We’re so excited to kick off our vendor spotlight series! We’ve met so many great people over the last several years, and we wanted to find a way to highlight their work, but also for people to get to know a little about them personally . So, over the course of 2018, we plan on sharing a new vendor friend every few weeks with questions that range from industry specific topics to very serious matters such as their favorite flavor of wedding cake…because everyone knows the best thing about working weddings each weekend is the never-ending supply of cake. It’s true.
Our very first vendor needs no introduction. They do hundreds of weddings each year, their owner is the voice of the Panthers, and most of the time they are the one doing the introductions! If you’ve spent any amount of time researching DJs in the Charlotte area, you’ve probably heard of them: Split Second Sound!
Vinny and his wife, Diane, started Split Second Sound, and it’s now a huge name in the Charlotte entertainment industry. Today, we’re sharing a short interview with three of their DJs: Vinny Esposito, Jonah Pearl, and Levar Gladden.
What do you love about being a DJ?
Vinny: The interaction – People around people who want to have a good time, and you’re there to make it happen – Sometimes beyond their expectations.
Jonah: As a DJ, you’re an outsider being invited into incredible celebrations filled with a joy that is virtually palpable. I think being a DJ is one of those vocations where you would find it to be exceedingly difficult to dislike being “at work.”
Levar: Music, for me it all starts with the passion for music and then artistically performing it in a way that it creates a certain energy on the dance floor.
List three words that describe you.
Vinny: Outgoing, Passionate, Real.
Jonah: Easy-going, Detail-oriented, Personable.
Levar: Motivated, Creative, Dependable
What are you most likely doing on a weekend off?
Vinny: Do I ever really have a weekend off? Mostly nothing, but family time, catching up with some chores or friends.
Jonah: What is this weekend off people keep talking about? Haha. They are few and far between, so I don’t really have much experience with them. I am very go-with-the-flow in my personal life, so who knows what a weekend off might mean.
Levar: Working on producing music and personal training clients.
If you weren’t a DJ, what would you want to be?
Vinny: A business owner.
Jonah: There was a time when I thought I’d be a prosecuting attorney, but life’s circumstances didn’t see that as the way to go. Today, if I had the resources to do anything I wanted, you’d probably find me trying to be an inventor like ol’ Nikola.
Levar: Personal Trainer
What is your favorite part of a wedding day?
Vinny: The nervous excitement that everybody has. Then when it all lets loose, it’s a party
Jonah: Personally, it’s at the end of the night when I get to take a photo with a pair of smiles provided by clients who have been enjoying a day that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Levar: Seeing family and friends come together to celebrate for a happy and memorable day!
What’s your favorite wedding cake flavor?
Vinny: Canoli, but chocolate is really good too.
Jonah: Truth be told, 99 out of 100 wedding I don’t eat the cake. I always hear how delicious it is, but rarely do I partake. With that being said, if there is peanut butter or raspberries involved….I am only human.
Levar: Red Velvet
What’s it like to work with you from initial meeting to sparkler exit?
Vinny: Piece of mind – When a couple is nervous and excited all at the same time leading up to their special day, giving them a mental image of what they can feel and expect that day from what we do as a DJ makes them relax going in which in turn gets them to enjoy their own weddings.
Jonah: In short: Thorough, yet pleasant. If you want the long answer, it goes as follows: At our initial meeting, we’re probably going to be sitting down at a coffee shop near you. I’ll have my laptop with me; I will have your reception form, and my music database. The goal is to have as many details finalized by the end of our meeting as possible, but that’s not my only goal. Throughout our discussion of the details pertaining to the big day, I also want to get to know who my clients are as people. Yes, of course I want to know what kind of music you like to dance to, but I also want to know where you’re from, what your hobbies are, what books you enjoy, what movies you love, what shows you binge watch – I want to know who you are as fellow humans. I don’t just want to be your vendor for a day, I want to connect with you.
After our meeting, I will email the updated document back to you, and any details you were uncertain about, I will provide numerous suggestions for whatever formality is in question. The weeks after that, I will be available to answer any questions, or provide even more suggestions if necessary. At the beginning of THE week, I will touch base to make sure that all details have been finalized, and that the order of introductions is current. After that, you have the week to rest easy knowing that i’s have been dotted and the t’s have been crossed.
Day of, I’ll be at the venue at least two hours before my start time — depending on if I have been booked for an inclusive package (ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception), or just for the reception, as soon as I see you, I’ll touch base with you to confirm that there hasn’t been any last minute changes; once I get that final confirmation of details, it’s time to execute the plan at hand. Between getting a lapel mic on the officiant, handling processional music, creating an appropriate playlist for your cocktail hour, corralling the wedding party to prepare for introductions, going over all of their names with them to ensure the best pronunciation, getting guests excited to get the party started, smoothly transitioning through formalities, doing whatever I can to make sure that dinner doesn’t seem to drag before we officially get the dance floor hoppin’, and once the party has started, do what’s in my power to create a fun-filled evening that leaves my clients with big smiles on their faces as they head off to start their forever together. Between using over 300 weddings worth of personal experience of reading crowds, I’m going to be mixing and blending music that is fun and appropriate for the occasion. If you and your guests enjoy the interactive hits, such as the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle, and things like that, you’ll find me out on the dance floor making sure that people who don’t know how to do them can just watch me and follow along. It’s about everyone having fun, and feeling included in the celebration (if they choose to be)!
Once the last song ends, I’m hoping to get a photo with the two of you, and then I’m headed outside to help your friends and family prepare for your grand exit! After the cheering is through, and you have escaped in whatever getaway vehicle you have managed to procure for the occasion, I will take the extinguished sparklers from your guests to limit the venue finding sparklers in bushes the next day, and then I’m packing up, and heading home.
Levar: For me I want to build a relationship that feels like we have been knowing each other for years. Sometimes I’ve had meetings where we end up talking for hours about nothing to do with the wedding. By the time the wedding day is here then I am part of the family.
What should a couple keep in mind when choosing the music for their reception?
Vinny: Be open minded. Put your flavor in it but allow for more ingredients to be mixed in.
Jonah: If their wedding was a movie, the songs they choose create the soundtrack. I encourage my clients to choose songs that encapsulate who they are together, and keep true to the theme of love for their formalities.
Levar: You want it be fun and something that you connect with, especially for the first dance.
What is your philosophy on keeping a party going?
Vinny: Build energy with flor and personal interaction. No wasted moments.
Jonah: Each party is unique because you will never have the same crowd of people celebrating the same thing ever again. A typical crowd has 4 types of people: 1. People who will dance to just about anything. 2. People who will only dance if you play their song(s). 3. People who will only dance to something slow (they don’t like to dance, but they will stand and sway with their significant other). 4. People who just don’t dance. They key is playing a wide variety of music that provides positive energy for the crowd to feel. A lot of people in those circumstances are ready to let go and have fun, they just need the right beat. Everyone vibrates at different frequencies, so trying to get people on similar wavelengths is challenging, but can prove to be a lot of fun.
Levar: Read the crowd! As simple as it sounds, it is the most challenging part of the night yet what I love about DJing the most.
Top 5 Songs to Play at a Wedding
Vinny: Don’t have one. It’s whatever is going to work at the moment with that crowd on that night.
Jonah: Let’s Stay Together – Al Green, Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake, Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers, Never Too Much – Luther Vandross, Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey (you know it had to be on this list).
Levar: Yeah, Uptown Funk, Billie Jean, This Is How We Do It, Can’t Stop The Feeling
What would you say to the couple that is on the fence about hiring a DJ?
Vinny: Just ask why. Their concerns might not need “talking into” but just need to be addressed honestly.
Jonah: If you’re between live music and a DJ, it’s two different worlds! If it’s an amazing band, it’s near impossible to beat the energy from a live performance…. IF it’s an amazing band! It really depends on the band’s versatility, and the energy they bring. The reason people like DJs is because they want to hear the actual artist’s version of a song, and any good DJ has an astronomically larger selection of music than a band.
Levar: I would basically explain that WE have the ability to understand the flow and logistics of a wedding and explain how our ability to help coordinate is just as, if not more, important than the party aspect.
What is the best piece of advice you have for a couple regarding their wedding?
Vinny: Trust the vendors you hire who have a reputation and experience to back up what they’re telling you. A friend, no matter how good their intentions are, don’t have enough experience to give some advise.
Jonah: Secure professional vendors who know what they are doing, and then trust them to do their job. There is a lot of stress that goes into planning such an important event, so if you’re able to distribute that stress over the breadth of your vendor team, it really doesn’t have to feel so stressful, and it will enable you to enjoy your day that much more.
Levar: Enjoy the process. Often times people stress over the details but in the end the actual day goes by so fast that you will wish you could go through the process again.