Being flown out to spin for a private party in the Playboy Suite at the Palms isn’t a shabby first Las Vegas gig. Since then, Los Angeles native Paul Purman—better known to clubbers as DJ Politik—has locked in a residency with Tao Group, alternating between Tao Nightclub and Marquee’s Boom Box Room on Friday nights, with the occasional Lavo gig thrown in for good measure. He also presides over the DJ booth one Tuesday a month at Hyde for the Lost Angels industry night. The 24-year-old son of a Russian singer, Politik downloaded us on his bright past as well as his brighter future. You might wanna wear shades.
Taking a quick walk down memory lane, how did your mother’s musical background ultimately play into your own career?
She was born in Russia, and she moved to Chicago when she was 15. She was always a musician, played five or six different instruments and started recording an album when she came to the U.S. It was released in Russia; she did a little bit of touring. She would take me to the studio with her, and I’d sit there and listen to whatever music was around. This is before the Internet so [I listened to] CDs, watched MTV, started seeing DJs and music videos ... I got really interested and went from there.
As an open-format/hip-hop DJ, do you focus most of your time on strictly finding the best music to rock the party, or do you dabble in production as well?
I think that’s a natural progression. Once you start DJing and doing it a lot, you want to be more fulfilled and create your own stuff. I have a couple of remixes I’ve finished, and I’m working on some original stuff as well.
How would the music you’re working on compare to what you play live?
A lot of DJs come out with remixes of whatever the hot song is, the Top 40 song. I’m trying to steer away from that and do more indie stuff like Foster the People and Passion Pit. It’s definitely different from when I play in Vegas, more along the lines of what I would play in L.A. at a smaller, more intimate venue.
Since so many people are spinning electronic dance music in Las Vegas right now, has that helped you because you are offering something different?
I definitely think so, and I think that hip-hop has really started coming back. It never really went anywhere, but over the last couple of years it kind of got drowned out by all the electronic DJs, and people just never knew about that world. And now a couple of years have gone by and it’s like, “Oh, OK, I still love my hip-hop, so let’s hear some of that.”
Do you do your mash-ups live, or pre-edit them?
I do almost everything live. I still have some edits that I use, but something that I pride myself on is I usually just use whatever the regular version of the song is.
Some people have called you the late DJ AM’s prodigy. What do you think about that?
I don’t even want to get into that—I mean, there’s only one AM, and there’s only ever going to be one AM. Plus, I don’t think it’s fair to compare people to other people, but if someone did say that, it’s an honor.
Do you know how that started?
I don’t even know.
Did you know him well or work with him?
Yeah, I knew Adam, not too well. He [was] a lot older than me. I was going out to clubs at a really young age, and he was the guy. We had a lot of mutual friends, and he did give me pointers here and there. He’s obviously influenced me and—honestly—every open-format DJ on the circuit today. I would love to see what he would be playing right now. I would love to see how he would have adapted, because he was really early on doing more electro/hipster and Steve Aoki stuff.
At Electric Daisy Carnival in L.A. in 2009, I remember him mashing up “The Launch” with the Tetris video game theme—it was awesome.
Yeah, I remember that for sure. He was already up on it. Man, I just wonder what he would have been playing. I feel like he would have held it down a little more with the open format. Almost every club I go to where it’s an open-format DJ, it’s almost like they’re force-feeding the house. I feel like [AM] would have kept everyone in check and said, “Hey, listen, don’t forget about the rock and the ’80s” and all that stuff he used to mix in.