What Kind of Professional DJ Are You Michael?

Folks ask me all the time, “Michael, what kind of professional DJ are you?”


“The kind of professional DJ that plays music and makes fun.”


“No. I mean what kind of music do you play?”


“The fun kind.”


“No. Really. What kind of music do you play as a professional DJ?”


“It depends on my client. I play what they want. I am not a kid and do not need to hide behind one genre or a certain style. I am here for my couple’s and families that hire me. I have a diverse library of professional DJ music and appreciate new opportunities to learn about music and cultures through our conversations and preparations.”


“Yeah that’s great but what kind of music do you play.”


“You want me to list the genres?”


“Yeah. But I want to know what kind of professional DJ you are.”


“I am the kind of professional DJ that has fun and creates fun for others. As far as styles of music; I am very comfortable with Top 40, Dance, Rock, Hip Hop, Oldies, 70’s & 80’s, R&B, Soul, Motown, Disco and am even getting competent with Country these days too. I continue to grow my collections of World/Global Music including Reggae, Reggaeton, Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and smaller collections of African, Indian and Middle Eastern Music. I enjoy getting the opportunity to use my different Lounge and Mood Music collections of Buddha Bar, Café Del Mar, Hotel Costas and New Age for environments and events that this is what is best suited. I like music and my library grows weekly. Does that answer your question?”


“Well yes and no. Now I know how diverse your library is but still have no clue what kind of professional DJ you are.”


At this point I give up and smile. Not everybody understands that it is 2011 and being a professional DJ that plays only one genre or style is out-dated due to the advances in technology and the variety of music that folks enjoy today.

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Accepting New Challenges As A Professional DJ

I was recently approached with an offer to professional DJ at a club that is under new management. It is really a sports bar with a club upstairs; a great place to eat and party. They already have a Resident DJ but he is not willing to play music for theme nights they are planning over the next few months. He does not want to do Country, Latin or a Ladies Night. He will only do what he does and nothing else. Why are so many professional DJs like this?


I look forward to accepting new challenges and expanding my repertoire as a professional DJ. How can this be a bad thing?


Even when I was new at this way back when many years ago, I wanted to try new things, learn and gain experience and confidence in as many genres and styles as possible. As a professional DJ, it increases my value and marketability. As a performer, I add to my pallet of music in my library that I can provide to clients.  Country and Latin Music are two of the hottest dance trends these days and why would a professional DJ not want to be a part of the fun and excitement?


I wonder if this is just a matter of ego and maturity? If you have any ideas on why so many professional DJs are afraid to venture beyond one or two genre, I would be most grateful for your thoughts.


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ 

Another MultiCultural Wedding: DJ for Filipino-Italian Wedding

One of the joys of living and performing in the NYC/NJ/Philly Region is the opportunity to work as a professional DJ with Multicultural Weddings. I received a request for a quote from a young lady whose sister is getting married in November. It is a small wedding at View Of The Hudson in Piermont, NY.  She has the honor of both being her sister and Maid of Honor and is required to find and secure a professional DJ for her sister’s wedding.  We exchanged several emails before having a fun and informative conversation via the phone.


It turns out she is from a Filipino family and her sister’s fiancé is Italian. My Mom’s family is Italian and I grew up eating mostly Italian food from an excellent cook that has spoiled me for life.


I love to DJ Multi-Cultural Weddings. They are so much fun and always have a few interesting twists to add spice and variety to any event.  This one should be no exception. I too am from a Multi-Cultural family and it provided some unique and peculiar traditions when both sides of the family gathered together. I know many professional DJs flinch when presented with cultures they are not originally from; I do not understand this. I look forward to these events and the new experiences they offer. In the past year I have performed at about ten weddings with Brides and Grooms of different races, cultures or continents. I learn something new at every one of them and meet great people. Glad I am here in New Jersey where this kind of wedding is commonplace.


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

The DJ Plays A Great Last Song!

It was a really fun wedding to DJ. Everybody had a good time and the smiles and high-energy on the dance floor let me know it was going great. I wanted a great last song. I approached The Bride and Groom to let them we had about a half hour left and wanted to see if there were any songs they definitely needed to hear before we shut-down. They both looked at each other, laughed and in a chorus, “No”, and she continued “Everybody is having so much fun!” and pointed to the dance floor, which was still packed with happy guests at 11:30.


We had not set in advance a last song since they wanted to see how it would go. They thought none of their friends and family would dance as she said in our meeting, “We’re not real dancing people but I hope at least some people will dance.”  They did, all night.


“What would you like me to close with?”


They looked at each other again, “Whatever you think will be best is fine with us. You’re the professional Wedding DJ”


“OK” And I walked back to my DJ station for the last bunch of tunes.


I glanced over the list of songs we had created together to see what was not played yet that would be a perfect closing song.  Typically we close a wedding with a few slow songs to bring everybody down and leave it with a nice happy, romantic feeling. Then I saw it near the bottom of the list: Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes, “Havin’ A Party”. Perfect!



I knew it was going against the tradition of ending with slow songs but this was a fun group and they didn’t follow many of the typical wedding trends; why should the closing be any different?  My assistant DJ looked at me skeptically but I stuck to my guns and cued it up. Two minutes later I cranked the volume and all the guests that were left including The Bride and Groom rushed to the dance floor singing and clapping to the song with joy pouring out of their smiles! It worked. When the song was completed they were all standing there hugging each other and sharing ‘High Fives’.  The red cheeks and bright eyes told the story and gave me all the confirmation I needed. This was the right song for this wedding and guests.  A true celebratory group needed a celebratory conclusion.


This may be my new closing song for the right wedding or party…

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Why A Digital DJ?

I get asked regularly, “DJ Michael, why are you a digital DJ instead of turntables, since you are such a professional DJ purist, an ‘Old Skool-type DJ’?”
“Simple. I can honor the requests live of pretty much any genre or song a guest may ask.  I would need to bring with me thirty or forty racks of records to even come close to covering the diverse musical requests that a professional DJ needs to have access to at an event. Also, it is a lot easier on my back and body, not to mention there is such a smaller margin of error with digital equipment than turntables and CD players.”
When I was younger, I knew it was always possible to deal with needles skipping when someone was having too much fun near the DJ Station. I knew records would get scratches and grooves in them. To a much lesser extent, I experienced some of this with CDs, although not nearly as much. I do not have any tech problems these days. Nothing.
I miss using vinyl. I miss its natural sound and the feel of the records in my hands. I even miss the liner notes I used to read to learn about the musicians and the album. None of these are worth sacrificing technical perfection and the ability to honor nearly 95% on-site requests. For a true Club DJ that only plays one genre and does not lug gear with them from gig to gig; vinyl is a great option. I am not that kind of professional DJ. I need to be ready for whatever genre someone wants to hire me to play. It might be Top 40 and Hip Hop one night or 80’s the next or Oldies and Top 40 the day after. I have performed at weddings with Celtic, Reggae and Calypso on a Sunday afternoon after playing Top 40, MoTown, Soul, Disco and R&B the night before. I appreciate the opportunity to play diverse playlists and the challenge of hunting down obscure tunes that a couple may want during Cocktail Hour or a First Dance Song of a couple celebrating their 50th Anniversary and renewing their vows that had the local band play at their wedding in 1961 as a professional DJ! And I will find it. This is fun for me.
I’ll keep using my MacBook. I like the ability to be more creative than I could have imagined when I started out many years ago.  Time to finish preparing for a wedding on Saturday night with Rock, MoTown and Top 40:)

DJ, What Are These Songs About? Songs That Don’t Make Sense or Leave Us Wondering

Here are songs that either don’t make a lick of sense or give us the opportunity to reflect on what they are trying to say, even for a professional DJ.

1. The Perculator
2. The Happening – Diana Ross & the Supremes
3. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly
4. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? – the Lovin Spoonful
5. Mah-Na-Mah-Na – Piero Umiliani (or the Muppets)
6. The Thing – Phil Harris
7. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
8. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
9. Mmm Mmm Mmm – Crash Test Dummies
10. Mellow Yellow – Donovan
11. Hypnotized – Fleetwood Mac
12. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
13. Behind Closed Doors – Charlie Rich
14. Missing – Everything But The Girl
15. Hole In My Shoe – Traffic
16. Ball Of Confusion (Thats What The World Is Today) – Temptations
17. Question – Moody Blues
18. 25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago
19. I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meatloaf
20. Da Da Da – Trio
21. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
22. The Dance – Garth Brooks
23. Land of Confusion – Genesis
24. Ode To Billy Joe – Bobbie Gentry
25. Journey To The Center Of The Mind – Amboy Dukes

26. Life Is A Rock But The Radio Rolled Me – Reunion
27. In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) – Zager & Evans
28. How Can I Be Sure – Young Rascals
29. MacArthur Park – Richard Harris
30. Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran
31. Rock and Roll (Part 2) – Gary Glitter
32. De do do do, de da da da – the Police
33. What’s Up – 4 Non Blondes
34. What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? – R.E.M.
35. I Started A Joke – Bee Gees
36. What’s The Matter Here? – 10,000 Maniacs
37. Everyone’s Gone to the Moon – Jonathan King.
38. Say It Right – Nelly Furtado
39. Connected – Stereo MCs
40. Yes! We Have No Bananas – Ben Selvin
41. Little Willie – the Sweet
42. Don’t Know Much – Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt
43. Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harem
44. The Bomb! – The Bucketheads
45. Blah Blah Blah – Ke$ha featuring 3OH!3
46. Book Of Love – The Monotones
47. Synchronicity II – the Police
48. I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing – James Brown
49. Mairzy Doats – Merry Macs
50. Love Plus One – Haircut 100


A fun list. I think we can put In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Purple Haze, Mellow Yellow, Hole In My Shoe and Whiter Shade of Pale under the category of written under the influence of psychedelics.


Songs like; I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, For What It’s Worth, Ball Of Confusion, What’s Going On, What’s Up, What’s The Matter Here? and What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? are rare songs that delve below the surface with commercial success.  I would be grateful if more songs utilized Pop Music as a vehicle for social, cultural and political awareness.  What other Pop Hits have used Pop Music to further discussion and thought of their listeners?


Of course, many of the songs on this list are just goofy songs and others that have utilized letters of the alphabet to make a chorus work. I do have to say, I am a fan of Haircut 100 and will play “Love Plus One” every now and then in the right environment.


What other tunes have been Billboard Hits that make no sense that should be added to the list?

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Professional DJs Must Continue To Grow and Expand

When I first began as a professional DJ, like most new professional DJs, I attached my style to my favorite musical genre. It never occurred to me that my skills could be utilized by planners of events from all types of music. Fortunately, I caught on a few months later and continue to expand my music library and knowledge base as a professional DJ in the New Jersey & New York area.



Recently, I was contacted by a promoter needing a professional Country DJ for a series of events. I am aware this is not my strength but have worked on trying to add to my professional DJ library over the last few months preparing for gigs like this knowing that my services may be needed for events just like this. I am somewhat a perfectionist about my craft and do not like to provide less than excellent service for those who choose to hire me. I enjoy Country and want to be able to create the same quality that all my other clients have come to know and expect from me as a professional DJ. These days digital technology has aided my ability to keep working on having a true musical library that crosses borders of genre, culture and style.



I am excited to be able to offer more genres than most DJs and the ability to accept gigs from very diverse clients and planners. I encourage all professional DJs to expand and grow as they mature and gain experience. There is no reason to stay within one genre; this is 2011 and we have resources that allow us to meet the needs of all our customers.


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Oldies DJ For Birthdays and Anniversaries

I have been hired as professional Oldies DJ for several Oldies events lately. These are typically parties with lots of good, clean fun. I grew-up with plenty of the songs from the late 50’s and early 60’s with artists like Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Dion & The Belmonts, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Johnny Mathis and all the MoTown stuff being the ones that stick out in my memory the most. My family also listened to a lot of Jazz, Pop Vocalists and Big Bands as well.


For reasons I do not know, as a child I gravitated towards the Oldies genre on my own. It started with me asking my parents to find me The Crusin’ Series of albums and cassettes. They are where I first began to study the history of  music and the roots of Rock and Roll. The Crusin’ 1961 album was the first since it was the year I was born, then 1958 and 1962. Soon after that I got the double album soundtrack to the film American Graffiti.  My brother gave me as a gift a couple of albums by Shanana with covers of many of the great tunes of that era. The collection grew with time and patience.


When I first started as a professional DJ, I was hired for a party for some Morristown Police Officers. They had so much fun they kept hiring me for all their events and it wasn’t long before all the police, fire and P.A.L. events booked me and I became known as the “Oldies DJ” even though I was only nineteen or twenty at the time. I had fun and learned a lot about music and Rock and Roll.


I still enjoy the opportunity to break out the Oldies and spin great times with folks who really appreciate the music and memories.  I think it is easier for me since I was alive during most of this music and grew-up with it. I imagine a young professional DJ who is trying to play the songs of the 50’s and 60’s through reading about them or just what Billboard says would struggle with knowing what works with what, as I did when I was DJing in my early twenties and playing some Big Band and Swing gigs back then. I do know a couple of young professional DJs who actually do an excellent job with both The Oldies and music of today though.


Back to the playlist I am working on for a 50th anniversary party coming up soon!

DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Professional DJs Playing Remix after Remix

I have not been a fan of a steady diet of remix after remix of old samples added to new beats. It somehow seems like a way to take someone’s work and pull it apart. Think if we did the same thing with a painting or a novel? But music is somewhat different. Music is more malleable than most artistic forms. Artists have been doing their versions of artists songs for as long as there has been music. So, it is not a great leap to take their recorded music and reshape it to your needs. I need to clarify that I think it makes total sense for the artist or producer to remix at their leisure. It is their creative piece to begin with, but when we do so, it is without their voice being heard in the creative process. This seems different to me.

What I did find interesting though was hearing great inspiring speeches and phrases dubbed over beats. An example was Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream Speech was dubbed over some basic hard-driving beats. Of course, this is not a new practice, just one that deserves further exploration. Is it against the basic premise of artist’s work is left alone except when the artist themselves are giving their creative input to make certain it meets their standards and maintains their intention?  Artist integrity also has to be considered. As an artist, would you be OK with someone you have never met taking your work and reshaping to the way they want it? Any shape they want. They may even take out your vocals altogether, or just the lyrics they do not like.

As a songwriter, there is a conflict here. Of course, they are fine with the idea that someone likes their work enough to care, maybe not as accepting to the concept of it being pulled apart at the seams and made into something brand new, without their input. I think it would depend on the artist.

I wonder how Pink Floyd feel about hearing their songs sampled over a disco beat or Johnny Cash to a Hip Hop beat (both exist)?  What about Sinatra remixed to Country beats?  Or Mozart to Heavy Metal? Would these artists lose sleep from agony or embrace the new, different form their work has taken?

I think it is important to recognize that not all artists will feel respected and admired by the final results. Some may be blown away at what we can do today without bands or musicians, yet others may cringe at the thought. While we dance away to the new version of Sly and The Family Stone’s Everyday People, I invite you to keep in mind the original artist’s intention and how they would feel about our new version of their song. Hear their voice and let it speak to you and connect with you. It is not that I am saying that remixing or sampling are bad, just think it is important to be mindful of the original artist and their focus, creativity and direction. Are we honoring or ignoring them in our need for something new without actually creating something new? This is the question for the professional DJ.


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ

Music, Dance and Culture As A Professional DJ

It does not happen often, but every now and then I have to really dig into my experience as a professional DJ to figure out how to make things work at an event.  Most recently, it was due to some cultural differences that I did not take into account and fortunately was helped by some of the guests to understand and find an effective solution.

Even though I have lived and traveled through a large section of Eastern and Central Asia, I still view how an event is supposed to go in the USA from an American perspective. This is not necessarily a bad thing but can be a blind-spot when not taking into account cultural differences. If I was in South Korea or Uzbekistan, I would not think twice about ASSUMING the way we do it here is the way it is done there. But being here in the USA, my vision is not as wide and expansive at times since it is my home.  I ASSUMED that the order of events that are typical for an American social event were the same everywhere, big mistake. I know better. I ASSUMED that there is some time before dinner for people to mingle and settle, dinner, cake/coffee/tea and then everybody is ready to let go and dance till they are cleaning the tables and folding chairs. This is not the case everywhere.

The event I was providing professional DJ services for was a high school graduation party for an American Punjabi family. The event was at an Indian Restaurant and they followed Indian traditional order of social events.  The dancing for events is between the appetizers and the main meal, not after the main meal. I did not know this, I do now!

Again, if not for the willing guests who showed me the way, I am afraid the party would not have been the success it was. I am grateful they took the time to explain to me how this works and what to do. They even shared with me what music to play when!

The lesson learned for me is an old lesson relived: Don’t make ASSUMPTIONS, especially with cultural differences.


DJ Mystical Michael Rhode Island DJ & NY DJ