Celebrity Spin

Rock Stars Are Not DJs—But DJs Are Rock Stars

It's a no-brainer for any promoter that Carlos D. would draw more of a crowd than an anonymous local spinner. But just a few years ago, Interpol's instantly recognizable bassist was an anonymous local spinner himself, happy simply to get a gig. "I had a very unpopular night on Tuesday at 85A, ages and ages ago," he says, and he recalls his radio show on WNYU when he was in college—which featured "gothic, dark, ambient" soundscapes. "Dead Can Dance was as light as it got."

Before Interpol blew up, he had a taste for '80s sounds, spinning Adult., Fischerspooner, and Love and Rockets at Lit with Justine D when parties like Shout were still stuck on Britpop and rock 'n' soul. "People didn't look at me as a person that they should go see spin, which I totally understood. I'm that guy. No one was listening to the '80s. And then electroclash exploded."

And so did his band. Suddenly he had the audience he always hoped for, and he could play whatever he wanted. "I was able to throw these after-parties where people would show up no matter what. Even if I was saying, 'I'm only spinning classical music tonight,' they would still come because it was me. It wasn't about the music, it was about who was DJ'ing. It took me a while to realize that."

Clockwise From Left: Celebrity DJs (Some Beatmatch, Some Don’t): Carlos D., Nick Zinner, JarvisCocker, Andy Bell, Paul Thomson.
photo: Andy Bell: Shiho Fukada; Carlos D., Paul Thomson: Tricia Romano; Jarvis Cocker, Nick Zinner: Nikola Tamindzic
Clockwise From Left: Celebrity DJs (Some Beatmatch, Some Don’t): Carlos D., Nick Zinner, JarvisCocker, Andy Bell, Paul Thomson.

Spinning at the band's after-parties was a practical way for him to unwind after a show. But it also became for a way for fans to get as close to their idols as possible.

"There have been times when I've hidden behind the DJ booth on purpose just because I can't take the staring anymore," he says. "It's like Children of the Corn. It's like, 'What are you looking at? Seriously, what is so interesting?' "

Still, you have to wonder: How can a promoter top Madonna, the ultimate "get" in celebrity "gets"? It's a downhill slide to Paris Hilton from here. In fact, both Kimberly Stewart and Brittny Gastineau have guest DJ'd recently. "I've pretty much stopped DJ'ing regularly because it's gotten to be too much of a cliché," says Zinner. "Not only is everyone in a band, but everyone's a DJ. I'm just a little sick of the whole phenomenon. I would, however, totally throw down 10 bucks to watch DJ Glenn Danzig any day."

"I don't know when it's gonna end," says Princess Superstar. "I feel like, more and more, everyone's gonna do it. And soon, like, Bono will be the guest DJ. I think it's fun for the celebrities themselves, actually. Who doesn't like to be in charge of the music at the party?" She laughs. "That's essentially what it is, isn't it?"

Additional reporting by Sandy Kofler and Debbie Maron

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