I first met Dustin from Top Dog Productions at a wedding I shot back in August of last year for Matt + Becky’s wedding and immediately knew he was someone I wanted to work with in the future. For me, I love when a DJ is easy to work with. One thing you have to keep in mind is that from a vendor point of view, while everything is going on around you, we are behind the scenes trying to make everything run smoothly. When the DJ and the photographer can communicate about what’s coming up and when, it assures that you will have every moment captured. Having someone pleasant and cheerful to work with IS ALWAYS A BONUS!!
Brides, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you hire an experienced, professional DJ that not only plays awesome music but knows how to entertain the crowd. I’ve shot A LOT of weddings and I have seen the spectrum of talent when it comes to DJ’s. It’s NOT about having nice equipment, it’s about having people skills, having a personality and staying up with the latest trends. I have this gripe with photography, just because you can buy expensive equipment doesn’t make you a photographer….and just because someone has alot of music, big speakers and a sound system DOESN’T MAKE THEM A DJ!
We’ve all been to the weddings and had to sit thru the pain and torture of bad music-dont lie! It’s even more painful when you know the couple has forked out tens of thousands of dollars for their “perfect day” to have no one on the dance floor. I’ve seen it! The point is doing these vendor interviews is to highlight the small businesses in the area that you may have not known about otherwise. AND I want you to know the importance of hiring QUALITY vendors not to mention-the better the DJ=more photos at your reception. Why? Because there will be things to take photos of…like….PEOPLE DANCING!!!! 🙂
Below is my interview with Dustin of Top Dog Productions….and guess what folks, he has a personality and awesome up lighting, just sayin!! (below: Dustin and I switched roles for a quick photo)
He always has the dance floor hoppin!! He even got out on the dance floor to demonstrate a few dances. 🙂
How long have you been in the industry?
Since I was 12 years old. Yes that is correct. I performed my first wedding with Top Dog Productions, along side of my business partner, Dustin Coval in May of 1998. Top Dog Productions however was established in 1995.
What made you decide to become a wedding DJ?
When I first started I was performing many different types of events. None where as fulfilling as weddings. Plus wedding allow me to spread my wings creatively and come up with unique ideas for each client I work with.
What is your favorite thing about DJing at a wedding?
The Grand Introduction it is the first time I introduce myself and my company to the guests and it is the kick off of the celebration for the happy couple. However I love every moment of a wedding reception and I take part in as much of it as I can. I love UNIQUE moments planned in advance. However the surprise moments are great to! Maybe this question should have been what don’t you like about receptions and I would say the last beat and note of the last song of the night.
What is something you wish you’d have known when you first started to DJ?
Connecting with other event professionals, such as “Jen McKen”… Before, During and After The Wedding. I have learned so very much from vendors in my industry (DJ and Entertainment) as well everyone else who works with weddings.
How do you go about deciding on the play list for a reception?
Two Factors: The couples tastes in music and the guest list. I encourage my couples to send me lists for every part of the reception from cocktail hour through dancing. However that is not a requirement some couples just tell me to choose everything for there evening. Secondly the guests are the other deciding factor. I ask my clients the age ranges of their guests and where they are coming from. Also our company allows those guests to PRE – REQUEST music before the reception. All in all it is chosen based on the couples likes and the tastes of their guests. I ALWAYS TAKE REQUESTS.
What type of equipment do you bring with you?
Some wedding DJ’s insist on bring HUGE school dance setups to some of the smallest elegant receptions and this really bugs me. Our company does our best to fit into the reception hall without being the center of attention with crazy (annoying) strobe lights and speakers you would see at a Nickelback Concert. Our sound equipment is only furnished by some of the best names in the industry like JBL, Bose, FBT, QSC, Audio Technica and Shure. Our latest sound upgrade is our Bose L1 sound system seen here. It blends in so well and provides such great sound. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150132463084253
Do you DJ other types of events as well?
You bet… I will perform at any event that requires my services. In fact I love unique events that provide me with a challenge either with music or different services.
What is the craziest thing you’ve seen take place at a reception?
I would need more space on your web server jen to list them all. Last year I worked with Brandy and Charlie for their reception. It was an INCREDIBLY hot June day. About a half hour before the reception was supposed to commence a mass exodus of the wedding party and guests occurred out of the blue. A minute later I find them all taking a dive into the venues outdoor fountain. A priceless moment to see everyone in the fountain. Take a look: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=184224&id=131776384252
What do you think a bride should look for in a wedding DJ?
DJ’s are everywhere these days and some are just playing music (even with an IPOD) at weddings and missing two other very important talents 1.) Personalized Planning and 2.) The Title of being a “MASTER OF CEREMONIES.” I care about each clients wedding just as it was my own. Our company goes way beyond the task of DJ’ing. That’s why I meet with my couples and put in between 15 and 30 hours into their wedding. I only have one chance to make this, the most important day of their life, come true.
What do you do when you’re not spinning tracks?
Spin Tracks… no kidding. I love music so much that relaxing time is sometime getting my decks out and mixing tracks. Otherwise I enjoy relaxing watching some of my favorite TV shows like Family Guys and the other cartoon shows Sunday Night on Fox. The Office is DVR’ed weekly. I work at a night club Thursday nights so I miss it. And I love many shows from back in the day, for me that is the late eighty’s and early ninety’s
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Dedicated, Experienced, Creative
What are your three favorite songs?
Many of my favorite songs are songs I never get to play at my events. I really don’t like anything that has been on the pop billboard charts over the past decades because I have to play it repetitively at my events weekly. I love dance / trance music ya know the “Techno” stuff
1.) Rockell – “In A Dream”
2.) Tiesto – “Just Be [Antillas Club Mix]”
3.) Ian Van Dahl – “Secret Love [C and V’s Extended Mix]
Are the DJ at the receptions or do you have a team of DJ’s?
No Top Dog Productions is a team of event professionals. Along with me there is Dustin Coval, Doug (DJ) Kimmel, and Mike Devan. Dustin Coval and I are always performing weddings together. That has been a staple of Top Dog for years now. Most of our past clients refer to our company as “Dustin and Dustin” or even cooler “Dustin Squared”
How much time do you require for set up?
Depends on what we are providing for the client sometimes we have to arrive at the venue 6+ hours in advance or event setup the day prior. For most events we arrive not later than 2 hours in advance to ensure we have time to setup and be ready before any guest are arriving.
Do you take requests?
Of Course. I wouldn’t be in business if I didn’t. At Top Dog Productions we even give clients the ability to allow the guests to pre request songs, before the event, on our website.
What makes you different from other DJ companies?
PLANNING! – I meet with my clients months in advance to find out every little detail about their special day. PERFORMANCE THE NIGHT OF – We are upbeat, fun, interactive entertainers that keep the party going. You will never see us lounging out behind our DJ console, heck you problably will never see us sit down the entire night. ADDITIONAL SERVICES – We are known for offering fun additions to our wedding like Multimedia Enhancements and our new Photo Booth Service (http://www.JohnstownPhotoBooth.com). Our Lighting Services provides clients with decorative wall wash and ceiling lighting for the banquet hall that can transform the room… Jen you took a beautiful picture for me here is a link to it.: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=460371459252
Open Mic: Anything else you want to add??
Thank you Jen for taking the time to ask me these questions. All I can say is that I really love what I do, it is my passion and calling.
How can people connect with you?
I love phone calls and talking to people in person! But contact me anyway that is most convient.
phone: (814) 341-8571 cell (814) 269-4795
officemail: 219 Bass Avenue, Johnstown, PA 15904
If you would like to be featured on the blog as a local vendor, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make your subject “Vendor Interviews”. My only requirement…You must LOVE what you do! I can’t wait to meet you!