DJ M Dot is a DC-based DJ, uniquely positioned at the nexus of music and community building. She is a member of the Recreative Spaces Artist Collective and curator of Community Mixtape, an interactive DJ Workshop focusing on musical storytelling. M Dot transitioned from a producer of local radio programming to DJing venues across the city, including her three year running party, RISE!! which brings together DJ’s and percussionists to explore rhythms from across the globe. Catch M Dot at her residencies in DC in the U Street Corridor, and keep up with performances at her own site.
How long have you been DJing?
I’ve been DJing for about 10 years.
How often do you get on the mic?
At weddings, I get on the mic only for specific announcements. I try to let my voice be in the background as much as possible so the focus stays on the newlyweds and the music.
At parties and clubs, I like to get on the mic to engage and connect with my crowd.
What are some of your all time favorite wedding songs?
“As” by Stevie Wonder is my all-time favorite wedding song. I can’t listen to it without picturing a perfect Spring day, a white dress and a couple spinning around in wedding-bliss!
What kind of music do you DJ when you’re not at a wedding?
My favorite genres are R&B and reggae. I like to mix in older R&B and soul into more contemporary sets to really bring people into the mix, peak interest and introduce a vintage vibe. I love roots reggae for it’s positive messages- one love amongst us all motivates a lot of my work.
What is your philosophy on weddings?
Make it all about the couple getting married. I like to get to know the couple before the wedding so that I can really channel them through the music. I also love to see family and friends of all ages getting down on the dance floor together! Hand-selecting songs that everyone can connect to is a challenge that I love to take on.
What makes you different from your competition?
I am ten years deep into a career built on bridging divides, building and sustaining peaceful communities. As a trained mediator, I’m really good at listening to people- which is important when getting to know a couple and getting my vision aligned with theirs for their big day. As a DJ I use music as a tool to connect people and spread love and positivity!
What do you do to motivate the crowd if no one is dancing?
A critical mass of people on the dance floor is crucial in getting the party started. This usually starts with the couple and their friends or siblings. If the dance floor needs a boost, I locate these central people and encourage them to dance.
What training have you received?
I have 7 years of experience so I would say my biggest training has come from doing hundreds and hundreds of gigs, of all sizes, for all occasions and demographics- from block parties to clubs to summer festivals.
What problems have you encountered at a wedding and how have you solved it?
WThe biggest problem I have encountered at a wedding was when the caterers were running almost two hours late. I checked in with the couple and together, we devised a plan to start the first half of the dancing before dinner, which gave the guests something to do while waiting for their food, and, revved everyone’s appetite up by the time dinner was served. It all worked out!
Preferred DJ gear manufacturers:
I’m pretty old school when it comes to DJ gear. I have two Technics 1200’s and a Pioneer DJM 707 mixer. I know how to use these well and are loyal to them. My philosophy is that it’s not about the latest and greatest- it’s about how well you know how to use the equipment that you have.
Favorite record labels:
My favorite record labels are Barely Breaking Even (I once threw a Tuesday night party called Barely Breaking Even because I love that name so much!), Soul Jazz Records, and Stones Throw.
Preferred clothing labels:
) I’m not label-loyal. I generally shop thrift. I also love to consign- keeps my closet fresh and fun.
Favorite DC nightspots:
I like to visit friends who have gigs around the city. You can probably catch me at ESL on a Tuesday, or Bossa on the weekend.
What is the best DJ moment of your career (so far)?
I often get home with a feeling like, “that was the best set of my life.” To me, the positive energy I build with the crowd is the most important element of a good set. If I had to pick one moment though, it would be at the Philadelphia aquarium where I DJ’d alongside DJ Spinderella- a woman who paved the way and who I have tons of respect for.
Favorite live show(s) (strictly as a member of the audience):
Best show I’ve seen in years was at the 2015 Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn, where Grace Jones performed her latest dancehall track in a painted on, leopard, body suit. What an icon!
Nido in Brookland is one of my favorite new restaurants in DC. Featuring a lot of local, healthy options and a clean, friendly atmosphere, with great wine. My favorite old school, D.C. restaurant is Carmines in Chinatown- you can share one plate of spaghetti and meatballs with like ten people!
“I can’t hear myself think in here!” Favorite spot for a quiet cocktail:
I love Duke’s Counter across from the zoo, friendly neighborhood bar with outdoor seating. Room 11 is a great option too.
What are your five desert island discs?
- Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life
- Bob Marley & The Wailers Exodus
- Valerie June Pushin’ Against a Stone
- Buena Vista Social Club Buena Vista Social Club
- Amy Winehouse Back to Black
What’s your dream DJ gig?
I’d love to DJ on a float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’ve been on the sidelines with my family since I was a baby- would be a dream to be up on stage!