JOHN SUMMIT HAS HAD A WILD RIDE TO FAME. HERE’S HOW THE NEW MIAMI RESIDENT IS KEEPING THE PARTY GOING FROM DAY TO NIGHT.
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Billboard-topping, stadium-filling DJ extraordinaire John Summit’s (@johnsummit) stratospheric rise is the stuff of dance floor fairy tales. But behind the larger-than-life persona lies a grounded artisan crafting auditory ecstasy.
So, how did the Chicago-based accountant go from crunching numbers to becoming one of the world’s top DJ talents?
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“I was living in Chicago and working as a CPA, but I would work on DJing in secret. Obviously, my parents or co-workers would never approve. The people I worked with just knew I came into work with bloodshot eyes every day,” says Summit about the path to his second career. “I got signed to some labels, and the music started taking off, but nowhere [near where] it is now. COVID-19 happened, and I was stuck at home. I went to live in my parents’ basement and did YouTube tutorials all day, every day. I would do Zoom sessions to make money to get by. And then my first track that really blew up was ‘Deep End.’ From there, things totally changed—it took off on social media, got tons of attention, and by the time things opened up, I had a full tour.”
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Embarking on his new career, Summit has traveled throughout the world playing everything from intimate boiler room settings to large-scale festivals and even stadiums. You can find him playing a legendary nine-hour set at Miami’s legendary Club Space or a hundred-person oceanfront set in Bali. He boasts over 500 million global Spotify streams and has amassed more than 7 million monthly listeners since taking off. Coupled with his quirky personality that he feeds fans through social media, Summit has become our favorite globe-trotting party starter.
Since 2020, Summit’s pinch-me moments have continued to amass. However, his headline set at Miami’s III Points 2023 edition was one of the top. At the time we’re speaking, he’s about to head into the festival.
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“This weekend, playing with Green Velvet is probably my top moment. The first house song I ever heard was from him—it’s classic Chicago house music. He was a legend in Chicago, so for me, being a fellow Chicago boy, getting to close the festival onstage with him is surreal,” he shares. “If I told myself this would be happening four years ago, there’s no way I’d ever believe it.”
The Miami performance comes on the heels of a jampacked summer traveling the globe—and he’s not slowing down domestically, averaging about four to five performances per week. But making life a bit easier is his new digs in Miami. Being steps from his favorite venue, Club Space, is just an added bonus.
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“When my music started taking off , I’d basically be down here every single weekend, couch surfing at friends’ and music buddies’ places. I got really into the scene here and made a network, and realized this was where I wanted to be full time. I love the culture, the vibe and the art. I love everything about Miami,” he says. “As you know, I think Club Space is the best club in the world. I’d literally go every single weekend, and I would have Shazam on for 14 hours straight. I guess I’ve kind of manifested this life because I now play Space more than anywhere else.”
Coming up for the height of Miami’s peak season is a slew of Art Week performances where, of course, you’ll find Summit at his favorite music venue, Space, on Wednesday, Dec. 6. But he’ll also be playing Miami’s iconic megaclub LIV for the first time on Friday, Dec. 8. And finally, on Sunday, Dec. 10, he’ll close out the weekend at Factory Town—one of his favorite venues to perform at.
“I’m excited to play LIV because I haven’t yet done it, and now that I’m a Miami guy, it feels right. It’s always fun to go to different venues and feel the vibe. And it’s exciting because I’m actually going to be headlining LIV’s Las Vegas opening happening shortly after, and I’ll be there as a resident DJ.”
When Summit is not performing, however, you probably won’t find him out on the town.
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“I’m definitely an introvert, and when I’m done with a show, I need to recharge. I become super antisocial, and I just recover at home. I turned my apartment into my own little oasis with tons of natural light and plants surrounding me. And there, I’ll just sit for hours and make music,” he shares.
Yearning for more creative freedom, Summit recently announced his own label, Experts Only, embodying a “music without limits” ethos. Through boundary-pushing beats and one-of-a-kind events worldwide, Summit is creating a community united by dance, music passion and unforgettable experiences.
“My brand has always been outdoorsy because I want to be able to take it wherever. I’ve been a skier my whole life, and I went by ‘Summit’ in college because I love skiing. My life is really just as simple. I love those signs you see where it says ‘Experts Only’ with a double-black diamond. I think it’s so badass, so I wanted to use that as a motif in my venues and branding when I’m performing,” he shares. “In the near future, we’re trying to plan out a little mountain tour, which I think will be so cool. But the music stays the same. It’s all music I love. Music without limits.”
While the blastoff to fame can be startling for many, it’s evident Summit’s down-to-earth, Midwest roots still shine through, and his love for the craft prevails above all else.
“The reason I started doing this all is because I like to play parties,” he says. “For me, it’s always about throwing a party and never about throwing a show. At the end of the day, good music is good music. I never plan on retiring, but if it ever comes to where I’m not having a good time, then it’s over for me—but that won’t be anytime soon.”
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FAVORITE FAST-CASUAL FOOD: MIAMI SLICE IS MY GO-TO. IT’S WALKABLE FROM MY PLACE, SO I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. THERE’S ALSO MY NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SPOT I GO TO EVERY MORNING—THEY ALL KNOW ME THERE.
BEST SPOT FOR A NIGHT OUT: LOW-KEY: WHEN I’M TRYING FOR A MORE CHILL NIGHT WITH GREAT MUSIC, I LOVE THE NEW LISTENING BAR JOLENE. THE MUSIC IS AMAZING, AND IT’S A REALLY COOL VIBE INSIDE.
PARTY, PARTY, PARTY: IF I’M TRYING TO DANCE ALL NIGHT UNTIL MORNING, THEN SPACE. AND IF I’M TRYING TO POP BOTTLES, THEN LIV.
BEST SPOT FOR CHILLING OUT: MY APARTMENT. WHEN I’M OVERSTIMULATED, IT’S MY LITTLE PARADISE.
Photography by: Photos By: Daniel Zuliani