Bruce Christensen became known as DJ Big Brudy at the age of 13.
“I had picked up little bits and pieces of equipment I had found. Random CD players and a really old mixer and I started playing around,” said Christensen, 35, who grew up in Yellowknife and became a professional D.J. at a very young age.
By the time he was 15, he was already operating his own music entertainment business called Big Brudy’s DJ Services. The young disc jockey made a name for himself spinning tunes at school dances and birthday parties and even the Caribou Carnival.
“At my peak I had a full D.J. set-up. The speakers the lighting, vinyl, record players and an extensive music collection,” he said. “I really enjoyed doing it.”
Then he got a post-secondary education, a full-time job with Northwestel and took a long break from the D.J. business.
About two years ago, the lure of fog machines and the thumping rhythm of subwoofers called him back to the dance floor.
Christensen launched another venture called Beatz Music. Since then his “side hustle” has been growing. He has a collection of 80,000 songs and provides musical entertainment at everything from weddings to corporate events about once a month.
“I don’t do it because I have to,” he said. “I do it because I really enjoy the energy of the crowd and really making sure everyone has a good time.”
How did you get your D.J. name?
I actually don’t know the origin. I know that people started calling me that when I was 10 or 11 years old. The name has stuck and I’m not going to get rid of it.
What songs do you play at a wedding?
It really depends. You’re dealing with a multi-generational crowd, different cultures and whatnot. Definitely my go to dance floor filler – once everyone is feeling good – Is “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston or any of the upbeat songs by Queen. Well-known bar singalongs are the key to getting the party started.
What are the D.J.’s responsibilities?
The main job is to keep the night flowing. That means keeping things on time and just ensuring the crowd is tapping their toes and smiling. Setting the tone at the beginning of the night with appropriate music is key.
What do you charge?
Wedding fees can start at about $1,200 and that gets you four hours of D.J. entertainment, lighting, speakers as well as multiple consultations to ensure we have the right music for the night. There’s a bit more work involved doing a wedding versus a standard corporate event.
Typically, the D.J. is at the reception. However, I can handle the music for the ceremony and wireless microphones for the ceremony as well.
Do you have any tips for couples planning a wedding?
My advice is you should always meet with the D.J. and make sure they’re the right fit for your wedding. Have an initial consultation to make sure nothing is missed.
I’ll throw it out there: I do recommend couples hire a wedding planner if they can afford one. I have seen how not having one can be quite stressful for the bride and the groom because they’re the ones dealing with last minutes changes. You want to make sure the D.J. has references as well. If at all possible, ask them to share photos or videos of their events so you’ll know what to expect for the wedding.
What sets you apart from other D.J.s?
It’s the extreme detail I go through to make sure things are perfect.
I put a lot of research into a couple and their music tastes. I ask them what particular songs they want played at their wedding and I ask them what songs they don’t want played. I really dig deep into what they actually want.
I also go over the event in great detail, everything from who is escorting who down the aisle to what songs they want for their grand entrance.
I take some of the stress away from the couple to make sure they’re having a seamless and wonderful experience. I am consistently watching the crowd from the beginning, watching for toe tapping, chair dancing – I like to call it chair dancing when they’re moving in their seats. There’s love in the air. I don’t create the love but I create the musical background to kick things off.
What’s your favourite part of the evening?
Weddings are very formal for the most part. The ties are tight and everyone is dressed up. Then past the ten or eleven o’clock mark the ties are loosened up. You can tell people have got past the formalities of the wedding. They’re just having a good time and that’s the portion of the night that I truly think is so much fun.
Behind the D.J. booth you see it all. You see the mingling, you see the smiles, you see the laughter. you see the people dancing, doing the crazy dance moves they did in high school. It’s just so much fun to watch and always puts a smile on my face.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.