DJ Lujan on Wild Times at Wild Knight, Opening for Avicii, and Why Genres are Pointless
DJ Lujan lights up a local club...literally.
Estee Aire Photography
Perk up your ears and listen hard. If the wind is just right, you might be able to hear the sweet-sounding "ca-ching" of a cash register coming from DJ Lujan's Scottsdale pad. That's because the 26-year-old makes some bank from performing at a hot Scottsdale club.
To wit: Just last night, Lujan helped launch the brand new Dip Thursday pool party at Spanish Fly in Scottsdale. He's also frequently found on most Friday nights behind the mixers at Wild Knight during Sound Kitchen (which has become one of the Valley's premier EDM events) filling the clandestine club with his big room sound.
And believe us, he's definitely played some big rooms. Like, say, the Phoenix Convention Center this past January when he opened for Avicii during the superstar's epic gig. Lujan shared his feelings about the experience when he spoke to Up on the Sun recently, as well as why he feels his sound doesn't fit into a specific genre, and how he's living out his dreams by performing as a DJ.
"I get to do what I love," he says. If only we all could be so lucky.
Name: Jay Lujan
AKA: DJ Lujan
Current gigs: Dip Thursdays at Spanish Fly. Sound Kitchen at Wild Knight on most Fridays.
What EDM genres do you specialize in? Well, just like how music is today I have moved past categorizing my self into genres, when I am asked this question these days I tell people that I play a little bit of everything because the type of DJ I am is all about the progression, so what I specialize in is progressive, techy, melodic, driving house, trance, and electro.
Are genres pointless then? For me, yes, but maybe not completely for everyone. I am absolutely obsessed with tricking people when I play.
What do you mean by that? What I mean by that is that I hear people all the time say they hate trance or they hate electro and if a song has the elements that I love in it, then I don't care what it is. So I take it upon myself to frequently educate people by sneaking in various different genres of music [into the mix]. The best part is at the end of a set when people come up to me and are like, "Oh my God Lujan, I loved that electro track you played," but I'm thinking, "Little do they know, even [though] they say they hate trance, they just told me they loved a trance track.' But I [also] think that maybe in the distant future all music will kinda blend together. Just a theory.
Do you create your own tracks or remix other artists? Both. I am getting more and more [into] my original productions these days. But for about as long as I have DJed I have always changed almost every song I have played to make it sound how I want -- adding extra sounds, making bigger buildups, shorting breakdowns, etcetera -- all to keep the energy alive and flourishing, which is kinda the Lujan sound.
What's your mantra when it comes to DJing? Well, I always say that music is the fuel that drives my life and soul. When I DJ -- with any of my sets, mixes, CDs, and podcasts -- I like to take my audience on a progressive journey, starting off [with] slower, chiller, feel-good music and building up to the end where I'm playing big room, fist-pumping and super epic music. This goes hand-in-hand with my beliefs in music: There is good music in all music. There is a lot of people and artists that talk bad about a lot of music that is out right now, but I am not prejudiced and like to play anything that I feel has a good sound, feeling, or just makes people dance, throw their hands up, scream and smile. I feel a good track is a good track and shouldn't be looked over because of who is playing it or who produced it.
What's on your new CD? [It's] a mix compilation that I put together for the summer. It contains 17 tracks with six of my own original mashups, edits, and reworks, all of which I feel embody the summer vibe. I created the concept with the hopes that when people listen to it, it would remind them of a special time place or memory of a summer trip, club, festival or beach experience.
DJ Lujan in the mix.
Estee Aire Photography/Relentless Beats
Where are your favorite places to perform? Ultimately, I love to play at festivals and concerts because of the amount of production that goes into it, like when I opened for Avicii at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was like 5,000 people in a giant expo room, all focused on this massive stage full of lasers, video, and state of the art lights. But I also love playing at pool parties, and recently my favorite spot is at Wild Knight because the owners are all about the ultimate party, which is cool 'cause I hold a residency there.
What are the benefits of working at hot Scottsdale clubs? Free drinks are definitely a cool thing, no cover to the hottest shows, direct and fast entry, VIP perks...plus, I love meeting new people that like to have fun and being in my position I meet a lot of them.
Do you ever get burnt out on Scottsdale? Yeah, a little, because there is not a very broad spectrum of EDM here. It's pretty mainstream house [and] not too much else. And it's sometimes hard to branch away from it and really stand out in one's sound, making it a little difficult to educate. Scottsdale is my home though, and there is nowhere like it in the world. You have the most beautiful women, the closest cluster of clubs, and some of the most energetic people. This will always be my roots and I will never forget it.
You've opened for a slew of blockbuster DJs like Madeon and Ferry Corsen. What was that like? Surreal. It's very exciting to get a crowd ready for the main act. It's a whole art in itself to be a good opener. You have to find a good medium of keeping the crowd happy without playing too hard or outplaying the headliner while also selling yourself as an artist of the night. Its surreal because I am a humble person and to have had the opportunities that I have had, I still remember back when I wished more than anything to play with these artists and am thankful for every second I am in [this] position.
Do you ever pinch yourself and go "I just opened for Bingo Players" after your set? Yeah, definitely. I did that when I opened for Armin van Buuren. Also when I played that massive stage with Avicii [and] a whole slew of other times as well.
Ever worry about screwing up in front of such legends? Yeah, definitely. But not to the point to where it rules my life or sets. I usually worry about it a little right before I go on, but almost right away I get into my groove and the love and the connection with crowd takes over and I go into a state of bliss. DJing in my opinion is the best drug in the world and I am a straight-up junkie. Super addicted.
Have you ever hit them up for tips? Some of them. Sometimes I just ask questions about their experiences. I usually don't like to talk to in-depth about music stuff unless we're outside of the club like at dinner or something. I usually just have fun and party with them if that's who they are. Building connections based on a friendship level because a lot of these guys get hit up all the time left-and-right, city-to-city about how they can help someone. Some guys love helping though, and I love picking their brains or just letting 'em talk to me about whatever they want.
For instance? Dave Dresden was all about helping. He came to my house for an after-party and he was like, "Hit me up on the e-mail, I can help you out and give you tips," [and] then gave me a bunch of his unreleased music. Really cool guy. He actually is friends and helps out the guy that got me into DJing.
Did you get a chance to speak with Avicii when you opened for him? Not too much...pretty crazy backstage.
Did you tell him, "Enough with 'Levels' already"? No. I'm sure he has heard that a bunch though. Great song, but like many others, anything starts to suck after a billion plays.
What's your favorite track of the moment? Mike Perry, "Put Me Up." Ironically, [I] just listened to it.
DJ Lujan rings new meaning to the phrase "duck face."
You're a resident at Spanish Fly's new Dip Thursdays night. In your opinion, what's the key to a good pool party? I think the key to a good pool party is the music, mostly. In my eyes it's a really different type of DJing. A majority of people are usually more there for the actual pool party experience, so I like to start playing music that compliments the vibe of the pool. Then when people started having more fun, [I] start playing dance and energy-filled music to aid the people in there dancing and raging.
Craziest shit you've witnessed at a gig? Craziest thing I have seen at one of my gigs is when I went to the end of the stage to basically shake, give high fives, and touch people's hands and people were almost literally climbing over each other just to touch my hand. Pretty crazy and surreal to see [that] all for me. People screaming and trying their hardest just to touch me for a second. I guess I was playing good that night.
What's the wildest night you've witnessed at Wild Knight? When I opened for Dada Life there that was prolly the craziest gig I have ever played. Energy and vibe in the room was definitely wild. [The] Skrillex after-party there was pretty insane too. People almost crawling over the DJ booth. Dada Life's party was funny 'cause there were real bananas and champagne flying everywhere and then there were inflatable bananas and champagne bottles floating onto the crowd throughout the whole club. Those were two of the most insane parties have ever seen in Scottsdale.
What are some of the perks of being a DJ? Living part of my dream is one big perk of it. When I first started DJing -- along with dreaming of traveling and playing across the world -- I dreamed of playing at these hot clubs and opening for all the world-renowned artists that I saw. Another big perk is being able to test my music in front of a crowd and on big, high-quality sound systems. Not to mention I have one of the funnest jobs in the world.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.