It’s been almost a year and a half since I left my bar-managing job and went after the DJ thing full time. I am happy to report that I am still here, working at something I love everyday, and business is growing. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with awesome bar owners, corporate clients, brides and grooms, and general music lovers in Boston who keep me consistently busy. It helps to have a website, but word of mouth is still king. Chances are you or someone you know needs a DJ for an event … so don’t forget about your boy DJ J-Wall!
I am also thankful that the DJ community in Boston is rich with generous and talented professionals willing to discuss trade secrets, share music/equipment, and even trade gigs. In this field, your coworkers are technically your competitors. I gravitate to the ones who see it as a collective effort. Together we can all raise the bar.
This has been a landmark year for me as a DJ. I’ve spun parties in new venues I could never imagine playing (Royale, Paradise Rock Club, City Hall Plaza) and have shared nights with DJs I idolize. I also feel like my musical IQ is rising and I’m more confident about bringing new genres into the mix. I’ll admit that I used to hate on some of the stuff I spin now, but once I got to see how these tracks work for a dance floor I was hooked. I’d like to think I can find redeeming qualities in even some of the most basic of genres. At the core, to me, it always needs to be funky and interesting to make the cut, and if the original sucks, you never know: there might just be a dope remix out there.
All of this makes me want to double down in 2018. I am always striving to get better, both as a DJ and as a business owner. And one of my biggest goals is to start a more in-depth dialogue with you. There are so many things that go into being a working DJ. Surprisingly, a lot of those are tedious tasks that aren’t glamorous at all, but the payoff is what makes it worth it. My job is to interact with a crowd, but rarely do I get to talk about what goes into it. A lot of DJs will say the DJ booth is one of the loneliest places in the room (please don’t take that as an invite to come up and request “Despacito” or whatever pop song it is you’ve heard 15 times already that day). The silence after gigs is when a lot of thinking happens, good and bad. I am looking forward to using this blog to cultivate some of those thoughts.
In a given week, I may DJ in front of a crowd for only 15 to 20 hours total, but so much more happens outside that window to make those hours as effective I can. Time spent practicing goes just as far as following the charts, digging for cool edits, marking cue points and loops, checking out new venues and nights, and building new business. The thought that people are giving me the power to curate the vibe of their businesses or special events is something I take seriously.
Music is always around me, so there’s really no turning off my working brain. My favorite DJs all tell a story when they perform. And my favorite records to play are the ones with which I associate a vivid memory. There are so many to pull from, too. Hearing that Fleetwood Mac live record on the way home from the Cape in the back of my parents’ car, for instance, all salty from hours in ocean, or that Janet cassette I “borrowed” from my sister when she was at dance class (the same one I’d never admit to liking when my hockey friends were around), or Get Rich or Die Trying on repeat through the rattle of Pontiac factory speakers on the my first day driving solo with my license. When I play records for people, my only hope is it sparks similar memories for them. – JW
Stay tuned for more from The Working DJ!