Photo by Anthony Mair
He’s already on the radar of big-name producers, including Diplo and Dillon Francis. Along with fellow Las Vegas-based producer Shelco Garcia he was chosen to create beats for reggae star Sean Paul. Before he even hit 21 he was flown to spin in Australia and Canada. DJ Teenwolf, known to his parents as Bryan Orellana, began DJing at 17 and used a fake ID to play Las Vegas spots until he became legal two years ago. The down-to-earth DJ spins at Beauty Bar’s Nickel F*cking Beer Night and just landed a spot at Insomniac and Frequency’s monthly party Funktion beginning Jan. 5 at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip.
It seems like you rose to international popularity quicker than you did locally. What was it that got you noticed?
I did a bootleg for Rye Rye and MIA’s “Bang” track. I made it just for fun, and I sent it out to all these blogs and then it hit Hype Machine. It hit No. 1 and I had a friend hit me up and was like, “Congratulations!” And I was like, “On what?” And he told me it was on BBC Radio! [BBC Radio 1 on-air disc jockey] Annie Mac played it. I found it right away, listened to it and was like, “Wow, maybe I should do this for real.”
Doing it for real seems to have worked out for you! You’ve been a big part of exposing the Moombahton movement to Las Vegas. How do you explain that genre?
It’s like slowing down Dutch house to make it sound like a reggae remix. You have Afrojack-like ‘beep beep beep’ car alarm sounds mixed in with these big heavy synths and reggaeton drums and catchy little synths everywhere.
Do you consider your productions a part of that genre, too?
Yeah. It’s a little more on the house-y side, the Vegas feel. Dillon Francis is playing our stuff everywhere. All the dudes are giving us love and putting us in their nightclub mixes. It’s so new that people aren’t like, “That’s not Moombahton.” Instead they’re like, “That’s next level, that’s next level!”
When you bring DJs to play shows in Las Vegas, how do you show them the best night ever?
It depends on what’s going on. When Congorock was here we all went to Insert Coin(s). Diplo’s a weird guy. [Laughs] One time I hit him up and he was like, “Do you have a skateboard? I saw this wall that I wanna jump. I have to jump this wall!” He does a lot of studio work here at the Palms or they go to this house in Henderson. When Skrillex was here he did that show at Cloud 9. Skrillex was like, “Yeah man, I just want to play. I don’t care if it’s for four people.” He Tweeted and within minutes Cloud 9 was full. I just try and treat ’em like human beings. They get treated like celebrities enough.
What’s it like being one of the few up-and-coming Las Vegas-bred DJs?
As far as electronic music goes, here you have to try harder. In other cities it’s easier because they already have an arts and underground scene and electronic scene. But for us, we each had to start our own parties. It’s cool, though, because you get to learn all kinds of music, play all kinds of music, crowds and never play the same crowd twice.
Do you prefer playing downtown for locals or for tourists on the Strip?
I’ll play the same set for a downtown crowd as I will for a Top 40 club. At this point I feel like I can make a set work. If you’re not having fun as a DJ and [you’re] treating it like work, it shows. You can hear it. If they’re having fun and the crowd’s having fun, [and there’s] a smile on the DJs face and smile on everyone in the crowd, you can see the energy out there.
You make it an experience for everyone.
Yeah. You’re not just a jukebox. For a few hours you’re a rock star trying to connect with the crowd. You just got to have a little bit of showmanship—you gotta get on the mic [and] play with the crowd. It’s like a big house party, trying to get everyone together, have no fights, no drama, just party.