Sunday 16 December 2012

My most important wedding to date

Its been a while, I know, and I really have no excuse, I've been busy, just like everyone else. But to help make up for it, I want to tell you about the most important wedding I've ever been asked to be part of.

I started to DJ for functions and Wedding receptions way back in the dark ages according to my children, heading off to events after carefully loading my rig into my cart and hitching it up to my dinosaur. It was after all 1989.

Since picking up my first set of headphones, and dropping that first needle on the vinyl, I've done hundreds and hundreds of events. Some of them have been very spectacular and others have been simple backyard affairs. I've worked in tents and embassies, Grand 5 star hotels and on the back of boats. It's hard, after all those clients, all those guests and all that music to zero in on one event as being my most important. If you've read along with me for a while, you'll know of my young lady with juvenile arthritis. You would have caught a glimpse of the Bride with a terminally ill mother, and you will know of my love for the Make-A-Wish foundation and the very brave children they help. But what is the most important function I've been involved with? Can I as a service provider even make that distinction? Each function I do is very important, to the Guests of honor, their family and friends, to their supporters, but what about to me. I get emotionally invested in every event I do, particularly weddings, where I spend far more time with the Bride and Groom building a relationship and learning about their goals and aspirations for the event, than I do with other clients.

What is my most important wedding?

Right now some are thinking to themselves, "I bet he gets mushy and says his own" it should have been, but it wasn't, and I'm going to digress here a little. Gentlemen, you must do everything you can for your family, but not at the cost if it.

Back on track. There is a young couple I'm helping at the moment, much like most young couples these days. She's a stay at home mum, who has just had their third child, considering part time work soon to help make ends meet. He's a bit of a jack of all trades, working hard to pay the bills and provide for his lady and their three little ones. Their wedding is coming up and I have the honor of being part of it. They're paying for most of it themselves, their parents are unable to help out financially, so these guys got a bank loan to replace their old bomb and pay for much of the wedding, still they are cutting back on the things they don't need. Tweaking guest lists and menus, arranging seating plans and learning their vows. We have spoken at length about their vision of their day and they have changed the theme once already to make some family members more comfortable. They have a very eclectic taste in music and some fantastic ideas for the first dance, and some fun moments through the night. Thankfully they are all healthy and there are no ailing relatives that make this a wedding with a compassionate time line, so what is it about this wedding.

Why is it my most important wedding?

The bride is my eldest daughter, my first born and the first one to wed. So proud to be asked to be part of her day.

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Saturday 25 August 2012

It's been a great week.

Despite the wedding season still being a few weeks away, this week has been really eventful and wedding focused. I've had four meetings with couples, three of those have been with future brides and grooms who have been looking for their wedding entertainment and the fourth meeting was with existing clients to do some more work on their planning, memorable moments and music selection. And on tomorrow night, for another couple, it all comes together at their wedding. Really looking forward to getting out from behind the desk and getting back behind the decks.

Yesterday's meeting was the cherry on the pie when it comes to those meetings though. I've know and worked with the Groom to be, for around two years, so building a rapport with him was never going to be an issue. But the Bride to be was an unknown, we had never meet before, and worst still shes in the wedding industry too. So I half expected her to be a little distant and maybe even a bit skeptical. Still if I let a little trepidation get in the way, I'd never get anything done.

I needn't have worried, we hit it off. Together these guys were so easy to work with, giving me a vision of their day in broad strokes, thoughtfully answering my questions, and allowing me to place highlights and splashes of color where I thought they would enhance the painting that will be their day.

We started off by first establishing the type of Wedding reception they want, with a little visualization. I asked both of them to give me a few key words that come to mind when they think of their reception as being a success. Those key words become our focus and reference point for the rest of the discussion and also our future planning meetings. They help us to decide almost every aspect of the reception that I will be involved in, and also help them keep on track with many other parts of the night as well.

I try to get a real feeling for what they want to achieve of the night, and they get to decide if I'm the guy they want to trust the night to. That's what the first meeting is all about, at least it is for me. I'm not one for closing the sale or asking for their commitment to use my services on our first date. It's about building a connection with my couples, and getting to know them well enough to decide if they want to work with me, and me with them. I will work for couples on occasion, but spectacular things can really happen when I get to work with them instead.

Oh yes, the cherry on top couple, they don't get married until the middle of 2014, so I expect they maybe the subject of a few more posts here as that painting of theirs takes on more definition, highlights and depth. Stay tuned.

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Sunday 12 August 2012

The right to wed?

As I've mentioned before, I get to see some beautiful things from back here, behind my DJ's desk. In the last few years, I've been lucky enough to attend well over 300 weddings. Some have been simple, sweet functions with a rejection of pomp and circumstance. And at others I've been involved in helping couples create awe inspiring masterpieces of romantic statement, which rivalled the grandness and magnitude of the very love the newlyweds felt. Then some have been heart warming unions of not just a Bride and her Groom, but of their families and close friends as well.

I have watched couples with hardly a base income exchange their vows, and I have helped the son of a socialite calm his nerves as he prepared to dance with his Wife for the first time. Some couples are cast from the same mould and others look as mismatched as Anna Nicole Smith & J Howard Marshall. I was there at the very, "her side - his side" wedding of a beautiful Indian bride, daughter to a family of wealth and position, as she stood beside her oil rig working "Aussie Bloke" husband and told her family to Get Over It.

I have been in tears at the hastily arranged reception of a British couple, as it was held here in Perth, so that the brides ailing mother could see her daughter wed. I've been the Master of Ceremonies at a wedding attended by 11 people and another attended by over 400. I have watched as slim brides’ married large grooms, and vice versa. I have had many multi cultural couples call on my services, Japanese tea ceremonies and Slavic drum dances float around in my memories. Heck I've even DJ'd and MC'd the wedding of a profoundly deaf couple where the only people in the room that were not hearing impaired where a handful of guests, my signing interpreter and myself.

I have had the privilege of being part medieval themed weddings and ultra chic ones. It has been so far a grand and strange rainbow of people celebrating one of our most basic of human needs. The only common thread that weaves its way through them all is the love of one person for another.

But you know that right now, as things stand in this beautiful wide brown land, I cannot watch a couple who love one another wed, if they are both of the same gender, and that, to me seems terribly wrong.

That might rub a few people up the wrong way. GOOD. We all need that from time to time, otherwise we get complacent.

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Friday 3 August 2012

The new car analogy.

A young man walks onto a car yard in the top end of town and is soon approached by an impeccably dressed salesperson.

I'd like to buy a car, he says. The salesperson leads him into the showroom and straight up to a gleaming black 2 door sports sedan. The young mans face broadens to a wry smile, "just to get to and from work", he continues. Ahh comes the salesperson's response, as she leads our young shopper back out to the yard and over to a shiny small blue compact. The young man's smile widens, "It's 600 kilometers each way" he says, pausing just a little between each word. "I see" replies the salesperson undaunted, and beckons the smiling youth to follow her.

Several rows over and a few cars back, sits this years, stock standard 6 cylinder 4 door, in white. The rep makes a bee line to it. What do you think, she asks, "Closer, but I need something that can carry my tool chest." is the mans answer. "Right, right, I've got just the thing, this way then" comes the acknowledgement, as she heads off deeper into the lot, stopping now and then to ensure that the buyer is still with her. Finally she halts beside a late model, low slung, ever so slightly modified Ute.

"Well that will fit all my tools, but it will never get out to the site, what have you got in a 4 wheel drive?" Its the sales rep's turn to smile, at last, she has some direction from the guy. "petrol or diesel?" she fires back at him easily, flashing the pearly whites as she does so. "Diesel, definitely has to be diesel", he answers. "Ok, we have a one tonner over here that might be perfect" she says to him as she heads off once again. "Its not a problem I only have a grand to spend and I've been knocked back twice for credit, is it?" she hears him ask after her, and she thinks, this, this is going to be one, long, day.

Ok so the story is obviously quite contrived and salespeople would bounce a few questions off a prospective customer before giving them any options. But getting some detail before you try for a sale is not what this particular ramble is about. Its apparent that not every car was right for this fellow, and with his last question, its clear that not every customer is right for this car dealer.

News flash. Not every DJ is right for every client or function, and not every client or function, is right for every DJ.

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Wednesday 1 August 2012

The three pillars SKILL

These few "Three Pillar" posts are my attempt to answer that initial question put to me: "How do couples find a Great Wedding DJ" and are directed towards those couples who are looking. Now that being said, if you are hoping to become a Great wedding DJ, then perhaps you can get something from the reading too.

SKILL it’s the first of the pillars I mentioned.

All the "Greats", regardless of their field of endeavour have skill. The actual ability to perform their respective "Great" and a Great Wedding DJ (GWD) is no different. The skills that a GWD brings to the table are a unique blend; there are the basic skills, like the ability to use, and setup the equipment they operate. Then there are more advanced skills, reading the room, controlling the flow on the floor, and creating maintaining and modifying a mood. And then, there is the "Great" skill set. LISTEN, ENTERTAIN, & MAINTAIN.

A GWD must listen.

Any wedding vendor that does not listen to their clients is not "Great", and honestly, I don't care if they have initials after their name, or a top floor office, or a luxury car and a Platinum card. If they are not interested in what YOU want, then kick them to the curb, say "Next" and keep looking. They should be asking questions and paying attention to your answers, then asking more questions based on those answers to find a motivation, so they can build a performance that goes to the core of your vision.

For example, I ask my clients to close their eyes and think about their perfect reception, and then give me 3 words that describe the perfect night that they want to achieve. Most will pause a little and normally one of those 3 words turns out to be "Fun". That’s perfect, the night should be fun, it is after all a celebration. BUT, if your wedding DJ doesn’t dig a little deeper, then it’s THEIR idea of fun and not YOURS. See where I'm going with this? If they don’t ask you questions AND then ask more questions acknowledging your answers they are not invested in your wedding, they may be adequate, but we are looking for Great. You want someone who makes the effort to find out what you want and what they need to do to make it happen.

I'll be back with my view on the Entertain and the Maintain parts of Skills soon.

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Saturday 28 July 2012

Back in Business

I experienced a brief moment of elation today, when I finally found my log in details after the office tidy up a few months ago.

The post will continue soon :)

Sunday 5 February 2012

The three pillars of GREATNESS (overview)

I was asked some time ago to write a piece for a web site to help couples find a great wedding dj. And being who I am, I started in a wild flurry of ideas and notes. I thought about that word "Great" and if I fell into that category (ego in check, I don't). I looked at the people who inspire me, I asked my family and friends to define it for me. I then started to think about the ideal wedding DJ from my point of view, from the clients and from the venues too, and then quickly got over taken by the real and immediate matters at hand. Making it happen, not writing about it, so, time to pull the notes and the thoughts together and put it all in one place.

I believe that there are three pillars that all "Greats" stand on, and yes there are exceptions to the rule, so first lets clarify what it is I'm actually writing about. "How do couples find a GREAT wedding dj" now those who've read a little of my ramblings will know that it can be exactly that rambling, but this one will keep circling back to that question above (see what I mean).

I'm approaching it from two view points (I hope) the clients, and of course, from behind the decks.

In my experience, (what little of it there is) people who are Great at what they do have similar traits. yes thats Great with a capital G, not "yeah great, wot ever" but the type of Great with a few exclamation marks after it ok? There are the practical aspects of their Greatness, the first of the two pillars.

1. SKILL; (Some are born Great) yes natural talent is the exception to skill. But only as a starting block, even those who are gifted, collect new skills and improve upon their existing ones.

2. EXPERIENCE; (Some achieve Greatness) there is no substitute for having a little dirt under your nails, if you haven't done the task, then reading about, watching others do it or talking to others about it, will not make you Great at it.

The third pillar is less tangible, yet in my opinion the most valuable.

3. PASSION. (Greatness thrust upon them) I touched on this last post, Passion is not passive. To be Great at any thing you have to be passionate about it, YOU HAVE TO BE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. No grey area here,  no grammatically correct lower case type: PASSIONATE. (maybe a litte too much  for me today?)

Let me bring this home now, back to the question; "How do couples find a GREAT wedding dj" 

This first step is important, so don't skip it.

How do you find a Great wedding DJ? Look for one. Seriously. If you want a Great DJ at your wedding, don't go looking for the lowest costing DJ, don't go looking at your local club DJ (no dis intended guys, I cant do what you do at the level you do it). Don't go looking in the newspaper classifieds. Look where you would expect Great wedding DJs to promote themselves. Wedding related websites, Wedding venues, Wedding Forums are all good places to start. Also don't forget the DJ Association type sites like here in Australia, (a newer site) or the state level ones, and the guys in the know in the US

Thanks for reading that wall of text, over the next 3 posts I'm going to take each of the pillars and DJize (its my blog and I can invent words here if I want to ) them. If you're looking for a Great wedding DJ or your on this side of the deck with me, I hope you'll find it worth the read.
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Sunday 22 January 2012

Im a DJ and I know it.

Djing used to be what I did, but Ive come to realise that its who I am. Its not only how I define myself, but its also how other define me.

As I'm sitting here tapping away at the keyboard I'm looking around my office. There are light and speaker stands resting in the corner, a console in need of repair on the workbench beside it. Along with a pair of headphones and a soldering iron.

My desk is cluttered with CDs and paperwork, booking forms and workshop notes. And the bookshelf has more CD's, LP's and 45's on it than actual books. My diary is a blank during most of the day, but full to busting after dark. Personal social gatherings happen on weeknights because Friday and Saturday are my work days.

And you know what. I Love IT. I pity those people who must face a day at work doing what they hate, when I get to do what I love. I think that's the secret, Passion, no I know that's the secret. If you are passionate about what you do, you will always love doing it. You'll get frustrated at not going fast enough, or hard enough, you could be doing more, give more, be better. BUT you keep going and you keep doing, because that's the stuff of passion, its not passive, its aggressive. So there is the thing, if you don't feel a passion for the work, for the clients, or for the industry, move over because there's a revolution coming. DJ's who want more, not for them selves but for the industry and the clients.

If you want to know more about the author the website is or the twitter is PerthWeddingDj

Saturday 14 January 2012

The Question

You wouldn't walk into restaurant, and ask "How much for a meal?" and expect a definitive answer. Not without adding some more detail to the request. "We'd like to bring 20 people to your restaurant for dinner on Feb 14th, what would that cost us?" is better, but still won't give the restaurant the ability to work up a bill for you. There are more details to take into consideration, What Items from the menu will be chosen? Will you ask for an entree and/or desert? If so how many of the guests will indulge? Coffee? Alcohol? A private room or the main dining area? The list can be quite comprehensive before the final amount is settled upon. Yes, some restaurants will offer pre-determined packages, with set prices to make this process easier. But it will come at some cost to the personalisation of the dining experience.

Now what has this got to do with the View from behind the decks? Let me reword those questions above, quoted from emails I've received this week.

"How much for a DJ?" thats it, that's all she wrote, literally. Now, this is not the regular way that people ask for a quote from me, but it has happened.

"We are getting married on Feb 14th at XYZ Restaurant and would like you to DJ, what will that cost us?" is another example, of a recent quote request.

The entertainment at your wedding is not, SHOULD NOT, be a prepackaged fast food Burger, Fries and a Soft drink. There is a world of gastronomic delights waiting for you on the buffet of ambiance. Customised entries, love stories, dancing on clouds, mood lighting, MCing duties, memorable moments, personal touches, creative garter and bouquet events are just some of the thousands of options that can be brought to the table.

So next time you, or some one you know is looking for a service provider, give them some real detail or better yet, give them some of your time, so they can give you some detail. Together the Bride & Groom and the right Wedding Entertainment Specialist, can create a feast for the senses.

Wedding Entertainment Specialists no longer just slap a CD on the barbie. Bon appetit.

If you want more, check out my website or tweet @PerthWeddingDJ 

Monday 2 January 2012

2012 The first Blogg

"And what have we done?, Another year over, And a new one just begun" -John Lennon & Yoko ono

Its a question that some of us will take a moment to reflect upon and vow to mend our ways, improve an aspect of our life or the life of those around us. Others will call themselves "realists" and point to the lack of conviction that most dedicate to the resolution of betterment, as reason not to give a second thought to the changing of the year. 

It is a arbitrary date for deciding your future, the tolling in of a new year. But without it, how many of us would even stop in that moment to consider our path thus far? Normally the desire to improve ourselves is born from a strong ongoing passion, or a sudden and powerful event. "it is only on the brink that people find the will to change". 

But why do we allow ourselves to lapse so easily back into the comfortable routines of our day to day, when, during the brief time we give ourselves for reflection, most of us find reason to change? From behind the DJ desk, I see declarations of love, vows of acceptance, and heart felt proclamations of friendship. Beautiful smiling faces, aglow with the emotion of the moment. But is it the truth? Will they standby those words? Will I. 

Can I stand by my own knowledge that I need to change? Not the simplistic, throwaway resolutions to "eat less chocolate" or the lofty ideals of a Dali Lama type life. But the real needs to change, those thoughts that come to you when you are on the brink, the paradigm shifts, when we realise that if we don't take the step, then this is as good as it gets, and its really not good enough.