Wooli remembers his raving days like they were yesterday. They’re still that fresh.
Well before the Rochester DJ and producer released blood-pumping bass bangers like “Name Drop” (with Excition) and “You Were Right” (with Grabbitz and Illenium), he spent countless nights raving as a fan. And that partying past has certainly shaped his production today.
“Even more so with how I build out my sets,” Wooli adds. “I always pictured myself as if I was out in the crowd … looking back to what some of my favorite sets were and how I can use that inspiration of how I felt to build my sets in my live shows. I think it’s one of the biggest advantages I had coming into this.”
The DJ, who plays Saturday night at the Basspod stage, spoke to the Weekly in the days leading up EDC.
At this point you’ve done a ton of festivals, including Lost in Dreams here in 2021. Do you enjoy playing Las Vegas? I personally love it. I love the overstimulation of the Strip and the people and that it’s never really sleeping and that there’s always something to do. That’s always been exciting to me. I remember all the way back to when my parents used to take me for family vacations. I couldn’t even legally gamble or anything, so I wasn’t even allowed in half of Las Vegas, but I have so many memories of that place where I was having so much fun going to the shows.
You played your very first EDC in Las Vegas in 2021. What was that experience like? That one I was really looking forward to, because before I became a DJ, I was a huge rave kid. I went to every festival. I was spending pretty much every single dime I had just to travel around and go to as many shows as possible. But the one show that I didn’t go to that I knew was always the big one was EDC Las Vegas. I attended EDC Los Angeles when that was a thing, EDC New York, EDC Orlando, but never Vegas. I was gonna go back in 2017, but I told myself I’m gonna set this little goal to motivate myself. I’m not gonna go to EDC Las Vegas until I get booked. At that time it was kind of like a pipe dream, but the fact that we were able to make it a reality in 2021, and after the pandemic, was insane.
You just hit over 1 million listeners on Spotify. How does it feel to know that many people are now listening to a rave kid? It’s obviously a good feeling. With my last release being an Illenium collab, that really helped. It’s a little stimulus check I got in the mail from Spotify (laughs). It’s one of those fun little goals to be proud of, but don’t let it define you and look at it too much. … There’s some people who have 2 million monthly listeners and they’re struggling to get booked. [So] it’s a helpful indicator of how you’re doing as an artist, but it’s not the end all be all.
Some collaborations look good on paper but have zero chemistry on tape. How do you know when the magic’s there? I like to keep my collabs to people that I’ve had some kind of relationship with already. It has to be natural. It’s really hard for me to get excited to work on a song with someone who I really don’t know yet or haven’t really met or felt out. Luckily, Illenium and I have known each other for a while. He’s been supporting a lot of my music early on probably, since 2018 or ’19. So that was pretty easy to work with Illenium or guys like Excision and Seven Lions. We’re essentially like family now.
How do your friendship with Excision form? He used to do … The Shambhala Mix … [and] if you made that, it was a big deal. I remember he put one of my songs on there. He’s always been a guy I thought I would never really grow a relationship with, because I saw him so solidified at the top, throwing the biggest shows, always the headliner. He was known as the guy who’s kind of running dubstep. I got his email, because they asked for permission to use my song for that mix. Then he asked me to do an official remix on his [Virus] album. That really introduced me to a lot of his fans … [and] to his world. I remember he invited me to his house to work on our first EP, and that was really when we first bonded.
An article came out last year about a fan of yours who said she was told she was too old to rave at one of your sets. On Twitter, you stood up for her and offered her tickets again. Are your crowds normally pretty diverse? It’s definitely one of the more diverse fan groups, and I love it that way. I’m very active in my Facebook group—I look at who’s talking and interacting—and there’s people who are in their early 20s, and there’s people in their 40s and 50s. A lot of that also comes back to … collaborating with a lot of people. I’ve been able to find these different pockets and circles of electronic music that have so many different walks of life, and I was able to bring them over.
Do you still rave a bit now? Definitely; if a friend’s playing in town, I’ll go support them. I remember going to Svdden Deaths’ Summoning festival, and there’s a lot of names that I haven’t had the chance to check out that I made sure to check out. I was obviously pleasantly surprised, because there’s just so much talent at that particular festival. They were putting on a lot of the underground dubstep guys. Then at the last EDC I went to, I was able to check out some tech house, techno and trance stuff that I normally wouldn’t be able to go see, which is some of my favorite music to listen to outside of making music.
One collab of yours that surprised me was “Reasons,” featuring The Devil Wears Prada. I wouldn’t have expected metalcore and dubstep to work so well together. I have to give a lot of credit to guys like Excision and Illenium for opening that gateway. We were very inspired by their previous song with I Prevail. The session was never meant to really go anywhere. I showed it to Excision, and he was like, let’s see if we can figure out how to make this into a dubstep tune. We made a heavy drop, and then we’re sitting there like, who do we get on the song? We’re thinking of band names, and one on the list was The Devil Wears Prada. They were really easy to work with. They sent over a couple ideas … and they re-recorded some drums and guitars, so it was more of their vibe. I really wanted to make it feel like the band had a lot of input. I wanted their fans to be like, I hear The Devil Wears Prada.
Who else is on your radar? There’s a running joke that I have this huge obsession with Ellie Goulding. It’s not really a joke. I’ve been the biggest fan of her forever. I Prevail was another band that I always wanted to work with. Unfortunately, Illenium and Excision beat me to the punch, and [“Feel Something” is] a pretty hard tune to follow up.
I’ve worked with some pretty surprising artists that you wouldn’t expect, like Scott Stapp from Creed. I like the whole surprise element. Just trying to find someone that you’re like, I don’t know how you got in contact with that guy, why you guys are doing a song together, but I kinda like it. Those are my favorite kinds of responses to songs.
WOOLI Saturday night, 2:30 a.m., Basspod.
Click HERE to subscribe for free to the Weekly Fix, the digital edition of Las Vegas Weekly! Stay up to date with the latest on Las Vegas concerts, shows, restaurants, bars and more, sent directly to your inbox!