“If you play ‘Billie Jean’ and it doesn’t beckon people to the dance floor, there is something wrong.”
Tom "Doc Delay" Shiner and Abby Klein, Founders of Play Something Good
You guys are recently married. How does two D.J.’s living under one roof work?
Klein: We keep our record collections entirely separated. Tom alphabetizes his, and mine are in order by how much I listen to them. He’s very particular about their condition, but I’ll listen to mine while I cook. He freaks out when they’re in the kitchen.
How did you decide on your name?
Shiner: It’s a play on words for those times when a drunken wedding guest comes up and slurs, “Can you play something good?” Usually that person has bad taste in music. By “something good,” what do they mean?
Klein: “Macarena,” “Chicken Dance,” “Electric Slide,” “I Will Survive.”
Then what’s your idea of something good?
Klein: James Brown, Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson—those are the great white sharks of the dance floor.
Shiner: They’re called tie-looseners. It’s that time of the night when the guys are bored and complaining at the bar, but then Hall & Oates comes on, and they all pack the floor.
Why hire a D.J. over a band?
Shiner: Nothing can replace the feeling of interaction that a band will provide, but a good D.J. is the next best thing. Bands are also expensive and take up a lot of space. And regardless of how talented they are, a band is always going to have a limited repertoire. D.J.’s have access to thousands of songs from dozens of genres.
What should a couple be asking when interviewing potential D.J.’s?
Shiner: “Do you have your own sound system?” If a D.J. is renting a system, they may encounter technical problems they’re not equipped to handle.
Klein: “Do you mix, or do you just switch from one song to the next, stopping and playing?” Have them give you a live recording so you can hear them in action.
Any venue concerns?
Klein: Make sure you know the time parameters before you book the venue. If the contract says midnight, it ends at midnight. Your D.J. should also be there to sound-check before guests arrive—at no extra cost.
How do you handle guests—especially unruly drunk ones—who want to do shout-outs?
Shiner: Once the toasts are over, we put the microphone away. As for requests, people will always come up with them—good and bad, appropriate and raunchy, random or right-on. As D.J.’s, it’s our job to be receptive, but it’s also our job to decide what music is prudent and what isn’t. They are requests, not demands. The couple’s original musical vision should be the guiding force, and people hopefully get that and don’t treat us like an iPod.
What’s the best thing about D.J.-ing weddings?
Shiner: When you’ve gotten 90 percent of the people on the dance floor. You get addicted to that rush, like, I’ve created this.
From the Winter 2011 New York Wedding Guide