DJ Valentino Khan ready to drop some beats (but not get beaten) at WrestleMania
AT&T Stadium, the venue for this weekend’s WrestleMania 38, can hold more than 100,000 seats. But if DJ Valentino Khan gets his way, no one will sit there. That is, at least when he’s behind his DJ kit, spinning the tunes and rocking the beats as pre-show entertainment on both nights of the event.
Performing on such a grand stage – or “prodigious” to use WWE’s description – is another feather in the cap for Khan, who has also wowed giant crowds with performances at EDC Las Vegas, Lollapalooza and Ultra Music. Festival.
As the first DJ to perform at WrestleMania in this capacity, Khan is eager to bring something new to fans.
“The thought process was that I could help provide that energy before matches started, rather than having that lull of silence in the arena,” he explained to SlamWrestlng, in an exclusive interview. “I think it helps set the tone for the overall experience.”
The road to WrestleMania has been a whirlwind for Khan, who discovered his love for dance music as a child when he heard his brother playing music in his bedroom. He started streaming music from his Los Angeles home, developing a fanbase, which exploded in 2014 when he released his debut EP, “In Khan We Trust.” From there, his popularity grew thanks to tracks like “Deep Down Low,” “Pump” which reached over 40 million streams on Spotify, and the viral Tik-Tok anthem “Better.”
His rise in popularity earned him the attention of WWE, who asked him to perform at last year’s SummerSlam event.
“When they reached out, I was pretty shocked,” he said. “But everything felt on brand. I’ve been a fan since Attitude Era so I understood the world I was jumping into. We talked about me mixing and incorporating some WWE themes into my set and I took it as a fun challenge to incorporate it all. Fortunately, everything went well. »
The positive response from fans and everyone behind the scenes ultimately led to the announcement earlier this month of his spot at WrestleMania, although the actual deal was done some time ago.
“I’ve been looking forward to it for months. It was hard not to tell anyone until we had a chance to announce it properly,” he revealed.
As a wrestling fan, Khan knows and respects the audience he’ll be performing for, and he says he’ll be sure his set reflects that.
“I realize that I play for a crowd of wrestling fans, and it’s different from a typical audience at a music festival. Some of them are hardcore fans who know all about indies. Some of them are casual fans drawn to the lure of the global spectacle that is WWE, some of them might know me, some of them don’t,” he reflected.
“So I see this as a fun challenge in terms of playing that I love while also giving the crowd an experience that they’ll enjoy. That’s also part of what makes incorporating wrestling themes into my set so fun. .
He points to a key moment from his SummerSlam set that shows how the formula can work perfectly.
“Last time it was great to have this crescendo of energy where everyone was singing along to the Vince (McMahon) theme ‘No Chance in Hell’ at the end of the set. The most rewarding experiences of my career tours have come when I’m in charge of exciting the crowd. I think if you stay confident in your approach, you’ll end up with those cool moments.
In terms of the cool moments he enjoyed as a wrestling fan, Khan listed a few of his favorites – both because of their performances, but also the vibe they brought to the product.
“Stone Cold Steve Austin has always been my guy,” he said. “I think I drew attention to his rebellion and how he would turn the finger on anyone in sight. Triple H was so good with his heel work that I grew to appreciate him. to be the best to fill that role. I also liked a lot of guys who came from ECW like RVD, Raven, Tazz and Rhyno. It brought a new underground and hardcore energy to WWE at the time.
While some of these themes are likely to make it into his set, Khan also considered this reporter’s request for a remix of a more classic 80s theme, Big Boss Man’s song “Hard Time.” .
“This one is awesome to flip! Let me see what I can do,” he teased. “That was a big point in the initial discussions I had with WWE, incorporating (wrestler themes) creatively. Because it helps me connect with the audience and increase the energy in the arena.
One thing Khan isn’t looking for, at least for now, is a “WrestleMania moment” in the ring like fellow musician Bad Bunny had last year.
“I would never do anything like that unless I trained properly like Bunny did,” he said. “He respected the craft, and I think that’s why he (did) end up with the fans. That being said, never say never.
He also wouldn’t want to risk injuring himself in the ring, as that would no doubt affect his current touring schedule. Khan actually takes the two Mania gigs amid a multi-city North American tour in support of his latest EP, “pkg,” which was released last week and includes collaborations with rapper Lil John, among others. The tour began last week and dates have been announced through July, with stops in New York, Boston, Vancouver BC, Honolulu and the Veld Music Festival in Toronto.
But he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to not only perform at WrestleMania, but also watch the matches in person.
“I look forward to Brock [Lesnar] and roman [Reigns],” he said. “The ramp up with Heyman’s double crosses and Brock’s cowboy persona has paid off. I think Edge and AJ [Styles] going to tear down the house – their in-ring work is always excellent. And I have a feeling the as-yet-unannounced match with Seth Rollins could end up being one of those great WrestleMania moments.
Although it’s safe to say that even if these matches don’t get standing ovations, at least at some point Khan will have the crowd on their feet, pumped up, excited and ready for WrestleMania.
TOP PHOTO: DJ Valentino Khan.