When he is not out fighting crime, Estario Petty enjoys entertaining audiences as DJ Petty. He tells us about himself in this week’s Hot Seat.
How did you go about choosing your DJ name and what does it mean?
Our Sint Maarten/Saint Martin society knows me as Petty. My family name is Petty. So I found it fitting as a mobile DJ to promote myself carrying the name DJ Petty. The name DJ Petty means “compact”, “exclusive”, “transparent”, “decisive” and “multi-skilled”.
How long have you been a DJ and how did you get involved in deejaying?
I’ve been deejaying since late 1989. I got involved in deejaying through my classmate when I was a freshman at Milton Peters College around the year 1985/86. My classmate would record his mixes on cassettes and during school intermission on my Walkman (which was popular at that time). I personally found it challenging how he professionally manipulated his mixes and scratches on his technic turntables. As a young dynamic person, who always welcomed a challenge, I told myself that if he can do it, so can I. Today, he is known as DJ Wilson. Wilson and I were in the same class at MPC, which was LTS-4ET. At the time, our class was extremely popular for holding school parties on the school premises in the late 80s.
What is it that you love about deejaying?
I love seeing how I can take control of a crowd and make them hop via my music as they enjoy and de-stress themselves after long days of hard work. Music is very much mind-relaxing.
Best deejay gig to date?
In 2002, I was personally invited to deejay in Haiti for a wedding as a guest DJ. I was not aware that I would be performing alongside the legendary Kompa Haitian band Tabou Combo and with top Haitian DJs Wendy and Fau Fau. Also in 2005, I played for three consecutive days for a wedding couple who had an outrageous demand on their playlist. It was challenging because the genre of music that was requested was unfamiliar to me. Locating and compiling those tracks were challenging. It took me almost a month to compile the music daily, but I was well compensated at the end.
What makes you stand out as a DJ?
I take the love for music and my digital audio sound quality very seriously. The manner in which I abruptly throw in a roasting flashback track that will send you back into memory lane makes me stand out. I entertain from the youngest to the most mature and senior crowd and an essential factor is that I can entertain the majority of our diverse cultures on our little island. I play approximately 30 different genres of music and can perform seven to nine hours continuously, without playing hot tracks repeatedly that same evening.
I’m a mobile DJ. I’m not too keen on being a resident DJ – I’ve been there and done that. On Monday evenings, I am at The Red Piano Lounge located under Hollywood Casino in Pelican, which is called Church On Mondays. I’m cool with that because of the senior and mature vibes, and the genre of music that is deemed to be played. I’m open to feedback may it be from the party revellers or party-planners.
How do you get a dancefloor packed?
I first analyse what type of crowd I’m up against. I begin interacting with my audience verbally and non-verbally. It is my job and goal to make them feel welcome and at home; make them gain ownership of the venue in a respectful manner as I set the genre of music that is most feasible, favourable and flavourable, when I drop tracks in a timely manner.
How would you describe your deejaying style?
My deejaying style is very unique and neat. I can scratch, but my followers are not much into that. I play to entertain them and definitely not myself. My playtime for tracks is timely as my crowd wants to grasp the floor energy and concept of what is being played. From experience, it has a great deal to do with timing and it’s not just about being the first to play a new, hot track; otherwise, your audience will find you tedious and will eventually disperse.
What do you do to get persons moving when a dance floor is empty?
I use my microphone and interact with my party people. I choose my words wisely as I throw humoristic questions and gestures (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, divorce) to fire up the dance floor. And, trust me, not all party-mongers come to a gig to dance; not all party revellers can dance certain genres of music. Once they are riveted to the bar, shaking their heads to the music, and buying drinks at the bar, that alone tells me they are enjoying the music from a different perspective.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is DJ Jazzy Jeff.
My favourite songs are “Greatest Love Affair” by Thriller U and “Loving Fool” by Tolga. My favourite genre of music is “Latin Freestyle” which is a type of electronic dance music. It became popular during the mid- and late-80s (this genre of music declined in popularity in the 90s); and also Zouk and Cadence.
What is one mistake you see a lot of up-and-coming DJs making?
They don’t have the faintest clue how to charge a club or party-planner. It is heart breaking to see or hear how certain DJs have simultaneously promoted and demoted themselves when it comes to quoting a price to render DJ services. They are so caught up in competing with other DJs that they all eventually sound the same. I guess that’s the vision the new generation of DJs have; they play/perform limited genres of music.
If you could go back in time to any music era, which era would you choose and why?
I would go back to the mid- and late-80s because it was an era where the music that was written was educating us about dignity, respect and love for others. I can recall as a teenager when I started dating, I would re-write lyrics from certain songs and send to other girls to actually impress them with my vocabulary. Awesome days! The words from those 80s tracks presently move certain young generations onto the dance floor like a track from the late Michael Jackson.
What misconceptions do you think people have about DJs that you would like to clarify?
The misconception people have about deejays is what certain degrading business DJs introduce to the market. My price as a DJ does not reflect the price of other DJs. This can be compared to the construction field. My pricing, as I render professional deejay services, is based on my experience, investment, venue and performance. I am a professional DJ with professional digital sound equipment under the name Sound Liberty.
What bugs you about the DJ scene in St. Maarten?
That upcoming DJs play the same thing over and over and there is simply no diversity.
What are the main differences between old school deejaying and deejaying today?
Old school DJs take pride in what they play, how they play and how they sound. They are focused on a clean and accurate mix. This comes with experience. Modern deejaying is simple plug-and-play and they don’t even take sound quality into consideration. Old school DJs can and will always manipulate turntables, whereas the majority of today’s DJs cannot perform on turntables. It’s just a push and stop of the button. It’s like being trained to drive a vehicle with standard mechanism, then you logically can drive a vehicle with standard and automatic mechanism. But if you were trained to drive only a vehicle with automatic mechanism, it will take a great amount of time and effort to manipulate a vehicle with standard mechanism.
What track never gets dull, no matter how many times you play it?
As a Dutch and French native islander, the sound tracks from the legendary groovy and power Soca band Burning Flames and tracks from the legendary Zouk and Cadence artist Luc Leandry will never get dull at any dance on our island no matter how many times you play them.
What is the ultimate spot, event or venue that you would like to play at?
I don’t have an ultimate spot, event or venue. I do enjoy playing at The Red Piano and Sunset Beach Bar on Sunday afternoons. As long as there is an area for persons to dance, I will make sure they take off their dancing shoes to feel the acoustic energy under their feet; or as they sit back, relax and enjoy the background music.
If you could bring back one musical genre and get rid of one, which ones would you choose and why?
I would bring back the 80s Electro-Pop (Latin Freestyle and new wave music). I would definitely get rid of heavy metal hard rock. Thank God all the years I’ve rendered DJ services, no one has ever asked me to play that genre of music; but if I have to, I will play it with cotton stuck in my ears.
What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
My advice to aspiring DJs is to observe keenly what kind of crowd you are entertaining; interact with your crowd; broaden your repertoire of music genre (after all, we live in a diverse culture on our little 37 square-mile island); always exercise respect for others’ opinion (may it be your client or party audience) and be always open for feedback.