Linen bow tie by Bull & Moose; suit is model’s own.
There are too many records in the world to stick to one style and DJ Stylus embraces that in his party-rocking philosophy. Dubbed The Vibe Conductor by his fans, Stylus takes a tight groove approach to mixing and applies it to a palette of tunes from overlooked classics to the newest progressive electronic sounds, connecting the soulful elements of his selections to inspire dance floors. With extensive multi-genre fluency, DJ Stylus creates musical narratives that are nuanced, compelling, ambitious and far-ranging. Check out his remixes and shows at his own site, grab some tropical vinyl releases from Sol Power Sound, or check for his Axel F Party, serving up R&B, funk and pop from the ’80s.
Read Stylus’ blog posts
How long have you been DJing?
I played my first club gig at 17 and been rocking ever since.
How long have you been DJing weddings?
I think my first wedding was in 2002. I was always primarily a club DJ and only took wedding gigs for close friends looking for something cooler than the standard wedding experience. With DJ D-Mac & Associates, we’ve built a business around that so my wedding work is less of a contrast to my club work.
How often do you get on the mic?
Nothing beyond the client’s comfort level but I’m generally refined. I’m very comfortable speaking to audiences but every event is different. Sometimes if the room is hot I might chat it up a bit to match the dancefloor energy but that’s more of a club/party thing that is sometimes suitable for mobile work.
What are some of your all time favorite wedding songs?
I don’t classify wedding songs as separate from any other songs that convey honesty and genuine emotion. Sharing those feelings is core to my DJing philosophy and not confined solely to weddings. But if I play any of these songs at a wedding, I consider it a quality evening.
- Most anything by Stevie Wonder, particularly “Overjoyed” and “Do I Do.”
- Most anything by Al Green, particularly “Love and Happiness” and “You’ve Got The Love I Need.”
- Most anything by Earth, Wind & Fire, Prince, Michael Jackson and much of the Jackson sibling discography
- L.T.D. “Love Ballad”
- Raphael Saddiq “Never Give You Up”
- Amel Larrieux “Make Me Whole” (great ceremony song)
- Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers “Family Affair”
- Frankie Beverly and Maze “Happy Feelings”
- Louie Vega “Cerca De Mi” feat. Raul Midon
- Blaze “Found Love” (great first dance song)
- Elza Soares “Mas Que Nada”
- Juan Luis Guerra “La Travesia”
- Awilo Longomba “Karolina”
- Frighty & Colonel Mite “Life Is What You Make It”
- The J.B.’s “Doing It To Death”
- Mary J. Blige “You Bring Me Joy”
- Beyoncé “Love On Top”
- Common “The Light”
- OutKast “The Way You Move”
- UGK “International Players Anthem” feat. OutKast (of course)
What kind of music do you DJ when you’re not at a wedding?
What is your philosophy on weddings?
They’re a party like any other. The difference is that it’s also a life milestone that requires exceptional customer service. I rock weddings just as hard as I used to rock basement parties in college. And people remember some of those as vividly as a client will remember me playing their wedding. Then my job is done.
What size wedding do you prefer to DJ?
I can play for any room or any size event. My aim is to make direct connections with people, the only thing that changes with scale are the techniques I use.
What makes you different from your competition?
My sense of musical narrative is sophisticated. I take risks and constantly try to play what isn’t expected but what makes perfect sense. I like to surprise and delight. I have a very broad base of experience and a keen ability to catch the emotional frequency of a room and then control it.
What do you do to motivate the crowd if no one is dancing?
Key in on whomever on the floor has the highest energy and play to them. Their enthusiasm then spreads contagiously to everyone else. I’ll also reset if I have to and completely change direction.
What training have you received?
Many years of every type of dj’ing conceivable and thousands of hours in the lab practicing. I’ve brought my style to the fine arts world at the Smithsonian, the Corcoran, the Kennedy Center and even the National Symphony Orchestra. I’ve played in grimy dive bars full of belligerent patrons more nights than I can ever recall. I’ve played major music festivals and galas for high-end corporate clients, sometimes in the same weekend. I’ve opened for some of the biggest DJs in the business and had to earn the respect of audiences who thought I was just a nobody delaying them from experiencing the headliner. Eventually I became the headliner. I’ve toured internationally and played major concert halls. Playing around twenty weddings a year for over a decade is good training as well. The best training as a DJ is paying dues. You can learn technical skills but reading a room can’t be taught.
What problems have you encountered at a wedding and how have you solved them?
I’ve had planners change setup details at the last minute. Having the support of an assistant got me out of a few jams like that. I also do a site visit before every event to evaluate load-in and setup parameters, then I communicate any necessary changes or accomodations to venue staff, planner and client. I’ve also had gear fail on me, or ended up missing a component of my setup. I use a checklist before every event, checking off each part of my system as I pack it up. I also have backup cables, batteries, mixers, turntables and speakers. And of course every one of us has an on-call DJ on standby in case of emergency. Sometimes you encounter emotionally distraught organizers, clients or family members. Dealing with those situations is a matter of grace, maturity, patience and creativity under pressure.
Who are your preferred DJ gear Manufacturers?
RCF, QSC, Rane, Pioneer.
What are your favorite record labels?
Classic: CTI, Blue Note, Fania, Def Jam, T.T.E.D., Nervous/Wreck, Loud, Cold Chillin’, Tommy Boy, Black Jazz.
Modern: Sol Power Sound, 2000black, Soundways, Local Talk, Ubiquity, Raw Fusion/G.A.M.M., Strictly Rhythm, BBE, Tru Thoughts, Restless Soul and Defected.
What are some of your preferred clothing labels?
My style is Adidas meets Hugh & Crye and Levi’s.
Where are your favorite DC nightspots?
Bin 1301, Sotto, Ten Tigers Parlour, Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe.
What is the best DJ moment of your career (so far)?
I thought about my first paid gig abroad as a DJ or sharing shows with some of my musical heroes, but my best moment was soothing the wounded hearts of DC’s Michael Jackson fans right after he passed away.
What is your favorite live show(s) (strictly as a member of the audience)?
De La Soul or Fishbone
What are your five desert island discs?
- Louie Vega Elements of Life
- Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life
- Earth, Wind & Fire Gratitude
- Jungle Brothers Done By The Forces Of Nature
- John Coltrane Giant Steps
What’s your dream DJ gig?
Any gig in South Africa.
If not that, than the equivalent of what Timmy Regisford had when The Shelter was at its peak, but not strictly focused on house. A deep, open format, soulful party full of trusting, dancing devotees open to being led in novel directions.
If not that, then Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival.
What clients are saying on Wedding Wire:
“Working with DJ STYLUS was great from the initial interview down to the wedding day. All it took was one interview to know that he was going to be a great fit. He was very professional and knowledgeable and always answered our questions in a timely manner. During the event, there was not one moment where he was not full of energy. Everyone had a blast on the dance floor and commented on how much they loved the music selection, which was very important given the diverse group. We would not hesitate to recommend DJ STYLUS for your event!”
“DJ STYLUS made our magical night even more memorable! DJ D-MAC & Associates was professional, prompt and honestly they are the best DJ service in the DMV area.
DJ Stylus was patient, accommodating and super knowledgeable! We really enjoyed meeting him and discussing the wedding and our style. Music is really important to my husband and I so we picked a broad range of songs for ceremony, cocktail hour and the reception. He knew exactly what we were imagining to set the mood so he added his own mixes and gave us the best song suggestions. It was a blast planning with him through their Basecamp project tool, which is super easy and efficient. Planning for wedding music with DJ Stylus is a memory we’ll never forget, and I haven’t even mentioned the 15-20 minute montage to Jay-Z that he mixed for us, our guests went wild ;)”
“…We worked with DJ Stylus for our event and it was truly a fantastic experience. We didn’t have a playlist and only had a few requests for songs that we wanted played. We put our trust in DJ Stylus to come up with a playlist based on the crowd and flow of the event and he was the absolute perfect fit for our wedding. Everyone had such a great time and danced throughout the entire event. He even had our parents and 90 year old grandfather dancing! DJ Stylus was so friendly, professional and simply great to work with. The music selection was spot on with a excellent mix of current and old school classics, from hip-hop to pop to Frank Sinatra. Our expectations were beyond exceeded and we just couldn’t be happier. You can’t go wrong with D-Mac & Associates for your party or event, you won’t regret having them as your DJ. They are definitely top notch and deserve more than 5 stars! Thank you so much for making our wedding such a blast!”