Oliver Nathan is one of the original celebrity DJs. Coming up with the likes of AM and Mark Ronson in an age where $10,000 per-gig paychecks were stratospheric, Spider, as he’s better known, has seen clubs transition from hip-hop to house and experienced the phenomenon of DJ superstardom. He’s also one of the few who scratches live and truly understands the art of mash-ups, which he does nearly every Friday at Tryst. Except, of course, when he’s off spinning a swanky party for HBO for the Emmys. It’s been nearly two years since we first met Spider (“Iller Than Venom,” March 10, 2011). Now he’s back to give us his take on his Tryst residency, celebrity shenanigans and dealing with special requests.
You just Tweeted that some guy showed you his phone with a request on it.
That was funny. This guy comes up to me in Portland, and the GM said, “We don’t take requests here.” The guy replied, “the Lord does,” as he walked away. It happens all the time, and it’s fine. Here [in Las Vegas, the clubs] are reasonable. Justin Timberlake was celebrating his bachelor party [at Tryst] and wanted hip-hop, so I definitely did that. Everything here is a reasonable request, not a random host wanting “Superman.” I understand catering to big bottle-service customers. It’s a hospitality industry, and that’s what the Wynn is all about.
I hear that when you played the HBO Emmy party things got a little nuts …
Yeah, Sofia Vergara, the girl from Modern Family, she was like, “Play Pitbull.” So I played it, and everyone started dancing, because they saw celebrities dancing. I kept it going with “Suavemente,” and everyone was also asking for “Gangnam Style.” When I played that everybody went crazy!
Congratulations are in order—you’re about to become a father!
Thanks. I have the weirdest life right now. I go from the gynecologist office, installing cribs and meeting the doula [birthing coach] to crazy clubs and talking to club owners. I say I talk about pussy in two different ways—one way to the gynecologist and one way to the club owners! It’s such a weird thing. I want to do a video! I’m in this comedy group where we did these YouTube videos Whole Foods Parking Lot and Mr. Mixologist.
So, Chelsea Handler seems to love you.
I DJ her holiday party every year. She’s the best! I knew her when she was married to Ted Harbert, whom I’ve known since I was a little kid. My parents were in the entertainment industry, and he’d always be at dinner.
Are her parties the craziest?
I do a lot of the HBO parties, and they do the best parties hand’s down. The True Blood party was … Oh my fucking God, it was crazier than a nightclub. They were going fucking crazy! I was playing the craziest shit ever, and they were all freaking each other and getting down. One of the girls from the cast [Rutina Wesley who plays Tara Thornton] starts dancing and set everyone off dancing to 50 Cent, Kanye, Rihanna’s “Cake” and Big Sean’s “Dance (Ass).” They were losing their minds and having so much fun with everything from that to Journey.
You have toured with the likes of Mark Ronson and played with AM. How has the scene changed since their heyday?
AM had been around a long time before me in the club scene. He would play underground hip-hop, and I would tour with him. AM was definitely one of the first to play the cheesy stuff in a fun way, but he kept his integrity. Nicole Richie was our spokesperson and [helped us drive up our fees]. It was an eye-opener for me. He was playing and mashing-up whatever. Back then everything was vinyl, so you were either a hip-hop DJ, a drum-and-bass DJ or something specific. With open format today, you can download and have everything, and it’s easy to mix up a Kill Bill soundtrack with “Billie Jean.” [AM] opened my eyes, and [it was great to see that you] could still incorporate scratching. Now it’s about producers.
You’ve done remixes for Usher and Far East Movement. Do you plan to delve more into the producing game?
Yeah, I used to think I was going to be a producer even before I was going to DJ, and put a lot of time into making hip-hop beats, but DJing took over and became my thing so I stopped. Now I get to go back to the thing that I couldn’t stop doing all night long. I’m working with Red Bull—they have a really dope studio—and collaborating with people I know and up-and-comers. I’m trying to develop a sound that’s niche, so hopefully by the end of the year I can release a few tracks that lead to an EP.