Dancing the night away is one of the best parts of a wedding! I had the pleasure of sitting down with owner, Matthew Kurowski, of Portland’s Stumptown DJs and we chatted about about how he got started in the DJ industry, why it’s important to hire an organized DJ for your wedding and how to create some memorable moments on the dance floor.
Photo Credit: Sikora Photography
1. What got you started in the DJ industry and how did you get to where you are now?
It actually all started with a dream I had back in 2006. I was living in LA at the time and I had this dream I was DJ’ing a warehouse party Portland. It was great dream, but had no relevance to my life at the time. That dream sparked an idea in my head, and not long after I moved up to Portland. In 2008 with housing market crisis hitting full steam, I was jobless. This is where the dream came back into play. While looking on Craiglist for any kind of job I could find, I noticed a lot of people were searching for wedding DJs. It got me thinking, I’ve always been a huge music fan and had over 500 full length CD albums but I didn’t have any actual DJ equipment. A local ballroom in Portland had a job listing hiring a part time wedding DJ. I applied and got the job. I spent that summer learning the ropes while working at that wedding venue, shortly after I bought my own gear and started DJing it on my own. Until 2010, it had always just been a side gig for me, but while I was pursuing my MBA, one of my professors suggested I do my final project on my DJing and it’s potential to become a real business. I did a whole lot of market research and created robust business plan that I follow to this day. By the time I graduated I had hired two other DJ’s and that class project led to a full time career of owning my own DJ company. We now do over 320 events per year and have over 11 DJs on staff. In the next few years, we would love to open a branch in Seattle. In the meantime we are going to focus on what we do best: playing the right music and keeping events organized.
2. Tell us a bit about Stumptown DJs and your team, what do you love about being a DJ?
All of our DJ’s have a huge passion for all types of music, they aren’t stuck on one genre. They are seasoned professionals from the nightclub industry that have learned to DJ weddings through my training program. They bring that cool vibe to any event, but are very professional and organized. There is this stereotype that wedding DJ’s need to be cheesy, but I have taught them that they just need to be themselves and be genuine. That being said, we have various DJs on staff that can appeal to many different clients music tastes. We get a lot of compliments on how organized we are and how we keep things moving. As for me personally, what I really love about DJing is bringing so much joy to the party based mostly on the music I’m playing. It’s also an amazing feeling knowing that we are such a valuable part of someones special day, that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Photo Credit: Jude Rush Weddings
3. What makes Stumptown DJ’s unique?
At Stumptown DJs, music is always #1 and organization follows shortly after. All of our DJs not only play music, but they also MC and help keep things moving smoothly throughout the event. We have two major tools that I have designed and created to ensure that the right music is played and that everything flows as each client envisioned.
The first tool is an online music database that allows customers to create their very own playlist. We use these playlists to determine exactly what type of music they and their guests want to hear throughout their event. Each couple gets a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing playlist and if we are DJing their ceremony, they get a ceremony seating playlist too. We ask each couple to add about 10 songs on each playlist just to give us a good feel for what they are wanting for their special day. If they want to add more, that’s entirely up to them.
If they find that we are missing a few songs in our database they can easily submit additional song requests on our trademark timeline and music request form, our second major planning tool. It is a comprehensive online document that is completely customizable and allows customers to tell us exactly what songs they want us to play for all the key moments of a wedding. It has space to list the timing of each moment, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, toasts, dancing, etc. It also lists all announcements that each couple desires of our MC services. Between these two tools and the amazing crew we’ve put together over the years, I’d like to say we really stand out in the crowd. Check out our reviews to see what others say.
4. What are a few of your favorite songs to play at weddings?
We try not to play too many stereotypical wedding songs unless the client really wants them. That is another thing our clients really enjoy about our services. As for me, the songs I always enjoy playing are:
- Billie Jean – Michael Jackson ( A crowd favorite for multiple generations)
- The Seed 2.0 – The Roots
- Here Comes the Hotstepper – Ini Kamoze
- Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
- Shout – The Isley Brothers (This may be a stereotypical song, but it has a special place in the hearts of many Oregonians due to the movie Animal House being filmed here.)
5. What advice do you have for couples when choosing their wedding DJ?
The number one thing I tell couples, is make sure their DJ has wedding experience. They need to be comfortable making announcements and following a timeline. Something most friend DJs don’t do. With our company, most of our crew has DJ’d over 100 weddings each. So experience is not much of an issue. On our website we have bio videos for each DJ and a sample mini mix so you can hear their transitions between songs. You can also read their latest client review and see how many years of experience they have in the industry and at Stumptown DJs.
Photo Credit: Jessica Hill Photography
6. What advice do you have for couples in choosing songs and wedding traditions to make their day memorable?
Remember, the day is about you as a couple, but when it comes to dancing, you want to choose music that appeals to all your friends and family, not just yourselves. This will really help to create a great dance party. We have many example playlists on our database to help you choose music for each part of your wedding. One of the most problematic songs for couples to choose is a track for Father/Daughter or Mother/Son dance. I always tell them: rather than choosing song that is stereotypical or searching for one that makes sense lyrically, think back to a time in your life where you did something with that particular parent. Maybe it’s going bowling, driving to the grocery store, or going camping the first time. What song reminds you of them and that special time you spent together. When you choose a song like that, you can’t go wrong as long as it is a slow dance. While you are dancing with them on the day of your wedding, you can tell them exactly why you chose the song you did and chat about it while it plays. You’ll almost always get a tear drop and warm their heart
7. What is your favorite part of attending a wedding?
At any wedding I’m at, working or not, I really love getting to witness unique and memorable vows & toasts. If I’m a guest and not working at the event, it’s great to eat some amazing food, drink tasty beverages, dance all night, celebrate, and enjoy myself!
Are you still searching for an amazing wedding DJ for your Portland wedding? Check out Stumptown DJs to get your party started! They are committed to providing a professional & fun experience for your wedding and their wisdom and rave reviews back that up.