While in Miami for the South Beach Wine and Food festival, Vegas Seven caught up with one of the Strip’s youngest resident DJs, Danny Avila. There the 18-year-old, Spanish-born electronic-dance-music savant was concluding his Generation Wild tour. He discussed his plans for the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, his relationship with mentor Tiësto and what we can expect from his residency this year at Hakkasan, where Avila next plays March 27.
You’re one of the youngest DJs on the Strip. What about school?
I’ve finished high school and have decided to do music full time. It was a little bit difficult to finish high school. I really wanted to do it and I did it, but right now I just want to focus 100 percent on music. You only have one chance, and that’s what I really like to do. If I would study something else it might be a waste of time; I can always go back to school.
How did you get started as a DJ?
I’ve been involved in music since I was 6. I play the piano, the guitar, the violin and a lot of other instruments. For me DJing was just one more instrument. I saw a couple of videos of DJs online, and I really felt that that was what I wanted to do with my future.
You first broke in the States last year at Ultra. Do you feel any pressure to top that performance?
I don’t. Of course, I want to top what I did last year, but that’s not my biggest goal. I always want to do my best. So obviously I’ll put a lot of effort into my Ultra set, but I put the same effort into every set. If I keep doing the same thing, it gets boring.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m not an artist who just plays one type of music. I am a really open-minded person and I like to play a lot of different genres, so you can expect a lot of different things from me. For example, when I play a two- or three-hour set, I don’t play that hard. It will be a little more groove in the beginning, then I bring it up a little bit, then I bring it down. But if I play a main stage festival, I would just bang it out and play a lot of big-time songs and play obviously harder. I also sometimes play a little bit more dubstep or trap as well. I play pretty much everything.
Tijs [Tiësto] has been a bit of a mentor for you, right?
Yes. I met Tijs two years ago in Ibiza, and it was an amazing experience. He’s such a talented and amazing guy, and I’ve had a chance to travel and play a lot of shows with him. That’s been an incredible opportunity for me. I’m also playing a lot of shows with him this year. His shows are always so crazy and cool.
What music do you have coming down the pipeline?
In January I didn’t play that many shows, because I was in the studio for pretty much the whole month, and I actually finished four new songs. I have a couple of collaborations; I can’t say the names because it’s too early, but I have some really cool stuff coming out. I’m also working hard on my Ultra show and Vegas residency. I just played my first resident night at Hakkasan, and it was incredible. I am bringing my own visuals and production. I’ve actually brought my own visual guy in from Germany and have special visuals of me jumping and doing backflips. It’s all coordinated with the lights and is fun.
I hear you’re the No. 12-rated wakeboarder in the world.
Twelfth in the world and seventh in Europe, it’s pretty cool.
Any Olympic ambitions?
No, no. [Laughs.]