DJ Louie XIV, New York City born and raised DJ, producer and writer, has a lot on his plate. And, I mean, a lot. It’s like he went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and they had to replenish the food moments later. Not only is he “Trapped in the Booth” (a television series he’s in the process of developing), he is also trapped in the booth (literally trapped in a DJ booth). His global hop scotching as a DJ has yielded him a slew of international clients ranging from Vanity Fair to Maison Martin Margiela to Buzzfeed to Zac Posen. His words have graced media from the Huffington Post to his column for Jonathan “Shecky” Shecter’s Medium.com collection. Not to mention his regularly scheduled gigs at staple NYC venues like The Standard Hotel, Up & Down and Le Baron—and now he’s in Montauk and I got a chance to catch up with the multi-faceted virtuoso to talk about he juggles his projects and what we can expect to see from this star on-the-rise.
You have a lot going on. You’re trapped in the booth (literally, and also developing it into a television series), in addition to a multitude of writing gigs and other Stuff Cool People Do. How do you find solace amidst the calamity?
Drugs! Haha, just kidding. It’s funny because when you tell people that you’re a DJ, they immediately assume you’re a big partier and that your life is non-stop debauchery. But I think I maintain balance because I save my partying for work (I know that sounds funny, but it’s true). I let loose during my sets. When I’m not spinning, I’m a total grandma. I like to cook, I love netflix and my drink of choice is white wine with ice cubes. I know this answer isn’t very exciting, but it’s the truth! I have a lot on my plate, DJing puts you in loud and crowded places and keeps you up late, so and I like to unwind with my friends and family doing low-key stuff like dinners, movies, chill things like that rather than raging. Mostly. Of course, everyone needs a good rage every once in a while. I’m also a scented candle connoisseur. Very relaxing, those candles.
Tell me about your television series! How did the idea for it come about? Has TV writing always been an interest for you?
I can’t say too much about the TV show right now, except to say that it’s based on my column Trapped in the Booth (which you should definitely read – you will love it and I’m not at all biased) and it’s going to be AMAZING!
As a DJ, as a writer, whatever it is, I’m always looking for new ways of expressing myself and getting my voice out there. With Trapped and DJing, I like being the person who demystifies DJing for people. I think people are very curious about DJs and DJ culture. It’s a big point of interest in pop culture right now, but most people don’t get that it’s a real job and real hustle just like everything else. It definitely has glamorous perks like playing poolside at Montauk Beach House (;-)), but for most of us it’s also a total grind and you have to do tons of weird, decidedly un-glam stuff (I once had to open for an 8-year-old DJ). You work your ass off, pay your dues and put in your 10,000 hours just like everyone else, which the general public isn’t always privy too. It is, of course, totally worth it in the end to do what you love. That’s the message of Trapped in the Booth, in all its various iterations, and what I hope will continue to define it.
You’re a contributing culture writer for The Huffington Post and have a column on Medium.com. What topics interest you the most? What reaction do you want to provoke from your readers?
Outside of Trapped in the Booth, the topic that most interests me to write about is pop music. One of the things I always tell people about myself as a DJ is that I’m not at all an elitist when it comes to music. In my opinion, when I’m spinning, it’s far more fun to play “Trap Queen,” or whatever the jam of the moment is and have a massive sing-a-long than it is for me to stand up there and just show off all the esoteric music that I know.
I think I’m interested in pop for its versatility. I like that it can touch you and make you think, and that it can also make you want to dance, scream, make out, and actually not think. Each is equally redeemable, and I hope my writing helps to illustrate why pop music is totally credible art. I’m also interested in what makes things popular, what puts something in the zeitgeist at a moment in time and I think that’s what draws me to pop and pop culture in general. Also, pop stars: I’m a total Stan. I’m like a hormonal 13-year-old girl trapped in a man’s body. I like speculating about what makes them tick and exploring how and what they create with such high stakes and under so much pressure, and the X factor, what makes them iconic and beloved. If I’m being totally honest, I think I secretly wish I was a pop star so that’s probably a driving force behind my writing when it comes to pop music.
Your style can be best described as “fresh,” “chic,” and “I wish I could pull that off.” How would you describe it? Who are some designers you have your eye on?
Aww, thank you! That is way too kind. As I’m answering these questions, I’m wearing stained American Apparel sweat shorts and don’t feel fresh or chic at all.
I would say my style is exactly what you said: you can pull off whatever you want! I don’t think there’s anything that makes me able to pull of something with any more grace than the next guy. I think men in particular in our society have been made to feel very inhibited in terms of what is acceptable sartorially, and that sucks. I’m lucky to be really tight with my mom and sister who run the online magazine, StyleLikeU, and their entire message is that style should be a reflection of who a person really is, to hold nothing back in that regard. I was always encouraged to wear whatever I wanted and be unapologetic about it. So I tend to just throw together little bits of all the things that are inspiring to me in the moment into one messy pot (seriously, I look like a mess a lot of the time). It could be that I’m inspired by Rihanna’s gold chain in a paparazzi picture, but I’ll wear it with Birkenstocks I saw on some stoner hippie on a trip to Vermont. I don’t know why those things go together, but I just decide they do and that’s that.
I don’t pay that close attention to fashion and designers so I’m probably not the guy to ask about that stuff. I don’t shop too often and when I do, I buy most of my stuff second hand. I love the stores INA and Quality Mending Co in Nolita. If I’m gonna splurge on designer stuff, I usually love Dries Van Noten.
You have a slew of reputable clients—from The New Yorker to fashion houses like Maison Martin Margiela. Any advice you can offer up-and-coming DJ’s who are hoping to do what you do?
My advice would be to take your craft seriously, get out there and meet people, be yourself and find your niche (don’t jump on trends or try to be like some other DJ, you’ll always be second best), and most importantly: DJ as much as possible. A DJ friend of mine once said “the more you DJ, the more you DJ” and I think that’s very true. When you’re getting started, just do whatever. Don’t be too concerned about what it is and how much money you’re making, etc. The great thing about DJing is that when you’re working, you’re also promoting yourself and there’s a lot of people out there hiring DJs these days. If you’re killing it, no matter where you are, there’s bound to be someone in the crowd who will want to hire you for something else and it just spirals from there. Be good, be you, hustle and let the chips fall.
DJing has taken you around the world. What cities have stood out to you the most in terms of their energy and spirit? How does location influence your sets?
Traveling is really one of the supreme perks of DJing and I wish I did it more than I do, honestly. The furthest I’ve gone is Aukland, New Zealand which was a crazy experience. I got to headline two nights at a club there (a big shout out to my friends the Sweet Mix Kids who brought me out there) and it was a bonkers feeling to be flown to the other side of the world to do something you love. I find crowds outside of the United States, at least where I’ve gone, to be more open-minded and loose with the music they like. Whereas crowds in a lot of mainstream US clubs come into the night with a very clear set of expectations in terms of what they want to hear, I’ve found that international crowds are more fluid and relaxed which gives the DJ permission to go in more interesting and novel directions with their sets.
Are you excited to grace the nautical scene of Montauk? Are you interested in sightseeing? Are you also excited about participating in some form of debauchery? Details appreciated on both, but more specifically, the debauchery.
Haha! First of all, I love breton shirts and I LOVE Montauk. It’s by far theBeyoncé of the Hamptons (East is Kelly, Bridge is Michelle, South is Latoya, Amagansett is Latavia, Sag is Farrah) so I’m psyched to be able to come out. Per my earlier comment about being a Grandma, I think what I’m most excited for aside from my set is putting on some cool shades and lounging by the pool with an afternoon cocktail and a good book. Although, my date for the weekend is my best friend Hannah Elliott and she’s always tuned into the good parties so my plan to behave like a luxuriating 80-year-old retiree may be thwarted. We’ll see.
Can you give us any insight into what we can expect from your Montauk set?
Well it’s Sunday Afternoon, so it could go either way. I feel like it’ll either be that everyone by the pool is hungover and wants a chill set, maybe some Miguel, some Blood Orange, maybe some Jamie XX, maybe some Toni Braxton and Gang Starr. Or it could be that it’s Sunday Afternoon in the Hamptons and everyone’s ready to turn up yet again, in which case everything is fair game. We’ll just have to feel it out together.
Either way, you’re guaranteed some Janet. I am a Janet superfan, I take it as my personal responsibility to make sure that no one forgets that she is the queen, and there are no Louie XIV sets that go by without a good, hearty dose of Janet. It’s just a question of whether you’re going to get “That’s The Way Love Goes” and “No Sleeep,” or If” and “Together Again.”
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d care to dish on? What’s on Louie XIV’s royal radar?
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@djlouiexiv) to keep up with Trapped in the Booth, and a bunch of cool things that are happening around it! The next 12 months are going to be very exciting. Oh, and I’m doing a stand-up set on August 2 at Caroline’s, but please don’t come because I think it’s gonna be a disaster.
Guest Written by Greg Mania