A rising sophomore at Woodrow Wilson High School, Beauty and the Beatz does teenage stuff. Her favorite subject is Art. She does homework. Eats family dinners. Enjoys basketball and watching magic tutorials on YouTube. Oh, and you can also hire her to DJ your corporate Christmas party, a job for which she has almost 10 years of experience.
NYC & back in less than 24 hours - we'd only do it for the best event ever. techsytalk LIVE, folks! Last year Nicole & Ciera headed up north for the all-day conference and loved it so much they decided Pelonkey had to play a bigger part. This year Pelonkey was techsytalk's official Entertainment Sponsor, Nicole gave a kickass 10-minute Pelonkey presentation, and we had a swag-filled table at which we chatted up the event prof attendees. We may not have slept, but... when in New York, right?
Ah, BlueCart. BlueCart + Pelonkey. A friendship lovechild of the magical fairyland that is SXSW via Nicole & Andrew's chance meeting. Two chatty folks who, well, chatted until they were the best of startup friends. They realized there are a lot of ways we could cross-market, and so this blog feature was born. Ok, some other stuff happened in there, too, because both companies are mega-busy, but you get the idea. BlueCart & Pelonkey swapped Q's, and below are one half of the A's. A cool group of people with a cool mission. I'll let them tell you what they do.
Last week we met with some of our event planners to show them a little appreciation the best way we know how: with food, drink, and entertainment, duh. A number of our event planner clients gathered at Sugar to be wowed by the likes of Alain Nu, Robert Mac, Michael Rosman, and DJ Dirty Hands. These are some unique and very talented performers and come highly recommended by Yours Truly... OK, and some other super cool event planners who have hired them for fantastic events.
Each of the performers has been striving and working with Pelonkey to reach more people, make suggestions, give feedback, and improve the online platform (which, in turn, improves their personal experience as an entertainer on the site, so hello killing two birds with one stone), BUT each of these performers is also uniquely invested in elevating the way we as an industry book talent. Just like us, they want to stabilize this sometimes very (read: too) opaque booking culture.
So we chatted and listened and watched and altogether boozed & schmoozed, and it was as lovely a time as ever.
A giant thank you to Sugar for hosting and to our attendees for, well, attending! Getting to know you means getting to know your events means getting to know the best talent to recommend for those events means getting all kinds of new talent signed up on the system! *and breathe*
Til the next one!
[Sorry some of the pictures are quite dark; we had too much fun mingling to double-check our photos!]
To learn more about each performer, and hello, book them, visit their Pelonkey pages below!
Alain Nu, The Man Who Knows (yes, that is his trademarked name) - Mentalist & Magician
Robert Mac - Comedian
Michael Rosman - Juggler, Circus Performer, Comedian, et al
DJ Dirty Hands - um, DJ
This morning we woke up, looked at the rain outside our window, and thought, We need something exciting to counter this dreary day. And then BAM! it hit us - we never recapped our 2016 SXSW trip! And now the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds, ready to join us in our happy nostalgia of getting weird for another year in Austin, TX.
Partnering with our faves at EventsDC and WeDC, we had Rex Riot, Mathias., JC Flores, & DJ Neekola perform at various times throughout the entire weekend-long event. The DJs provided dance music during the day while attendees mingled at the WeDC house, as well as a little at night. In fact, Rex Riot helped warm up the crowd for QuestLove at the crazay closing party. We had a big presence, wearing our Pelonkey tees all over Austin.
In addition to that, our CEO, Nicole, was able to pitch to a ton of tech people at the WeDC house at their Tech Breakfast, which included 1776's very own Evan Burfield. And (yes, there's more!) Nicole participated in the WeDC startup showcase along with other DC innovators, such as our new friends at BlueCart, to spread the good Pelonkey word to other SXSW attendees. At the showcase, we had a booth for one day where visitors could come by, ask questions, and generally be wowed by all things Pelonkey. It was a hit, and we were able to talk to so many new people!
Let's see... what else? We saw Chromeo perform (can we just get them on our platform already & be BFFs??), met the COO of TechWeek at the TechWeek party, mingled some more, party-hopped, explored the city, met DC mayor, Muriel Bowser, were featured on Buzzfeed's SXSW promo, saw some Events DC friends - Ashley & Greg - and hung out and rocked the WeDC house from Saturday-Monday.
A huge, gigantic shoutout to Julie, Damelia, and Tiffany for being awesome, as always, and running the WeDC show like the #bosses they are! Wow, the WeDC has made a baller name for itself at SXSW; it's always the party and place to be! We are so proud to call them Pelonkey supporters and friends. D'awww, DC love, y'all!
We like to think of ourselves as seasoned pros now that we've been to SXSW twice...and really it's just a matter of time before people are partying it up at the PelonkHouse with some kickass DJs, performers, and peeps. 2017, here we come! #DoYouPelonkey
Q P & A (Pelonkey & Alkimist) with another of our fave DJs, DJ Alkimist. She's classically trained in viola, and didn't you know formal teaching translates nicely into rockin' deep house parties? Read on.
P: How long have you been DJing?
A: Professionally, for about five years now. I’m actually a classically trained musician. I’ve been playing viola for almost my entire life, and I taught myself violin shortly after that. When I moved out to DC [from Washington state] I had for whatever reason stopped playing. I missed music. The Beat Refinery had just opened; I took classes, and I learned from other Pelonkey DJs; Stylus Chris & As-One taught me how to DJ and how to get back into music.
It's totally different from the classical scene. When I moved out here I was just looking for adventure. Getting into the artist and DJ scene, those have been so fun. The more I get involved with it, the more people I meet... it's a really solid good group of people.
P: How did you go from taking classes to playing professionally?
A: I had a job in DC - I was an executive assistant and hated it - but the timing worked out really well. When I was finishing up my education at Beat Refinery I got fired from my other job. There was a moment of me sitting in my apartment thinking Wow, I have no job, and I’m living in one of the most expensive cities. With nothing to fall back on, what if I just try the DJ thing? I’m going to roll with it and see what happens. I put myself out there. I was writing my information on napkins for people, crashing gigs, crashing places where corporate people were, saying "If you need a DJ for your party, call me!" Stuff like that. For some crazy reason it all worked out.
P: What was your first official DJ spot where you realized, "I’m making a name for myself"?
A: I got an opening spot at Josephine for DJ Impulse, which was really cool, and I booked a company holiday party.
This is a wild story: It was my birthday, and I was celebrating at the 9:30 Backbar, and there was a guy there who had heard of Beat Refinery. I said, “I’m a DJ!” and he said "Really? Our company is looking for a DJ for our holiday party." I wrote my email address on a napkin and gave it to him. He asked me what my rate was, I named a number that at the time I thought was really high, and they said, "Great! You're hired!" That's when I thought, Woah, I could make this work, but I need to organize it better.
P: Have you been able to combine your viola training with DJing?
A: DJing is all music theory. Everything I studied as a classical artist has come into play. In terms of combining the two, it's still an experiment. I have an electric viola, and it's been fun to plug that in to crazy pedals, loop pedals, and beats - I also produce music - and I’ve been thinking of putting together beats that I’ve made and doing crazy effects and viola stuff on top of that. Maybe adding in a vocal element too.
P: DJing is music theory?
A: A really good DJ, whether they’ve been trained or not, has a good understanding of keys that sound good together when you’re mixing or blending songs, keeping things in complementary keys, and all of the counting and phrasing and beat matching. All of that is music theory.
P: What genre do you play?
A: Right now I play everything. I have a lot of open format gigs, so depending on the crowd, you could literally be playing everything from reggaeton to EDM to hip-hop. For a year and a half to two years, I had a deep house party that was a weekly thing that was really cool.
P: What do you love to play most?
A: I really love super underground stuff that people hear and go, "Oh my God, what is this?" and you’ve been digging for weeks to find the coolest tunes that no one has heard before. I really like bass [jungle bass] and new funk, alternative R&B, some latin music, future house, all of that stuff.
P: What kinds of gigs do you play?
A: I do a lot of clubs and bars, I’ve done fashion shows and artist exhibitions, a lot of private parties, corporate parties, birthday parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, divorce parties. Just everything and anything. In-store gigs. I love just watching people come in, and they’re grooving and dancing. You never see people dancing while they’re shopping; it's so fun.
P: Anything crazy that has happened that stands out?
A: Recently I opened at Soundcheck for Anevo. I'd never spun at Soundcheck, and I rolled in and they had this huge LED screen. They put my logo up there, and the crowd was amazing. They were all loving it, having so much fun. I don't know if I’ve ever played for a group where 100% of them were super happy, wanted to be there, loved the music. I didn’t even know how to contain myself. I was really happy with the whole thing. Then Anevo showed up, and he was like, "Hey, do you wanna keep going for another half hour?" He could tell I was out of my mind having so much fun. And I got to play all deep and future house, so that was fun, too.
P: What's it like hunting for new songs all the time?
A: Oh man, I love it. Before I had lots of gigs, in the beginning days when I had one gig a week, I would spend 40 hours a week getting music. I’ve become more efficient with how I find it. I'm part of a couple record pools, but for the cool underground stuff, you have to dig for it. I scour music blogs, Soundcloud, cool YouTube channels that will put up artists that nobody has heard of but are making cool music. I look at sites like beatport, but mostly I just have a list of blogs I go through.
P: Do you plan out your set before your gig?
A: [Laughs] No, I usually roll in and do it all on the fly.
P: Even with thousands of songs?
A: My organizational systems need some work, but I start with the venue; sometimes they’ll give you guidelines: 'we want to hear these genres,' but if it's an open format, I already know like 5,200 songs that are good party starters but aren’t bangers, so you won’t be giving everything away in the beginning. A lot of times I'll sneak in stuff that I like that's still dance-y to test it out. I squeeze it in between two good songs that I know they’ll love, so just in case it fails I can say, "Just kidding!"
P: Favorite song right now
A: The Major Lazer remix of Nobody Has to Know by Kranium - I love listening to it, dancing, playing, watching people dance to it. I've been addicted to it ever since I heard it first come out.
Ready to book DJ Alkimist yet? We know, we know, she's fantastic. No really, we know. One of our featured entertainers and a sweetheart to boot, she will rock your party socks off.
DJ Fanci is fierce, energetic, charming, and talented. I'll let her do the talking.
How long have you been DJing?
I’ve been DJing for five years now. It definitely was supposed to be something I started for fun - my first job out of school was in radio, so I had already formed an interest starting in college - but when I could finally afford to buy my first set of equipment, I started playing around and realized it could be a career. I'm all self-taught. I looked at a lot of videos on YouTube, but never formally took a class.
When did you realize you were good enough to go pro?
A few months in. I was doing mixes and having my friends listen to them, and they were saying, "Hey this is really good," and it turned into a few gigs. I already knew my music, and I realized I could really rock a party.
How did you move from amateur to pro status?
I just linked up with another DJ who heard one of my mixes; he was one of my cowers, so we were both beginner DJs, and we wanted to get into lounges. I started doing hookah spots and lounges where [the DJ] is more of the background music. Then somebody had a birthday party there, and that brought the biggest crowd I had ever played for. They were dancing the whole night, and I thought, Oh my God, I am doing this! This is me right now! So I started to do clubs after that.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to break into the club scene?
Link up with somebody! I feel like a lot of people are always so scared of people taking something from them or stealing their stuff... Link up with someone to become a dynamic duo or with someone who is where you want to be. I knew this was something I wanted to do, but having somebody to link up with in general made the pressure less intense. That's a lot to have on your shoulders [when you’re just starting out].
And just do it! [Practice DJing.] That's so basic, but truly, if it wasn’t for my homeboy, who was like, "Hey, do this gig with me," I wouldn’t have gotten out of my bedroom. I was too scared to mix live in front of people. I would make a prerecorded mix and send it to people, but you have to put yourself out there. You have to fall.
Do you have times where you fall?
Sure! Recently this happened to me during the holidays. I don't know what I was playing, but the guests were looking at me like, "Girl don’t ever play that again." I have go-to songs and go-to playlists. I used to have a joke: "When in doubt, play Beyoncé." There are certain hits that no matter how many times they’ve heard it, the crowd loves it. Those help me reset and go into another mix.
What is your preparation like before gigs?
I don’t create a playlist. I do have a collection of "new shit,” anything that's really hot that just came out. I strategically play that stuff because some people know it, some people don't. I do prepare a lot with new music, practice how I would transition. For the most part I’ve been doing it so long I feel very prepared when I go in there. I know I have the music so I can go in any direction I want to go. If it's less club and lounge then I will prepare a bit more; especially with an all-ages event, I want the flow to be right. Sometimes I do think we get into a flow that we are used to at clubs, but it's a different type of flow for a corporate event.
What's it like when you're a guest at a club?
I just like the party. I started DJing because I love to party, so as long as [the DJ] is paying attention [to the crowd,] I'm good Sometimes I feel like DJs DJ for themselves, but it's for us! Not you. As long as they can keep me dancing.
I do love when DJs randomly throw it back. Some of the time DJs get into default mode, so we [in the audience] think, Now they’re probably going to play this song. Well, when they can throw you a curve ball, throw some old Nelly in there, then I’m like "Heeeey!" That's when I start paying attention. When they start playing something cool, then I want to know who the DJ is.
What might surprise people to learn about a DJ?
There's a lot of music out there - people don’t realize how much - and it takes a long time to really get your library up. I know a lot of DJs are just like, "Oh, you need a few popular songs, and you'll be good to go," but some of the stuff people ask you for, the reactions you get to those good hits, that stuff takes a lot of time. It's a constant thing. You’re constantly looking for music.
Where do you find your music?
I’m on MP3 websites. I’m registered to a couple of sites where DJs share music. A lot of times I like going out and listening to other DJs because then I say, "Hey, what's that? Is that a mashup or your original?" Of course, Soundcloud. Exchanging music with other people. I just recently had a gig where I had to play a lot of house - non-vocal house - so I reached out to Neekola and said, "I know house is your thing, shoot me some artists you’re looking into." I like to link up with those people who have a niche to find some cool stuff.
Top three songs you’re loving right now
What genre do you specialize in?
"I love remixes. I’m hip hop at heart. But I love pop-type dance music. I spend a lot of time researching hip hop remixes that have a dance movement. Something that gets a lot of attention. Even among other DJs, they'll say, "Where do you get these remixes, these are crazy!" I spend a lot of time looking for those crossover trackers.
What type of events do you do?
All types. Lounge, club, retail. I've been booked for fashion shows, and I do regular in-store DJing. Exclusive retail events with giveaways; I do that kind of stuff.
What should people know about you?
I am a girl power enthusiast. I am all about women doing great things. I love when I meet girls and they say, "Oh I wanna be a DJ...I could never do that!"— Yes you can! You can do that! I love doing awesome women things.
He photographed our launch party. He photographed the Prequel launch party. He's been capturing magical weddings for years. He'll make your corporate event look enchanting even if it isn't. His name is Alexander Morozov, and he's your new photography superstar.
How long have you been a photographer?
Since I was a kid, for fun, but that eventually evolved into doing it full-time since 2005.
How did you make that transition?
I was in Baltimore just walking around when I saw a photographer capturing a wedding outside. I was excited to see this and began thinking, This would be so cool to help out and learn the skill, so I approached the guy - without interrupting his work too much - and said, "Hey can I reach out to you later?" He gave me his card and that's how I started, by helping him out.
How would you describe your style?
I understand that an event just flies by in a few hours, or a day, then it's gone. So my goal is to capture it in a way where a couple [for a wedding] can look back at it and relive the event with as many details as possible. I want to bring that emotion back to them. I call it “creative storytelling.” In reality it's a combination of different styles blended together: photo journalism, fashion, fine art, product photography, nature photography, scenic shots.
A pure photojournalist will capture the day as it unfolds. I take it a step further. I pull from fine art, dramatic lighting, shadows, depth of field. A little bit of fashion comes in handy for bride and groom shots. [Laughs] I can make the groom look tougher if he wants to. It’s part of my skill to make sure [the clients] are happy. Now, if someone falls on a cake, if something happens, a dress gets torn or dirty, or someone is injured, I don’t capture that. That's not what the day is for. I capture the day beautifully.
Now that you have your own studio and brand, how do you ensure your other photographers stick to your style?
When I train my associates I tell them the same thing: what to do, how to pay attention [to the guests and their surroundings]. Sometimes people skip the architecture of the place or the outside shots of the venue, which is very common in corporate photography. Some photographers don’t pay attention to where the event was held, they look at the speakers and people. But I see that the venue is kind of neglected, and I like to capture it and do the scenic shots and architecture shots to tell the full story.
In what other ways does corporate event photography differ from your wedding shoots?
Take a fundraising gala or something. In addition to lots of different details and environmental shots, my goal is to show that it was a successful, highly attended, exciting event. I look for the angles that will showcase the most people, I capture the best sides of the event. Like in PR, I want to portray the event in the best light possible. But again I think what's neglected in corporate photography are the detailed shots. They’re not important in the sense that the speakers and the VIPs are, but in the scope of [telling the story] and shooting the ambiance, they are. It's similar to a restaurant. It might be a hole in the wall with delicious food, and that's great, but in my opinion, it would be more enhanced by [strategic] ambiance - low light, comfortable seating - these things are not important to the taste of the food, but will enhance the experience. I try to recreate that with my corporate photography.
Even if you don't have an event coming up, you should hire Alexander to take photos of you and your family at home. Or just hire him as your own personal paparazzi throughout the day to capture you in your best light from breakfast to dessert. It'll be so worth it!
Last week Prequel DC had their launch party c/o RJ Whyte Event Production, and let me be (definitely not the first and absolutely not the last) one to say Holy Guacamole, Batman! That place looked awesome-sauce. Three floors, each with a different theme and decor, scattered with 11, yes 11, talented entertainers from our site.
I'll let the photos do the talking (a picture says a thousand words, after all), but before we even get to the magnificent visuals, let's chat about the man who took them: Alexander Morozov. He also took our launch party photos, and he always captures the magic of the event! He manages to get the best expressions, candid conversations, and elegant setups.
A big thanks to all the entertainers who helped make the Prequel Launch shine!
Anna Pineapple - Human Statue | Second Floor
Jessie Campbell - Makeup Artist (she brought a lipstick bar!) | First Floor
DJ Wizdom | Second Floor
Rajan - Live Artist (he painted the huge canvas in under two hours!) | Second Floor
DJ Alkimist | Fourth Floor
DJ Civil | Second Floor, Roaming
DJ Foster | Second & Fourth Floor, Roaming
Alexander Morozov - Photographer | Roaming
DJ Neekola | First Floor
Max Major - Mentalist | Roaming
Show these peeps some love, and book them for your next event! They can all be found on Pelonkey.com along with a slew of other serious talented groups and individuals.
We're proud Mama Bears over here, always wanting to show off our Pelonkey users...can you blame us?
WeDC has this great way of making everyone at their events feel like one of the gang. I mean, hello, it is We DC after all! We the people... Well, another WeDC event later, and we are just as obsessed with these guys! The SXSW kickoff was a blast, and we brought DJ Duffin, DJ Civil, and DJ Rene to rock the house as the guests mingled, networked, and checked out the startup tables (um, ours was the best, le duh).
DJ Duffin kicked off the night with a fun mix of music to pump up the arriving guests. From high above the evening's Pelonkey perch, he had the best vantage of anyone there!
We met a ton of great people, exchanged more than a few business cards, and let's be honest, did what Pelonkey does best: told people what we're all about, and probably cracked a few bad jokes as well ;)
Prior to Black Alley, the band for the evening, taking the stage, DJ Civil had us grooving to some R&B, some throwbacks, and like the rockstar she is, she made WeDC's recap collage, so for your viewing pleasure... (Bottom red tee haaaaay girl!) -->
And after Black Alley finished up, it was DJ Rene with the closeout. Another rockstar, I tell ya. But, really, when you come to Pelonkey, it's rockstars left and right. The talent we've got on our side are serious performers. In case you didn't already know based on the amount of bragging we like to do about them.
Great day for the PelonkTeam, and anytime we're able to hang with WeDC it's a great day overall.
Until next time, WeDC!
So... the rest of y'all ready to get this SXSW wagon on the road to Austin?? We sure are!
"For more than a year now, Pelonkey DJs have been exclusively supplying the soundtrack to City Perch brunches and nighttime parties!" --> Nicole, giirllllll, those words are music to my ears! You heard right - in the past year, if you've eaten at City Perch before catching a weekend movie, you've been grooving in your seats to one of Pelonkey's fantastic DJs. Of the 26 (and counting) entertainers who have rocked the City Perch house so far, we've rounded up a number of them to weigh in on the Pelonkey-CP love affair.
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DJ Civil: "I've had the pleasure of entertaining patrons and staff at this great establishment since August 2015. The experience has been beyond what I ever expected. First, at the bar area, it's always nice to see heads nodding and feet tapping. Second, the restaurant is a beauty. Third, and most important, City Perch has a selection of food on its menu that competes with no one in the area.
I recently DJ'd City Perch for Brunch Super Bowl Sunday. Of all the great times I've had at City Perch, I'd say the 'whispered rap battle' to the beat of Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' is the best so far! The staff and managers always show how much they enjoy my tune selection. And if it wasn't for Pelonkey, this new experience would have never happened."
DJ RAW: "Fantastic food with great presentation from the staff. Great servers. The outdoor area with the fire places lit at night and the outdoor lighting are perfect for the spring, fall and early winter. The space has a ginormous back dining area. It is a hidden gem in Rockville-Bethesda area. When the area is completed you will have to wait in line for a table. Perfect for a dinner before a movie and cocktail afterwards."
Trayze: "Spinning tunes at City Perch is always a good time! I have fun setting the vibe at the balcony and getting people in the mood to dance at their tables or at the bar. Booking through Pelonkey is always a breeze. From contracting to payment, it's always smooth!"
LJ MTX: "It was my pleasure to help City Perch kick off 2016 as their DJ. The management and staff were super accommodating from the time I walked through the door. The venue is beautiful and food is amazing. I highly recommend this spot if you are looking for a nice low key night of great food, drinks, and music."
DJ Dimmy: "DJing at City Perch is always a treat. The staff is great, and the clientele is fun. Thanks to Pelonkey, the booking process is smooth and flawless."
DJ Bo: "City Perch continues to be one of my favorite places to DJ because I'm trusted to play a vast amount of music I do not get to play at most bars. The lagers are to die for, and I can't get enough of the crab cakes. The staff is always awesome, and I look forward to seeing them again in a couple weeks."
DJ Sean J: "City Perch is one of those great places that DJs love: A cool vibe that allows you freedom to play really cool music along with great food! The Brioche Crusted Maryland Blue Crab Cakes are amazing! For me, playing the music is all about creating the right atmosphere wherever I play. The look and feel of City Perch compliments a lot of the music that I listen to and often don't get a chance to play out!"
DJ CYD: "City Perch has a great staff and amazing food. It's a very diverse group of people from youthful business professionals to wholesome families."
As-One: "City Perch is a must visit for those in Montgomery County. Great vibes within a gorgeous setting, friendly staff, and delicious menu. I always have a blast DJing there!"
DJ Neekola: "City Perch has been a most wonderful event planner to work with, taking very good care of our DJs, with patrons bouncing up and down while enjoying their meals before peeping a movie in fancy chairs... We love having them on Pelonkey!"
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We think our entertainers did a pretty sick job of showing how much we LUV this venue...
City Perch, y'all deserve a huge THANK YOU and a full house from now until 2025. Talented DJs, you guys deserve all the success, dancing, and future bookings in the world. Readers, let's get on that, yeah?
Have I ever told you guys the Pelonkey-Dane Suarez love story? It happened one day before Christmas, in the warmth of the office... Dane, participated in our office 1776's Random Acts of Culture by serenading the entire 12th floor with his tenor voice and Christmas carols. Pelonkey was mesmerized, we had to have him for a NYE event, and the rest is history. Read Dane's full interview below.
What genre of music do you perform?
[Laughing] I do everything. I started out in choir, and from there I went to school for music, receiving my undergrad degree at Butler and a Masters Degree at the University of Illinois in Voice Performance. When I was in college I did a cappella, which is where my pop background comes from. I taught myself piano as a freshman in high school, then took lessons a year or two after, and I am classically trained now. I performed at a piano lounge for probably five or six years, playing & singing. But I’m also a classically trained opera singer, which is [oh, right, nbd] kind of my main career.
What operas do you sing for? [Is that even how you phrase that question?]
Being an opera singer is kind of a freelance thing. As of right now, I have six really big gigs lined up in 2016. I recently performed with the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center [in Appamatox]. It was my premiere there, which was pretty cool. I do a lot of traveling. Up next I’m performing in NY, then Memphis, then Colorado.
How do you find those opportunities as a freelancer?
I go to a lot of auditions in NY. Most [openings] post an opportunity, I apply, and then audition in person. Some gigs are with people I’ve worked with before asking me to do new [roles or performances].
So tell us about the New Year's Eve gig you got through Pelonkey.
I was doing an outreach event for the Washington Concert Opera [at 1776]. During their lunch break, I sang an opera aria and a Christmas song. Pelonkey approached and asked if I had a New Year's Eve gig lined up already and if I played piano. [He hadn't, and he did. Bingo! Booked for Big Night Baltimore.]
There was a lot going on [at BNB], my room was the chill room, where people could come and have a drink, chill out, sing along with me. Outside my room, there was a huge ballroom that had a DJ going all night long, a room that had multiple bands playing sets throughout the night, a guy playing an acoustic guitar, a smaller DJ dance room, and my room was me and the piano. It was a "choose your own NYE event."
People would want to take a break from the loud noise, come into my room, and sing along. I was trying out some new stuff, everything from Adele to Billy Joel to… I don't know, trying to throw a little of everything in there.
What do you have coming up?
As far as my opera career goes, I have a lot coming up. My debut with Loft Opera in NYC is in March [in Tosca]. Then I go directly to Opera Memphis for Carmen, then I will be in Colorado for La bohème, and back in Memphis in the fall for their "30 Days of Opera." They have pop-up events all around the city every single day of September. [They perform any place you can think of, Whole Foods, the library, the street, wherever.] It's not my first time doing random stuff.
Top two songs on your playlist right now
Puccini, "Vissi d'arte" from Tosca
Where can we check out more of your stuff?
Is Dane not the sweetest?? Answer: he is. A lovely guy with a lovely voice. And so multi-talented. That's what Pelonkey is all about, yo! Great talent for dayyyyyys. Would be great to serenade you and/or your office, loved one, whoever, for Valentine's Day, just sayin'... Book him now! Thank us later.
While the PelonkTeam used the blizzard to catch up on some work and some R&R (OK, eat. We ate a lot. All the things... Snowstorms make us hungry.), a number of the talented Pelonkey gang were actually quite busy doing real, creative things. Take a listen to Biks' new Bhangra mix...and jam out!
Zombie Max Major took over an "abandoned" grocery store... and never let his Vlog rest.
DJ Alkimist began work on an original recording for a friend's upcoming NYC exhibition.
DJ Sean J played videographer capturing a time-lapse vid of the snow outside his window.
As did DJ Trayze...
And Eagle Eye made three-minute microwave cookies, which definitely worked. And are definitely dangerous.
What did you do this blizzard?
Please excuse my poor wordplay. It was uninspired, and I'm better than that. But, Monday... AJ Smith. Musician. Vocalist. Songwriter. DC native. New York studied. Releasing new music, "Brooklyn Nights," this Friday, January 15, that is going to blow you away. I'd try to describe it, but you'd probably end up with more bad puns than a real review. (#sorrynotsorry)
1. What genre of music do you play?
2. How did you get into music?
I ran away from home when I was three. My parents freaked out, called 911, and I was found two doors down, sitting with my ear pressed against the window of my godmother's basement studio, listening in on piano lessons.
I was hungry to learn, and not only piano. After watching a Yanni concert in awe when I was five, I begged my parents to let me start playing violin. Knowing the lengths I would go in order to listen to the instrument again, they obliged.
Years sped by and by the time I was 10, I was writing my own songs, recording back and forth between two tape recorders in my own primitive form of multi-tracking. I started fiddling in a bluegrass band, taught myself guitar by watching the banjo player (which is why I have such weird finger picking styles), picked up mandolin along the way, and headed off to NYU to study film scoring and concert composition. Two years into the program, I changed my tune in the professional pursuit of songwriting, studying under songwriting greats like Glenn Frey, Roseanne Cash, Phil Galdston, and more.
3. What has your music career looked like so far?
My big break came when a song I performed and co-wrote with one of my teachers at NYU went #3 in Australia. Around the same time, I had been asked to open for The Eagles (which is how I came to study under Glenn Frey) and released an Indie EP called "Dragons in the Sky" that helped me start going down the path of identifying my voice more as an artist and as a writer.
I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Carole Bayer Sager based on my songwriting, so I made the non-standard music industry decision to stay in school to pursue a Songwriting/Music Theory Master's degree at NYU. Since then, it's been a whirlwind of writing, collaborating, and touring: opening for Lindsey Stirling, Emily Kinney, and more while also headlining my own shows and performing at SummerFest, MusikFest, and other music festivals.
4. Who are your favorite musicians to listen to?
5. Top 2 songs on your playlist right now
6. Tell us about the new music you are releasing on January 15 and how it’s evolved from your previous work
In my last EP, I was still finding my voice as both a writer and an artist. In this upcoming release, I feel I've found it. Each song in the EP, which starts with "Brooklyn Nights," centers around that journey of finding myself in the last year. It's very emotional: falling desperately in love, hitting the road to escape the following heartbreak, and rekindling feelings with an old flame. Even apart from being recorded and mixed by a team that includes GRAMMY-winners and nominees, everything is on another level musically & lyrically and I'm counting down the days until the world can hear it.
I've linked up to co-produce the record with GRAMMY-winner Scott Jacoby (John Legend, Vampire Weekend) and my bassist Lloyd Kikoler. The record is mastered by GRAMMY-nominee Emily Lazar (Sia, Coldplay).
7. Where can people see you perform?
I currently split time between NYC and the DC area. My parents live in Northern VA, and since I grew up there, the show where I debut the finished music from the new EP will be in Vienna, VA at Jammin' Java on January 27th.
When you sit in an office everyday, doing work on the same screen, it's nice to get up, slap on a pretty dress, and dance the night away, am I right? The Pelonkteam kicked off the holiday season last night at the coveted Zinzi Christmas Party at the Convention Center in DC, and what a night it was! We were dressed to the nines, food, drink, and music flowed, and we met some awesome people in the party and at our table. Also, there were multiple photo booths involved. And DJ Neekola closed out the night with the best dance set of 2015 (if we do say so ourselves).
Phew, I'm exhausted again just thinking about it.
We started our own hashtag for the night - #pelonkZI - which you can peruse on Twitter or Insta, but here are a few teasers for your viewing pleasure. We love a good (mini) photo diary. Even more when it's holiday-themed. Bring on the Christmas cookies!
Welcome to the Pelonkteam, Mark! Generator of Possibilities, aka Pelonkey Sales Director, aka awesome human ready to push business to all our Pelonkites. We sat down to ask him a few questions and thought maybe, just maybe, you'd like to hear his answers. After all, he is a dashing and charming individual here to shower Pelonkey with all his good learnin'.
Mark, meet the Pelonkworld. World, meet Mark.
Mark Guenther, Generator of Possibilities
Green Brook, NJ
2. Childhood celebrity crush
A tie between Elvis, who sang to every woman he was courting in almost all his movies - I found it so romantic - and Steve Austin, aka Six Million Dollar Man. Lee Majors was really hot in the 70’s.
3. How did you get involved with Pelonkey?
4. What will you be doing for Pelonkey?
5. What is your background?
6. Favorite kind of music
7. Best vacation you’ve ever been on
8. What can event planners and entertainers expect from you respectively?
9. Favorite movie quote
10. Favorite Twitter or Instagram account
11. What is the best way to contact you?
The best way to contact me is right now with whatever works for you. Friend me on Facebook, call or text me at 202-436-2028, hire a singing telegram (on Pelonkey, of course), or send me an email at Mark@Pelonkey.com. I promise to respond and help you as quickly as I can, and if for some reason I don’t get back to you, please know that it is never my intention and try again. I authentically want to connect with everyone that wants to connect with me. And if you have anything that is time-sensitive, please connect with me by text or phone to get my immediate attention.
I bet I know where you wish you were right now...
Cancun. Am I right? Knew it.
Pelonkey CEO, DJ Neekola was there recently as part of the Marriott's Fearless conference... because Pelonkey's supporters are always awesome sauce clients who host conferences on tropical islands. (Thanks to Entertainment Exchange for hooking up Neekola with the Marriott!) And cue the jealousy. Well, you can pretend you were also there by listening to the playlist of all the jams Neekola played throughout the duration of the convention. And then look at the sunshine outside and pretend it's not going to drop to 40 degrees tonight.
Alright, alright, DC. Just throw on your bikini and this playlist & dance around your apartment. No one will ever know.
SLEDGE - Croatia Squad, Me & My Toothbrush and Peter Gabriel Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Groove Conductor’s Remix) - Daft Punk Bright Lights (Extended Clean) - VICE Ft. Estelle Can’t Feel My Face (Joe Maz and Adam Foster Remix) - The Weekend We Found Love (Toy Armada Diamond Remix) - Rihanna September (Taylor Wise Remix) - Earth Wind and Fire Geronimo (Sunstars Remix) - Sheppard Barbara Streisand - Duck Sauce Thunderstruck (Shameless Bootleg) - ACDC Uptown Funk (Neekola Disco Remix) Bruno Mars Don’t Stop the Party - Pitbull Bamboleo (Neekola Remix) Gypsy Kings Malosax - Afro Mix - Stan Courtois Fun - Mixshow Intro - Pitbull Should’ve Been Us (Noodles Remix) - Tori Kelly Sweet Dreams Vs. Just Dance, Lady Gaga Vs. Eurythmics Call on Me - Eric Prydz (Neekola Remix) I Love It - Icona Pop (Neekola Remix) Sexyback - Scooter Remix - Justin Timberlake Michael Jackson - Don’t Stop tip you Get Enough - Gigamesh Vs. Neekola Dance - Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez, Party Starter Neekola Remix What’s My Name Moombahton Remix - Rihanna Latch Vs. What Do you Mean - Sam Smith Vs. Justin Bieber Levels Die Young - Avicii Vs. Ke$ha Let Me Clear My Throat - Party Favor Remix - DJ Kool Temperature Vs. Americano - Sean Paul Vs. Yolanda Be Cool Five Hours - Chris Brown
Adore - Jasmine Thompson Dreams - Gigamesh Remix - Fleetwood Mac Promise - Kaskade Bondye - Never Too Much Cream - Flyosphy - Claptone Remix Aint Nobody Loves Me Better - Felix Jaehn Remix One Thing (Nora en Pure Remix) - Me and My Toothbrush Clocks - Coldplay Vs. Rythims Del Mundo, Cuba Salsa Remix Hello (Paul Damixie Remix) Clean AXB Cut - Adele Say My Name (Kids Want Techno Remix) Odezsa Colors - Leo Perez Oxas - Gamper Dadoni De Hofnar Summer Sippin - Boehm & DVNNI Sugar - Robin Schulz Cold As Ice - Louie Fresco Remix Shades of Grey (Nora En Pure Remix) - Oliver Heldens and Shaun Frank Night - Janet Jackson Groove is in the Heart - Gigamesh Remix - Deee Lite Hotline Bling - Kue Remix - Clean AXB Cut - Sam Smith / Drake Show Me Love - EDX Remix - Sam Feldt
The first time we met Wayne Manigo (co-founder of the Washington DC Comedy Writers Group with Mandy Dalton) was at the WeDC pre-SXSW party back in February. Our table was all kinds of flashy (duh), Wayne walked over, stuck out his hand, and said, "Alright then, tell me about Pelonkey!" And the rest is comedic history. Wayne is a high-energy, joke-cracking, people-meeting PelonKing. We've always been impressed with his enthusiasm, and now we are be impressed with his community involvement. Enter the Free DC Comedy Festival (#FDCCF)!
The concept for #FDCCF is based on a number of Wayne's previously successful designs and projects with the primary goal of informing the public of free comedy shows in the area. Most people know about the Improv, and the Arlington Draft House. And that's where their knowledge ends. But there are more awesome venues and shows out there! You gotta catch 'em all...
#FDCCF's secondary goal is to help comedians gain more exposure. Hilarious but unknown comedians are no good to us as we cannot laugh at their jokes if we do not hear them. Hosting a festival such as this one will provide those superstars with the opportunity to display their talent to a variety of audiences.
The Festival is taking place all this week, November 16-21. All the details can be found on their Facebook page.
The schedule of events looks a little something like this:
Tuesday, 11/17, 8:30pm - Bottom Shelf Comedy Show @ Black Whiskey
Thursday, 11/19, 8:30pm - The Looking Glass Comedy Showcase (Pelonkey will be there!)
All of these events are - as the title suggests - FREE, so you should all go and check out some funny people saying funny things! And find our man Wayne and tell him nice things, laugh at his jokes, etc.; unless you find him at his roast, then feel free to roast him. But before you do, you should probably know some of Wayne's background.
Wayne (with Mandy) is currently celebrating the Washington DC Comedy Writers Group fifth anniversary. “We started with five members at Duffy’s Irish Pub, and now we're past 1,700 people” Wayne said. “We found it odd how there wasn’t a group in the DC area with a dedicated focus to comedy writing. So….we decided to create one!”
Developing a comedy community has always been important to Wayne. Prior to the DC Comedy Writers Group, he held two comedy conferences focused on helping comedians develop a career in the entertainment industry. He also created the annual "Comic Sunday Funday," a networking event where people can learn more about the comedy resources available in the D.C. area. He attributes a huge part of his comedy education to the years he was employed at the (now-defunct) Riot Act Comedy Theater. “I received comedy advice and coaching from some of the best comedians on earth!” he said.
Wayne continues to provide suggestions to comedians with his "Addicted To Comedy" column for Stage Time Magazine. He's been on an Ellen Degeneres segment during Mardi Gras this year. He is a former writer for On Tap Magazine. As a chef he organized a cooking club that ran for three years. An event he organized, "Quiet Party," was featured in the Style section of the Washington Post.
And now he brings you the Free DC Comedy Festival. Enjoy, folks!
Step 2: Design your username around something vague and unprofessional, not at all memorable or catchy. And definitely include numbers. Like "hunnybunny12" or "soccerstud478," or anything else that would've sold big on AIM.
Step 3: Post on said platform vigorously for two days after signing up; share everything from your breakfast toast to your pedicure to the 12 bluejays on your birdfeeder: anything that isn't remotely related to your profession.
Step 4: Go completely silent, and stop posting for the two weeks following your marathon.
Step 5: Get a gig! Forget to post about it.
Step 6: Decide on a random Sunday two months after creating your account to rebrand yourself, and then stop halfway because you get caught up watching cat videos, leaving your Myspace only partially completed (the part that says nothing about what you do, but rather focuses on your favorite mini cupcake flavor).
Step 7: Finally, finally, remember to snap pictures during your event to post later. Get home, and realize your camera was front facing the whole time and all you ended up with was a collection of double chins.
Step 8: When clients express interest in hiring you, scramble furiously to put together some sort of EPK in lieu of sharing your social media account that could've served its purpose if only you had remembered to use it. Mumble unintelligibly when they ask you what your Instagram profile is.
Step 9: Live this way for five years while wondering why you've never received a review besides those from your mom. Who wrote hers on Facebook, by the way.
Step 10: Realize your mom has more social media clout than you. Hang your head in shame.
Don't let your mom win Facebook. Jump on the social media train already. Your wallet will thank you. And your mom will be proud.
That's right, it's
business video time! Our grand launch video is finally here, and we would shout the YouTube link from the rooftops if we could! Since we cannot do that (roof access is blocked from our floor), you can help us metaphorically scream the web address by sharing the link with everyone you know and their mothers! (Feel free to share it across all social media networks, we're on 'em all.)
If you didn't make it to the launch party, you can read a full recap here. And if after reading you're still dying to attend such a party, fear not! We plan to take this shindig to cities up and down the East Coast before moving west. Sign up for free on www.pelonkey.com to get involved & invited. And to help you manage and plan ALL your entertainment events. (OK, sales pitch over.)
Now go watch, ya silly!
Big thanks to Skipper Films for putting together this masterpiece! We think they captured the high energy perfectly, but you'll have to watch and see for yourself...