What really goes on backstage at nightclubs and music festivals
13 October 2014
NIGHTCLUBS and music festivals are loads of fun. Any dance music buff knows this. Come with cash and you can pretty much have the time of your life. What’s better? Backstage!
Being a DJ has benefits. Just ask MaRLo.
LOUD, pumping music, bright lasers, flashing lights, dance parties offer revellers an escape from the everyday.
What’s not to love about moving your body to rhythmical beats, hanging out with friends and listening to world-class acts among like-minded people?
Nightclubs and music festivals are loads of fun. Any dance music buff knows this. Come with cash and you can pretty much have the time of your life. What’s better? Backstage!
Hanging with the DJ opens all kinds of doors you didn’t even know existed. In this world DJ is king and the DJ’s crew get royal treatment.
“I love my job,” says Dutch-born, Australian-based DJ and producer MaRLo, who plays a blend of techno, trance and tech-house to huge audiences all around the globe. Although he wasn’t always so famous (“It took about 10 years of struggling to make ends meet and working part-time jobs I hated until I could produce music and DJ full time as a real career,” he says), today he is.
In fact, in the last month he’s flown back and forth to Europe from his home base in Melbourne twice, played the entire European festival circuit as well as a bunch of club shows, and his tracks are making the top ranks over and over again (in the past six months, MaRLo has had a #1 beatport hit with The Island, remixed by Ferry Corsten for the second time, had five top 10 tracks and mixed the Ministry of Sound Trance Nation volume 3 compilation for the second year). Oh and he’s launched a monthly radio show too … because he can.
Truth is, life on he road and odd working hours can make it tough. “I usually fly business for long-haul flights because I often fly all the way to Europe for just one weekend, and then fly all the way back,” he says. “Oh and I was flown to a gig in a private jet once.”
But at the gig it’s still work – even though it’s got to be one of the best jobs in the world. To make work comfortable he has what is called an ‘Artist’s Rider’, which is common in the industry and it’s basically whatever the artist needs for the gig, as well as before and after. “Mine is quite simple: six beers, three cans of Red Bull, six waters and two clean white towels. If friends are coming to a gig I’ll include a bottle of spirits (some of my friends really like Ardbeg 10-year old Whiskey so I ask for that) and some Champagne too.”
At Sydney’s Marquee at The Star backstage is always fun. A close mate of MaRLo’s, who has been fortunate enough to hang out backstage at Marquee a few times says, “It’s always great to hang out backstage, everyone that’s there loves the music and loves to party!”
And he’s not the only one. Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Fox, Justin Bieber, will.i.am, Jennifer Hawkins and many others have hung out backstage at Marquee since it first opened it’s gleaming doors in March 2012. The staff ensure that anyone who is backstage – whether it’s a big-name celeb or a friend of a performer – is very well looked after.
Sydney-born, Amsterdam-based John-Paul Pirrello, who performs and produces hardstyle music under the name Outbreak, remembers casually munching on lobster backstage at a festival. “Playing at some of the festivals in Europe they really go out of their way to make the artist feel special and comfortable,” he says. “This could include giving them free gifts, such as watches and clothes, and also having an plush area backstage for the artist to chill and eat something that’s nicely cooked – instead of typical festival burgers.”
His ‘Artist’s Rider’, like MaRLo’s, is pretty simple. “I think the most special Item on my rider would be Jack Daniels as I don’t usually like to drink beer at parties! Other then that I ask for some food to be available,” he says.
Although those who have been in the industry for a while don’t request outrageous items, some performers do. “I have heard of people requesting everything, from pink elephants to underwear to brand new T-shirts for them and their crew,” Outbreak says. MaRLo remembers a DJ requesting large inflatable toys and finding that odd at the time. It made sense though. “They were used as props to throw at audience,’ he laughs.
Out of all the shows in the world, dance music festivals are perhaps some of the most out there ones. Burning Man is renowned for attracting everyone from Silicon Valley moguls who bring their own luxury vans, butlers and chefs, to artists seeking to reconnect with themselves. The idea behind some of these extravaganzas is to wow the punters – whatever it takes.
Blogger Michael Grierson who snuck into the VIP area at the days-long Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium a few years ago remembers feeling as if he walked into a fantasy world. “It was your quintessential perfect suburban backyard crossed with the Garden of Eden,” he says. “The ceiling was a blue sky scattered with white fluffy clouds across the it. The fact that it was a whole other world in there – that’s what these events are about. And it was so worth sneaking in because I got a taste of that world – and trust me – backstage is worth it!”