“Experience Is My Business Card” – Ireland's Premier Wedding DJ Darragh O' Dea
My obsession with music started when I was a young kid. I was lucky enough to get a stint at a local Pirate Radio Station when I was fifteen and I played songs that still work for me today. That is the beautiful and bizarre thing about music. If you get to know your crowd and invest in the audience anything can happen.
Being a wedding DJ in Ireland is profoundly more than simply playing music. It's creating a backdrop for memories that will quite literally last a lifetime. It's knowing that there is no such thing as a “wedding play-list”. My experience has shown and taught me to create something unique every single time.
I've been a DJ for twenty five-plus years and have navigated my way from a time where music was simply radio. You had to listen live, buy (and read) the magazines and take every morsel of advice from your elders gratefully. They knew what would work because they had the experience. Experience that couldn't be bought or sold. It was gold.
When I play an 80's DJ set I am right back there. At 80's nights I am once again transported. It worked for me then and it's working for us now. It's a spectacular thing to be part of and when it works it works. My experience has taught me to thrive on that energy.
When I play a 90's DJ set I am transported back to my time as a DJ on the Canary Islands. It was 1992 and the world would physically stop turning if “Rhythm Is A Dancer” was not played a minimum of four times. You can't “learn” those memories. It's an instinctive and genuine thing. I am right back there remembering what worked and seeing it work again so beautifully!
As a DJ It is no longer acceptable to “not have a song”. We are now the spotify generation. Every song, era & mood is available at a second's notice. For couples who wed in their late 20's/early 30's Mark McCabe Maniac 2000 is an institution. It's a right of passage and probably the biggest song in Irish Music History. A time machine of memories, mistakes and everything that represented ones teenage years! I recently played at a wedding where a band member asked me about the song as he had never heard it before. I thought he was joking and It stopped me in my tracks! (no pun intended)
As a wedding DJ you have to entertain and please a large group of people in no more than sixty songs. You've an eight year old flower girl and ninety year old Auntie Breda. Every single guest is worthy and deserving of an amazing experience. My experience has taught me to weed through the junk and PLAY THE HITS. It's the simplest strategy and a formula for success but sometimes it can be lost in an oblivion of panic and preparation. Every single crowd is different and you often have to change your plans, shake things up and alter accordingly. It's a gut feeling and a momentary instinct that arrives when you look at that room of people. A room of unique people who have united to celebrate the most important day in the life of someone that they love. Play the hits and make them happy.
Sometimes the dance floor clears. It happens. The temptation to panic and question everything is very real. It happens for a lot of DJs. I've reached a point in my career where I pride myself on reading the crowd and the clientèle. If it doesn't work then you very quickly provide something that does. The dance floor begins to populate once again and you know you're doing your job. That feeling is electrifying!
I have twenty five years experience in this wonderful industry but I am constantly learning something new. Weddings, music and people are complex topics individually. Throw them all together and you have a lot of things to consider. I recently played at a wedding and instantly knew that a song (Buddy Joe) would transport the wedding couple and their friends right back to their youth. I also knew that this kind of song, and indeed set, simply wouldn't work on the night of their wedding. It would have been lost in the company of the more mature guests and friends and family of the couple. Day 2 of the wedding brought more celebrations and felt to be the perfect time for this genre. It became a thirty minute set and the feedback from the couple was amazing. It brought the bride, groom and all of their friends right back to their teenage years and the atmosphere was out of this world.
Just a week later I played at the wedding of a more Indie/Alternative couple. Their music choices were far from mainstream but they wanted to please everyone at the same time. We found a way to merge the two and it resulted in brilliantly happy wedding guests and a bride and group who still experienced the tunes that brought them back to their college days. We made it happen and it was my experience that gave me the confidence to make that promise.
My experience as a wedding DJ in Ireland is my business card. Like any artist I've dedicated my life and time to perfecting my skill. I respect the responsibility that comes with the job and I've spent my days fine tuning my craft. I've grown in an industry that has become so saturated and “tick the box”. Experience is my tool kit. It's the bag of tricks that makes me 100% confident that your wedding will be everything you have dreamt about and more. It will be “that” wedding that people talk about time and time again. We've got this!