It's going to be a big weekend for DJ McBoy -- and a very "electric" one at that. The 21-year-old is scheduled to perform at tonight's Summer Electric party over at the Arizona Event Center in Mesa, followed by a gig on the local stage during the first day of Wet Electric on Saturday.
And while McBoy, known to his mom and pop as Danny McMahon, is naturally thrilled to be pulling back-to-back sessions over the next 36 hours, it's the latter performance that he's most excited about. And maybe even a little nervous to boot, considering it's the biggest opportunity thus far in his seven-year DJ career.
McBoy has been doing the DJ thing since he got his first mixer at the age of 14. These days, the notion of embryonic mixmasters getting their starts as adolescents may seem a little passé, it was a relatively new concept back when McBoy started taking his first steps into the DJ world. And while he hasn't made as big of a splash (yet) like such fellow former teenage selectors like Hardwell or Skrillex, it isn't for a lack of effort.
McBoy, who balances his DJ career with studying for a Design Management degree at Arizona State University, has gone hard at such local clubs as INTL, The Pressroom, and Monarch Theatre, as well as such spots as Exchange LA and The Bunker in his native California.
He's also pretty damn humble for a club DJ and admits he still has a lot to learn and a ways to go before he makes it. And his hour-long session tomorrow afternoon at Wet Electric might just be a step towards the big time. McBoy told us how he's been preparing for the gig when we spoke with him earlier today.
Name: Danny McMahon
AKA: DJ McBoy
Preferred genres: I love electro and have been playing it for eight years now
Current gigs: Saturday at Wet Electric at Big Surf in Tempe.
Briefly, how did you get into the DJ game? Well, when I was young, I was always very interested in DJing, but I just didn't have the money to buy a mixer and turntables. I saw my buddy mixing on a controller, and I realized that you can start DJing with [only] a $150 mixer. A couple months later, my [14th] birthday rolled around and I got my first mixer, my Hercules MK2.
What's the explanation behind your DJ name? My last name is McMahon [and] in high school everybody called me "McBoy" because of my older brother. So I just decided to wear it and keep it as my DJ name. I always told myself, "One day everyone will remember McBoy."
What's your mantra when it comes to DJing? When you FJ, you have to work your way up. As an upcoming DJ I think it is very important to know where you stand and keep your head right.
What's your favorite track of the moment? I'm going to have to say "Don't Give Up" by Fedde Le Grand. Fedde is someone that I grew up on and this track is just a masterpiece. The song definitely fits the title. It has me thinking, "Don't give up."
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? [It] was my first EDC, which was the last in the USC coliseum. I had no clue what to expect when going to this event. I walked down to the mainstage and was enjoying it. Within an hour, people started jumping fences and it got real crazy. It was all over the news. It was a first event for the books
What's the one DJ stereotype you detest the most? "DJs just go up there and press play." So many of my friends have told me that, and I have asked them to come up to my room and try it. Some do [and] I have never seen one of my friends actually try and succeed. They all say something along the lines of "Oh, that's harder than I thought." There is a lot more that goes into DJing than just pressing play. It is sad that people only realize once they try it.
So is there a story behind the cassette tape pendant you're wearing in your Facebook photo?
That is something I got the night I opened for Cazzette at INTL. It is their trademark thing.
Do you still wear it out when playing? I do not. Now it just sits on wall, but it has a lot of meaning to me.
Is it harder to make it as a DJ here in Arizona or in California? In the long run I think it comes down to music production; but as far as getting gigs goes, I think it is easier down here. The scene seems a lot bigger down here because everything in Old Town [Scottsdale] is so close together, and in L.A. it is more spread apart and harder to meet people.
Is Wet Electric the biggest gig you've worked thus far in your career? Honestly, yes it is. Since my 21st birthday last month, I have opened up for big names (Cazzette, Michael Woods, PartyFavor) a few times in Scottsdale and have a couple upcoming gigs lined up. Up to this point in my career, this is the biggest show
So are you feeling any pressure? Not yet! I am actually very very excited for this opportunity and can't wait, but I know a hour before the show I will be very nervous. But for now I am very excited
Have you been sweating about your mix? I have gone over this mix more [times] than I can count. I play every show like it's my last. When I go up to those cdjs I am ready for a awesome night
How does one play a show like it's their last? Well, the way I look at it is, never take a show lightly. You have to prepare for every show and be ready to kill it. Every set that I prepare for, I think of it this way: "What if this was my last set? What if this was my last time ever playing? What would I do?" That's my mindset and I go in there and kill it
At the same time, do you have to hold back? I've heard that there's a certain etiquette for openers to avoid showing up the bigger DJs at a gig. That is true -- it all depends on the event. When you open for someone there is a guideline you have to go by in order to build the night up. I prepare for those sets more than ever; the opening DJ determines the way the night goes.
When I open I have to play music with a more housey feel to it. But even when I have to play softer music, I never really hold back I make sure I can play the best set possible with the music I have to play. Killing it, in my eyes is having a great fluid set and seeing people vibe off your tunes. It isn't always just going up and going as hard as possible.
Are there certain tracks you're refraining from using during your Wet Electric set in order from going too epic? Yes sir. I love Deorro. He is from my hometown and at the moment [is] one of my favorite producers. I love to drop his song "Yee," it is a classic and it goes in really hard. I have had a big crowd in front of me and wanted to drop it so bad but I couldn't because it was barely 10:30 p.m. It sucks when that happens, but it will really give you an idea of working your way up. After a few gigs, you get a better timeslot and get to play better music
Do you get nervous or clam up when meeting superstar DJs? I still do get nervous when I meet the headliners?
So are you going to go catatonic then at Wet Electric? I will be very excited to meet everyone tomorrow. It will be very humbling
Do you plan on diving into the wave pool or hitting the waterslides after your set? Definitely! I am really excited for this event, not just to play but to be there having a blast.
Wet Electric takes place on Saturday, April 26, at Big Surf in Tempe, and on Sunday, April 27, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
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