New York Wedding DJ | Shakin’ your Booty! | Dave Leonard of JTD Productions
New York Wedding DJ Dave Leonard…
“There is no greater luxury than peace of mind…and no greater luxury than shakin’ your booty. We guarantee both.” -Dave JTD Productions
Tell us a little about yourself and why you jumped into the entertainment business?
I went to Denison University and started dj’ing freshman year. I started dj’ing professionally because so many people told me they liked what I was playing on the air and asked if I ever would consider dj’ing for them personally at their party or wedding. As I moved around and eventually ended up in the Hudson Valley I kept dj’ing on the radio and officially started JTD Productions.
What pushed you to get into weddings?
I initially dj’d parties while I was also on the air every weeknight. I took on a few weddings and I realized I could make as much money on a Saturday as I could dj’ing on the air all week. I also was very good at being hip enough for the couple and their friends while also being accessible enough for the older family and guests. I succeeded on doing this dj’ing on the radio for hundreds of thousands of people and I wanted to translate that same feeling into a more intimate and memorable celebration at a wedding.
Where are some of your favorite types of locations to DJ?
I love dj’ing rustic, elegant weddings in beautiful country settings. I love old barns, mansions and in tents and on beautiful grounds with rolling country views. I also enjoy not only dj’ing for the reception but also providing sound and music for ceremonies and cocktails.
In addition to music the setting can play such an important role in the success of a wedding. I love providing the soundtrack for beautiful settings
Does the venue make a difference with the sound or is it that some locations just carry a different vibe?
The venue can make a huge difference. Ultimately the love surrounding the couple the crowd and the music is what is going to provide a memorable and fun wedding but the setting sets a tone and framework that allows for the rest of the magic to happen.
How do you explain to a couple that there are good choices and bad choices regarding music?
I pride myself on working with couples specific tastes and I believe they ultimately hire us because they trust our taste and knowledge that comes with experience. Sometimes couples have varying tastes among themselves and rely on me to please them while also providing a fun party for the entire crowd. I alluded to this before but the strength I provide is being able to take couples specific tastes and getting clear on whether they want their music or if they want the best party and celebration of their life. Sometimes certain requests will work better during cocktails and dinner and others for the after party. My strength is being able to be true to couples specific requests without being too hip or esoteric for the overall crowd while a the same time knowing what to play and not play so we are accessible enough to the family and friends while not being that generic, cheesy, cookie-cutter dj.
You are the expert and that’s why clients hire you, but do you get some outlandish requests that you have to fight against?
Couples hire me because they trust me to execute their vision and sometimes I’ll get requests that don’t fit into that vision. I have to adapt and take into account the crowd and vibe of the reception at hand and will make a choice whether or not a certain song will fit in. A lot of times there are generic requests from guests that think the only way to get people up and dancing is by forcing them to do a group dance. Today’s couples and majority of guests are more educated and don’t need to be forced into dancing. They will dance if the music and energy is good and they like it. Sometimes it’s a specific song that works and other times it’s a sound and a groove and the mix of the two is a recipe for a momentous occasion.
Ok, give me the dirt. What is the craziest thing that you have ever seen at a gig?
I’ve been dj’ing for over 25 years and have come across some pretty crazy scenarios. Everything from a tent falling in due to rain and soaking a lot of the guests, to skinny dipping at the after party. Most I can’t share here J
On a more serious note, what is the best advice you can give a client regarding the music?
This is their wedding and the music should reflect them as a couple and at the same time to visualize what they want, request music they like (and include what they do not want) and then let go and trust us to make it all flow and work so they can be a part of the best party ever.
In your opinion, what is the difference between spinning for a party as opposed to a wedding? Or do you think they are fairly equal?
I always hold a high standard regardless of any gig but I have found that there can be a more discerning, diverse crowd and A LOT OF LOVE at a wedding and the songs and lyrics might reflect that. If it is a public dance party I might have less restrictions and take more chances. If there is a more specific age group I might give more preference to certain genres. If I am spinning for a private or corporate outing I might stay a little safer depending on the age range.
In your expert opinion, what type of music is best for a gig with many generations attending?
I always tell my djs, “When in doubt, play Motown”. That being said I believe our strength lies in our knowledge of all genres and knowing what to play when. Sometimes a jazz standard will work during dinner and you save your old school hip hop for after dessert. I do believe the music should represent the couple and given that we usually have 4 to 7 hours we can touch on A LOT of music and its as important to know when to play a certain song more so than limiting to a few genres.
THESE NEXT FEW QUESTIONS ARE REALLY HARD FOR ME TO ANSWER… As a dj it’s hard to pick favorites. So much of what I do consists of not just a favorite or specific song but also an overall seguing of songs to create an atmosphere and capture a moment that will provide memories of a lifetime. Also as much as I need to earn the respect of my couples but ultimately I want to play what couples want and that can vary widely from gig to gig so I want to be more of a conduit that can make discerning decisions so in that respect its not about my specific favorites as much as it is about my knowledge and taste of what will work and keep the artistic integrity of the couple and party at hand.
Favorite Album of all time?
Hmmmm… Bridge Over Troubled Water, Dark Side of The Moon, Kind of Blue. So many out there, it’s really to hard to choose just one.
Favorite album in the past 5 years?
Again, given that I am also a radio dj I listen to and love hundreds of new bands a year. Check out my radio website www.radiounleashed.com and you’ll see what I like that’s been released in the past few years.
Favorite dance song?
Really there are too many that come to mind
Overall favorite Genre of music?
Everything from current independent artists to classic rock to alternative 80s to old school hip hop and the classic R & B and blues that started it all.
Songs we will never hear you play?
Generic group dances, Kenny G
What song is your go to for making the guests lose their minds in the best way possible?
Lately, Rihanna – We Found Love is fun way to end the night after I’ve told them no more music due to time constraints.
Can you assist the couple in choosing the music for all aspects of the event? (Including Ceremony)
Yep. We can help provide musicians if need be but sometimes couples just want us to handle everything so we handle sound reinforcement and music for ceremonies and we can handle sound for different locations if they have a ceremony in a field, a cocktail hour outside and then a reception in a tent or barn.
Some of our pros have seen you in action quite a lot. You always seem to know how to read the crowd. How long did it take you to develop this instinct?
I think being on the radio these past 25 years has helped in addition to dj’ing so many weddings during that time. Also knowing so many specific songs in different genres helps in being able to take the party to the next level or deal with a request that will keep the party going instead of clearing the dance floor.
Any final thoughts or advice?
Acknowledge how important the music can be to the success of your wedding. Make sure to share your vision in addition to specific song requests and then hire and trust a professional dj that you trust so you can let go and immerse yourself fully in your own wedding.