I have had many experiences around Kent, London and the South East over the last fifteen years. Around 8 years ago I was lucky enough to receive a booking at the Rochester Corn Exchange. To those who are unfamiliar with the venue, it's a huge hall with an impressively high ceiling and large glass windows all around. I was to perform a one hour live set before the DJ took over. I had heard about the venue (having played most of the pubs along Rochester, Gillingham and Chatham throughout what I fondly like to call my 'musician's apprenticeship'!) and was excited to have an opportunity to perform there.
The stage was approximately 12 metres wide and 1 metre high at the far end of the hall. When I arrived I had a little surprise. The DJ had already taken his place spreading his sub woofers, lighting rig and heavy duty speaker equipment across the entire stage area. He'd been told to expect me, but had made a judgement call that I wouldn't require much room and used all the stage space available. Now, you may perhaps say this is partly my fault as we should have communicated beforehand, but this booking was given to me just one day before the date. Most DJs I had worked with previously had always assumed I'd need a little space for myself so I felt fairly confident that such a large venue could accommodate us both on the gargantuan stage. I ended up setting up on the floor in front of the stage area, and my act thankfully went down very well! Perhaps the DJ was right (if a little unfriendly!) after all?
On another occasion I was performing alongside a DJ in Canterbury and the venue's manager asked him to turn his volume down on several occasions. He seemed to take their requests as a criticism rather than genuine and honest feedback, and refused. After an hour or so, and more warnings than I can remember, the manager calmly strolled over and physically pulled his electrical plug out! Not great for his equipment, but I do understand the manager's point of view!
Thinking about it, volume can be a little like road-rage. Once a person is in control of a sound system (whether a musician, singer or DJ) they can on occasion behave a bit differently. Perhaps it's the feeling of being in control of a powerful machine, or maybe it's that voice in their head that tells them everyone should like the music they like. The more professional of us try to put our feelings and egos to one side and focus on what the audience need, and strive to create an atmosphere where everyone can enjoy themselves.
In 2004 I was asked to perform at Cooling Castle Barn's Christmas celebration evenings. These Christmas parties are held each weekend throughout December every year. I was to perform in two rooms simultaneously... not an easy task since there's only one of me! A month before the bookings I was contacted by Dan Potter, a DJ from Sounds Impressive who introduced himself and explained exactly how the sound system worked and how I could feed my signal into both rooms. He also told me what cables I would need and when to set up. I was struck by his professional attitude and how focused he was on making everything run smoothly to ensure all the celebrations were a success. And a success they were! Dan even turned up early to help me set up my cables (knowing that performing in two rooms would be tricky!)
In more recent years by coincidence Dan and I were also booked to work together at a wedding at Nettlestead Place in Kent. On this occasion he phoned me beforehand to ask what PA system I would be taking with me. I explained which I would be using, and he arranged to scale down his system so it matched mine. This way when I finished playing my set and took a break, his disco would be a similar volume to me, so when I went back on stage it wouldn't suddenly sound quieter! He also asked to see my set list so he could avoid playing songs that I was due to play that evening.
It's this kind of consideration between musicians and DJs that can make all the difference at a wedding or party. Working together rather than against one another means everyone benefits... including us!
I have worked with Dan and Sounds Impressive DJs on many more occasions since then, and I highly recommend them to all wedding couples that are looking for a DJ. Not only are they considerate to musicians and singers, they play music that the audience want to hear and have a natural understanding of what songs will work well for a particular event. Not forgetting Dan has some mean beat-matching skills which still amaze me to this day!