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An Interview with Dave Hoeffel - DJ Genius!

Dave Hoeffel is an amazing disc jockey and great friend.  With his experience, passion, and success in the music industry - we just had to pick his brain!  Owner of Sound Choice DJ's, Dave has been a top pick for WeddingWire and The Knot, while he brings music to millions through Sirius XM Radio.  Here's what he has to say:

Tell us a bit about yourself, Sound Choice DJ's and your time on Satellite radio?
I've been a radio and mobile DJ for 37 years. I started Sound Choice in 1985 with the mission to provide non-cheesy DJ entertainment (which most of it was at that time) for weddings, specializing in unique locations, such as old mansions, historic sites and boutique facilities. I've also hosted radio shows for many years on AM/FM radio, and now Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

To me you seem so well suited to your job, did you know you wanted to be a DJ from the time you were young?
Yes. I've been playing records since I was 4 years old. I loved listening to the radio and watching Bandstand on TV. Presenting music looked like a really fun job. In college, I figured out how to get paid for playing records, which was a good thing, because I'm not very good at most other things :-)

I personally remember you from your days as a Disc Jockey at WPST Radio and I always enjoyed listening to you. What do you miss most about those early days of your career?
The freedom to have an extensive playlist, and to expose great new music to the listeners. There was no internet, no satellite radio, and early on, no MTV. We were "it." People flocked to the radio to be exposed to cool new music, and to hear what was going on with their favorite artists. We also hosted a lot of fun events, put on some great concerts, and raised a lot of money for charity.

Whenever I spend time with you, I'm always amazed by your stories of past events. You've met so many amazing musicians.  If you had to pick one "most memorable" moment in your career, what would it be?
Hmmmm... I've been fortunate to have many memorable moments. The one celebrity meeting that's always stood out was Cher. I'd always had a great deal of respect for her... from her hits in the 60s with Sonny, to their CBS TV show, to her 70s solo hits, to her 80s acting roles. There aren't very many people who have won multiple Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards. A loose seam in the carpeting tripped me up and almost sent me hurtling into her as we were introduced. She posed for a photo with me anyway.

You are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about music. What advice do you give people about picking out the perfect music for their event?
The music is typically the #1 make-or-break aspect of the event, yet music planning often winds up pretty far down the priority list. For a wedding, the music should reflect the personalities of the bride and groom, and create the vibe that they're looking for, yet be inclusive enough so that all of the guests have a good time. You should consider a variety of musical styles. Don't assume that young people don't want to hear older music, or that older people won't dance to newer music. You may be surprised! Be careful that the mix is not too hip for the room. It's great to have some eclectic choices, but make sure that your mix has a backbone of hits with broad enough appeal to propel the party forward.

Moving on to weddings, you have the most amazing sound equipment. When you are meeting with couples and educating them about what makes you unique what are some of the things you tell them?
The #1 complaint about DJs: "It's too loud." By using very expensive, and in some cases, unconventional audio gear, we're able to make the music sound great without being annoyingly loud. When we meet with couples, we do some "educating," but mostly, we listen, and let couples educate us regarding their expectations for the party, the atmosphere that they're looking to create, and the music that's special to them.

If you wanted to tell a couple planning their wedding one thing they shouldn't do when planning their wedding music, what would that be?
Don't lock your DJ into a set playlist. Every audience is different, and we need some flexibility to read the crowd and play the right music at the right time for best results. If you really want a set playlist, played in a specific order, simply rent a speaker system and plug in your iPod. There probably won't be a lot of dancing at your party, but some people are OK with that. Again... this goes back to what your expectations are for the party.

I find that most people don't understand how important having a good wedding DJ is. Ceremonies come to mind as being very tricky to pull off when they are outside. Tell us how you help with complex wedding locations?
We utilize multiple wireless microphones and wireless speakers, and we can battery-power our sound systems if there's no electric nearby, which is typically the case with beach weddings. I try to make the technology as invisible as possible. We have Bose pro speakers that are over 6 feet tall, but only 3 inches wide. They cover a wide area with great sound, yet blend into the background, preserving the natural beauty of the environment... and there are no ugly boxy speakers on tripod stands showing up in the photos.
What is one piece of equipment that you can't imagine not using when you are DJ'ing a high profile wedding?
My Macs. I've been using Apple products for over 20 years. They're very reliable, and the LAST thing that you want is for your computer to crash at a wedding.
Most folks only see the time you spend working on the day of the wedding. What do you want people to know about how much actual time is spent helping a couple achieve the perfect wedding music on their special day?
Most couples want to meet with me before booking, then we meet again a few weeks prior to the wedding day to discuss the details. I then spend anywhere from an hour to several hours looking over my notes, creating a DJ form for the wedding with all of the names and events, building playlists for the ceremony, cocktail hour and introduction sequence, and custom-editing music if necessary. Occasionally, you get requests like this, "We'd like to dance to 'The Way I Am' by Ingrid Michaelson, but can you take out the line about the Rogaine? He's sensitive about losing his hair."

Just for fun, tell us honestly, what is that one song that everyone makes you play that you wish you never, ever had to hear again?
"My Way" by Sinatra. OK, I know that it's a classic, and I get a lot of requests for it, but lyrically, I've always felt that it's a mismatch for a wedding. It's about an end. A wedding is about a beginning.

To learn more about Dave and his company Sound Choice DJ's you can visit their website  or contact him at 609-737-6865
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