Ari Rosenfeld of boutique DJ firm Beat Train Productions developed a big following in Boston before deciding to branch into New York weddings. Couples love Beat Train for their deep music collection and their instinctual feel for the mood on the dance floor. (You can hear a sample mix by Rosenfeld here.)
Tell us about Beat Train Productions.
I started Beat Train a few years ago in Boston. We’ve found our niche from being a bunch of 20 and 30 something DJ’s who have the versatility to handle a wide range of crowds—anything from indie/quirky/alternative to party classics and pop music (while avoiding music that is overtly cheesy). Over the last year I began to realize that I was getting a bit bored in Boston and that I was going to potentially lose a couple of my best DJs when they would eventually move to new york. I realized that there was a golden opportunity for me to start splitting my time between Boston and New York. For now I’m working hard to build a stellar reputation for Beat Train in NYC, and to pave the way for some of my Boston DJs to eventually find the opportunity to move to New York.
What’s your favorite thing about DJing weddings?
What I like about weddings is that people are so grateful and appreciative. After all the hard work I put into being the best at my game, corny as it may sound, it feels quite nice to have someone come up to you and say some kind words about how you helped make the wedding into one of the most memorable one ever for them. At a club gig, people don’t go out of their way to show their appreciation.
How would you describe your style?
To be a successful DJ, I need to be a chameleon of sorts, and adapt to the crowd. So that varies greatly. If I’m playing to a crowd of bashful people, I may end up doing a pretty conventional DJ set, out of necessity. If I’m playing to a very young and energetic crowd, you’d see me really pushing the envelope and cutting a lot of different songs together, and generally being spontaneous and unpredictable.
How do you develop a playlist for each wedding? Can you give us some examples of sets?
For weddings, I try to get a few song requests and some general ideas from the bride and groom—but I try to put myself in a position where I can feel out the crowd and react accordingly. I feel strongly that its my job to be versatile, so I try not to show up at a gig with a playlist already made. I play different stuff at every gig….but, for instance, the last wedding I did, I played everything from indie pop (MGMT and Chromeo) to new wave and punk (Devo and Billy Idol and The Ramones) to soul and R&B (Marvin Gaye and the Five Dutones) to 80s, pop, and mashups (Michael Jackson, Cee Lo Green, and a Tao Cruz mashup).
What are the advantages of having a DJ over a band?
A band tends to plan out their set in advance so they can’t adapt if people don’t like the music they are playing. If you are inviting mostly elderly people to your wedding, I would definitely suggest a band over a DJ. Old folks love wedding bands.
What advice do you have for couples choosing the music and DJ for their wedding?
My advice would be to either find a DJ who knows what they are doing and give them a limited amount of song requests, or else to find a DJ who doesn’t know what they’re doing and put a clause in the contract that they are not allowed to play any songs that are not on your list. I would also suggest putting a clause in the contract that they are not allowed to rip off their shirt and start singing along to the songs. Just my two cents, take it with a grain of salt.
What’s your most requested song? What’s the most unexpected song you play that people love? What’s the weirdest choice of “First Dance” song you’ve ever seen?
The most requested songs tends to change depending on what is currently popular—last year people would always come up and ask for “The Mazel Tov Song” or “Tonight’s Gonna be a Good Night” or would occasionally request it by its actual name “I Gotta Feeling.” I have not gotten that request in a long time. No disrespect to Mr. Will I.Am but I don’t miss hearing that song.
How about the most unexpected song you play that people love? And the weirdest “First Dance” song you’ve ever played?
If I have a crowd with a high tolerance for ridiculousness, I can sometimes slip in something like “500 miles” by The Proclaimers and people will go crazy. If its not the right crowd and I’m not careful, I could play that song and they’d all stop dancing and stare at me. There aren’t really any first dance songs that stick out in my mind, I think partially because the flamboyant mother/son song dances stick out more (I won’t list any in case there are any mothers reading this article).