The other day I sat down to talk to Dennis Jones, better known in the local music community as DJ Dennis J of Creative Music DJs of San Diego. Dennis specializes in weddings, clubs, and schools, but will spin the tunes at any event. We first met at one of the Chamber’s After-5 Mixers and have run into each other a few times since then.
Dennis has been into the music scene since he was a boy, with a break to earn a BS in Computer Science and an MBA. He remembers getting caught up by “Rapper’s Delight,” buying his first turntables in 1987, and practicing mixing in his garage. He says he used to go down to Radio Shack to buy speakers, then go home and build the cases for the speakers. Back then the idea was “bigger is better,” before he learned about such technical issues as air space and resonance.
During his hiatus from spinning tunes, he joined MENSA and became an IT manager (and still does some occasional consulting), but the music continued to call to him and he returned to the turntables. But the time was well spent, because he is able to take his experience with computers and apply it to the special mixing he does for specific audiences. For example, he re-mixes popular songs to remove objectionable lyrics for use at school events, and does it in such a way that many listeners don’t even notice the changes.
Dennis’ two favorite venues are weddings and clubs, for different reasons. Weddings are particularly appealing for him because he is part of creating a special memory for people. He not only wants the bride and groom to feel they made the right choice in hiring him, but he wants everyone who attends to remember it as one of the best events they have been at. As for the club scene, it is the energy and excitement of the crowd that gets him charged up there. One of his biggest recent gigs was New Year’s Eve at “Masquerade” at the North Park’s West Coast Tavern. He also talked about one of his “craziest” gigs – he was playing an event at the Wild Animal Park, and every time he got on the microphone the animals in the area went nuts. They must have been enjoying the music and didn’t want him to interrupt it.
We talked about his philosophy of mixing and entertaining, and he believes that the music has to be in the forefront of his shows. This sounds like common sense, but it’s amazing how many people seem to think that they are the star of the show. True, in the club scene personality creates a following, which equates to more bodies – but very few people are going to come just for a personality if the music is lousy. For Dennis it’s all about creating a unique musical experience, then adding the personality on top of that to create a memorable event.
One of the main reasons I wanted to talk with Dennis is that he just recently took on the position of Vice President with the San Diego chapter of the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA). This group is the largest DJ association in the U.S., and is a meeting place for serious DJs who want to share ideas, improve their skills, or even mentor newer members. The organization’s goal is to develop quality DJs who are dedicated to the high standards of the association. With the advent of new technology, it has become too easy for anyone with a laptop – or even an iPod – to hang out a DJ sign, with little or no experience. These wanna-be DJs can easily ruin an event and leave behind a bad “taste” for the people in attendance. Dennis said that he strongly recommends that anyone hiring a DJ be sure to check that the person they are looking at has insurance and backup equipment – just two of the requirements of the ADJA.
I have not heard Dennis do his thing, but talking to him I’ve found him to be polite, personable, and professional. I think it would be worthwhile to check him out if you are looking for a DJ for your event.