At your nightclub, it’s important to keep your guests constantly stimulated, especially when attention spans are only getting shorter. Lighting effects, sound systems and engaging DJ performances all coalesce to create a raucous club scene. Don Mangen, formerly of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, understands the importance of creating a strong club atmosphere, so he founded Visual Club Concepts (VCC), a video DJ management company that works with some of the best video DJs in the industry, booking them at clubs around the country. He talked with Nightclub Confidential about what makes a great nightlife DJ and how video DJs take any random night to another level.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): Tell us about Visual Club Concepts.
Don Mangen: The main focus of Visual Club Concepts is the DJ management side of the equation. Promoting our roster of America’s top video artists and matching the right video DJ with the right venue, as well as having our DJs showcase their talent, taking nightlife to an all new high. Two other aspects of our company will be nightclub consulting and also offering the skills of our graphic artists for DJs and venues to use their designs for club flyers, press kits and mobile applications.
NCC: What's the process you use in choosing video DJs?
Mangen: Having been in the nightclub business for more than 15 years, I have been fortunate to work with some of the best DJs in the country. A lot of the ones that I represent have personally played a venue I have worked at or are DJs I have seen somewhere else that I have approached because they had something that set them apart from someone else.
NCC: What does it take to be a good video DJ?
Mangen: Having a strong background as a regular DJ is key, truly knowing all genres of music and being able to mix current music videos with those of the years past. Also, you need to be a good video editor so that you can create custom content to keep setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack. Not only are you mixing and blending music but you are also mixing and blending videos. Getting all of it to match and appear seamless is no easy task.
NCC: Why are video DJs important to the nightclub market? When did you see this trend start to gain in popularity?
Mangen: Video DJs are important because it adds another form of entertainment to your venue, giving [you] something more to offer to your guest. However, one of the main benefits that [video DJs] add is instant marketing to your venue. You have an event you want to promote [and] a good video DJ can take that content, incorporate it into [his or her] show and promote it. Club promoter’s love having specials promoted to a captive audience. That’s why people pay big money for Super Bowl commercials. Also, if you have a sponsor that evening, you can add value to the venue by promoting that sponsor during the night by adding their logo to custom video edits.
Also, every time you have one of our VCC DJs play your venue, you are getting a new custom-created show. Every DJ plays the hit songs but video DJs present [the songs] in a different way. There have been a lot of places doing video for a while now, but it has really started taking off in the last 18 months. There are more and more DJs converting from being an audio DJ to a visual DJ.
NCC: What are video DJs offering that audio DJs aren’t?
Mangen: The biggest difference is the visual content that [video DJs] offer. I can remember after Michael Jackson died that during the next club night DJ Kris P had a 30-minute Michael Jackson retrospective of all his music. Before the New Orleans Saints played the Super Bowl [in 2010], DJ San-D had a custom-made video depicting the season they had, and after they won, he played it; it was the most requested video for months after. DvDJ Crush keeps an Internet connection open on his Mac, and during the night he takes live requests for videos through Twitter, and also he has the ability to stream his video show live from the venue.
NCC: What DJs are you working with?
Mangen: We currently have six DJs on our roster and will be signing more in the next few weeks.
DJ San-D was the resident DJ for Masquerade at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino and also Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, N.C. Younger than most of the top video artists, he is definitely an up-and-comer.
DvDJ Crush, a native of New Orleans and a true video-remix legend, had been the resident DJ for Coast Nightclub at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., an MGM Resorts property, for the last two and a half years. He has done numerous video remixes for some of hip hop's biggest artists, including Lil Jon, DJ Class and Fatman Scoop.
DvDJ Biggie is from upstate New York with a residency at Lava at Turning Stone Resort & Casino and is the top-selling video artist on Crooklyn Clan, which is the top video DJ remix Website in the world. His video mixes are used all around the world by other video DJs.
DJ Kris P from Orange County, Calif., is a 15-year veteran who has been playing the nation’s hottest clubs and events like the X Games and ESPY Awards to headlining parties at the Playboy Mansion, and he shared billing with artists like Black Eyed Peas, Prince, Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney, Pitbull, Busta Rhymes and more!
DJ MisterE is an 18-year veteran, and he's Los Angeles' No. 1 video-mixing DJ. He’s the resident DJ at the Playboy Mansion for Kandy Events and Kandy Kruises. He also is the host of the Internet’s No. 1 live video-mix show every Tuesday on the mixinglab.net.
DJ Serafin is known for his electrofied remixes and savvy mixing style. This Los Angeles-based DJ/producer/remixer has launched himself into the mainstream club and music industry. Although DJ Serafin has gained major recognition for his mashups, he is widely known for his versatility.
Every one of these guys has played all over America and the world. DJ Kris P has recently returned from Taiwan and a three-day video tour; the Asian market has been very successful for video DJs.
NCC: What kind of equipment do they use?
Mangen: It varies. Most DJs will use a Macbook Pro and either Serato or MixEmergency software with either Pioneer DVJs or Technics turntables with a Rane mixer. DvDJ Crush is taking up the technology and is also using an iPad as his MIDI controller. One of our artists, DvDJ Biggie uses VirtualDJ for his shows.
NCC: What is the overall reaction to video DJs?
Mangen: It’s nothing but positive. It is interesting because in the early '80s videos on MTV were the new thing, and as MTV entered the '90s they quit playing videos, so now our video DJs play videos that many of the current generation hasn’t seen or knew existed.