Star Apps: Dirty Vegas

by Josh Rotter

March 13, 2014 10:25 AM PDT

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Leading up to Dirty Vegas's SXSW appearances, vocalist Steve Smith talks about new video "Let the Night," the story behind "Days Go By," favorite software for DJing and production, and his top five apps.

British EDM duo Dirty Vegas first found fame when its debut single "Days Go By" reached the top of the 2002 club charts, won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, and appeared in a Mitsubishi Eclipse car commercial. Three top 20 albums and five top 40 club hits later, Dirty Vegas vocalist Steve Smith chatted with me about new video "Let the Night" and the duo's favorite software and apps.

Dirty Vegas

Dirty Vegas play SXSW on March 13 and 15.

(Credit: Courtesy: Aurelia Group)

What does Dirty Vegas mean to you?
Are we getting Freudian? It means some of the happiest times in our lives. We have been together for over 12 years and have seen a lot of very special things that will remain with us for a long time. It never gets old. We've become a family -- brothers through and through.

If you had to describe each member in one word, what would it be? What does each person contribute to the band?
Paul [Harris] is hysterical. I am dad. Paul contributes his vast knowledge of the DJ and dance floor world to all of our music. He has such an amazing ear. I am our heart and soul. My lyricism engages you, and also my acoustic prowess is just amazing.

With your new single "Let the Night" in mind, how do you guys amp yourself up for a night out at the clubs?
Ha! We have learned to pace our nights now. We have had a couple of amazing years touring with some wild times, which we won't -- or legally can't -- talk about. So now we usually go out for a nice dinner and then go hit a club till early hours. But nothing too crazy anymore.

Tell me about the character in the "Let the Night" video, and how come, in the end, he decides to just party at home?
The character for the video is a wonderfully endearing person that you really feel connected to as the video plays. He doesn't go out of the house, because he wants to dance in privacy with his lost love. Funny thing about that is that the dancer is quite well known in the UK. His name is Chippy. He is in Pharrell's "Happy" video as well.

Amp yourself up with Dirty Vegas's "Let the Night" video:

"Days Go By" was such a huge hit in the US back in 2002. Can you tell me what inspired that song and any behind-the-scenes dish on the writing or recording of that track?
The song was inspired by the breakup of an old girlfriend of mine. It remained as an acoustic version, until one day when we were in a studio session for another track. It was recorded in a couple of hours on a Wednesday and played on primetime UK BBC Radio 1 by Friday.

Flash back to the "Days Go By" video:
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Do you have preferred software for DJing and production?
For production, Ableton Live and Logic. For DJing, USB/Serato along with 3x Pioneer CDJ 2000 Nexus and 1x Pioneer DJM 900. We love V-Moda headphones, too.

Do you ever DJ on an iPhone or iPad? If so, which apps do you use? Obviously we use them for communication but never to perform on. Some people do, and that is fine, but we are instrument guys. I like the feel of a guitar and keyboard -- the tangibility of it all.

What is a Dirty Vegas performance like?
We are very lucky to be asked regularly to perform live shows, DJ shows, and acoustic ones, too. So there is always variation and excitement for the band. For instance, this week we play a DJ show in Shanghai, a full live show in Austin, Texas, and also an acoustic set in Austin. We are musical chameleons.

What do you plan on doing at SXSW?
We love SXSW; it's such a great place to see so many fantastic artists in a small club/bar. It also is the ground zero of BBQ, which I have to tell you we don't get in the UK. So as we were confirmed to do Quantum Showcase, we were like, "Yes, and pulled pork!"

What are your top five mobile apps while on the road?
1. Facebook to see what everyone's been up to. We like checking up on friends when on tour. Especially before we head to a city, it's great for telling them we are coming as well.
2. Instagram is a bit of the same from Facebook, but some of our musician friends come up with great stuff. Diplo kills us! How does he get all those people to twerk? I don't think we could do that.
3. Uber! Now that we are touring Asia, if we can't pronounce the name of the street or really know where we are, Uber just zooms in and finds you. Genius!
4. Shazam for finding a new track, but they need to get more white labels. It's so frustrating when you are in a club and it is like, "Sorry, can't find this song."
5. WhatsApp to avoid nasty charges.

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