New York DJ Jesse Marco can barely muffle his chuckles during an early-afternoon phone interview. He tries to whisper his laughter, but his cell phone picks up the sound.
Marco has likely had this same conversation dozens of times before with music journalists, fans, and other DJs. What are his thoughts on the rise of superstar DJs, and is it his goal to attain that status?
“Ultimately, all boats rise from the tide,” he says. "In some ways, I guess some people [think] DJing is like hair metal now, [that] it's kind of getting ridiculous. But I don't know — I think everyone is different. There are some guys that are like Guns N' Roses. There are some people like David Bowie. There's kind of a taste for everyone. If you're into massive arena-style stuff, there's a market for that. If you're into more of the indie stuff, there's a market for that. I just think that good music is good music. I think it's my job to bridge the gap and entertain and have fun. I think if I wasn't doing that, I wouldn't enjoy what I was doing.”
In 2017, EDM finds itself at a crossroads. After a few years of rocketing popularity and cultural saturation, it's still a massive business, but it's not selling quite like it used to. This could be the year the bubble bursts, or merely a recalibration of identity for the umbrella-term genre.
During the course of the interview, Marco appears less preoccupied with the politics of the business, choosing to focus on upcoming projects instead. He speaks passionately of the enthusiastic reaction he's received for his latest work with his live drum-machine setup, and of his upcoming album release through Fool’s Gold Records, which will be out later this year.
Marco has become one of the fashion world's most sought-after DJs, having worked with Tom Ford, H&M, and, most notably, Alexander Wang. He credits his success simply to being at the right place at the right time and “having so much fun that people take notice.” He also notes that he met people early on in his career who mentored and vouched for him — Mark Ronson and the late DJ AM were early supporters.
Now that he's in the position as a tastemaker in both the music and fashion worlds, Marco has opted to give a boost to hungry up-and-coming DJs in his native New York through a series of showcase nights billed the “Living Room Sessions.” He even brought an installment of the showcase to Miami during Art Basel, where it was headlined by Mike Will Made-It.
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“We’re trying to give people the opportunities I feel like I got from the people that helped me out. The thing about what's going on is that because the business of DJing and electronic music has become more mainstream, people are focused on how to get ahead and how to make a little bit of money. I don't blame them — you need to pay bills and stuff — but that sort of scene-building, I wanted to help start that again, especially in New York, where gentrification is really taking over. The great thing about it is that it's already bleeding over into the mainstream. I have clubs that are calling me and saying, 'Why don't we try that night at our club?'”
Tonight, Marco will take over at LIV, and he's got a soft spot for the Magic City. “It’s always memorable in Miami,” he says. “It’s got its own vibe. It's so unapologetic. It knows what it wants and how to have fun. You know, turn up.”
He also says Miami crowds make him play differently. “I just love that you have a lot of Europeans, a lot of Spanish people — the Latin influence is very big. I really vibe with that. The music I feel like I get to play is always a little bit more exciting and more dancey. I also have a lot of respect for all the DJs that come out of Miami. DJing is serious, and that makes for a better nightlife.”
11 p.m. Wednesday, January 25, at LIV, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4680; livnightclub.com. Tickets cost $30 via tixr.com.