FAQ – music style, requests, playlists, my music etc…

Here are the most common questions I get asked about the music that will be played at an event.

What style of music do you normally play at events?

I do not play any particular style of music, as what is suitable for an event depends on two things: the client and the guests.

I am very flexible on music, and tailor the music to the client’s event style or theme, if any, and choose what to play, from track to track, depending on the mood and reaction of the guests.

Because of the diversity of people’s backgrounds in Hong Kong, I take into account such demographics as age group and nationality, and try to please individual tastes, but I’ve found over the years that, if the mood is right, then most people will want to dance no matter where or when the music is from.

If you want a particular style or genre of music for an event with a particular theme, then I’m happy to provide what you are looking for and also happy to take suggestions which I will try to source and provide, if I don’t already have them.

For non-themed events, I’m also happy to take your suggestions on music and, if required by you, keep the music within particular styles, genres or decades, but I would caution that for more esoteric music tastes, or parties with a wide range in ages or backgrounds, then the client’s music may not always satisfy everybody. With more than 40 years as a DJ, I trust you can leave it to my judgment to play to satisfy all needs, even if these stray from your suggestions.

Building that mood is my job, and why you book a person with my knowledge and experience.

Are you one of those ‘chatty’ DJs or are you the ‘too cool’ silent types?

Lol! Neither.

I enjoy the music I play and do get enthusiastic behind the decks, and I enjoy interacting with the crowd when necessary, but most of all I enjoy getting the balance right for the crowd’s enjoyment.

I also know when and the best way to build the mood. If the event requires a lot of vocal interaction, then I’m comfortable with that. If the event requires me to concentrate on the music and crowd watching for reactions, then I’m happy with that too.

Are you one of those DJs who monotonously and continuously plays every song into the next at the same beat, or the type who talks over uncomfortable train-wreck changes form one song to another?

Haha. I’ve never been a ‘Dave Doubledecks’ type DJ, cheesily announcing one song to another with annoying small talk 🙂 but do know how and when to use appropriate vocal interaction to build excitement on the dance floor.

I’m also skilled in all forms of mixing from one track to another, and will choose the best transition style for the type of music, style of event and the moment. That may mean continuous beat matching, cross-fades, or drops, or whatever works best… In fact varying the transition style is almost as important as varying the music styles to keep an evening interesting, satisfy all tastes, and build excitement on the dance floor.

I am aware that there are clients, events, and music styles that do require either dead air time between tracks, or an announcement of the song or the dance style, such as line dancing, salsa, Latin and ballroom dances, and I am aware of the importance of strict song play and announcements in these cases for the enjoyment of the dancers. Just let me know in advance if this is your requirement for the event.

Do you accept strict playlists?

If, for whatever reasons, you wish me to adhere to a strict playlist provided by you, then I am happy to do so, as long as it is provided with sufficient time for me to source any music that I do not already have, and to become familiar with any new music.

For similar reasons as above, I do caution against strict playlists, as the music chosen by the client ahead of the event may not satisfy all tastes.

There are of course events where a particular play list and play order is absolutely necessary, awards and runway events for example, and I am happy to work with you to identify the best choices if you have not already done so.

Will you play requests?

Of course, unless the event has a strict theme that the request falls outside of. Even then, if a lot of guests are requesting the same song, music style, or other styles of music away from the theme, then I will ask your go-ahead to deviate before doing so.

I normally encourage guests to make requests with dedications during the early part of the night as this helps break the ice and helps me get a better feel for the tastes out there. I ask for requests to be jotted down on slips that I supply, so that helps me track what is popular and programme it in to the right part of the set, but I might still play requests on the fly from the floor when people are having a great time dancing.

Sometimes though it is not possible to play every request that I’ve accepted and for those occasions I ask for the understanding of you and your guests should they be unhappy at not having their request played.

In general though, I will always play requests that have a special dedication, even if the song chosen doesn’t fit in with the mood and style of the event or that moment on the dance floor, and do precede these with an announcement so that the dancers understand and can join in with making the dedication wishes.

Obviously there will be occasions when I can’t meet a request – either I don’t have the song, or it’s just not going to work with the crowd at all that night, or it’s inappropriate for some reason. In these circumstances I’ll let the requester know the reason and I hope that the client can be sympathetic if, on these occasions, their guest is not happy.

If you haven’t got a song asked for on the night, why don’t you download it?

Even with a track collection of around 40,000 songs, it isn’t possible, or even necessary, to have every song that a guest can think of.

While legal download services are easily accessible on line, I am unable to obtain music on line during an event for the simple reasons that I’m busy concentrating on the job in hand – looking after the majority of guests – and because accessing wifi from the play out system can cause play out problems.

Also, I would appreciate not being asked to play a song from your or a guest’s phone that you have downloaded (see further below about music player sound quality).

Can I ask for a special song to be included, or for certain tunes to not be played during the event?

For special personal celebrations and occasions, such as weddings or birthdays, I always ask two questions “are there any particular songs that the couple/birthday boy/girl have as a favourite or require for a special part of the event?” and “is there any particular song that the bride/groom/birthday boy/girl or any specific special guest absolutely does not want to hear?”

In the first case, this is so I can prepare in advance, for example for first dance or father and daughter’s dance.

In the second case, there are some songs that people really don’t want to hear on happy occasions due to personal traumatic or unhappy associations. In this case I am happy to exclude those songs even if requested, but I should stress that while some clients may wish to ban certain songs or genres on pure music taste grounds, I ask them not to do so just because it’s cheesy or they don’t like it, as often there may be guests who will ask for it to be played. I’ve seen even the coolest hipsters happily flapping and wiggling to the Birdy Song, even after giving me an initial look of disgust 🙂

Do you play cheese?

One man’s cheese is another man’s fromage, or something like that.

I try to be a DJ who plays a selection of music that is both popular and well-known or remembered by the crowd and, if there’s to be dancing, will get them moving on the night, and I also try to tease out maybe less well-remembered songs from their memory that they won’t have heard in a while, as these help provide the ‘wow’ memory rush at events.

But it’s an undeniable fact that a lot of songs from our past have become regarded as cheesy DJ tunes, simply because they were hugely popular then, and remain so now, still providing that ‘wow’ factor. So if these seem as though they will work with the crowd to get them going, or to raise the mood, then I will play them. But I’m talking here about popular though maybe overplayed tunes.

There are a lot of songs though that are absolutely gimmicky – I still don’t know exactly what it is the fox is trying to say – and make even my teeth grind when I hear them. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, a lot of these are also great floor fillers and mood lifters when inserted at the right time, though agreed, can kill the floor mood if not.

That’s why you book me, for my judgment of what won’t work, what will work and when it will work best, for watching the crowd to ensure the reaction is right, or to get it off pronto if it’s a bomb.

Can I plug in my phone/iPod/iPad etc so you can play as song that I like/want, or my own music?

Often music on personal music devices is not of a high quality, while the headphone jack sound quality is relatively low, and will not sound good over a powerful sound system, so if you have a particular song you want to have played on the night, please notify me as far as possible in advance so I can source a quality copy if I don’t already have it.

If the music is your personal composition or performance, or music required for a part of the event, such as a show or other entertainer’s set, then again for the same reasons I ask for a better quality copy to be provided beforehand, preferably on CD, although I will accept a USB stick in advance so long as the required music are the only files on the device. This is to prevent both my play out equipment, and your computer, from sharing any lurking viruses or similar bugs.

As my music play out system is computer based, I’m afraid I will not play music from a USB stick provided during the event, as there is no time for me to verify the disk and files before inserting it into my play out system.

Do you play songs with inappropriate contents, lyrics or subject?

Modern music covers a great range of topics and with content that will be offensive to some, yet perfectly acceptable to others on a general basis. Certain artist’s styles or personal lives may also raise objections.

While not making any personal judgments, if a song has an identifiable or well-known highly controversial and objectionable subject, greatly offensive lyrics, or the artist’s lifestyle is of public record as grossly offensive, I do not usually play that music, and will advise clients away from such choices as some of their guests may be offended, and I would decline to play individual requests on the night.

For certain events, such as public broadcast and events involving young persons, as well as those mentioned above, I will not play any song containing offensive lyrics even if, to some people, certain words are not regarded as especially offensive. I take the view that the threshold on what is offensive should be set high to protect the young, even if they do listen to the same lyrics at home or with their friends. I will decline requests in such circumstances.

Many songs containing offensive lyrics are released for radio play in an edited form, and if I have such an edit, or if there is no radio edit and the lyrics are greatly offensive and I have had time to remix my own edited version, I will generally play this version at an event, even if young persons are not present, as people’s tastes and cultural values differ widely in Hong Kong.

For events involving young persons I have a ‘green light’ folder of radio edits, edited and checked songs that are suitable to play, and if given enough time beforehand, will check any requested songs not in that folder to make sure they are suitable, or obtain or make an edit in time.

There may be occasions when a song with an objectionable word or lyric gets played (though not for young person’s events) and offends, or if I play a song that is generally acceptable to most people but offends a guest’s personal values, then I apologize in advance.

Will you play any of that modern rubbish or Dad’s music?

Haha, yes, if it’s suitable for the event, client and the guests, but I pride myself on trying to make an event enjoyable for everybody and so make the music choice as inclusive as I possibly can.

Of course, if the guests are predominantly of a specific age group, then the music will be tailored towards them, though it has been known for spritely, and not so spritely, septuagenarians to show their Gangnam style, or for awkward teens to get all shook up.

Will the music be very loud?

I try to keep the music at an appropriate level for the circumstances of the venue and time of day. For example a large mostly empty room generally requires more volume to have the desired effect, as does a small packed noisy room, so in such cases it may be necessary to keep the music level a little higher.

If possible, I set up the speakers with consideration for non-dancing guests, especially where I am mainly providing music for dancing, as dance floors become full and require a little higher music level than events requiring only background music just below conversation level.

It is difficult to monitor the sound levels being felt on the dance floor or by those sat around a venue, from behind the decks, so if the levels are getting too high for everybody’s comfort, just let me know… In a quiet way please 😉

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