LA Riots: Bringing DJ Stunts to New Heights
On a sunny summer Saturday, high over The Hamptons, DJ and producer Daniel “LeDisko” Linton (better known as LA Riots) took DJ stunts to new heights when he literally skydived into his DJ set at the notorious brunch dance party at Day & Night in Montauk, New York. When he’s not busy jumping from planes, LA Riots has been busy in the studio, remixing an AFI song for the forthcoming soundtrack to action/fantasy movie Mortal Instruments, and maintaining a busy DJ schedule. As a veteran of the early days of Los Angeles’ electro scene, LeDisko has held his own in the ever-changing world of EDM. We sat down to chat with LeDisko after his grand entrance to chat about how the stunt came together and his own evolution as an artist.
Tell us a bit about how the skydive with the Red Bull team came together for the July 6th party.
LA Riots: It came together pretty quickly… Lainie [Copicotto, LA Riots’ publicist] called me about a month and a half before the set and asked me if I’d be interested in jumping out of an airplane with Red Bull and I was like, “Sure.” And she was like, “Really?” She thought she’d have to convince me. Then, I get a call about four days before the jump, letting me know that it was green lit.
What about the jump itself? What was going through your mind?
It’s not like I wasn’t looking forward to [jumping out of an airplane], but I wasn’t looking forward to having a camera on me. What if I freaked out? I was sure I was going to freak out. We get up there and there were a few people in the helicopter with us. One guy by himself, me and the guy I was flying with, and the two Red Bull guys in the squirrel suits. I wasn’t freaked out at all. I was actually really impatient for us to hit the altitude so we could jump and I could DJ. We jumped, pulled, landed and I ran up and DJ’d. It was pretty rad!
You’ve done a lot of work to build your career to this point. Not many other DJs get offers like this, or play around the world as much as you do. What’s your take on the current “EDM” explosion?
I’ve been around just as LA Riots for seven years. A lot of us have been around for a long time, but EDM has just hit big in the states. When I first started out it was all about hard electro, and the name reflected that. Now, I’m moving into a different area. If you’d have told me four years ago that I would be playing Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren tracks, I wouldn’t have believed you. There was no way I thought that what they were doing and what I was doing would ever meet. I feel like a lot of boundaries have been broken down.
You mentioned that you’ve been around as LA Riots –- first part of the duo, now as the solo act -– for seven years. Many fans also know you as “Daniel LeDisko” from your pre-Riots days. How did that name come about and what prompted the transition?
When I first moved to L.A. I was working in casting. I quit DJing right around 2000, moved to L.A. in 2002-‘03 and found out about Serato in 2006. I picked up DJing again, but never thought I was going to get back into music. I wasn’t even doing that before. DJing was always my hobby. So, I bought Serato and put out a mixtape. Before I realized that you didn’t need to put out a mixtape. You just had to dress really well and have cool friends. They would put anyone on because you don’t need to know how to mix with Serato, you just need to look at the screen.
[Los Angeles promoter] Keith Wilson re-launched a weekly called LeDisko and he asked me to be a resident. I started playing there, and I was asked to play a competing club. I said “OK”, but they didn’t want to put LeDisko on the flier. So I told them to list me as Daniel LeDisko as my DJ name, otherwise I wouldn’t play. They listed me, and I played.
LA Riots started when I teamed up with a good friend of mine from the drum and bass days [John O’Brien] and we did a track for Steve Aoki’s label. We turned in the remix and Steve loved it. We didn’t have a name, and Steve gave us about 30 days to come up with a name.
The 27th of April, 2007 was the 15th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, and we just said “Oh, we’ll call ourselves that”. We didn’t think that the next week major label A&R people would be knocking on our door asking us to remix Weezer, The Cure, or other bands like that.
I don’t think a lot of people realize that I’ve done major label work since the beginning. The title track off Kylie Minogue’s album, “Boombox,” is an LA Riots track. It was released as a remix first, then the original.
I feel like 2007 is when the whole explosion started. That’s when the Justice album came out, that’s when MSTRKRFT came around. That’s when electronic music became cool in the US.
How have you seen the scene change since then?
Four years ago I was still getting kicked off the decks. I’ve been kicked off the decks at [Miami club] Liv and I used to always get kicked off the decks at Mansion. People wanted to hear hip-hop. No-one dances now, they just jump up and down. There’s no dance floor. Back then, people danced. I feel like a lot of people are trying to make the hardest music possible. I went to a show last night and there were people legitimately moshing.
Moshing aside, what about your upcoming plans? What’s been keeping you busy lately?
I’m coming out with a few tracks on Dim Mak, one of which features Shiny Toy Guns on vocals. I’m also working with John O’Brien, and I have a track with Hi Deaf featuring Jessie Malakouti coming out. I feel like the stuff I’m coming out with will surprise people.