A pink limousine was waiting for John Summit when he landed in Las Vegas on a private plane on Dec. 13. It’s a big week for the EDM star, who’s in Sin City for the inauguration of a new Fontainebleau hotel on the Vegas Strip, where he’ll be the first resident DJ at the nightclub LIV. “They’re treating me well here,” he says with a giggle. “I hope we can get a nap in before the craziness — there’s a lot to do.”
“Sleep” and “rest” aren’t really a part of the DJ’s vocabulary as of late. Over the last year and a half, Summit has quickly become one of the most exciting faces in house and techno music, thanks to hits like the Laitn-infused “La Danza” and his collab with Parachute Youth, “Better Than This.” He’s headlined festivals like Hard Summer and is throwing his own sold-out stadium show in Los Angeles on Saturday. “It’s pretty nonstop,” he says.
Becoming a DJ superstar wasn’t even on his list of goals to accomplish when he started spinning — but he thinks that that approach has been one of the keys to his success.
“I never have long-term goals. Getting from where I started to where I am now took a million small goals to accomplish,” he says. “I never thought this far. Every month or three months, I have a small goal in place. Now, it’s just the sum of all of that together.”
Next on his list? Releasing his first full-length album. So far, Summit has focused on club records and festival mainstays, but he’s been perfecting a full-length LP that explores other sides of his musical palate.
“I’ve been working a ton more on laidback music that I’ve never been able to put out,” he says. “It’s going to be a lot more eclectic, working with artists I’ve never worked with before.” Among those artists is UK artist Sub Focus, known for his powerful drum-and-bass sound.
“The process has been challenging. Normally, I write one record at a time, so to write 12 or 14 records at once, it’s a lot,” he adds. “I’m taking some time off next year to focus on producing music, because this last year I did 200 shows and that’s not very sustainable.”
Summit has loved seeing how many new music fans are discovering a love for house and techno. “People have hit me up saying, ‘Oh, my god, you opened my eyes to a whole new world of music,’” he says. “It’s absolutely incredible.”
Summit has also been relishing the success of a recent accomplishment: He was the only DJ named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list this year. It’s something he “did not expect whatsoever,” but it earned him an unexpected congratulations from his alma mater, the University of Illinois.
“It’s the first time they recognized me, so I thought that was cool,” he says with a laugh about the college where he earned a degree in accounting. “There’s a lot of finances that go in and out, but I don’t use my accounting degree in a traditional sense, that’s for sure.”
Summit “fell in love” with EDM at 16 when he attended Lollapalooza for the first time, and watched Deadmaus’ set in the pouring rain. Slowly, he started practicing his skills and scored gigs at college parties before he started dropping music on SoundCloud “just for fun” and slowly gained a following.
“It’s been a wild journey,” he says. “One step at a time.”
With the flurry of the last few weeks, Summit hasn’t had time to think of what his set at Fontainebleau will be like but promises that every one of his 20 shows a year for the next three years will feature “heavy bangers” and a new setlist.
“It’s gonna be kind of a mystery. I never come in with a set plan at all,” he says. “It’s a different set every time, I can guarantee you that. If you see me more than once, you’re gonna see something new every time.”