By Paul Guzzo | Tribune Staff
Published: June 03, 2015
On his website Sizzle Reel, Ravidrums (real name Ravi Jakhotia) lays his onstage work ethic out like this: “You gotta bring it every time like it’s the end of the world, because you never know who’s watching.” Good thing he’d taken his own advice, because a recent someone who caught his act just so happened to be a bonafide showbiz legend. One thing led to another, and now the musician credited with inventing the process of live, remixed DJ percussion can be found basking in the spotlight on the Colosseum stage in Caesars Palace—courtesy of the top-selling female artist of all time.
What were you doing prior to getting the gig with Mariah Carey?
I was working on a track with Fatman Scoop, just trying to get my music out there, trying to get a record out.
How did you get the job?
Raj Kapoor [most recently, the director of Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” video] called me and said, “I’m doing a show with Ken Ehrlich and Mariah Carey. Are you interested?” and I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” I mean, Ken Ehrlich is an absolute legend. He’s produced some of the biggest shows on earth, like the Grammys. So Raj said, “Could you call him in 10 minutes?” and I said, “What?! Of course, I can!” [Laughs.] So, I did. I got Ken Ehrlich on the phone, and he said, “This can be a short conversation or a long conversation. I’m doing a show with Mariah Carey. Are you interested?” and I said, “Sir, with all due respect, is there any answer besides, ‘Yes, I will push everything off my schedule immediately’? Doesn’t everyone say that?” So he asked me to send a video of what I wanted to do. Then he told me, “There are a million DJs out there, but I’ve never seen anyone do what you do. You’re really pushing the medium.” And honestly, after he said that, it would have been enough for me, even if I didn’t get the gig.
So, what’s your role in the production?
I’m there to create an EDM moment in the show. Mariah’s a hip-hop and R&B girl, but she’s also a smart businesswoman. You drive down the Strip, you see the marquees all feature a big-name DJ—there’s no denying that people are loving EDM right now. In the show, I use the David Morales mix of Mariah’s “Dreamlover,” and do a live mix on top of that.
Were you a Mariah fan before landing this job?
Of course, I was! I know some people look at her as a celebrity or a person who is famous or whatever, but for me, I just see her as an incredible musician. What does she have, a five-octave range? She’s had 18 No. 1 songs. I mean, come on! Eighteen No. 1 hits? You can’t deny her talent. What I hear happen onstage every night is just astounding. I have an ocean of respect for her.
Do you get any face time with her? What is she like?
A little bit, in rehearsals and stuff. She’s working hard, doing her thing, but she’s totally cool; if things weren’t working out, she took it all in stride.
How has the response been to your segment of the show?
It’s been overwhelming, just so positive. I have to remind myself to savor it.
Is there anything about this experience that has surprised you?
Well, it’s not surprising, but it has been a bit intimidating, just the fact that every person working on this show has the most insane background and résumé—ever. Her band is so perfect; they play at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. This is a blessed situation for me; it is so surreal. You can rock a club, but there’s something about [the Colosseum] that makes you straighten your back when you walk in. It doesn’t get any better than this.
If you could travel back in time and tell little 12-year-old Ravi that he’d be sharing a stage at Caesars Palace with Mariah Carey one day, what would you say to him?
Dude, you gotta practice more! [Laughing.] Start practicing!
When you reach Mimi-level superstar status, what wacky diva demands will you insist upon in your artist rider?
I want a masseuse and some Rombauer chardonnay. Wait—that’s lame. Let me think about this. OK: three dancing elephants, and I get to ride in on a golden rhinoceros.
Learn more about Ravi at Ravidrums.com, and download his latest track “Superhero” on iTunes. Mariah Carey’s #1 to Infinity runs through July 26, 2015; Caesars.com.