When it comes to backing up some of the world’s top EDM DJs visiting St. Louis, Rob Lemon has become the go-to guy.
The St. Louis dance scene veteran, who spins techno and deep house music, has opened for the likes of Tiesto, Paul van Dyk, Deep Dish, Christopher Lawrence, Jimmy Van M, Deep Mouse and more from a list that keeps growing.
Part of what earned him that distinction, he says, is that he’s well-liked. But above all else, Lemon knows his role.
“My job is to set up the DJs, but to also show off myself,” he says. “You have to control yourself and know your place when you open for these DJs.”
Lemon says young DJs often play music without considering what the crowd wants to hear.
“I’ll go into a club and a young DJ will just blast out music as loud as possible, and the crowd is disconnected,” Lemon says.“He’s just got 10 tracks, and he’s going to play them as loud as he can.”
Lemon’s first professional gig was around 1997 at Velvet, a former Washington Avenue staple. At the time, he mostly was a party DJ, looking to work his way into Velvet’s DJ booth. He got to know Marc Buxton, a resident Velvet DJ, and studied his moves. He also made his face known at dance-record stores such as On the Grid and Deep Grooves.
“I had to be out there all the time getting relationships,” Lemon says. “I would do that for a couple of years, and then that one break came through — ‘Hey, we got an opening slot.’”
He was brought on by Andrew Mullins, a friend and mentor who was a talent buyer at Velvet, to open for Danny Morris during a Thanksgiving weekend gig.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” he says. “It’s a big room — a big, powerful room — one of the biggest rooms I’d seen up to that point.”
Lemon moved on from Velvet to the short-lived Cheetah in 1999 and back to Velvet a year later.
Then, he noticed a change on the dance scene: It was becoming more about big-name, touring DJs over local DJs.
Still, he cemented a Velvet residency and has spun at Home nightclub and Dante’s.
These days, Lemon runs Timmermann Group, a marketing agency in Lafayette Square, and can be found spinning at Europe nightclub, where he opened for van Dyk last month.
At Europe, Lemon demonstrates a style he describes as both technical and well-thought-out.
“I’m very conscious of what the dance floor wants to hear rather than just smashing a bunch of tracks together,” he says. “I think it’s mostly about the crowd hearing the right song at the right time.”