Entertainer Profile: DJ Brian Buonassissi
It’s time to get a little more personal with the guy who started B-Boy Productions, Inc., Brian Buonassissi. If you follow Brian’s Facebook or Twitter posts, you’ll quickly see this guy is one busy individual. If he’s not flying around the country DJ’ing some of the best private events in the US, he’s working on new podcast episodes, scouting/training new talent, remixing new music, or planning the next move for the company. We were able to snag a few minutes of his time to ask him a few questions about how he got started, what separates him from the rest, and even a few personal things.
Where are you physically at today?
Ha! Today I’m in NYC but I’m leaving on Thursday to take the wife on what I’m calling a “mini getaway” to run a ½ marathon in California. Don’t ask me how I convinced her to do this run because I seriously have no idea. It’s been a very busy start to 2013 so this weekend trip is definitely needed to recharge the batteries (that is, if you can call running a ½ marathon recharging).
How did you get started DJ’ing?
I actually started as a club DJ back in 1996 working at a restaurant in San Clemente, CA that would turn into a pseudo “dance club” after 10PM. This was a really small space (fire code maxed out at 125) but we’d squeeze in as many folks as we could. It was an open format so pretty much anything musically could be played. I might be dating myself by saying this, but I’d actually record my sets on cassette tape so I could listen to the mixes after the night was over and work on getting better. I have to thank the patrons who showed up week after week because that’s where I cut my teeth in learning how to format and really beat mix. I started DJ’ing just Saturday nights but the night got so popular that they added a 2nd night of dancing on Fridays, moving their mainstay karaoke night from Fridays to Thursdays.
When did you start DJ’ing private events?
My first private event was a wedding for one of the nightclub patrons. I had no idea how to structure a reception back then. It was just a more “formal” nightclub dance party. I started getting more and more requests to DJ private events, so I decided to work for a private event entertainment company for a year to really learn the ins and outs and did everything from school dances to weddings to company holiday parties.
How did you get your first celebrity event?
DJ’ing was initially just a weekend side job for me. My day job was working for Pioneer Electronics (a DJ hardware manufacturer). I was hired as their Marketing Manager and through that position, where I was constantly working with Hollywood execs in product placement, I ended up DJ’ing a lot of movie and TV wrap parties and it started to spread from there. I also got to work at the X Games, Disney, Virgin Records album release parties and some of the best clubs in Vegas, Miami, New York, etc. That led to private events with P Diddy, Kid Rock, Elton John, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Los Angeles Lakers, etc. To say I had a sweet situation is an understatement.
When did you branch out to FL and NY?
I realized that the corporate life was not for me (at least at that time). I wanted to run my own business and build something that had my personal stamp on it. In 2006, I went to FL to be the headlining DJ at the largest nightclub in the panhandle (they would average 1,800-2,000 patrons a night) and had my own live radio mixshow that was mixed straight from the club. I did that for 6 months and the phone calls were pouring in to have me DJ private parties. So after a year DJ’ing in the club scene in Florida, I stopped to focus on private events exclusively in both the California and Florida markets and even some “one-off events” in various spots throughout the country. No one in the local Florida area was DJ’ing private events the way I was DJ’ing them. The demand was growing so quickly that we started hiring/training entertainers to fill the requests. We built a strong presence and became the “go to” entertainment company in the area. Looking back on it now, I feel like we really changed the game there. We always trained from the ground up and now a few of the guys we trained have gone on and done their own thing in the panhandle. While some could look at it like they are now my competition, with what I am doing and seeing in the bigger markets combined with the amount of training we do with our guys and national industry shows we attend, it keeps us ahead of the curve with what we bring to local panhandle market. Plus as a result of what I started in the area and having trained a lot of those guys personally, it only helps elevate the industry as a whole and gives even more clients the ability to experience quality entertainment even if they don’t go with us. NY came about because that is where the best of the best are in the entertainment field. CA and FL from a management side were built to be self-sufficient. I felt like I had maxed out with what I could do in the Florida market from a personal standpoint of DJ’ing and I wanted to push the envelope. I had DJ’d a handful of events in NY over the years and there is nothing else like them. The diversity and musical knowledge that NY crowds have are unlike any other. So with relatively little contacts, we decided to venture out and give it a shot. NY is a city that generally takes time to develop your business. But every now and then, if you get that one shot with the right person, it can be a game changer. We’re ready either way the chips fall!
How would you describe your DJ’ing style?
Musically, it generally is a hybrid of retro, current top 40, and progressive music all in one. I love weaving in and out of all kinds of genres and putting things together that you just wouldn’t think would work but just do. It’s always makes me smile when I see a 40-50 year old wedding guest dancing to some Avicii or Zedd and they are truly into it! It’s gotta be mixed in at exactly the right time and you can only know how and when to drop tracks like that with experience. As far as overall entertainment experience, 80% is the music and 20% of it is the MC’ing when it comes to my shows. Too many private event DJs rely so much on the MC’ing that they let the music stuff slide. I think that’s so unfortunate and I cringe whenever I see it happen live.
What makes you different than the rest?
I get this question a lot and it’s always such a tough thing to put into words. My live shows have to be experienced to really get a full understanding. I am able to walk into pretty much any room and quickly assess what the pulse of the crowd is and give them the best party of their life. I’ve done every type of ethnic party and party type (school dance, weddings, corporate parties, etc.) imaginable and have DJ’d all across the US so I know what will work to make the party come alive no matter where I’m at. It may sound like I’m bragging but I can’t even begin to tell you how many clients have said after almost every event, “You are the best (private event) DJ I’ve ever seen.” I, of course, feel honored but it’s a testament to all the hours I put into my craft. I spend countless hours (and a ton of late nights) finding or making my own edits of the best tracks out there and am always honing my MC chops to give my clients the finest entertainment experience I can within the 4-6 hours I’m with them.
What’s your favorite part of DJ’ing?
It might sound cheesy, but I feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of people when I’m DJ’ing. Music is the universal language. No matter what baggage people may walk into the room with, I can usually make them forget about it and more often than not, music is the perfect remedy. For weddings, it is probably that couple’s most important day they’ll ever have. To know that they’ve entrusted me with it still gives me goose bumps every time I get behind the decks. I love that what I do is making an impact in the lives of my clients.
Where do you see B-Boy going next?
Right now, our focus is in NY – really making a name for ourselves in the Manhattan area. Our other divisions in CA and FL continue to flourish and I do personally go back and DJ some of the elite parties there. We have a desire to launch 2 more regional locations – one in Chicago and one in Hawaii. While that is the plan, I’ve learned that nothing is set in stone in this business. You have to be willing to go where the winds are taking you.
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a huge LA sports guy so I love watching Lakers or Dodger games (in person or TV). I’m also an avid reader and try to knock out 2 or 3 books a month. One of my other passions is travel, which makes DJ’ing across the country a way to take advantage of that. I also love serving in the local church. It feels great to give my time and money to things that I know have eternal impact. This might be the most cliché answer ever but truly my favorite thing to do is spend time with the wife. Of course, if it includes the stuff above, I’d be in heaven. But, honestly it doesn’t really matter as long as she’s in the equation. She’s put her life on hold to see me realize my dreams and she’ll never know how much that means to me.
We’ll end this interview with having you give us your favorite to 10 quick questions:
Favorite color? Blue.
Favorite Season? ALL – Fall in Florida, Summer in California, Winter in NYC and Spring in all 3!
Favorite food? It has to be a filet.
Favorite things about NY? Diversity, food, culture and driven work ethic.
Favorite Airport? It’s a toss-up between CLT (Charlotte) and SNA (Orange County, Calif).
Favorite place to vacation: Still working on that one. Anything beachy with little to zero humidity, great amenities and wifi!
Favorite book you’ve read this past year? Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – it will make your worst day not seem so bad.
Favorite Movie: I love comedies so anything with Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd or Steve Carell in it.
Favorite Musical Artist? I’d have to go with Michael Jackson. His stuff will always be timeless.
Favorite Private Event? It would have to be working a bat mitzvah a few years ago for the President of CBS’ daughter at the Four Seasons Restaurant in NYC. They pulled out all the stops for this. Never seen anything like it.