Meet the Man Who Shoots Diplo, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Jay Z, Kanye West & More
DJ photographer Danny Mahoney shows off some of his favorite shots
Danny Mahoney is an incredibly talented Las Vegas-based photographer who shoots regularly at the nightclubs at the Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas. His adventures have taken him well beyond Sin City, allowing him to accompany the likes of Deadmau5, Diplo, Skrillex and Kaskade on various tour dates around the globe. I asked Danny to show us some of his favorite photos from his world travels, and he happily obliged, telling the stories behind each shot. — DJ Pizzo
Deadmau5, Halloween at XS Las Vegas (2013)
“At the time, Joel (Deadmau5) was dating Kat Von D. She came out dressed as Deadmau5 with the carbon fiber Mau5 head. She got up there and pressed play and started pretending to be Joel. All of a sudden, Joel comes out with a big black Hellraiser costume, including the Pinhead/Mau5 head.
At first, everybody was stunned because they dressed Kat Von D up so well, wearing Deadmau5's T-shirt that he always wears and the Mau5 head and everyone already thinks it’s him. So when he came out, the crowd reaction was insane. It was like a wrestling event where the heel turn happens. You had the Hellmau5er standing on top of the DJ booth, it was Halloween, the mask lit up and the place just went crazy. It was a great reaction.”
Deadmau5, Belfast, Ireland (2012)
“That is one of the most memorable photos that I have taken. It was from the Meowington Hax European tour. They used that photo for the inside of the artwork for the Album Title Goes Here LP. It was an indoor arena show with about 10,000 to 15,000 people.”
Diplo, EDC Las Vegas (2014)
“That was the first time Diplo wore the ‘Random White Dude’ T-shirt. He asked me to shoot him and Riff Raff performing during his set. The guys from Pizzaslime were with us, and they were like, ‘Hey Wes, we’ve got a shirt for you if you want to wear it tonight on stage.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, what do you got for me?’ So they gave him the ‘Random White Dude’ T-shirt and he thought it was funny, so he wore it. On the back it says ‘Be Everywhere’ with the globe. So after he wore it at EDC, the shirt just went viral everywhere and people started making their own versions that said ‘Random Twerk Girl,’ ‘Random Black Dude,’ and all the different variations.”
Flosstradamus & Jack U, Mad Decent Boat Party (2014)
“That was one of the craziest show experiences ever. It was day three, in the middle of the night. The boat was rocking. Like literally rocking, because we hit some choppy water. Everyone was inside this theatre auditorium, which is probably used for plays or stage performances on regular cruise ship tours. During the Mad Decent Boat Party, they turn it into a concert hall, with a DJ booth on the stage and people sitting or standing in the theatre seats.
“Anyway, this boat was violently rocking and going crazy. The curtains in the theatre were just swaying back and forth. It went so hard that everybody cleared their seats and just rushed the DJ booth while Flosstradamus was playing. Everyone was on stage standing around the booth and then Diplo and Skrillex came out and started spinning with Flosstradamus. Security couldn’t really do anything because there were more people than there were actual seats in the theatre. It was just so turned up. All of these people were jumping on the cruise ship. It made you think, ‘What’s the weight capacity on this ship?’”
Jack U, Mad Decent Boat Party (2014)
“This was at the same event. It was a surprise Jack U set. Skrillex was not on the line-up. We stopped in the Bahamas and Skrillex showed up via private jet. We picked him up secretly onto the cruise ship. So before the performance, they were getting on the ship’s PA system and whispering ‘Jack U, Jack U’ and the whole boat would just go crazy.
“So Diplo was doing his headlining set and about 20 or 30 minutes into it, Skrillex came out and the place erupted. Most of the people had caught on from the teaser, but when they saw it actually happen they just lost it.
“I did see Riff Raff just walking around aimlessly taking to random people in the hallways. It was pretty cool, because as a guest, it really made you feel like you are part of the experience, having all of these artists walking around and sharing those moments with you. If you are familiar with the Mad Decent roster, all of those artists are very down to earth. They’ll spend time to bullshit or talk with you and make you feel comfortable.
“The best part about the Mad Decent Boat Party is that you go for the first three days on the ship, and then it stops on a private island on the Bahamas. Everyone takes these little ships to the island, where there is a big festival stage set up on the beach. That shot with Diplo waving the flag was part of the Major Lazer performance, which went with the whole island vibe. It was such a relief after being on the boat for four days.”
Jay Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail Tour, Las Vegas (2013)
“I didn’t actually shoot this show, but I brought my camera because I had VIP tickets for the front of the house. So I knew that if I was able to get my camera in there I would be able to get a good shot of Jay from across the crowd. He came out and I was actually able to get that silhouette shot. It was pretty iconic and amazing to shoot an artist of such high caliber.”
Kanye West & The Weeknd, Life Is Beautiful (2014)
“That was a good opportunity. The Wynn was doing VIP tables at the main stage, so I had an all access photo pass for the whole festival. I was able to pick and choose pretty much what artists I wanted to shoot.
“So for Kanye, I’m standing clear across from him in the crowd, and he’s staring into the camera’s soul. ‘The paparazzi’s got me.’
“Same for The Weeknd. The production with the smoke was so thick that I thought that it would make a great photo. It almost looks black and white, it gave a really cool look to it.”
Kaskade, Coachella (2015)
“Every year I go to Coachella with a group of friends, and we usually go to the campgrounds for three or four days strong. I passed up so many opportunities to shoot artists because it’s the one event per year that I just choose to take off and relax. I was actually asked by a couple artists this year to shoot and I turned all of them down.
“About two or three weeks before the event, I got contacted by Kaskade’s manager. She said, ‘Hey, we just got news that Kaskade will playing the main stage at Coachella before Drake. We think it would be great if there is any way you could come down and take photos.’ I read the email and was like ‘Oh man, I’ve turned down so many people.’ But I just thought about it and thought, ‘There’s no way that I am going to turn down shooting Kaskade, main stage, at Coachella.’ Kaskade’s team are great people to work with. It was one of the most memorable moments of Coachella to me, and I have been going for five or six years now.”
Swedish House Mafia, Masquerade Motel Miami (2012)
“I had no business in Miami at this point, at all. Rukes was asked if he could find someone to do coverage with him for this specific event, because they wanted dual photographers. He had posted something online and I asked him what it entailed. He responded and said, ‘If you are interested, then you got it.’ So I took a chance and booked a flight and went out there with no place to stay. Shooting Swedish House Mafia led me to shooting all sorts of things that weekend, like afterparties for Deadmau5 and Sebastian Ingrosso.”
Skrillex, EDC Las Vegas (2011)
“That is the oldest photo in there. Ryan Dunn from Jackass had passed away that week and Skrillex was doing a tribute to him in that picture. I wasn’t even shooting for him back then, I was just a photographer at the festival with a photo pass for some stupid reason, just walking around aimlessly, not really understanding what was going on at that point. I happened to be on stage with Skrillex and none of his managers or anyone said anything like ‘Who is this guy shooting or taking pictures?’ Everybody in the whole crowd pulled out their lighters and the picture ended up making MTV News out of nowhere. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Zedd, Labor Day, XS Las Vegas (2014)
“That was a record-breaking number of people in attendance that night at XS, It was the biggest night in the history of the club. All of those people in the center of the crowd are in the pool.”
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