Saturday, November 14, 2009

Who is Curtis Whipple?

Who is Curtis Whipple?

Q. What is one little known fact about Curtis Whipple?
A. I was raised in Winslow AZ by an African-American woman from Roxie Mississippi. She's the one that gave me my soul and my moves.

Q. What is the #1 piece of advice you would give to a bride/groom?
A. Don't bog yourself down with so many details that have to be fussed with that you can't enjoy your own wedding. Hire qualified professionals to take care of all of that for you. It's a once in a lifetime experience and you really need to savor the emotions that you feel that day and think the thoughts that come to you. Feel the love, express your gratitude. HUG! WEEP! LOVE!

Q. What is the biggest mistake people make when picking a DJ?
A. An element that I cover with brides and grooms when meeting to talk about DJ services is to ask about other social occasions or weddings that they have attended and what were some things that the DJ/entertainer did or didn't do that made it really good or really bad? Invariably, it's a horror story about their cousin's wedding who used a friend who works at a night club or has eclectic tastes and has an ipod etc. An Ipod and a couple of speakers does not a DJ make. Cheaper, yes, but they may not have the equipment and training to really shine on such an important day. Night club DJs do brilliant work- IN NIGHT CLUBS! There is so much more that a good DJ can add to a wedding than just the dancing portion. Would you like cheap fast food at your wedding or do you want filet mignon?

Owing to the creative and artistic nature of what a DJ should do, make sure the DJ understands your musical tastes, your vision, the vibe your a looking for at your wedding party. The equipment/technical side is important, but the personality will make or break the event. If the DJ stinks, the guests will leave as soon as the meal is over no matter how great the sound system is.

For wedding and event professionals, this is our world but for a bride and groom hiring some professionals, it's a once in a lifetime occasion and they don't even know what to ask. If meeting with an agency that has several DJs, you may be talking to a salesperson and not the entertainer that will actually be working at your event. It would be a shock to meet him or her on the day of your wedding and decide that you do not like them. If you meet a vendor that you like, hire them. To be booked more than a year in advance is not uncommon. If you wait, you may get who is left over and not who you want.

To those for whom the DJ isn't important, that's fine- the hotel's background music will be acceptable. To those for whom it IS important, don't spend your budget on everything else and then tell a professional entertainer that you'd like to hire that you did not budget for a professional fee. The national average for professional DJ/entertainers is $1500. If the linens are the most important, spend first whatever is required for that and make the rest of the budget fit in around it. If the venue is the most important, spend whatever it takes and then make the rest of the budget fit in around that. If the photography is the most important, then hire the best and adjust the balance of your budget to that. In my 30 years, believe it or not, I have had couples for whom the DJ WAS the most important thing such that they changed the wedding date to a day that I was available and then adjusted the balance of the budget and schedule to fit that.

Q. Do you have a favorite memory from any of your past DJ jobs?
A. I Recently did a "dueling DJs" format event in Los Angeles- alternating 20 minute sets where I had to mix to the other DJ with no electronic connection, just what I heard on his sound system at the opposite end of the hall. Countdown clock on the wall that would reset every 20 minutes. At 19:30 he'd give me a beat and I mix to it and at 20:00, he goes dark and I fire up. At the next 19:30, I give him a beat and he mixes to it and at 20:00, I go dark. He was mixing very well, but didn't have the understanding of music that I do and so he ended up sounding not only choppy, but safe and conservative by playing the obvious hot current songs. I took the crowd on an adventure and because I had gained their confidence, I came off as "edgy". I could play older and more obscure songs and they followed me.

They were hugging, dancing, singing along, getting into it. By the 3rd set, the crowd of 400 would be turning their attention by me by 15:00 (with their backs to him) and he lost his confidence, made a few mistakes, got boooed and wouldn't even take the stage for his final set. All the lighting was dark except for a couple of white spotlights I had set in opposite corners to criss cross each other across my back and shoulders so I would be silhouetted in black- it was very stark and dramatic and at 19:30 he got his beat and the light was shining on me and I was in a rock star stance, pointing his way with a rock and roll finger point with the arm extended straight, shaking my leg like Elvis. He didn't take the stage and I took the beat back at 19:55 to an explosion of applause and cheers. He stayed in the green room until everybody was gone and he packed up his equipment in shame.

Q. What is the most unique request you’ve had for a wedding?
A. For the most part, a single lyric or two is not going to make much difference, but rather the flavor/texture/energy levels of the songs. However, one must put the chosen song into the context that it will be played. A romantic song for the Father/Daughter dance can become uncomfortable in that context. It needs to be a song that is meaningful but can apply to the relationship between a father and his daughter. I regularly get people requesting profane songs or songs that just don't belong at a wedding in any case. Broken love songs, songs of divorce, separation, etc. I may play a song that someone doesn't particularly like, but I never want to offend anyone with it.

People often don't think the song choices through and put them in the context of thier wedding day. I know some songs may have a rather obscure metaphor but if there is any question, go to youtube or google and search for the lyrics and research the song in question.

I had a groom many many years ago (it was very early in my career and I wouldn't let this happen again) who had been put in charge of hiring the DJ and planning the music. He chose the most obnoxious metal song for the first dance in the history of weddings. It was loud, fast, grating, undancable, poorly recorded and entirely inappropriate for a wedding. However, the name of the band was "Bride" so he thought it was really cool- there was no lyric about "Bride" just the band's name. He held his stunned bride's hands and stood across from her and he sang every word at the top of his lungs- he didn't hold her close and I doubt she would have let him. It's a mistake that I haven't duplicated since. To a great degree, it's the DJ that appears to be the idiot in those situations even though I did was I was hired for. If I can't talk some sense in to people these days, I usually pass on the job.

Happy Nuptials and Here's to a great event!

Best regards,

Curtis Whipple
http://www.curtiswhipple.com/
480 634 6127 office
480 251 3018 mobile
President of the American DJ Association- Phoenix Chapter
Owner of the Wedding and Event Network
http://www.wenaz.com/

1 comment:

DJ Mark said...

Very good interview! Curtis is a consummate professional in is field of wedding entertainment, and I don't think twice when referring him to clients when I'm not available.