His birth certificate says Dragan Roganović, but the electronic-dance community knows him as Dirty South, the Serbian-Australian DJ based in Melbourne.
The affable Dragan (we’ll just go with that since he’s a casual guy) is hitting Midtown’s Opera Nightclub on Friday, one of his first performances since a jet ski accident that sidelined him for a bit.
Calling from L.A. earlier this week, Dragan, who is also an ace remixer and producer, said he recently broke some ribs and had to cancel some dates after “literally flying” on a jet ski and smashing into the water “seven or eight times.”
He’s mended now, though, and ready to entertain.
Q. You started doing this the old-fashioned way, with tape. Do you think technology has taken some of the soul out of DJ-ing?
A. You can argue that, but at the same time, it’s cool to embrace technology. Some of the things people used to do back in the day were great, but now you can do it even better, even faster. For me, mixing some of the old technology and new, with old and new processes, that’s how I like to work.
Q. What type of equipment do you use?
A. Live, I literally bring two USB sticks. Everything is already set up in the clubs, so I walk up, stick in the USB and I’m ready to go. Maybe 10 years ago, I started with vinyl and used to carry two crates of vinyl into every club, which was super heavy.
Q. What do you think makes a good performance, since you need to do more than just be up there with your USB!
A. I think for me it goes back to DJ-ing. I started in commercial clubs playing Top 40 music, what people wanted to hear. I have a similar approach now. I try to play tracks I think the crowd will like, but I want to introduce them to new music and, most importantly, play some of my stuff as well.
Q. What do you think makes a good mashup?
A. Most importantly, and a lot of people forget this, they have to be in key sonically, and key-wise, they have to sound good. The rhythm, the feeling that you get when you put two songs together. My production career started by mashing up things, so I learned how to do that that first.
Q. What’s your favorite place in America to play?
A. Oh, wow. Well, I come to Vegas a lot, and New York is one of my favorites. L.A., Miami. Toronto is also an incredible place to play.
Q. Do you get to Atlanta often?
A. I think I’ve been there two or three times. Probably not enough.
Q. You’ve branched out with your side project, Ruben Haze. Tell me about that.
A. I like a whole bunch of different music, so it’s a vehicle for me to expose this kind of music. I like to be in the studio and make more than house music. It’s a collaboration with my friend Rudy, who sings on [my new song] “City of Dreams.” I play pretty much everything on it – guitars, keyboards.
Q. What are you listening to these days?
A. I was just watching Andrea Bocelli on the iTunes festival. I also like Coldplay, Kanye [West], Bon Iver, Bob Marley. The new Frank Ocean album is great. Old Led Zeppelin.
Q. Who are you keeping an eye on in your field?
A. There are a lot of young kids coming out. Alesso is super-talented and he’s a good friend of mine. Michael Brun from Haiti is very good – we’re doing a track together.
Q. What do you tell people who think they want to do this for a career?
A. It’s always about doing what feels right. If you get big offers to do remixes for people you’re not feeling, if you do it for the money, you do it for the wrong reasons. But if you’re working on something that feels right, then it’s probably right.
Dirty South performs at 10 p.m. Friday at Opera. Tickets are $25 (18 and older), $20 (21 and older) and $35 (VIP, 21 and older only). Purchase here.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene