“Hi, my name is DJ Shai Music. I play ’80s, ’90s, ‘Barbie Girl’ and ‘Boom Boom Boom,’” says the 10-year-old boy as he hands you a flier asking to DJ your next birthday for 100 shekels. Now 28, Shai Peri (pronounced Shy) was born in Herzliya, Israel, a country that has deep roots in trance and techno. Immersed in the scene from a young age, Peri has been making music and marketing his talents as long as he can remember. When he was 14, Peri relocated with his family to Las Vegas, where he struggled to start a new life and break into the music scene. What started as fascination has led Peri to start his own music company, Next Level Sounds, and a successful DJ career with Las Vegas’ Ultra DJs.
What was your experience like moving from Israel to Las Vegas?
When my family relocated, my parents decided to give us kids something new, and we moved to Las Vegas. I brought all my DJ equipment with me when we moved. But I didn’t know I needed a transformer. When I plugged it in, I fried all my equipment and had to start all over with new equipment and establish a new clientele. I used music to make the move easier. Every day after homework I would put my headphones on and mix.
How did you break into the Vegas music scene?
I began to play small events and weddings for friends and the community. I established my own business, and that helped me market my talents to a wider crowd. Now, for example, I DJ at the Planet Hollywood pool, and I have locals who buy a cabana there just to see me. They’ll be like, “Are you the same DJ who was here last time? We came for you.” I finally have that Vegas following—they go just to see me. I now have two days where I am essentially DJing for 48 hours back-to-back, going from the Bally’s Blu Pool to the Lobby Bar at Green Valley Ranch to the Paris Soleil Pool to Le Central at Paris. It’s crazy, but I never get tired of it. I love my job. I’m also the resident at [Bally’s] new Liaison nightclub. The crowd there has been so much fun to play for.
You’re a mash-up DJ, correct? How is that different from other genres of DJ or producer?
Being a DJ, you can do any type of genre: Basically, you control bass drops, you control people’s movements. I love reading people and catering to their desires. I come with hundreds of songs and no set playlist. That’s the difference between DJs, producers and a band. A producer creates tracks, he has his own tracks, and people either like it or they don’t like it. A band, they know every song they’re going to play. A DJ takes music from producers and artists and does remixes. At my live sets, I’ll play everything from Bon Jovi to Calvin Harris, and it’s all about reading people’s reactions, and I go along with them. That is what differentiates me from other artists—and even other DJs—because most DJs are loyal to one genre. I am a very open-format DJ, and that’s why I am able to play a variety of clubs and events. I just love the crowd’s reaction when they smile and look up at you. I’m also an emcee, so I talk to and hype up the crowd. My parties at PH get insane.
Since you’ve played a role in both, what differences have you experienced between the club scene in Las Vegas and Israel?
Israel is a birthplace of club music; Tiësto started there. Just recently, Vegas became commercialized in EDM, so when I was 21 it was horrible here. It was just hip-hop. Israel has good music, but the production here, at XS and Hakkasan, is much better. You see Armin [van Buuren] play in Marquee and you’re like, “Wow!”—the dancers, confetti, lighting and the lasers. That production builds up the show for the DJ. Even when I play events, I bring a show. It’s necessary here in the States. It would have been a lot harder to break into the European scene as a mash-up artist. Now I can go home and play in lounges where people know who I am.
What are your hopes for the future?
To see my name on a billboard, and hopefully I will break into the big club scene here soon. I believe it’s attainable.
Catch Peri Sept. 5 at Paris’ Soleil Pool and Sept. 6-7 at PH’s Pleasure Pools.