Some of today’s biggest sounds are being mixed underground—underground at Wynn that is. The Studio at Wynn/Encore, run by Studio DMI (Digital Music Innovation), is the canvas of Italian-born Luca Pretolesi, a.k.a. Digital Boy.
If you’ve been in the house-music scene for longer than just the past couple of years—when everyone jumped on the electronic-dance-music bandwagon—you’re probably familiar with Pretolesi, an industry veteran who has become the go-to guy for mastering club bangers, adding those important final touches.
Unlike the many mixers who have a background in rock or pop, “I’m pretty much an EDM mixer,” he says, which can be an entirely different process. “Because I’m not a traditional mixing engineer, it’s very personal.” And big producers appreciate his knowledge—many even send their demos to Pretolesi just to get his feedback.
Quite often, the bigger DJ/producers simply don’t have time to put those finishing touches on the music, what with touring, residencies and all. “I feel sometimes that I’m a producer of the producers,” he says.
“I’m a DJ myself, so when I hear a song, I listen and part of my brain as a DJ thinks, ‘If I’m buying this record on Beatport, what do I feel is missing? Oh, it’s not punchy enough, or the kickdrum isn’t coming through the mix enough, the drop is not loud enough and the breakdown is not open enough.’ Then, as a mixing engineer, I know how to fix it,” he says.
“My mix technique is two ways: A pure enhancement to improve whatever the producer did, or an artistic way where I really try to be creative when something is missing, bring some energy to the track and bring stuff up in the mix,” he says.
Pretolesi, who has been perfecting his sound since attending sound engineering school at the age of 16 in his native Italy, meets with EDM’s heavy hitters at the Studio before or after they perform at Wynn nightclubs.
From the electronic camp, Pretolesi has worked with the likes of Tiësto, Diplo/Major Lazer, Calvin Harris, Gareth Emery, Morgan Page, Skrillex and Black Boots. But non-EDM artists have also come calling on Pretolesi to take a song to the next level, including Pharrell Williams, 2 Chainz, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and even Las Vegas’ own Imagine Dragons. To accommodate that ambitious schedule, Pretolesi has put his own DJ career on the backburner. But it’s paying off. Projects on which he’s worked, such as Steve Aoki’s Wonderland and Snoop Lion’s Reincarnation, have garnered Grammy nominations.
But to be clear, Pretolesi isn’t recording the songs and letting someone else slap their names on them.
“I’m not ghostwriting for people—I don’t,” he says. “Most of the time something is already there. I take something that’s in the box, I’ll take it out of the box and use a lot of technology. I have a hybrid setup with vintage gear, new gear and a great monitor system. So I’m a new pair of ears that are fresh and detached from the song.
“One of the main problems for most producers is this: Even if they’re decent mixers, the time it takes you from start to finish, you are tired of your own song. If you do a painting, you need to have other people’s opinion,” he says. The same goes for a track.
Situated mere minutes from where the big producers spin, the DJ-designed Studio at Wynn isn’t only convenient for the visiting artists, but it also holds an advantage for Pretolesi: He can simply run upstairs to Surrender nightclub and test tracks on a proper club sound system to experience what the clubbers will be hearing.
Liking what you’ve been hearing at the club these days? Pretolesi may have been the one to give it that extra ‘untz.’
For more on Pretolesi and Studio DMI, visit StudioDMI.com.