• Music Curation for Businesses: How I Build New Playlists

    Playlist curation has been a growing focus for me. It seems more and more businesses are realizing the importance of carefully planned-out music when it comes to building the vibe of a space. When was the last time you walked into a business and it was dead silent? How weird was that? Even the dentist’s office has music (at least mine does).

    As a result, I’ve been really active on my DJ J-Wall Spotify account, making playlists for restaurant and corporate clients (and some for my own personal use too). Be sure to give my account a follow. I always leave some good stuff up there for public consumption.

    There are various ways I find inspiration for playlists. Some I group them by genre or era. Others are a collection of songs that I think would go together nicely in an open-format DJ set for the particular venue I’m working with. For those, I aim to have a solid balance between BPM ranges, genres/eras, and overall a sound that would be somewhat consistent whether the playlist is played in order or on shuffle.

    Most of my playlists are between eight and 15+ hours unless it’s for a very specific night or purpose. Even if the playlist is used for a five-hour dinner service, I like to have a buffer of a few hours at least. It helps to keep the playlist feeling fresher in shuffle mode for a longer amount of time. I’ve also found the algorithms on most playback services (i.e. Rockbot) will start repeating songs before playing through an entire list, so it’s a good practice to give the system more options to pull from.

    Lately I’ve been starting with a mood and then will go about building a playlist around that feeling. For example “Cozy Sounds” or “Smooth Evening Come Up” are two of my recent playlist projects. My favorite thing about DJing (and music in general) is that songs can make you feel a certain way. And “feelings” can transcend genres or eras. Downtempo/Lounge, Smooth Indie Rock and Folk, French Touch, and RnB all found a place on the “Cozy Sounds” playlist.

    There’s been an incredible unintended effect from from being so immersed in playlist curation lately – my DJ sets have gotten way more interesting. I’ve found hundreds of new records that I never would’ve discovered on traditional DJ Pool sites or other outlets I’ve used in the past. I even have a Spotify folder called “New DJ Ideas” where these tracks live before I figure out where to download them for DJ use (I still need the actual files for DJing). And even better, a lot of the tracks come from small independent producers and remixers, so I’ll go to Bandcamp to buy the tracks directly. That way the artist takes a higher cut than the usual download and streaming sites.

    Check out two of my latest playlist creations below. Both are in heavy rotation at High Street Place and at home too.

    And if you’re looking to commission unique playlists for business or personal use, please get in touch!

  • Got New Year’s Eve Plans? I’ll be DJing at High Street Place!

    It’s been an incredible year. I’ve never been more excited about DJing, or have felt a stronger connection with the music I’m playing. A lot of that has to do with the music programming work I’ve been doing at High Street Place. So it’s fitting that I’ll be bringing in 2023 in the space that I now call my musical “home.”

    For more info on what I’ve been doing at High Street Place, be sure to check out my previous blog post about that!

    I’ll be DJing from 10 PM until 2 AM, and the awesomely talented Miranda Rae will be doing an RnB set to kick off the night at 8 PM. Her ability to navigate through genres and eras of great music with ease, yet put her own spin on each song, is unlike any other performer I’ve seen in Boston. To be honest, I’m a little bit nervous to follow her!

    For the first time ever, we’ll clear out the tables and make a proper dance floor. There’ll be a lot of fun things going on throughout the hall as well, including casino games (we’re rolling with a Casino Royale theme), a five-story ball drop, and of course incredible food and drink options from our restaurant partners.

    Click here to grab your tickets on Eventbrite.

    Each ticket includes:

    • 2 drink tickets (good at any of our 3 bars) & champagne toast at midnight
    • Passed appetizers from 12 unique restaurants
    • Casino games including craps, black jack, and roulette
    • Live performance by Miranda Rae from 8-10pm
    • DJ Set by DJ J-Wall from 10pm-2am
    • Epic ball drop in our 5-story Atrium
    • Large dance floor in the Atrium
    • Complimentary make-up and hair styling glam ups
    • NYE party swag
    • Photo ops
    • Late night food options
    • The best and largest champagne list in downtown Boston

    And here’s a Spotify recap of some of my favorite songs from the 2022 High Street Place playlists:

  • New Role: High Street Place Music Director

    This one has been a long-time coming. I’m beyond excited to serve as the music director for the new High Street Place Food Hall in downtown Boston. I first started to work with the team in mid-2019 to prep for the original opening date planned for March 2020. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

    Almost two years later to the date, we finally opened on March 2, 2022 … and it was glorious. The architecture of the space alone is stunning, and the collection of restaurant and beverage partners is a true representation of local talent in the hospitality industry. It’s a family vibe amongst the staff and management, and I have no doubt that translates to the guest experience.

    High Street Place is in incredible canvas to work with as I build out its musical identity. There’s A LOT of energy and constant movement in the space, and that’s always changing throughout the arc of the day. Whether I’m programming a playlist, DJing, or bringing in other DJs or live acts, I’m always thinking of how well it pairs with the overall atmosphere of the space.

    Generally we have DJs 6 to 10 PM Thursday through Saturday and live music on Saturday afternoons.

    Also be sure to follow my DJ J-WALL Spotify account to have access to dozens of the playlists I’ve made for various parts of the day/week at High Street. They range from Lo-Fi and Chill to nuDisco and House. Here’s one of my favorite playlists so far: it’s a new soulful vibe that works nicely in the late morning and mid afternoon just before the lunch and dinner rushes.

  • New Year’s Eve Plans Confirmed: Vera’s (formerly Brass Union)

    It seems like a lifetime since I’ve DJed a New Year’s Eve party. Actually, it was 2019 at Brass Union with my pal DJ ABD. So it’s fitting that I’ll return to the same room this year for the holiday. And, it’ll be the first time they’ve had a DJ since the space transitioned to Vera’s earlier this year. It goes without saying, it’s an honor to be back, especially on such a big night.

    Over the past decade, Brass Union – and when it was Precinct before – has been one of the most important venues in the city for me, both professionally and personally. When it was Precinct, I just started to cut my teeth in the local music scene and was going out regularly to their shows, as well as booking my own. The Sea Monsters residency on Sundays was world class. If you know, you really know.

    Then when ownership refreshed the space into Brass Union in 2014, and did an impressive renovation that included a beautiful DJ booth, I got the call to book the music. This was an amazing platform as I was just starting to take my own DJing seriously. I began to see it as a possible career path rather than just a creative outlet for nights off from my regular gig managing a bar down the street.

    Brass was a space where I could really expand my horizons into the local DJ scene, and even beyond. I worked with so many talented DJs and formed lasting relationships with a lot of them. It’s an amazing feeling to go from “fan” to “friend” and “peer.”

    We also hosted ten Music Vs. Cancer fundraisers at Precinct/Brass and raised a ton of money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, all while celebrating my mother running the Boston Marathon for the Dana Farber team each year. It was like the unofficial Wallace-family festival. So many generous donors helped my mom raise more than $150,000 for cancer research.

    And speaking of family, I met my amazing wife Ashley while she was managing/bartending at Precinct more than 10 years ago. We even had our wedding after party at Brass Union in 2016!

    Every time I’d DJ at Brass Union, and Precinct before that, I felt like I was sharing more of myself than nearly any other venue I play at. (The Druid is in that class too!) That’s because I’m at home in the space, thanks to all of the memories and friendly faces over the years.

    I’ve missed this feeling considerably over the past two years and cannot wait to add to that history on this next chapter with Vera’s.

    12/31/2021 – Doors are at 9:30 PM. Music is from 10 PM to 2 AM. Tickets are $25 and include a champagne toast at midnight.

    Be sure to grab your tickets in advance on Eventbrite.

  • New DJ Video: An ’80s quick mix

    I made this DJ video for Instagram for gig promo, but I also wanted to post it here! This run of songs always goes over well, especially at weddings. Also those are prints by Mike Spencer in the background.

    You’ll notice I’m not using turntables either. Although I still prefer to play on turntables with Serato control vinyl, I’ve been using a controller more and more for mobile gigs because I’ve finally found one I like. This model, the Pioneer DDJ1000SRT has been amazing. It took the lockdown months during the worst of COVID to finally get comfortable with the workflow on this thing. It also has made me significantly better on CDJs too, as the feel is similar. My back also appreciates that it’s only 13 lbs. and can be transported in a backpack!

    Stay tuned for more videos and mixes.

  • New Mix: Uptempo Indie Gems

    Some mixes come together very easily. Others take a lot of effort. This one was a labor of love. It all came together organically, which usually for me means it takes time … a lot of time.  

    The songs and vibe on this mix are really close to my heart, and when that’s the case I try to make it perfect, often to a fault. For evidence, I have hours of mixes dying in my work-in-progress folder that’ll never see the light of day. In literal terms, the actual mix took more than ten takes and five months to complete, but it’s been on my mind a lot longer than that. 

    So where did this one start? I have no idea to be honest, but it all fits together in some way. That’s literally the story of my DJ career, too.

    Maybe it was a few months back on a painfully mundane Covid-era Saturday-night when I watched the Netflix Song Exploder episode about “When You Were Young,” the in-your-face anthem from The Killers’ sophomore album Sam’s Town? I loved how the band acknowledged the Springsteen-esque breakdown in the middle of the song. I never considered a bridge between the Boss and Brandon Flowers before. What a beautiful connection to make, and discovering those levels of synchronicity are why I love to DJ. I want to open those pathways and share them. 

    Maybe it was 15 years ago when I first heard Arcade Fire? I was crashing on my buddy’s couch in college. He had the original Coachella DVD where the Canadian indie-rock icons played an impassioned take of “Rebellion (Lies).” I loved how exposed and polished the band seemed at the same time. There’s a fine line between the two, and somehow they navigate it with equal parts brute force and finesse. 

    Maybe it was the first time I tuned the radio dial to 88.9 WERS? I was heavy on this station from 2009-2012 (and still am to some extent today). It was the first place I heard a lot of fun bands I still love: Foster the People, The Temper Trap, M83, Tegan and Sara, Miike Snow, Phoenix and the ilk. Guess what? They all find a home on this mix. 

    Maybe it was the time I heard my good friend and DJ colleague Ryan Brown play “Hello” by Martin Sloveig and Dragonette at Loco on a Southie Sunday? I’d like to act like I didn’t Shazam that song at the moment (I should’ve already known it). That song hits on another level when the vibe is right. I immediately added that one to the crates. Thanks RB for that gem. 

    Maybe it was the time I learned about DJ AM and the Banana Split party? I’m bummed I missed out on the era when DJs could play Justice and Duck Sauce at peak hour. These days, if I can get away with playing three records in this vein in a four-hour night of sleepy hip hop I’m a happy DJ. 

    This mix is called “Moving Out.” I recently moved out of my home of nearly a decade, which in my adult life was the longest I’ve lived in one spot. When I first moved in, I wasn’t a DJ. I didn’t own a set of turntables. It’s amazing how things just seem to happen when you’re driven by the music.

    I always tell people I became a DJ by accident. The more I think about it, that’s not right. I’ve always been listening and sharing my love for music with the people who mean a lot to me … and now that it’s become my career, I share it with complete strangers, too. It’s a beautiful thing. 

    When I look at it that way, it’s no accident that I became a DJ. 

    Full Tracklist:

    “Rebellion (Lies)” – The Arcade Fire
    “When You Were Young” – The Killers
    “Shooting Stars” – Bag Raiders
    “Praise You” – Purple Disco Machine (J-Wall Rework)
    “Crave You” – Flight Facilities
    “Animal” (Treasure Fingers RMX) – Miike Snow
    “Sweet Disposition” (Morgan Page RMX) – The Temper Trap
    “Don’t Stop” (Oliver Remix) – Foster The People
    “Midnight City” (Alcala RMX) – M83
    “Half Mast” (Slight Return) – Empire Of The Sun
    “Tony The Beat” (Tommie Sunshine’s Brooklyn Fire Remix) – The Sounds
    “Body Funk” – (Dom Dolla RMX / YXES Hype Bootleg) – Purple Disco Machine
    “The Party” (LA Riots Remix) Justice feat. Uffie
    “We Are Your Friends” (Scottie B, King Tutt, and Samir Remix) – Justice vs. Simian
    “Closer” (The Knocks RMX) – Tegan & Sara
    “1901” (Mike Balance Re-Rub) – Phoenix
    “Hello” – Martin Solveig ft Dragonette
    “Smiley Face” – Duck Sauce”Ain’t Nuthin But a Party” (Nick Bike Quick Hitter) – Swivel Hips
    “You Don’t Know Me” (J. Casablanca Remix) – Armand Van Helden ft Duane Harden
    “Help I’m Alive” (The Twelves RMX) – Metric
    “Expressing What Matters” – Disclosure
    “When Doves Cry x Body Funk” (Dom de Sousa Bootleg) – Prince vs Purple Disco Machine
    “Tonite” – LCD Soundsystem
    “The Hand That Feeds” (DFA Remix) – Nine Inch Nails
    “Digital Love” (Boris Dlugosh Remix) – Daft Punk
    “Work It Out” – A-Trak
    “Home” – LCD Soundsystem
    “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” (Break) – Crosby Stills Nash & Young vs. Four Color Zack
    Uptight Maggie (Bootleg) Stevie Wonder vs Rod Stewart
    “Easy (Like Sunday Mornings)” – The Commodores

  • Live at Home Mix Series

    There aren’t any dance floors to play music for at the moment, but I still have the desire to mix records together. That’s something you can never take away from me! So here are a bunch of mixes I’ve put out since the Covid-19 lockdown hit us. I’ll keep adding to this page!

  • Live Streaming Links

    I’ll be regularly streaming DJ sets during the Covid-19 lockdown via my Twitch, Facebook, and Instagram Live accounts. The most dependable platform to catch me on is Twitch, and my channel is embedded in the player below.

    Somehow live-streaming DJ sets in the year 2020 isn’t as straight-forward as it should be. Facebook and Instagram have incredible reach, but as a regular everyday working DJ it’s tough to beat the copyright algorithms to avoid getting shut down. I’m still working through the kinks, but for the time being Twitch will be my streaming platform of choice.

    I’ve been hearing reports that Mixcloud has just launched a solid platform, so I’ll be checking that out too.

    Stay safe and stay home!

    Watch live video from DJJWall on www.twitch.tv

  • DJ J-WALL at Boston Calling 2020!

    I am excited to announce that I’ll be DJing on Saturday afternoon (May 23) at the Boston Calling Music Festival. My set will be from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM on the arena stage, which will be a roller disco vibe.

    If you told my 16-year-old self that my name would be on the same festival poster on the same day as Rage Against the Machine, I would have said you’re f-ing crazy. Well, here we are.

    The lineup is full of heavy hitters (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Run The Jewels, The 1975, Liam Gallagher, and dozens more). I am also really excited for the strong representation from the local DJ community. DJ Frank White, Ryan Brown, Knife, Joshua Carl, 7L, Yvg Pavl/Big Bear and a handful of other working DJs will also be playing sets in the arena.

    As a working DJ, it is an honor to get a chance to play alongside a bunch of DJs I respect on a lineup of amazing bands, many of which I’ve been listening to since I’ve been a kid.

    For more info and ticket packages, check out Boston Calling’s Page on Front Gate Tickets.

  • New Year, New Mix, Nu Disco: “Nu Mix, Who Dis?”

    Here are some of my favorite Indie Dance and Nu Disco remixes, covers, edits, and originals mixed in with some classics. Usually this is the type of vibe I love to lay down when given free reign to play anything. This mix was actually recorded live during the first hour from a recent open-format set I did at Brass Union.

    As a working DJ, moments like this can be few and far between, so I am very happy that I hit the record button.

    Full track list to come soon. Please DM me if you’d like a downloadable version.