Stylish and sophisticated, the globetrotting Miami-based DJ Ross One commutes twice a month to feast his eyes on Sin City’s flashing lights and to honor his shiny new Tao Group residency. Check him out March 18 at Tao Nightclub.
After attending the Rochester Institute of Technology and the School of Visual Arts for photography you did a complete 180. What triggered the switch to DJing?
During grad school, I was DJing on the side and that’s how I paid my rent, along with working for photographers. DJing became more of a job, and photography became something I could do on the side. I was pretty happy about it actually, because it meant I didn’t have to make money taking pictures.
Now you’re anointed as a S.K.A.M. Artist DJ and living the jet-set lifestyle. It looks like you chose the right route.
Photography is its own hustle, and you have to sacrifice yourself in a lot of ways in order to be successful. I wasn’t really prepared to do that at the time. I had a harder time adapting to people if I didn’t really respect their opinion, and I wouldn’t want to do what they told me to do. With DJing it’s clear what my job is, and I travel all the time now.
Between traveling the world and your homes in Miami and New York, what are your favorite places to touch down?
I’m in Miami at least three days out of the week. I travel the states and go to Europe a lot. Rio de Janiero is one of my favorite cities. I love Paris, and New York even, though I live there.
Did learning to DJ on the East Coast influence your DJ style?
Definitely. The guys that I looked up to and learned from listening to are all New York guys—there’s a certain formula. There’s a big difference in a New York versus West Coast style. Especially five or 10 years ago, you can hear it a lot more.
In New York, DJs built their night around genres and having a night flow through the music either chronologically or through styles or the artist. Back then, DJs would play one artist, then another related artist, then slowly build up the tempo and find a way to transition to house, and then R&B classics. It all tied together and made sense.
And the West Coast brought …
… this mash-up style. It was kind of just putting rap and rock right on top of each other, it was so foreign. It was very skillful and very entertaining, and the East Coast guys kind of had to adapt to that because it sort of took over. But you catch on and keep adapting, things change; we’re not here to DJ for ourselves. When you’re DJing a club like Tao, you’re DJing for the couple thousand that are there to drink and dance.
And sometimes DJing for some of the biggest names in music like Jay-Z and Kanye, like you did at Marquee on New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s was really fun. The whole production at Cosmopolitan just felt like you were in another world. It felt like Disney World or something. As for the actual after-party, it’s rare that you get a room like that, with that number of celebrities there. I saw all the rappers. Just Kanye, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre alone—I was like, “This is nuts!” Everyone was in such a good mood; no one was too cool to party.