Behind the Booth with DJ Ruckus
Greg “Ruckus” Andrews has been manning turntables at some of the best clubs and parties in the world for more than a decade and he’s only 27 years old. Discovered at the age of 14 spinning in clubs in Miami, it took only a quick few years before he was tapped by Diddy - who was so enamored with the then 17-year-old Ruckus’ ability to scratch that the rap titan himself brought the underage DJ all the way to Morocco to play his birthday party. Ruckus now enjoys monthly and weekly residencies in Vegas, Miami, L.A., Atlantic City, Paris, St. Barths, St. Tropez and more.
“I’m home less than one week a month,” he laughs. Billing five figures for a single gig, Ruckus is so in demand, he’s booking gigs five and six months out, every club owner knows his name and his reputation for the art of manipulating a record precedes him. Ruckus shares what he looks for when checking out a new venue for a potential booking, why venues shouldn’t skimp on the DJ booth and how having a big name DJ can help put a venue on the map.
What are the top things you look at when evaluating a new venue or a new gig?
I always start with the sound system. Sound and lighting are equally important, but the advantage goes to sound. I’m not saying every place needs a Funktion One system. There are a few places that have it that don’t need it; where it’s too much system for the space. Whatever system you’re using has to be equalized really well. That’s key. The monitors have to be in a strong position and the DJ booth has to be in a place where it’s visible from the dance floor so that you can feel the energy and people on the dance floor can feel and see your energy when you’re spinning.
What’re the most important pieces of equipment a club should have in the booth?
There are industry standards, depending on what sort of format your venue is. A place like Pacha might have a particular mixer that the rest of the open format guys don’t really use, so there’ll be some variances. However, mostly I like to see Pioneer equipment. I love to see a Pioneer DJM 800, or a Pioneer CDJ-2000 or Technics SL-1200 or SL-1210s when I walk in. I’ll always being my own slip mats and needles because at a lot of clubs people either steal them or they’re not up to par.
Why should venues opt for a big name DJ when they can?
There are many reasons, but mostly for the draw. Say you hire David Guetta. It’s going to be expensive, but because you can sell tickets to get the people in the venue, you’re going to make it back pretty quick. Second case would be because – ¬¬¬and DJs make this argument all the time – the music runs the party. Most people feel that way. A lot of owners, however, don’t realize this, so the DJ booth is the last thing they think about. Don’t put the DJ booth next to the bathrooms; put it next to the dance floor. The first thing they skimp on is money for the sound system. It’s a case where if you can keep people happy consistently, you can keep them in the club longer. Big name DJs are famous for what they do: pack houses, get the energy up and keep it there.
You’re global at this point. Where are the best three venues in the world to play? And why?
The first is LIV in Miami at the Fontainebleau. It’s probably the nicest nightclub, pound for pound, in the world. Sure, there are bigger and badder – mostly out in Vegas - but they spent about $10-15 million to build out LIV and every penny was worth it. The place is spectacular, the vibe is always right and even the ceiling looks awesome because the dome makes it look like a planetarium. It’s the best club in the world. Second would be MIXX in Atlantic City at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. MIXX is pretty damn badass after the renovation. I used to play there before and it was cool but it’s not like it is now. They redid the table layout, the sound system and added a whole LED wall. It’s usually a great crowd and energy because of the way it’s laid out. Finally, Playhouse in L.A. is one of my favorites. It’s laid out very similar to LIV and MIXX. It’s a larger room than MIXX, with a giant LED screen behind the DJ booth. There’s a bar on the dance floor so all the energy is directed down there towards the DJ, which is superb. Catch me at any one of those places and I’ll be grinning a little bit wider.