Hiring a London DJ – The definitive guide
Hiring a DJ in London can be a difficult task. In my opinion the suitability of a DJ is relative to the requirements of the client. Whist I imagine that most DJs would agree with my sentiments there are undoubtedly a number of key factors which should taken into consideration when selecting a performer for your event. I’ve recently interviewed a number of talented experts from the Mobile DJ industry in an attempt to produce a definitive guide. You can read all about my findings below!
In recent years the role of a Wedding DJ has evolved considerably and increasingly DJs are now also expected to perform as compères. I asked Wedding DJ of the year, Tony Winyard, how easy he felt it was to combine these roles. He explained that “For me, they’re a natural fit together because the DJ is often asked to play music during the meal and drinks reception. If the DJ has a good Mic presence or takes the steps to learn those skills he is able to offer the services of being a MC which can be very different to that of a traditional Toastmaster. Many couples today don’t want the formality a Toastmaster brings but do want the day to be coordinated which is where DJs can offer something different to that of a Toastmaster”.
In many instances the contemporary DJ also plays a critical role in shaping the ambiance at a Wedding. I spoke to Mark Van Den Berg, of Mighty Fine entertainment, about the importance of this. He mentioned that he was “Very conscious of providing aesthetically-pleasing DJ set ups that are not only sympathetic to the amazing buildings and rooms we are lucky enough to work in but also complement our wedding couples’ vision. Van Den Berg, who was voted Wedding DJ of the year in 2013 went on to say “we offer multiple options to our couples for the Mighty Fine wedding DJ set up”.
When selecting DJ to perform at your event their ability to”Mix” is something worth considering. “Mixing” in this context refers to the DJ’s ability to transition seamlessly between songs with a similar tempo. I spoke to DJ Baz of Beats Ahead about this recently and he offered an interesting perspective. He believes that “A DJ’s ability to mix is relevant in relation to the client profile within that party environment. In simple terms, if a DJ is playing in a club or event for let’s say 35 and under age range, playing urban club style music style music, it is very important, beyond that age group or outside of those genre parameters the mixing talents of the DJ can be, in some cases, largely irreverent. A good mix engages the audience and keeps the beat contiguity but is by no mean essential to providing a vibrant dance floor and upbeat party atmosphere”.
I also spoke to one of Hed Kandi’s DJs/producers Miranda Loy about the importance of mixing as a DJ. She offered a slightly different perspective and argued that for her “It was important to learn (how to mix) as it was a skill that I felt I wanted to acquire. Some DJs just want to be famous and they don’t really care about the art and the craft of what they do but everything I’ve ever done, I’ve always had to put blood sweat and tears into it” She went on to mention that “At events if I’m playing, a lot of people are surprised that I’m a female and I can actually mix! For me having the basic technical skills is important”.
In addition to “mixing” there are a number of other ways a DJ can alter a song during a performance. In my opinion when considering the suitability of a DJ there is one very important question you should ask yourself, ‘Are you more concerned with what the DJ plays or how the DJ plays it?” Recently I heard Radio One DJ Charlie Sloth argue that how you play a song is more important than the selection of any particular track. According to him “It’s not what you play but it’s how you play it!”. I asked legendary Garage DJ, DJ Luck, for his opinion on the topic. Interestingly he felt that “Most people come out for the music and not for what you do to it” The Mobo Award winner went on to day that “Although there are a hand full of people who like skills on the deck on balance what a DJ plays is more important that how you play it”.
Despite the fact that DJs are judged primarily on their ability to entertain an audience using music, practically all Mobile DJs now offer Disco Lighting. In my view good Disco Lighting can transform the atmosphere in a venue and is conducive for a great party! Recently I spoke to YouTuber DJ Jonathan Lewis, also known as Ellaskins, about the importance of Disco lighting at a party. He argued that “Lighting is the key to the visual effect and can only enhance the musical experience. We have many senses but our sight (along with our ears) helps to bring out the best in our surroundings. Take this on board, if you were to have a good PA, great music and a wicked DJ in a very boring room the experience would not be as good as adding some lighting effects. Add to this a “light show” to go with the music and this can turn any room however bland in to a paradise.
Whilst it’s a rare occurrence there have been occasions when I’ve been asked specifically to supply a client with a Female. I’ve been asked a number of times to supply a female performer at events where mixing between genders is discouraged. I’ve also been asked once to provide a female DJ to perform at a product launch. Personally, I think that female DJs offer an interesting perspective in an industry which is dominated by men. I asked DJ BabyLynn, one of the world’s leading female DJs, what qualities she felt she brought to the industry as a woman. She explained to me that “Female DJs have the ability to feel other females in the crowd they are entertaining”. I went on to ask BabyLynn, a radio presenter on Urban Jazz radio, about any female only parties she’d performed at. She told me of how much she enjoyed playing at an event called ‘Sistas and Divas’, “The experience was out of this world! They showed me so much love and I was really excited”.
The remit of a Karaoke DJ is more akin to that of a Master of Ceremonies at a Wedding. As part of this a Karaoke DJ is often tasked with hosting events and is responsible for encouraging people to perform. Whilst it’s also important that the DJ has an extensive collection of songs for participants to select from, the DJs personality can play a critical role in the success of a party. I often host Karaoke events for Sunfly Karaoke and spoke to their CEO Collin Simmons about the importance of a good party host. He told me that a good Karaoke host “should be able to read the audience, know their material and what songs are guaranteed to work, be able to read the room and look for peaks and troughs throughout the session ending with a big singalong. He went on to say that the ideal Karaoke host should have a “great sense of humor” and be prepared to sing a few tracks to “get things going”
I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog. However above all I sincerely hope that this information will enable you to make an informed decision next time you need to hire a DJ! If you’re interested in similar content you can find some of the other blog posts I’ve written recently just here.