An mp3 of the Interview is available lower in this text and via ITunes. Full text is below and selected portions are published in Mobile Beat Magazine – to subscribe go to https://members.mobilebeat.com.
Ryan Burger: I am Ryan Burger, the publisher of Mobile Beat Magazine. I’m here with another interest disc jockey that caught my attention, this time at the Mobile Beat Las Vegas DJ Show this past February. I’m here with Charlene Mortillo of Popular Party DJs. Tell me a little bit about your story how you got into this.
Charlene Mortillo: Well, Ryan, I started in college. I was actually going to be an accountant and ended up landing as a disc jockey. I started in college radio. Eventually became a local jock at a New Jersey/New York metropolitan area radio station. One of the DJs there I got involved with he brought me into his company, and within a year I opened up Popular Party DJs.
Ryan Burger: So you were going to be an accountant. I couldn’t imagine that just from talking to you.
Charlene Mortillo: I know it’s amazing. Yeah.
Ryan Burger: So I mean, we don’t want to totally date you, but how long have you been in the whole mix of the disc jockey world
Charlene Mortillo: Since 1985.
Ryan Burger: Okay. Cool. Tell me a little bit about what makes Popular Party DJs different than everybody else that’s out there.
Charlene Mortillo: Well, our uniqueness is that basically I have been married myself at one point, and I find that being that I was that myself, I can understand the bride’s concerns. I can go through the experience with them on a personal level and I can focus on what they want and I can tailor their weddings to what they’re looking for. I can help them go from each step of the event, and I can bring together what they want and work with them on a personal level.
Ryan Burger: So you’ve got that female advantage that us male DJs can try to do and try to connect with the brides, but we just can’t connect as tight as you can.
Charlene Mortillo: I think that’s pretty much what it boils down to, yes.
Ryan Burger: Okay. I mean, you talked about weddings there, but do you get into corporate events, other types of events, or is weddings where you really try to stay?
Charlene Mortillo: Yes, pretty much. But I do, do the corporate events. Yes, I work on all levels with the coordinators at different companies things like that also. But, yeah, I pretty much focus myself on weddings.
Ryan Burger: Cool, cool. I mean, you’ve got that connection with it. You personally are a disc jockey in the company. You’ve got a couple other people that work for you that you kind of found that share the same philosophy?
Charlene Mortillo: Yes, I have a few DJs. I have a few dancers, but, yes, I definitely do a lot of — I do most of the weddings myself. But, yeah, I do have three or four DJs that work with me that work in my company that take care of the corporate. They also take care of the mitzvahs that specifically sit down with our coordinators to do that also. So we have a very open group of people that take care of a little bit of everything.
Ryan Burger: I guess I know your neighborhood, but tell us how far you’ve traveled, and where you’re based out of, and that kind of information.
Charlene Mortillo: We’re based out of central New Jersey, but we travel to New York, Eastern PA, and Connecticut.
Ryan Burger: So you do get around. If someone’s heard of you locally at a friend’s wedding and wants you travel a little bit farther, you don’t mind, I’m sure?
Charlene Mortillo: Oh, no, no, no. We have no problem traveling anywhere. I’ve traveled as far as Florida, depending on who and the word of mouth where we go. I go pretty much almost anywhere.
Ryan Burger: I remember a disc jockey telling me before we did these interviews and stuff about how a bride really wanted them to come out, and they were having a destination wedding in Hawaii. He, for some reason, didn’t complain too much. I imagine you take those kinds of gigs as quickly as they come in, right?
Charlene Mortillo: Oh, absolutely. I have no complaints there.
Ryan Burger: Very cool. You said a little bit of your approach, having the female advantage, the chromosomes being different than the rest of us. But in the entertainment style how does that come out when you’re actually at the wedding reception?
Charlene Mortillo: Well —
Ryan Burger: Threw you for a loop there. I’m sorry.
Charlene Mortillo: I’m sorry.
Ryan Burger: I threw you for a little bit of a loop there, but yeah, tell me how you are actually at the events.
Charlene Mortillo: Oh, I’m extremely outgoing. I find myself that me personally I’m extremely upbeat. I find that my parties are more dance-oriented. I find my style to be a high-energy person. I dictate my event by the participation level. I don’t jump to change the level unless the dance floor changes, and then I have to, of course, change the level of the party. Most people at my parties they want to dance. They don’t want a DJ that’s constantly talking. So I find that I vary it by what goes on, but I like to be high energy all the time. So if things slow down, of course, I have to pull something out of my sleeve to pull the party back up. I think everybody had their own niche, but I beat mix. Not a lot of DJs seems to — female DJs beat mix. So I find that that brings my — it’s almost like you had soul train going on at your party, and you have men that beat mix. There’s not a lot of female DJs that do beat mix.
So I think everybody has their niche. That’s what I do. So I think that’s how — everybody does something different. You know, personally that’s something that I do. Of course, I learned from other DJs how to do this, and that’s how I watch the floor. I keep a constant eye on what goes on, on the floor, and I determine which way the music goes by what I see.
Ryan Burger: On with beat mixing and moving into a little of the equipment you use, where did you learn — I mean, you said you learned to beat mix from other disc jockeys. Are you doing this on computer? Are you doing this on vinyl? Are you doing this on CD? Tell me a little bit about the gear involved in your shows.
Charlene Mortillo: Oh, okay. Well, currently I carry Rain mixers, Rain and Pioneer mixers. I carry more than one system, because I always carry backup everywhere I go. But I use Rain and Pioneer mixers. I use DBX equalizers. I have Pioneer and Denon CD players that I carry all the time. Everything that I carry microphone wise, I use Shure. I use JBL and Neon and Mackies, Fermin, Compaq and HP computers. I carry a mix of everything because you just never know. You have always got to be prepared for whatever. So pretty much. That’s pretty much what I carry with me all the time. I’m a big believer in back up equipment no matter where I go.
Ryan Burger: You don’t want to have to be scrambling by any means. I mean, that seems to be the big key. If something does go awry at a wedding reception that the bride never knows that it happens, and that you are able to take care of it. So you have everything on site there ready to go with you.
Charlene Mortillo: Absolutely. I’m a big believer in four computers everywhere I go and four hard drives wherever I go.
Ryan Burger: Four computers, gees. Okay.
Charlene Mortillo: Yeah, and I’m very big in that two are always ready on the table, and two are always sitting in a bag right by my feet. So yes, I’m big in carrying things that — most people don’t carry, I do.
Ryan Burger: So how do you get your business? I mean, all disc jockeys get it word of mouth, but do you do the bridal fairs? Do you go out and shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies — well, you wouldn’t be kissing babies in the bridal business — but I mean, how do you find out — how do people find out about Popular Party DJs?
Charlene Mortillo: Well, of course, the Internet is pretty much the biggie right there. Being the fact that I have the Internet, and, of course, you said word of mouth. A lot of the things that I do — I do a lot of advertising through friends that I do some — I used to do value packs. I find that they are not very big anymore. The wedding sites that are out there — there’s quite a few of them that I advertise through, anything from We DJ to whatever. There’s a bunch of them out there that I’ve used over the course of the years, some of them with great return, some of them with not so great returns. But I lately have been just word of mouth that just keeps coming around again and again. And I think it’s a wonderful thing, because word of mouth is your best customer. So that’s pretty much what I go through and then what I do. So I mean, I’m sure most DJs are the same way.
Ryan Burger: Understood completely. The word gets around about a good disc jockey there’s no doubt about it. It seems to also get around about someone that’s not doing things right, and they don’t last in the business for long. I mean, you’ve been in this business for a long time, so the word’s definitely gotten out about yourself. Where do you see things going? I know when we were talking and by the time this profile comes out in a magazine, you will have rejuvenated your business, and putting a lot more into it, gotten a lot more hands in, and done a lot with your website. Where do you see the future of Popular Party DJs going? Do you see yourself as a 70-year-old DJ doing wedding receptions still for people when you get way up there in age? What do you see as your future, I guess?
Charlene Mortillo: I guess what I kind of see that’s going to be happening, like I said, is I’m going to be more customer focused. Being the fact that we’re going to be splitting the company into two parts, we’re going to align it and realign it, so to speak. Popular Party DJs is going to become Popular Entertainment New Jersey, and we’re gong to have two sections. One’s going to be wedding, bar mitzvahs, and corporate, which will be Popular Entertainment New Jersey. That’s going to be very customer high end focused. And the Popular Party DJs is going to become the family entity so to speak where that’s going to be your sweet 16s, and your anniversaries, and whatever.
But I am really going to be doing the high-end focus for myself and for a couple of my other jocks to take care of just being high end. I mean, taking care of entertaining pictures for people. And setting the situation up to make sure that they’re happy, and they’re party planning is done from start to finish, and make sure they’re totally focused on what the customer needs are. And then other one, the other side of this spectrum, with Popular Party DJs will be there for the customer who’s looking for something that is just very low end — not low end so to speak but midrange where they can enjoy themselves, and have a good time, and not be spending the amount of money they’d be spending on a wedding but still enjoy themselves.
And where my daughter has now come into play, and she’s now at the age where she’s playing parties every single weekend for me too. And she can take over that part of the business, which would be great now to become a family run business. It’s not just me. It’s now my daughter also. So it’s become more than just a single operator. It’s a big thing now for us. So it’s become a good thing.
Ryan Burger: I know we talked about your daughter and had a little bit of fun with some stuff related to her out at the Vegas show. And she seems, just like mine, she seems just a little bit more outgoing from everything I get out of it. But, I mean, you’ve got to plan for the future, and obviously you’ve got a good amount of that already in the line. So understood. Wrapping things up, tell me a little bit about you that maybe this hasn’t come out with any of the questions that I planned for. What are you all about? How will people know it’s Charlene coming down? How will they know you if they see you at one of these conferences.
Charlene Mortillo: Well, of course, I’m the one laughing all the time. I am the one with the little bit off-beat New Jersey sense of humor. I think I’m fun-loving. I’m driven. I always want to have a great time. I’m a stickler for detail. People that know me know that. And I’m determined to have people have a great time at their events, and people that know me know that that’s the way that I am. I just like to have, and I want it to come out my performance. And I want people to see that. And I want people to understand that DJing is part of you. It’s not you, but it’s part of you. And I just want DJs to understand that it’s not about money. It’s about making people happy. And that’s pretty much it. You know, it’s not a job. It’s part of you.
Ryan Burger: Oh, understood completely. That description fits perfectly. Hopefully we’ll see you at another one of the conventions sometime soon.
Her current website is at PopularPartyDJs.com. By the time this publishes there will be a new site you can bounce off of and see a little bit more about Charlene and everything she’s got going in central New Jersey. Thanks for joining.
Charlene Mortillo: Thank you.
Filed Under: Exclusive Online News and Content, Issues from 2010, Profiles
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