DJ Politik Shakes Up the Nightlife Scene
By Michael Ventre
If you ever find yourself at one of the country’s white-hot nightclubs and you manage to finesse your way past the mammoths with clipboards presiding over the velvet ropes, and you step bravely into the pulsating masses of the hard-partying chic, chances are excellent you will be in earshot of DJ Politik.
The 24-year-old Los Angeles native, who rules over Hollywood’s newest club, Sound, can’t work every room where the glitterati play; after all, the man only has two hands, and as many turntables. But he has established himself in the profession as an A-list maestro spinner, and when he delivers his electric mixes to throngs of jaded clubbers who have heard it all, they tend to fall under his sway and dance the night away.
“It’s not just what you play, it’s how you play it,” he says. “I think what sets me apart—and I’ve heard this from multiple club owners—is my ability to read a crowd. I try to keep the sets tasteful,” Politik says, “not playing too many of the same cheesy top 40 songs, maybe mixing in some classic records. It all boils down to song selection and timing.”
Politik—real name Paul Purman—had a DJ’s upbringing. That is, he was practically swaddled in song. His mother, Erika Rokk, was once a pop singer who released two albums in her native Ukraine. She would take young Paul to the studio with her, and he would play with recording equipment around the house. Later, his older brother introduced him to some early-’90s hip-hop.
“My parents took me to Guitar Center when I was 12 and bought me some starter DJ equipment,” Politik recalls. “I had a handful of records I would mess around with. It was really just a hobby. It wasn’t until I started sneaking into clubs and seeing the big guys that it really inspired me.”
Today, DJ Politik and his mixes are often on the go. He has residences at clubs in New York, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. In Los Angeles, he is on a crusade to rid the club scene of what he calls “Cool Kids Syndrome.” He shakes hip, young Angelenos out of their inertia with open-format inventiveness using a potent combination of rock, pop, hip-hop, indie dance, classics, and more. He might do that by dropping classic a capellas like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” or the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” over dirty electronic beats by artists like Knife Party or Tommy Trash. Or he might play one of his signature mixes and medleys like the one that combines The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” with Kanye West’s “Mercy” and Dead Prez’s “Hip-Hop.”
He has been a fixture at top local clubs like Playhouse and Greystone Manor Supperclub; has done private bashes for Nicole Richie, Usher, and P. Diddy; and has performed for such corporate clients as Microsoft, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani Exchange, and Red Bull.
With all that going on, he’s determined to keep his own feet moving in order to meet expectations. “You have to actually prepare more now,” he says. “People are less likely to be impressed if you’re well-known. They want you to impress them.”
photography by jana cruder; styling by jeff k. kim; blazer, marc jacobs (price on request), Marc by marc Jacobs, 8410 Melrose Ave., LA , 323-866-3562; jeans, bleu lab (price on request); shirt and pocket square, anthony franco (price on request); tie, burberry london ($375) burberry, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-550-4500. watch, versace (price on request); tie bar, brooks brothers ($90), brooks brothers, 468 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-274-4003
Cover shoot: September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.