Bill Bouvier: King of the Mix
DJ Bill Bouvier is one hell of a hot property—and we're not just talking about that buff bod and his model good looks. He's the DJ you want to know, the guy clubbers constantly recall for great energy, fun dance tunes that consistently bring all the boys to the dance floor. He just DJed at XL over 4th of July weekend in LA, is producing a popular podcast, and he has a new song featuring Erin Hamilton that he wrote and produced.
Up next for Bouvier is "Hard Tea" during San Diego Gay Pride weekend, and it promises to be better than the last.
"I'm so excited to be spinning by the pool at Hard Tea," he says. "Last year's High Tea party was such a great event, and it was an honer to be part of it. I'll be starting a bit earlier than last year, at 11am, so I'm planning on a lighter set to start off. Some very Fire Island-style music and building it up with some great vocal upbeat tracks to boot."
With a great lineup of other DJs, a beautiful location and lots of space, it's already looking like the place the be on July 17. Still, for Bouvier, it's all about being grounded. "I just hope everyone has a great time and plays safe," he says.
To find out more about Bouvier, read the following interview from Unzipped magazine.
King of the Mix
After a career in promotions and working for the seminal label Masterbeat, Bill Bouvier has left the desk to do some mixing of his own.
Words by Christopher Lisotta
Photographs by James Franklin
Under bright, strobing lights hundreds of sweaty, shirtless studs move to the sexy thumping beats that flow over the dance floor. The room is alive with erotic energy as hips sway, hands slide down pants, and two men become lovers in an instant. Then just as the mood feels a bit too steady, the music’s rhythm changes—faster, more exciting—until it explodes with a diva’s booming voice. The dancers immediately send out a victorious cheer and happily jump aboard for the next part of the ride. It’s a night unlike any other, and leading this fantastic voyage is Bill Bouvier, one of the hottest (and hunkiest) DJs to hit the Los Angeles club scene in years.
“I’ve been DJ-ing since I got out of junior high school,” says Bouvier, who notes that after leaving school he never really stayed in the scene. He spent years in Florida and New York setting up promotions for superstars like Michael Jordan, helping the basketball great open restaurants and launch his sunglasses and cologne lines. But like so many others, Bouvier went west when Hollywood called. Literally.
“I actually landed a part on a sitcom,” Bouvier explains, noting that he was an aspiring hyphenate long before the term was cool. “It was slated to be the first major gay sitcom on TV, and it was going to be picked up by Fox.” So Bouvier hightailed it to L.A., only to have his hopes of becoming a precursor to Eric McCormack dashed when the network dropped the pilot.
Instead of bitterly ensconcing himself in a North Hollywood apartment with a part-time barista job and complaining about what might have been, Bouvier got to work in club promotions, where he learned from West Hollywood nightclub impresario Sandy Sachs and managed popular L.A. dance clubs like The Factory and Rage. Bouvier then started helping Brett Henrichsen throw his own Masterbeat parties, helping the label steer its way through legal and business issues as it became one of the top remix companies in the business. It didn’t take long for Bouvier to realize he was a natural at running operations, which increased his already palpable urge to get back out under the disco ball.
“I loved creating the parties,” he says, but quickly adds that managing events wasn’t all he wanted to do. “For me the question was, what’s the next step?” With support from friends and Henrichsen, Bouvier was soon DJ-ing on his own, working at a variety of Masterbeat events as well as 2009’s San Diego Pride, proving that a career change can be both satisfying and successful at any time of life.
While some assume that anyone can become a DJ with a couple of iPods and a laptop, the reality is much more complicated. “Learning how to do edits and put together your drumbeats and everything on computer is available to anyone now,” Bouvier acknowledges. “But that’s no more different then it was when turntables were available to anyone and you could simply grab one, throw some vinyl on, and try to do your own thing.” Bouvier, however, took classes to learn the science of remixing before diving in, and also studied what he and his friends dug on the dance floor—in essence learning how to read a crowd and understand when the energy peaks or wanes and why.
“Can anyone just get up there and DJ?” he asks rhetorically. “Only if they’re willing to learn. It takes knowing the music, really having that ear and knowing what people want to hear. There is a lot of love and art in it, too.” Like any art, DJ-ing also comes with a price.
“It’s definitely not a cheap love,” he warns. “[You have to] buy all the music—sometimes stuff you don’t even like—and listen to everything to see what works.”
What works for Bouvier is staying on top of the gradual change in tastes that have long transformed the DJ scene in Los Angeles. About ten years ago vocals were all the rage, but then a deeper sound emerged that was more evocative of tribal beats. Today, Bouvier says vocals are back on the dance floor, thanks to strong new contributions from superstars like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. “Now it’s almost like the ’90s again. Everything is turning around right now, which is great for a DJ like me who likes happy vocals.”
And as for the regal-sounding name, while it’s true that DJs often take on a clever persona when spinning, Bouvier didn’t need to resort to a catchy pseudonym; Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was his dad’s third cousin. Which means that if style and cutting-edge cultural relevance is in the genes, Bouvier may have some familial advantage. Still, Bouvier is not one to take it too far, saying, “I was going to go with the name DJ Jackie O, but I didn’t think anyone would get it.”