Working Weekends: Ryan Elliott - Artists - Mixmag

Working Weekends: Ryan Elliott

He's a must-see DJ, but Ryan Elliott’s former life as an office drone might just be the key to his success

  • Words: Nicolas Stecher | Images: Juliana Bernstein
  • 28 January 2016

The year is 2008. In a sterile office of the Ford Motor Corporation in Dearborn, Michigan, a sharply dressed young man walks sluggishly to the kitchen for coffee, vainly trying to power his way through a spectacular case of intercontinental jetlag. His trousers are neatly pressed and his tie is well-considered; his identity card, dangling from a front pocket, reads "Ryan Elliott: Financial Analyst".

Hanging around the watercooler, a couple of fellow cubicle jockeys go over the details of their debauched weekend: a 10pm showing of Old School at the local cinema, followed by some post-screening doobs and a 12-pack of Stohs at their crib. Todd, an amicable but doughy bloke from Human Resources, fills his 'I Hate Mondays' Garfield mug with a vending-machine cappuccino. "So what did you do this weekend, Ryan?" he asks.

Ryan ponders the past 48 hours. Jumping in a Boeing and flying across America and the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo; being whisked to dinner by a Japanese promoter who plied him with gallons of cold sake and even colder beer; DJing in a dark and sweaty nightclub in Roppongi, where the assembled crowd went absolutely mental for the warm, throbbing techno emanating from the speakers; beautiful girls smiling at him; the firefight pulse of bass, lights and kick-drum invading his cranium. He remembers jumping into a cab after the club closed, the morning light blinding his weary eyes, and heading directly to Haneda Airport to catch a flight to Detroit. And he remembers the long 15-hour journey home, feeling fulfilled but exhausted to the very marrow of his bones. He remembers every moment of it, all condensed into a three-second flash.

"Not much," he says flatly. "I cut the lawn, and cleaned up the house." Todd scoffs, looks at his mates. What a bore. It was one year later that Elliott finally decided to pull the plug on the corporate Ford Motor job. Leaving his old life behind, he upped sticks and sold his Detroit home so he could move to Berlin – the city where Ryan Elliot 2.0: World Famous Techno DJ would fully take form.

"It wasn't that I didn't want to bother those guys, it was just easier for me – they had no idea what I was doing on the side," Elliott explains of his former double life. Sitting in the glamorous garden of the Roosevelt Hotel pool in Hollywood, it all seems like a lifetime ago now. "I guess I didn't want to go through it all the time to explain it to them," he adds. "And also I didn't want to be judged, because they probably had all these preconceived notions… of which 90 per cent were probably right!"


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