On Wednesday nights, a large crowd in ’90s T-shirts dodges spilled drinks on the Commonwealth patio for a new weekly house party. The packed bar is a reflection of Las Vegas’ maturing underground music scene, according to veteran DJ and fashion influencer Crykit, who hosts the venue’s popular party Crykit’s Playhouse every Thursday night.
She attributes most of its strength to artist collectives. Groups such as the Rabbit Hole and Soft Leather have established their own social spheres that are gaining traction. But there are three fresh faces—Kailyn Hype, Lo Dino and Olan—who are growing as DJs along with the scene itself. Setting them apart are their distinctive catalogs that include original or mainstream and esoteric tracks.
“They are not just on the record pools that every other DJ is on,” Crykit says. Pools help streamline music searches where, Crykit says, DJs mine for music. “[The tracks] are not just out there for them and everyone else to grab.”
The three women have different approaches to playing and mixing music, but each is propelling underground culture forward with their excellent tastes and a hunger to improve.
That hunger is one of the reasons Crykit showed Kailyn Brown, a.k.a. Kailyn Hype, the decks by offering her individual lessons, something Crykit has never done before.
Brown was a dedicated music fan who dug for undiscovered hidden gems and the next new thing before she ever considered DJing. While studying journalism at UNLV, she launched an R&B and hip-hop radio show, “Ill Vibe Theory,” with two friends. Playing music for the show, Brown sprouted an interest in DJing.
Brown, who is a writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, bought a Pioneer controller on a whim.
“I was like, ‘F-it, I just got paid,’” Brown says.
Crykit saw Brown’s very first performance at “Ill Vibe Theory”’s fourth anniversary.
“She had great tracks, but you could tell she didn’t have too much of a foundation. But I could see the passion,” Crykit says. “I was self-taught and know how much longer it takes to grow and learn if you’re self-taught. I really wished someone would have taken the time to teach me when I first started DJing.”
Crykit says Brown has “catapulted” since they first started working together. Part of the reason is Brown takes practice seriously. After attending a workshop at DJ school Blend Institute, instructor DJ EASE gave a piece of advice that stuck with Brown.
He said, “If you treat DJing like a hobby, it’s gonna treat you the same way.”
Brown practices beat-matching and mixing every day and approaches her music the same way she approaches her writing, using tempo as her musical pen.
“I think of myself as a storyteller. That’s how I describe it when people ask what I do. I’m like, ‘I literally write stories—news stories with journalism, and then I tell stories through music,’” Brown says. “It’s like the next sentence. I try to think, ‘Ooh, this song reminds me of this.’ So, that song feels like it should be sentence No. 2, then 3, then 4 …”
The Rabbit Hole music collective started as a way to bring the beat scene to Las Vegas in 2015. Each night at the Rabbit Hole, the group’s weekly event at Velveteen Rabbit, is different. They incorporate visuals with hip-hop and electronic beats. Lo Dino, who went to school for audio engineering, is one of the group’s newest members, whose style is eclectic hip-hop, R&B and future bass, according to the Rabbit Hole website. She hosts No Scrubs ladies’ night at Velveteen Rabbit every first Saturday of the month.
Lo Dino gives some of the credit for her success to her location. The California native moved to Las Vegas when she was 19 and found the Downtown community to be more nurturing than what she found in her home state.
“Living here in Downtown Las Vegas means getting instant encouragement from a community,” she says.
Now 25, that community has spurred her to quit her job at VegeNation and swap her server book for headphones to focus solely on music.
“My mom, she was a singer. She gave that up for a family and a husband. She, thankfully, always encouraged me to not do that,” Lo Dino says.
Other forces pushed her to pursue music full time as well. The Scorpio is “kind of into astrology,” and the stars were dropping clues. Her boyfriend, a musician in the rock band Leather Bound Crooks, recently put in his two weeks to pursue music himself. Soon after, the Rabbit Hole crew played the after-party for a Flying Lotus show at Brooklyn Bowl. The experimental producer has been a long-time inspiration for Lo Dino and was one of the first artists who allowed her to think she was capable of making different music that people would like.
“I’m like, ‘All right, universe, I see you, I hear you,’” Lo Dino says.
Lo Dino likes to make old music new. “I play hard throwbacks but with a twist. It’ll be something a little wonky and melodic. You don’t know what it is until you’re like, ‘That’s Ashanti,’ or ‘Oh, that’s Aaliyah,’” she says. “I do feel like older songs are more distinct than the ones today.”
Her intuitive beat-matching skills and knowledge of older music allows her to be more versatile and play to different crowds as well.
“The First Friday [art walk] is all ages. ‘No pussy poppin’ is literally what was in the description,” Lo Dino says. “I played the Arthur theme song with Chance the Rapper and people were [saying], ‘Oh, my gosh, I haven’t heard this in so long!’”
Olan—born Luzana Flores—thinks it’s laughable to be called a DJ.
“Me mixing is literally just fading EQs,” she says.
The 23-year-old from Georgia began playing classical violin when she was 8 and has picked up other instruments including guitar, cello, drums and bass along the way. As a young teenager, she was too anxious to wait for other people to make the music she wanted to hear, so Olan bought Cakewalk recording software and started making songs herself.
She recently opened for Mat Zo, The M Machine and A-Trak, hosted by L.A. party Space Yacht and Mad Zoo record label. She is in the middle of recording an acoustic experimental EP at 11th Street Records, which she plans to release on Mad Zoo in 2018.
“She is a beautiful artist as far as her live music and her singing,” Crykit says. “I see her as well as Lo Dino being integral parts of this underground music scene that is really blossoming in Downtown.”
Olan’s father was in the Army and is now a federal government worker, and she lived around the world in countries such as Korea and Belgium. It was in Belgium where she developed her electronic sound, working on sound design and producing.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I should start DJing?’ But half the time I would get too nervous and cancel,” Olan says.
Later, in college, she developed a crush that led to developing her recording skills. “Instead of Netflix and chill, he showed me how to use Ableton,” she says. The recording software also functions as an instrument for live performances.
“I’ve always been a live performer,” Olan says “This is the first year I’m consistently DJing. I’ve never had this many gigs,” “I still don’t even have a controller at my house. My only practice is at my gigs, so this is kind of funny.”
She uses her DJing sets as an opportunity to improve her own music, which she says she likes to record using instruments as opposed to the computer.
“You get to hear it in club speakers, and that’s a really great way to tell what you need to fix about your song,” Olan says.
Olan strives to be an artist like Bonobo. “His music is textured and vivid,” she says. The electronic artist includes a live drummer, strings and vocals in his performances, but he also uses organic recordings that he captures with his phone.
“That’s what I want to do, because it gives you so much control and possibility with what you’re making. You can’t turn that down. It’s supercool, but it’s also very hard,” she says. “That’s going to be something I’m working on for my whole life.”