Photos: Courtesy of amfAR

Celebrity DJ

DJ Ruckus

Saul Taylor / June 17, 2019

GQ recently crowned him the world’s most sought after DJ. When very famous people need to get the party started, they turn to DJ Ruckus. His ability lies in perfectly reading the room (or pool) and hitting exactly the right pitch and tempo all night long.

A man who needs no introduction…

am DJ Ruckus, also known as Greg Andrews. I’ve been DJing for about 15 years. I started out in Miami in a nightclub called Crobar. I was 15 years old, so quite young for the job. I got the opportunity and stuck to it. I fell in love with DJing and have been doing it ever since. Other than a couple of lucky breaks and knowing the right people, I just inched my way forward by travelling from place to place and playing for free until they paid me for what I did. I started in Miami, from Miami to L.A., L.A. to New York, New York to Atlanta, and so on. I went on conquering place by place and ended up 15 years later with a career and six different residencies in the U.S., one in London and one in Dubai. I play about 200 shows a year.

What was the record that made you become a DJ?

The first two vinyl records I ever had were stuff from my parents. One was The Supremes and the other was Bill Cosby doing stand-up. Yeah, I know. That was what they were willing to let me damage. They were very scared of me damaging their records, but I accumulated those two, then started buying songs of whatever was popular at the time. There was a lot of Bad Boy hip-hop, like Peaches & Cream, and then older funk and soul stuff like James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Erykah Badu.

What was the first gig you played where you thought I can make a living doing this?

It was definitely Crobar in Miami. When I first got there it was a big job. I was in front of serious club-goers and important people. After that, I would say the most important one was Diddy’s birthday in Morocco. The Moroccan prince and a famous comedian threw a birthday for him with parties in a different palace every night for three days. They had two private jets and 747s bringing all of his friends from the US, Paris and London. I got the job when Diddy tapped me on the shoulder while I was performing in a club and said, “You know, I’m going to do a birthday in Morocco and you’re coming.”. That was probably one of my biggest breaks. I was 17 years old — it was scary and fun and exciting all at once.

And what about the first big commercial gig?

A new year’s eve party at the Shore Club in Miami. It was Madonna, Billy Corgan, Lenny Kravitz and all those people — a private party on the rooftop.

Does it not put you off when you’ve got all these musical legends in front of you?

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. I once did a party for Oprah at her house in Santa Barbara. Those things are terrifying. She also hosted a housewarming party for J.Lo and Marc Anthony and Quincy Jones was there. I recently did a party for Larry Jackson who’s one of the heads of Apple Music — a super private party with Alicia Keys. I still get scared to this day, even as comfortable as I am now.

How do you find and compile the tracks?

The research is the tough job. Especially when you’re this versatile. If you choose just to play dance music or hip-hop or disco, it makes it much easier. That narrows it down. As time goes by, the amalgamation of music gets larger and it becomes very difficult. It’s a 24-hour job that nobody sees. We have so much work to do — it’s mainly online these days, so we can get much of it on YouTube or by going to vinyl stores and finding rare disco or funk records. Even looking back to the guys who were great at it, like Larry Levan, and taking a little piece out of their book. Listening to those old sets — some of that stuff like Paradise Garage is still online to listen to. Territory also has a lot to do with it. Moving around in so many different places, you really pay attention to what language is being spoken, what cultures and age groups are there. When I’m in Dubai it’s different from London. London is different to Las Vegas. All of that information is key. That is the big internal war that I have with myself, that 24-hour job takes lot of research and time.

It doesn’t sound like you have much time.

You have to create a team. I delegate and then do certain parts of it. Like some of the studio stuff, when you have to put together mixes, they help you write down all the titles and proofread it. At a certain point, it starts to become too much for one person.

What about amfAR?

I’ve been trying to do it for a while and it just sort of fell into place. It’s a big deal for me because it’s a milestone, especially the one in Cannes — to be in front of the people that are at this event and to do it for such a good cause. It’s another one of those rooms full of very smart and successful people; people that aren’t easily swayed in any direction musically. It was 15 years of working at my craft and landing in the right place at the right time that got me there. And good managers and good relationships.

And did the Eden Roc, rock?

Oh my gosh. I went to take a picture before the event on the diving board in my tuxedo and I felt like James Bond. It is absolutely stunning. I’ve been to the event a couple of times and I’ve seen guys like Giorgio Moroder perform as a DJ and Mark Ronson and Diana RossIt’s a platform on the roster of some of the greats and I couldn’t be more honoured to have been a part of it.

And how did it go?

It was great. There were tough parts and there were great parts. We ended up dancing, me and Chris Tucker, playing soul and disco classics at the end. Just getting down and letting loose. We had so much fun. These people really know music, so it’s great to get that opportunity to play great stuff — Donna SummerDiana Ross — getting into those kinds of records.  

What are you listening to at the moment? 

It depends on what you like. There’s an artist named Lizzo, a girl from Brooklyn. It’s sort of R&B and hip-hop but in a very new and funky way. It’s really cool music. And check out Leon Bridges.

What makes a great event?

Great fashion. Great music. And fun people.

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