The Copacabana beach boasts a vibrant and fun atmosphere year round, but add the Olympic spirit and the highly popular beach volleyball venue and you’ve got a party. DJ Roueche, known in the U.S. for his work DJing L.A. Lakers games and professional beach volleyball games on the AVP tour, is in charge of getting that party started.
First things first, how did you become the official DJ for the Olympic beach volleyball tournament on the Copacabana?
I worked the 2011 Arab Games with Christy Nicolay, who is the Executive Producer – Sports Presentation and Victory Ceremonies Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for Olympic and Paralympic Games. When she reached out to me about DJing in Rio for the Olympics, I didn’t hesitate to responded with a “yes.”
How do you know what to play? Do you gauge the crowd first?
I feel that gauging the crowd is my number one job as a DJ. I can read when the crowd needs more energy and also when they need a little bit of a break. The flow of the match can determine what I play as well. When the score is 1-1, I’m not going to play as high energy of music as I would when the score is 20-19.
Do different matchups warrant different playlists?
At the Olympics, I’m definitely trying to give each country’s fans a little taste of home. I’m also trying to add a little Brazilian flavor as much as possible to give everyone the feeling of where these Games are taking place.
You play a pretty diverse mix of music, does that surprise people?
I think it does. At a sporting event where the age of the fans can range from 8 to sixty years of age, you have to try to play something for everyone. The knowledge of music a DJ has to have is fairly wide, so every once in awhile I’ll play a song that someone will look at me and say “How do you know this song?” I jokingly let them know that I’m a professional and it’s my job.
Have there been any big crowd favorites so far? What gets people on their feet?
The fans are amazing — they make my job easy as they come into the venue with high energy and are ready to have fun. They always chant along to Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes and sing to Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce. But my favorite song they’ve responded to so far, which I wasn’t anticipating, is Sound Bang by Major Lazer. The drums are so contagious in the song that even the people next to me in the DJ booth have to clap along.
Do you get any special requests from the players or fans?
The fans can’t get near the DJ booth here, so I haven’t had any fan request yet, but I’ve had a player request a song through their coach.
You know the U.S. players from the domestic AVP tournament, do you know what they like to hear?
I know the U.S. AVP players very well and definitely know their musical taste. April Ross likes to listen to Hip Hop when she warms up and Brooke Sweat is a big fan of Country music.
Any surprises from U.S. players?
Kerri Walsh Jennings did an interview a couple years ago where she mentioned she liked the Humpty Dance by Digital Underground. I DJed her wedding and I don’t recall that on the “must play” list.
Did you play “I Shot the Sheiff” during [Qatar’s Samba] Cherif’s match or am I just imagining things?
You are not imagining that at all, but it was actually Tobias Rudig who played that track. The beach volleyball days are so long that there are two sets of DJs and MC/Hosts. Tobias is the other DJ and when I was told he played that song I thought it was brilliant and it put a big smile on my face. I hope Cherif enjoyed it as well.
How different is it to DJ at the Olympics versus at a domestic match?
The Olympics is a much different animal on it’s own regardless of sport. But the biggest difference in DJing an international event versus a domestic event is domestically you don’t have a “home and away” team. The fans generally like both teams on the court, so they’re not cheering for one team over the other. Internationally, you could have the whole crowd cheering for one team. At the Olympics, the fans are so much more invested in their team that when their team loses, they feel the pain a lot more than they would at a domestic event.
What’s been your favorite moment of the Olympics so far?
Seeing my friends from the AVP perform on the biggest stage and hearing that Mike Tirico said “the MVP might be the DJ” referring to me and Tobias live on NBC has been special, but so far the Samoilovs/Smedins(LAT) vs. Schalk/Saxton(CAN) match still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
It was the last match of the day, I was tired, I had been awake for 18 hours at that point and we didn’t have any Brazilian teams during this night session, so I was worried about the crowd leaving before the match ended. The match turned out to be amazing and the crowd was totally into it. I felt connected to the match, the crowd and everyone on my team putting on the show behind the scenes. Every time the announcers asked the crowd to participate, they did, every song I played, the crowd raged, and Latvia and Canada put on a show with Latvia coming out on top in a third set thriller.
Walking back to my hotel after the match I thought to myself that if that’s as good as my Olympic experience was going to get, I’m 100% okay with that and I’ll look back on my Olympic experience as nothing but a positive.
Last but not least, what are your top ten songs that you know will get the party started?
It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston
Pursuit of Happiness (Steve Aoki Remix) by Kid Cudi
Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
Apache by The Sugar Hill Gang
You Shook Me All Night Long by AC-DC
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
Anything by Michael Jackson
Any hit by Prince