DJ Skribble @ Body English, Las Vegas
 








 






































 


With a new home in Vegas, Skribble is sitting pretty.


Old school DJ, meet new school Vegas.
By Mike Amon

Ten years ago, DJ Skribble was on the Strip for his Las Vegas debut. He was just getting noticed on the national scene after becoming a radio sensation in New York, co-founding the hip-hop collective, Young Black Teenagers, and rocking clubs from L.A. to London. But his early success came before DJs got much respect in Sin City. “The DJ was not even seen in the room,” Skribble said of his show at the Luxor Hotel’s nightclub, RA. “The sound system wasn’t there yet. There just wasn’t an appreciation of what a good DJ can do.”

Times have changed for both Skribble and Las Vegas. He’s arguably the country’s most visible DJ, after a long stint on MTV bringing house music to the masses. And Vegas clubs – formerly cheesy affairs known more for schlock rock than shaking booty – have become a prime venue for the country’s most sought-after scratchers.

Late last year, Skribble and one of the Strip’s most hyped new clubs, Body English in the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino, finalized a deal that would keep the Queens-born DJ in Vegas every Saturday night for the next two years. This time, he’ll be front and center, holding sway over a dancefloor energized by a sound and lighting system designed and installed by Avalon’s John Lyons. “I want to be right in the center of the dancefloor rather than be locked up where no one can see me,” Skribble says.

Sin Reborn
Not long ago, an entertainer at the top of his game wouldn’t have considered a Las Vegas residency an option. Sure, Elvis, Sinatra, and even Bing Crosby played regular shows on the Strip, but not before their stars had faded. Vegas was the place where performing careers went to die. But Skribble’s residency at Body English comes as Las Vegas tries to cement itself as a redoubt of A-list entertainment on par with New York or London.

Instead of the homegrown staples like Wayne Newton and Danny Ganz, the Strip is looking for international megastars, and it’s willing to pay top dollar for them. Celine Dion signed a contract worth more than $100 million last year to sing exclusively at Caesar’s Palace. Elton John has a similar deal in the works. The Rolling Stones reportedly may start playing Vegas consistently.

The trend has trickled down to DJs. Paul Oakenfold, DJ A.M., and DJ Hollywood all have or have had Vegas residencies. So when the Hard Rock offered Skribble the chance to be house DJ at Body English, “I was so into it,” says Skribble. Las Vegas “is Mecca right now for the DJ community,” he adds. “It’s not just where people are going to retire anymore.”

That said, the residency does come as Skribble tries to slow down the frenetic pace of his touring, which had peaked at more than 200 shows a year. At an age “over 30,” Skribble has a wife (a former Miss New York) and a year-old child. The residency pays well enough (he won’t say exactly how much) that he can focus on his family and pursue other prospects like producing movies, mixing a video game soundtrack, and tending to his auto spa in New York. “When I travel on the road now, I want it to be really special,” Skribble declares. “I still want to hit all the smaller clubs.”

Westward Expansion

Body English is intentionally excessive.
Body’s extravagance: systems and style.
Skribs thrives in his center-of-attention booth.
 

Skribble, born Scott Iallaci, started small in the suburbs of New York City. He caught on early to Gotham’s burgeoning rap and graffiti scene of the early 1980s (his DJ moniker stems from his tagging style) and began spinning records at age 11 with a belt-drive turntable and a primitive mixer. At his first show, Skribble admits he was “Godawful horrible.” But he didn’t give up. He co-founded Young Black Teenagers – a five member hip-hop group that sparked controversy because all the members were white – and it provided a launching pad for other gigs, eventually paving the way for him to DJ on Hot 97 radio in New York, star in an off-Broadway play, and then move on to MTV in 1998. It was there, on the nation’s premiere youth culture channel, that Skribble made his home and his name for half a decade. “That was the biggest breakthrough for me,” Skribble said.

Now his home every Saturday night is one of the biggest clubs in Las Vegas. Designed to emulate 1970s British rock star excess, Body English is one
of the new high-end mega-clubs quickly replacing the musty Vegas lounges of the past. The retro-swank, 7,500 square-foot space, designed by Kelly Wearstler, features onyx-paneled walls with backlighting, candelabras on every table, and tufted-back leather sofas.

The VIP section – where tables can be reserved for $300 per foursome and where stars like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Matthew Perry have been spotted – sits on the mezzanine overlooking the dancefloor. A second, smaller dancefloor surrounds the DJ booth on the second floor. Neo-classic columns border the main dancefloor.

In the midst of it all hangs a huge Baccarat chandelier – six feet in diameter and eight feet tall. The $250,000 centerpiece is wired into the club’s electronic control system and able to change 22 different colors. “The Vegas nightclub market has become more sophisticated,” says Andy Hersch, the manager of nightclub operations for the Hard Rock. “You can’t find a nightclub like Body English anywhere else in the country. The amount of time and effort and money that goes into this, it’s a big business compared to nightclubs in most areas. The customer really wants to come out and have an experience, and Vegas provides that with a club like Body English and a DJ like Skribble.”

Body Electrified
The customer will get a sound and light show like no other as well. The entire system was designed specifically for Body English by John Lyons, whose Avalon clubs in Boston, New York and Hollywood are famous for their sound and light effects.

The sound system is anchored by EAW Avalon Series speakers around the dancefloor. Lyons set four DCS2 subwoofers in a single enclosure underneath a staircase leading up to the VIP area. He also spread out four DC2 mid-high boxes and two DCST2 tweeter arrays around the lower dancefloor and two SB250s and two DC5s in the upper dancefloor. To power all of these enclosures plus the DJ monitor rig, Lyons employed six of the brand new I-Tech 4000 series amplifiers from Crown. “The dancefloor gets serious output. And there’s no cancellation,” Lyons asserts.

To give patrons and management more control over sound in the booths in the VIP area, Lyons turned to new equipment from dbx (dbxpro.com), installing two ZonePro 640 digital processors and seven ZC series controllers. The zone processors control six EAW SB-48 subs and 59 eight-inch coax mid-highs hidden throughout the VIP areas. These are powered by 12 Crown Xs 4300 amplifiers.

For increasingly sophisticated clubs with celebrity clientele, zoning has become a pressing issue. Before the ZonePro system, Lyons would need to buy an elaborate and very expensive collection of gear to make zoning work in a large club. According to Lyons, the ZonePro processors and Crown I-Tech amps had not been used together in a nightclub setting before, so they were a risk. “I took a chance with it. It worked out great,” Lyons says.

Lyons worked closely with the interior design team to coordinate the sound installation with the club’s look. He tried to hide away as many speakers as possible in the club’s lush, wood-worked walls. In the process, he maximized the sound quality. “In the club, you should never be more than five feet from a speaker,” Lyons notes. “So at no point would any one speaker have to be blaring to do its job. If everybody is close to a speaker, it’s kind of like having headphones on.”

Lyons’ lighting system starts simple with eight Martin Professional Krypton 250s and eight MX-10s, which provide plenty of color, gobo patterns, and movement. But it gets more complicated – and even more elegant – from there. The Roman-style pillars surrounding the dance floor can change seven different colors and often set the mood for the club. Four American DJ Accu Rollers add some accent lighting, while the club has also added eight lasers – four American DJ Tri Beams and four OmniSistem Rockets. Six Martin Professional Atomic 3000 strobes add a bit of the frantic to the party.

The superstars of the light show are the two High End Systems DL1 image projectors. Using Catalyst software, the DL1s throw images across the crowd, and a skilled lighting designer can use it to profound effect. “There are a lot of different uses,” explains lighting designer Louis Pelkey. “On Sundays we have locals night. We take their pictures and throw them on the walls.”

Pelkey controls the light show with a grandMA light console, a switch from the ShowCAD system Lyons installed. Pelkey, who used to do lighting for the casino’s rock shows, said he was more comfortable with the grandMA console’s functionality.

Residing In Luxury
In the DJ booth, Skribble spins with two Pioneer CDJ–1000 CD players, two Technics
SL-1200MK5 turntables, and a Pioneer EFX-1000 effects unit. He uses Serato Scratch LIVE software and controls the sound with a Urei 1601S battle mixer, gear he specifically requested after beginning his residency. “It’s a beautiful system to play,” Skribble said. “It’s big and loud, but it’s clean.”

Along with any equipment he desires, Skribble gets a luxury room in the Hard Rock Hotel and everything is complimentary, from the Grey Goose vodka to DVDs for him and his friends. It’s typical of how the Strip treats its stars, and Skribble could press for more, perhaps a secret entrance and a private elevator, a la Celine Dion.

But the line between Vegas star and Vegas diva is one Skribble doesn’t want to cross. “I guess that’s because I’m old school,” Skribble says. “I like having my bottle of Grey Goose and a nice room. That’s great. But, listen, just make sure it sounds good in the club. Then I’m happy.”

djskribble.com

     
 



AUDIO
Main Room
59 - EAW L8CX2X0 coax ceiling speakers
12 - Crown Xs 4300 amplifiers
7 - dbx ZonePro zone controllers
6 - Crown I-T4000 amplifiers
6 - EAW SB48 subwoofers
4 - EAW DC2 mid-high speakers
4 - EAW DC5 two-way speakers
4 - EAW DCS2 subwoofers
4 - EAW SB250 subwoofers
2 - dbx ZonePro 640 digital zone processors
2 - EAW DCT2 tweeter arrays
1 - Crown I-T8000 amplifier

DJ Booth

2 - Pioneer CDJ-1000 digital vinyl turntables
2 - Technics SL-1200MK5 turntables
1 - Pioneer EFX-1000 performance effector
1 - Rane Serato Scratch LIVE
1 - Urei 1601S battle mixer

LIGHTING
22 - Color Kinetics ColorBlast wash fixtures
8 - Martin Professional Atomic 3000 strobes
8 - Martin Professional MAC 250 Krypton moving heads
8 - Martin Professional MX-10 scanners
4 - American DJ Accu Roller 250 scanners
4 - American DJ Tri Beam lasers
4 - OmniSistem Rocket lasers
2 - High End Systems DL.1 digital light projectors
1 - MA Lighting Technology grandMA console

 



 
     

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Copyright 2006 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2006 TESTA Communications