Ever seen a DJ make love to a mixer? Or darn near take out an innocent bystander with a hair flip? Catch one of Audrey Napoleon’s sets and it’s bound to happen. “I dance around like a fucking maniac, and you will get kicked!” Napoleon laughs. “You might as well take your chances standing behind a donkey.” When she lets the tunes take her over, the L.A.-based DJ/producer’s got more moves than a whole game of chess. She made that evident during her first successful gig at Marquee Dayclub, where she just launched a residency.
Bringing her brand of what she calls “underground pop,” expect a proper mix of little-known bangers plus just the right amount of club hits, when she next takes over the booth on June 1.
May 4 was your first-ever Las Vegas gig. How did you break into the electronic dance music business?
My artistic head started when I was just a young child. My father’s a musician—drums, trumpet—my mother used to make all my clothes when I was younger, so the fashion and music kind of integrated into each other. He bought me my first guitar when I was like 13 or 14, and I used to sing and put on performances in malls and things like that. It was ridiculous.
Friends of mine brought me to my first club, which was Avalon. I was in there and just bananas running around going, “What is this?!” My friends were like, “Darling, it’s electronic music.” I was like, “Oh my God! I’ve found my calling!” When I left, I turned around and realized there was a DJ up there and it was James Zabiela.
I started to learn to DJ [when I was a server] at Geisha House. They let me stay after and learn on the turntables and I started to do shows. The first time I played Avalon at the start of my residency there, I played with Zabiela, so it was so fucking cool. I was in my head going nuts. I was like, “Fuck it! Can you sign my computer?”
How long ago was that?
That was three years ago.
So you’re still pretty new to the scene.
I move very quickly, always.
Now that you’ve progressed into production, when will an album be out?
I finished my album April 1, and we’ve decided to split it up into two EPs. So I’ll release one in July, and I’ll release the other one in September.
You’re also doing a short film series with Marilyn Manson’s director to accompany it, aren’t you?
I don’t really think music videos are conducive to dance music, so I decided that I wanted to do a film and cut it into chapters. I met with a few directors and then when I sat down with Nicole [McDonald], she got it. No. 1 is “Banana Soda Es Muy Loca,” two is “Bitchy Queen,” three is “Carlos Martinez” and No. 4 is “Green +15.” My first single that’s coming out off the new EP will be the entirety of the film, so all these chapters are leading up to “Poison,” which will be the first single.
There’s also a series of Audrey Napoleon “Sex Tapes,” so to speak …
I just don’t like the words “mix tape.” It makes my stomach turn, [BMI asked about my making mix tapes] and I was like, “Actually, I’m going to release sex tapes!” I do all the artwork for it. I have my piles of magazines and I go through and cut things out and make little collages. I have, like, 45 people in my head that have to get out somehow, so that’s what I’m doing, so many different things creatively, I have to.
And the track “#MySunrise” for Heineken? What’s the story behind that?
I’m the 2012 ambassador for Heineken, and I’m featured in the advert. It’s been airing in 28 countries, and it will go live in the U.S. in a couple of months as well. I wrote the music for it called “#MySunrise,” and it will be on the first EP.
Since you are the ambassador for Heineken, is that all you’re allowed to drink in public?
No! No, I can drink what I prefer, but I love Heineken. I’ve always drank Heineken, so it’s nice. I love champagne, and I love my vodka, too.
Since your sound is refreshingly different from what many are playing in Las Vegas, do you have any unlikely sources of inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration from natural things that occur. I’m Sicilian, so my parents—and we’ve got a massive family—are always cooking in the kitchen. My inspiration comes from pots and pans, or walking down the street and the ambulances in Italy— it has this crazy pattern to it. Or I’ll be clumsy and drop shit on the floor and I’m like, “Oh my God! We have to record that!” So it comes from very strange places.
As a stylish, attractive female, have you encountered any doubters because of your appearance?
It’s just me kicking them in the head and going, “I’m the real deal.” I’m not some fucking puppet they put up onstage and be like, “Dance, bitch, dance!” I actually do all my shit. I’m an artist to the core, and all that I care about in my entire life is my art. When you see the passion that I have across the board, that whole [she-jay] thing goes away. I’m the real deal, and I’ll prove it till the day that I die, which will be in 982 years! [laughs]