When we last spoke with E-Rock (Eric Nagrampa), the San Francisco Giants had just won the 2010 World Series, and he was their DJ (a title he maintained for five years). Back then, he had a residency at Moon nightclub in the Palms. E-Rock’s a seasoned industry vet with more than 20 years in the game, who has weathered a number of phases of Las Vegas nightlife. Now, at the beginning of his new chapter in Las Vegas, DJing every Saturday at Light, E-Rock reflects on the evolution of music in his time here, as well as the moment he first caught sight of a set of decks.
How has the Las Vegas music scene changed in your time here?
I’ve seen a lot of the smaller rooms go away, such as Tabú and Moon. The trends change, no matter what; that train makes its stops around the Strip, and it’s a constant cycle. It’s like [the cool spot is] on this side of the Strip, and then it’s at Pure and then Pure is gone. Or it’s at Jet, then moved to Haze, then Haze is gone. It’s a tough market in which to stay relevant. Eight or nine years [DJing on the Strip]—that’s one hell of a blessing for me to be able to go through all of that change. This Light residency is very special to me, because I would say that it’s probably, at this point, the pinnacle of my Vegas career.
But your DJ career extends well beyond your eight years here. How did you get your start?
I went swimming at a community pool where my parents and I used to live, and I met these three brothers. I was really good friends with the youngest brother, and I used to go to their house to play catch and Nintendo—you know what young kids do at 10, 11 years old. One day, we were playing video games in his room, and I kept hearing scratching noises and loud music coming from the room across the hall. I peeked through the door and there was his older brother practicing DJing. He had a setup and everything. I was really fascinated by it because I already loved music.
[After that] I used to go there to play video games just so I could hopefully get an opportunity to watch this guy DJ. And eventually that turned into me coming over to practice DJing. He taught me the basics. I just kept on practicing at their house until I got my own set at the age of like 12 or 13 years old.
What was your first DJ gig?
I used to be known in middle school and high school for making mix tapes. I would mimic whatever I’d heard on the radio, and just try to make these mixes myself. I would make one mix, and I would just [copy] them over and over and over again and then give them out to my friends. So before I actually was doing gigs, I was doing mix tapes.
So when did you book your first actual gig?
Sixteen years old—at a nightclub. To be honest, it was only 30 minutes, but it was probably the longest 30 minutes of my life, because I had never done it before. Then I started doing things like weddings, school dances, sweet sixteens, quinceañeras … [Also] at the age of 16, I landed my first shot at being on the radio. I was the youngest guy on the airwaves in San Francisco, on 106.1. I was on the radio before I got my driver’s license.
That’s quite the accomplishment for one so young!
Yeah, 16 years old [and working] in radio. We didn’t have social media; we didn’t have anything of that sort to help push your agenda, [except for] blank tapes and the radio. I’ve been on the radio ever since. I’m 35 now, so I think I’ve done something right somewhere along the line, you know?