In the past few years, DJ SVPPLY has become ubiquitous — this young man is everywhere, or at least, everywhere in downtown Burlington. He’s got a great ear, a strong promo machine, and not surprisingly, a keen mind for the business side of what he loves to do. His enthusiasm is contagious, and our conversation is packed full of gems. Enjoy.
VTHH: Does being a bartender inform your perspective on DJ'ing? There must be some convergence between those two martial arts.
DJ SVPPLY: Bartending was hugely important in getting me to where I am as a DJ and I say this all the time. First off, it gave me the connections within the industry to actually get booked (my first ever gig was at a bar I worked at). By that same token, I made friends with the regulars at the bar and they were some of the first people to come out and see me play.
I was successful in those first gigs because I knew the bar so well. I got to watch other DJs and see what songs got the crowd excited and when people started to look at their phones or leave the dance floor. I used to keep a pen and paper in my back pocket while I was working to write down songs that went over particularly well.
VTHH: Who were the DJ's you were looking up to when you got inspired & got started?
DJ SVPPLY: I am a huge fan of DJ AM, who showed me that you can be creative and tricky as a DJ but still entertain an average club audience. He had great music selection and kept surprising the crowd over and over. In my mind he was one of the greatest DJs of all time.
Jazzy Jeff continues to inspire me with his outside-of-the-box sets and ability to keep up with new music. He is absolutely a living legend.
Kid Capri had an impact on my DJing style with his extremely rapid-fire sets that shift from song to song at a moments notice. Although I would never attempt the type of sets he does, I do like to move quickly from song to song at times (especially in a club atmosphere) and I’m a firm believer in the power of playing the intro or a specific part of a song to hits that most nostalgic part of the brain.
As far as turntablism DJs that I look up to, the people that come to mind right away are DJ Craze, J Espinosa, DJ ADMC, DJ Ease and DJ Trayze. There are a lot more names though.. I’m a big fan of the growing instagram DJ culture where performers put together quick minute long sets.
VTHH: As someone with a lot of front line experience, what advice do you have for new artists looking to book and play shows?
DJ SVPPLY: I recently saw a spoof article claiming that new survey results showed that actually DJing is the least important part of being a DJ. Unfortunately, the comedy here is rooted in truth. For me, networking has been the most important thing in getting booked in Burlington and elsewhere. I can confidently say that every single gig I have ever played was due to knowing the right person (whether its a bartender, manager or booking person). Once you get those first couple gigs you have to prove you have some chops or you won’t get booked again but without getting out of the bedroom to meet the people in the scene you won’t even get your shot. I recommend starting to frequent the bars you want to play at and getting to know the staff and regulars. Show that you are invested in their bar and not just looking for a quick buck (this will also help you get a head start on the drinking problem you will develop as you continue your dive into the nightlife industry).
The other thing that I’ve found to be particularly important is showing that you have some kind of following. For me that meant bugging my friends over and over every week to come to my shows. If you can get even 10 people in there it’s way more likely that the next random person walking by will pop in for a drink. A busy bar makes the managers happy, and I think it’s no surprise that their bottom line weighs heavier than that dope transition you practiced all day.
That said, BE DOPE TOO!! That’s how you get more followers and stop having to hit up your friends every week.
VTHH: I heard about MOVE B*TCH being a blast from friends in the NEK, so clearly that worked out well. Are you looking to make that into a series or a residency?
DJ SVPPLY: MOVE B*TCH WAS A SMASH!! The next one on the books is New Years Eve at Metronome! It looks like it will be happening again somewhat regularly but I’m not sure what I’m at liberty to say at this moment with no specific dates on the books.
I learned early that when all else fails you can just play 2000s hip hop and it’ll go over well (Burlington LOVES it and I do too). It was no surprise to me that the place was busy but a line to church street was crazy to see.
VTHH: We recently had a debate at the studio about whether college students or local, older professionals drive the demand for hip hop in Burlington. It was also proposed that BTV's growing & steady tourism population was clutch. What have you seen downtown in the past couple years?
DJ SVPPLY: Partly because of the nature of the shows I put on, I am a firm believer in the importance of the college students. The bread and butter of my schedule consists of weekly residencies. Local, older professionals come out for a night here and there and tourists will always be in and out but nobody parties as frequently or as hard as the college students (and recent graduates). When I do events like MOVE B*TCH (2000s hip hop) or Dilla Day (Celebration of J Dilla’s music) I am reaching a wider crowd of young professionals and college graduates who are interested in the theme.
Unfortunately, I can only be so creative and I can’t do an elaborate theme for each of my 4-5 club dates a week. That means I need to appeal to the people that come out because its a Wednesday, or because its a Friday and the college students can be counted on for that more than any other demographic. I also just think its fun to play for that group. They come to have a good time and keep up with new music usually even faster than I can.