Good Morning Banglez fam!
We were lucky to be able to work with Ryan from Alley Entertainment at our grand store opening last year in March and see what he’s all about! He creates a mix that satisfies all tastes and amazes us with how he is able to find creativity in music. What we truly appreciated the most was his ongoing effort to cater to our musical needs, at that too without any hesitation. We were able to sit down with him for an exclusive interview!
- When did you start DJing and how did u get into DJing/ musical background?
I have been Djing since I was about 16 or 17 years old. Playing music for an audience and making people feel the beat, has always been a strong passion of mine for as long as I can remember. When I was 5 years old I began experimenting with the piano that my parents had bought my brother. He took no interest in it, but I was naturally inclined to learn. I began teaching myself by listening to a basic melody and within no time, I would be able to play it back on the piano. I progressed on to learning how to play the drums, bass guitar, and a wide variety of percussion instruments. All this lead me to pick up inexpensive DJ equipment to expand my musical passion further. From there, I got my first gig at a house party with an old friend from high school, which lead to joining a team of other young DJ’s who were looking to expand and the rest is history.
- What is your favourite part about being a DJ?
Without a doubt, making people move to the beat and watching them enjoy themselves. The sheer pleasure, joy, and euphoria that you get to see some nights, is very rewarding!
- Who is your biggest inspiration? Where do you draw you artistic inspiration from? Who has influenced you the most?
I have a few DJ’s that I truly have admired but when I started out I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. After some guidance from a couple of former DJ friends, I worked hard to excel quickly and take my skills to the next level. I was inspired listening to DJs like Starting from Scratch, DJ Divsa, and DJ Jason Chambers tear up the turntables. My means of artistic inspiration is always changing, and that’s why I can’t say that one person has constantly inspired me. I believe this is because the industry constantly changes, and as a DJ you have to adapt to the change. However, I’d like to give a big shout out to DJ Private Ryan from Trinidad & Tobago, who has been one of my most recent inspirations with his versatility.
- How would you describe your style?
My style is definitely unique because I never want to sound like every other DJ. EVER. I’m a firm believer in clean mixing and solid transitions between songs, then throwing in some solid scratches to hype up your crowd a bit. That’s the way I do it. I never like to repeat sets, nor do I ever have a planned set. I have always felt like going with the flow of the night makes for a better party. By making a set, sometimes you limit yourself as a DJ and you might miss out on a couple songs in between.
- What are currently your main challenges as a DJ?
Currently, my main challenge as a DJ is the amount of time I get to practice. I use my turntables maybe 3 or 4 times a week, but I’m always looking to learn or create a new scratch combination or learn about new software that can add more depth to my sets.
- What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
I usually start just by looking at the crowd haha. I always examine the crowd to see what the demographics are for the audience. As a DJ, you have to look around and understand the people you are playing for. Otherwise, that first song you play might be the last for some people.
- What single night out has been the most memorable for you? As a DJ? As an attendee?
One night before taking my DJ career solo, I DJ’ed at the Palazzo Nightclub and it was straight FIRE. The event was a Culture Show after party and it was epic. I was situated inside the Soca/Reggae room all night, alongside a few other DJ’s. Let me tell you, the other DJ’s didn’t want to play a single song because I was tearing it up! It was one of the most live nightclub events I have ever done. Even the security let me know how impressed they were at the end of the night (which was 3:30 am, way overtime!)
- How long have you been in business?
I have been Djing for nearly 14 years. Although professionally, I’ve been doing weddings for the past 10 years.
- What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming DJs making?
I feel like they don’t learn the music! What I mean is that a lot of new DJ’s struggle to go deep into the crates and pull out solid club bangers and anthems that most party people at weddings need to hear. Also, DJ’s…if you’re listening, please stop using that SYNC button. Please.
- What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
If you do not have a musical background, I recommend taking a basic music theory course, or learning how to play the piano or guitar for a few months to train your ears. It will help you with rhythm, timing and give you a basic foundation that will help your mixing ability.
- Where do you think the scene is headed? One year from now? Five years from now?
A year from now, we will see newer beginner DJ’s in the market. Nothing wrong with it, this is great for building up the industry and forcing veterans to step it up and work harder to stay ahead. Five years from now, I believe the industry is going to weed out a lot of the overnight DJ’s. Also, I feel like fewer people will hire DJ’s and bands will again become popular at wedding receptions (history will repeat itself, like in the movie “The Wedding Singer”).
- What is one music genre you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves? And Why?
I don’t feel that R&B gets the attention it used to, but that could be because we don’t have amazing R&B artists like we used to. Like R.Kelly, D’Angelo, or Mary J Blige, who just aren’t making music that people can slow dance to anymore, so I always find myself repeating the same classic love songs for first dances or cake cutting ceremonies. (Ginuwine’s Differences still gets a few plays every season from my couples)
- Is having your own style separate from all the other DJs out there important in modern DJing?
As much as I’d like to say, “let the music speak for itself”, I can’t. I know some DJs who don’t focus on the music as much as they do on social media hype and branding, once they get a booking that’s all they care about. I believe it’s all equally as important and that’s why I will always stay true to my style of Djing, which includes growing with the times.
- Thanks to developments in the realm of software, DJing, playing live and producing has moved closer together than ever before, allowing DJs to change a track down the tiniest detail. How do you make use of these possibilities in your sets and is there a benefit?
Producing has always been something I have thought about, but never got into. Maybe one day I will fiddle around with it, but I also don’t think it’s necessary for the wedding industry to have a full out producer/DJ at your reception. I’ve seen it a few times at a wedding and unfortunately, not many people appreciate the extra work that goes into it. Hence, I don’t think it’ll last for too long (if it is even still a thing at weddings).
- Do you feel a crowd is actually able to appreciate the intricacies of complex DJing, even if they don’t actually know what, precisely, is happening behind the decks?
Some people do but most of the time, they don’t know. I’m ok with that because even though they have no clue what happens behind the DJ booth, they can hear and feel the difference in the music. Back in the day, I remember when I would practice on my piano or drums, and my dad (who has no musical background) listening would be able to give me feedback on every little thing he thought I did wrong. I have no clue how he knew, I thought I was the only one that knew because I was practicing, but the average person knows what sounds good and what sounds off. With that being said, even if they don’t appreciate the small complexities of our mixes, I’m ok with that. As long as I sound good Djing, then everything is golden.
- Do you believe in the possibility of “reading an audience” and how do you put it into practice?
After Djing for so many years, reading an audience becomes easier every time. However, when it comes down to practicing, you can’t read an audience that isn’t there so, you go back into polishing past plays. I can usually remember when I forgot to play a key song, or if I played a song that didn’t respond well with the crowd. Once I go back and read my song selection, I am essentially reliving the wedding over again. I can go over every song I played, analyze the songs that didn’t work or worked really well, and then make adjustments for future gigs. For example, maybe it wasn’t the song itself, but the time I played the song that didn’t work, or maybe the way I mixed the song didn’t work well with the crowd. After a few years, you get the hang of it and it becomes easier to understand.
- The relationship with the audience is crucial for a DJ, and yet it seems to be a fragile one. How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
As a DJ, you’re always doing a juggling act. From pleasing a wide age group to looking after the many cultures in the room, it’s not easy. I don’t forget requests, even if it’s coming from the one person who won’t leave you alone until you play their song immediately. You have to be careful not to offend anyone, as they are your clients and everyone is just looking to have fun. I smile and let them know that we have a whole night left and that we will be tending to the requests at the appropriate time. Despite my best efforts, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try. That’s is why I can’t take it personally when I’m trying to do something new, sometimes people only want to hear what they want to hear. And that’s ok too.
- How has technology changed and influenced the art of DJing and do you think it’s ruining their ability to be creative?
Yes and no. DJ’s have always been creative. Djing was invented by someone who wanted to do more than just play records, one by one. The evolution of DJ technology and software use doesn’t ruin the creativity, but it can ruin a DJ’s ability to learn how to mix music independently. I don’t believe in depending on technology to help me blend two songs together, I feel that all DJ’s should be able to do that without a visual aid.
- What sets you apart from your competition?
I would have to say that it’s my laid back approach to my marketing. Most of my events are through word-of-mouth. I will never push people to book me because I am confident in my abilities as a DJ. I like to make sure my clients are happy with my mix tapes, musical choices, mixing and personality. This ensures I have clients that I will enjoy working with and that makes my job a lot easier to excel at.
- How do you motivate a shy crowd to dance/participate?
Sometimes, you just need to give them a little push. Whether that is on the microphone, or playing a prime song earlier than usual, then so be it. I just do whatever it takes to get them moving.
- What advice would you give to anyone who wants to hire you?
Always read the reviews! They mean so much to me as a DJ, because it shows my potential clients that I am a trusted vendor in the industry. They also have to know that I never, ever, take offense when they want to shop around. By all means, see what else is out there so you can make the best decision for your special day.
- Hiring a DJ can be a nerve-wracking task for someone organizing an event, how do you put him or her at ease?
I always let my clients know what I can handle for them from a musical standpoint. It gives them the peace of mind knowing that I am able to take care of little details or music cues for their event. That’s how they know they’re hiring a professional. Having done over 500 weddings (and over 1000 events), I am pretty confident that we can work together to make their event’s entertainment flawless!
- Are there any other insights you can offer us from the world of Ryan and your work with Alley Entertainment?
My work as Alley Entertainment has taught me a few things over the past couple years. The learning curve doesn’t stop when you operate your own company. I am always looking to grow as a business and as an individual. If it were to all shutdown tomorrow, I would be happy just knowing that I did what I loved and that I made the people around me happy – even if was just for a few hours at an event.
We hope you enjoyed reading this exclusive! We sure are impressed with DJ Ryan’s passion for Djing and recommend him to DJ your next event!
For more information check out Ryan Alley at http://www.alleyent.ca. You can also download his mixes at https://soundcloud.com/alleyentertainment/alleycast-volume2