Ma Maison has had the pleasure of working with DJ Christian since our very beginning. With almost two decades of DJing experience, this guy knows his stuff! Read on with some of his most frequently asked questions and see what Mr. Austin DJ can do for you for your special occasion.
How did you get started in the industry?
A fellow DJ friend of mine suggested it and that I would be good at it. I initially got started with low budget weddings advertised on Craigslist and went from there. Now I am happy to be one of just a few DJ’s and hosts at most of the bigger celebrity type events around Austin and Texas.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t have just one style. A good DJ is like an actor and can tune into the vibe of the party and play out that character. Whether it’s a classic Texas Hill Country-themed event or a sleek downtown ballroom event or a yacht party in Miami I slip into a sort of character that mirrors the mood and culture of the party. As far as an individual I am very laid back and stay calm and collected as my motto, however underneath it all I am quite serious.
How many weddings do you typically do in a year?
I’m keeping myself these days to around 50.
How many events have you done in your career? Weddings vs. Corporate?
I started DJing in 1999 and have typically done between 1 and sometimes up to 5 events per week so I estimate around 2000 to 2500 in total with around 500 being weddings and the other 1500 a mixture of private events, corporate events, club nights, bar gigs and festivals.
What type of equipment do you use?
The foundation of what I do comes from the high-performance world of EDM, so I am very fussy about my gear. I start with 2 MacBook Pro’s (one for backup) running a special mixing software called Traktor. I control the software with a hardware controller built by Dennon that runs into a Mackie mixing console that feeds into my Yamaha PA system. I emphasize the quality of my speakers because it makes a huge difference having $1500 speakers vs. the standard $300 to $500 range. I care about the safety of my ears and the guests, and it gets loud during dancing, so it is important to have high-end audio that filters out the harsh sounds and brings out the fidelity of the songs. My personal trademark is my 1955 Shure microphone, and of course, I have a variety of wireless microphones for the ceremony and toasts as well as fun dance floor lighting. I wrap everything behind a custom-built DJ booth that illuminates to the color of the chosen decor.
Do you offer any other services?
I have access to over 75 wireless up lights, pin spots and extreme dance floor lighting packages including lighting towers, stages and moving beams and lasers. The sky is the limit here. My DJ package includes everything you need to look and sound great, but if you want to highlight the room, it’s no problem we can customize everything.
How do you work with couples to determine a playlist?
This [a playlist] is the most important part of my job. We need to uncover forgotten hits that will rekindle the memories of the past as well as what is popular right now. We start with the invitation inviting everyone who rsvp’s to fill in the blank “I promise to dance if the DJ plays …… song”. This gives me a great head start on everything. Between the initial booking and the day of I give a series of coaching sessions to the client to properly prepare their song choices on an extensive questionnaire that is designed in a similar manner to a movie script starting with the guest arrival to the departure of the couple. Once I have their questionnaire I work their best song choices into my personal lists that I have been molding over hundreds of events. Of course, we discuss do not plays.
What are your favorite first dance songs?
While this is entirely a personal thing between the bride and groom, a few personal favorites from over the years would be:
Elvis Can't Help Falling in Love
Keith Whitley When You Say Nothing At All
Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World
George Strait Give It All We Got Tonight
Chris Stapleton Tennessee Whisky
Love is Alive The Judds
How do you motivate a non-dancing crowd?
We start the dance party with a very specific custom tailored plan that involves the couple, bridal party, and immediate family members. All of which are in on the plan to get the party started, so we should have a pretty full dance floor from the get go as well as having 100 to 150 “promises” to dance if I play the song they put on the invitation rsvp. With the “right planning and preparation" this should not be an issue. There is always an exception, and sometimes for whatever reason (usually too much to drink at the rehearsal dinner), the dance floor may not be moving. If this is the case, I recommend filling the gaps with special moments such as cake cutting, anniversary dance, bouquet/garter, playing the 1st dance of the parents or grandparents wedding, etc. In my opinion, it is not professional and simply not my personal style to be calling out hype up messages over the microphone to get on the dance floor. This should all happen organically. Sometimes slipping into some smooth Rat Pack (Sinatra, Nat King Cole) and well-known country will get things going. It all depends on the moment.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Probably just my 18 years of serious DJing as well as constant preparation and focus. The other side of the coin is talent. Just like some athletes can hit 3 pointers or hit home runs all day long some DJ’s can pick and mix songs with a smoothness that is equal to hitting home runs or shooting 3 pointers. Practice is very important, but at the end of the day, you need to have the instinct and talent to be at the top.
Should a couple choose to book you, what is the entire process from now until Last Dance like?
We touched on this a little above but to recap we (preferably in person or at least via Skype or Facetime) have a long conversation at the beginning about everything starting with the guest list and invitations. (if I am not available I still want to give tips and pointers to the couple, so they know how to book a pro) We even talk about the food that will be served and to stay away from sleepy heavy foods and what types of drinks should be served, so everyone is energized. I send out a quite lengthy questionnaire that we will review closely the week of the event. I insist that I am on their speed dial and to text or call as often as needed even if it’s a nonDJ issue. I am very opinionated about timeline design, and room layout so I like to be involved as much as possible.
How do you handle song requests? Especially if the couple does not want a specific song played?
Surprisingly most song requests are quite good. If a request comes in that is a dud I will help the guest choose another few songs for me to try and get to. As mentioned above I should have all the requests up front. I also ( if ok with the bride & groom) put a single small attractive card on each table with my cell number so folks can text me a request. I mention this early, but there are no promises as we only have so much time.
What advice can you offer to couple’s looking for a DJ?
I would get suggestions from your venue, wedding planner or day of coordinator (having at least a day of coordinator is vital to a successful celebration). They should know who is who and who is good. Ask how many weddings they have done (at least 50 at bare minimum but preferably up around 200) Your DJ should be someone you enjoy hanging out with as a friend with some mutual similarities.
Here is a little extra blurb from Christian himself:
The entertainment is a huge part of the [wedding] day. The music, the voice, the vibe, and tempo is controlled by the entertainer and will be the first and last impression to your wedding or special event. This is not an area to save money or short cut. Hiring a seasoned pro and not having flowers on the back tables is a better budgeting choice than having those flowers at the back of the room and an under-practiced beginner stumbling around at the front. Whether or not I am available or not I am always happy to consult with any couple or client about any topic of their wedding or event so feel free to reach out!