Named this year’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year at Miami’s Winter Music Conference, Fadil El Ghoul is making quite a name for himself. The self-dubbed DJ R3hab is one of the major house-music artists signed to Wynn Resorts’ stable and has gained fame thanks to his distinctive sound. Vegas Seven sat down with the Dutchman to get a handle on his rise to fame, personal style and “football” before he returns to XS on April 22 and Encore Beach Club on May 19.
How did you get started?
Around 17 years old, I started DJing in my bedroom.
When did you realize you had made it big?
I think last year around March. The buzz was really growing, and I just did my track “Prutataaa” with Afrojack, which helped out my profile a lot. EDM also exploded in the USA and that helped out a lot!
What’s it like for you to play in the U.S. as opposed to Europe?
People are very enthusiastic about EDM, because it’s fresh and exciting. Coming from Europe and playing in the USA is extra special.
And Las Vegas?
Vegas has a great crowd because everybody that comes to Vegas, comes to party and have a good time. That makes the night so much more fun.
How did you land your residency at XS?
Afrojack took me on his spring tour. I opened up for him and everybody liked it. The XS team and I had a good chemistry, and from there they actually offered me a residency directly.
What was it like going from an opening act to headliner?</p>
[It’s] exciting that your name is big on the flier and the people come to the party because you are headlining. It makes me feel special.
Where do you find inspiration?
From parties and from life itself.
How do you stay ahead of the curve?
Work hard and play harder!
Afrojack’s sound is considered “bleepy,” Avicii’s is more melodic, and your sound has been called “chainsaw.” What is that?
[Laughing] The melodies sometimes sound like a chainsaw firing up, so it was a little joke that slowly grew in the social media [sphere].
At Miami Music Week there was a Dutch DJ vs. Swedish DJ soccer match. Who won, and are you guys actually competitive?
Of course the Dutch won, 13-10. Everybody was actually really competitive, even though it was a friendly match for charity. We are all in it to win, especially Tiësto! We were behind in the second half, and he was like, “Guys, we can’t lose this!”
Speaking of Miami Music Week, you were just named Breakthrough Artist of the Year. How does it feel to be honored?
Amazing! Everything went so quickly in 2011, and being awarded as Breakthrough Artist of the Year is so crazy. Everybody was cheering for me when I accepted the award. I was more nervous in front of them than performing for 50,000 people.
Were you shocked?
The biggest shock was going for five days straight during Miami Music Week while not sleeping and still being full of energy!
What can we expect from you in the coming year, production-wise?
A lot of new originals and some very nice collaborations and remixes.
With Madonna, right? What was your reaction when her people called you?
It was very exciting, landing an official remix for Madonna! They approached me by e-mail. The funny thing was that when I delivered my remix I had to wait for Madonna to approve it personally and she liked it!
What’s it like to work with Jesse Waits and his team at XS?
It’s so much fun! The XS team is really friendly, and they understand the market very well. They are long-term thinkers.
What should we expect from your April 22 performance?
One big roller-coaster ride!