinking about. From the minute that he asked me to play at Pacha last year, and then asked me to do the rest of the summer with him, he’s been there for me 100 percent. He gets where I’m coming from, he understands what I want to do, and he has more experience than anyone else I know on how to handle things and how to push myself to be the very best that I can be. He is such a legend, and, besides all that, I think he is one of the nicest and coolest guys in the whole scene.
Why has Las Vegas become so important to you?
Over the past few years, Las Vegas has become one of the major capitals for electronic music. In fact, to be honest, I don’t think there is any other city in the world where so many superstars are playing so often throughout the year. Maybe Ibiza is comparable in the summer, but that’s it. Next to being Sin City, it’s definitely also become Music City.
Is it strange to be in Las Vegas, where you can’t drink, but then return to Europe, where you can imbibe legally?
Yeah, that’s a bit strange indeed! But I am not that much of a drinker anyways, so I don’t mind too much, to be really honest. I can have fun and enjoy music without alcohol. Thank goodness, hahaha!
How often do you return home to Spain?
I try to be with my family as much as I can even though it is really rare for that to happen at the moment. Maybe once a month for a couple of days, I get to spend some real quality time with them. On the other hand, I love touring so much that I wouldn’t want to miss it. I feel very blessed that I am invited to see so many different countries and places in this world already at my young age. It’s like a big adventure and a dream coming true.
Now that you’ve become a Las Vegas regular in the past six months, what do you like to do in Sin City?
There are tons of things I love doing in Las Vegas. One time we did a helicopter ride over the Strip, that was amazing, or we just run around the city and go shopping like crazy, haha, and of course I love going to good restaurants in Las Vegas. I feel there are so many amazing spots to eat and have fun, so many different kinds of foods to try, I love my food! Also, I love all the stuff like rollercoasters, etc. ;)
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the past six months of stardom?
Be yourself and be nice! There seem to be a lot of people, especially on the Internet, who want to be negative about everything. They want to put people down, make people feel miserable. For me, that says that they are not happy people themselves, so they want to put people down who are happy and successful and making things work. I know I’m only 18 and I’m successful, but, you know, I worked so hard to get to where I am from a really young age. I knew what I wanted, and I went for it. So I deserve it. And I’m going to keep on doing what I want to do for as long as I possibly can, to make people feel happy through music and dancing. I’m happy being me, and I’m happy sharing the music.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a DJ?
I am very, very sure I would have become a professional wakeboarder. ;) Or a stuntman, hahaha! I busted my knee up when I was about 14, so I couldn’t wakeboard a lot around that time, and that’s when I made the decision to go into music rather than wakeboarding. I was No. 2 in the Spanish junior standings and No. 12 in the world junior championships, so who knows what might have been.
What’s your dream job?
Actually, I am so lucky that I am doing my dream job. I couldn’t think of something better for me personally. I just love it!!!
Tell me something about Danny Avila that fans would be surprised to learn.
Haha, I think it’s always good to keep some secrets, don’t you?
What’s in store for you in the New Year?
Oh, wow, I am so looking forward to this a lot: I am doing a big show in South Africa on NYE, and then I get to stay there for a week to do a safari. I can’t wait for that. I think that will definitely finish off this year in style.
Avila spins at Hakkasan Las Vegas in MGM Grand tonight. Then it’s off to Escape From Wonderland in L.A. and a show in Vancouver, B.C., with Tiesto. Avila returns to Hakkasan on Nov. 17, Dec. 1. and Dec. 29.
Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.