On the couch with some of Bali’s premiere entertainers!
Music and entertainment is SUCH a huge part of your day. I feel sometimes people place it lower on their to-do list because they’re so consumed with décor and makeup and fun interactive add-ons. And while all these are super important, your entire day would be in a complete void without a proper soundscape.
Music not only lifts the mood, dictates the mood, and provides the non-verbal cues of which part of the day you’re at, it’s one of the only items on your day that transform it from dining with friends, to a full blown experience. And believe me, you want your big day to be nothing short of an experience. Something you and your friends can remember in years to come.
Because the thing is…we rarely remember how things looked…but we certainly remember how situations felt. Feelings leave a permanent mark, and if you and youre guests are feeling good, you can bet it’ll be a large part to do with the emotions evoked with the surrounding entertainment experiences. The dancing, the laughter, the fun.
So I’ve sat down with some of Bali’s top entertainers in the business…Yoga fromLucky Aces, Lydia Rose and DJ Rob Soundz. All experts in their field, and all with a wealth of knowledge to share.
So sit back, relax, and find out just why these guys are so good, why you need them and take away some important tips for your special day!
Tash: How did you get into the music industry?
Lydia: I was actually very fortunate as I grew up in a very big musical family which enabled me to be surrounded by music as a child so it was a very natural progression to get into the music industry. I am one of 9 kids and we all all love music, some of my sisters work professionally as musicians in Australia and many of my Aunties and Uncles are music teachers and musicians also.
It was in high school however, where I really thought that I could make a good go of this and become a professional singer. I joined all musical and drama productions, choirs and dance classes and became obsessed with the entertainment industry.
By the time I turned 18 I became the lead vocalist of a jazz band and performed at the Jazz bars and Speakeasy’s around Melbourne.
Then when I turned 19 I began traveling the world singing, first throughout Europe (and now Asia) and haven’t looked back…
So the rest, as they say, is history.
Yoga: I started playing music professionally about 20 years ago, when I just finished high school. I joined a band and began playing in cafes and bars around kuta. We participated in several entertainment productions until finally, in 2017 I ventured to form my own entertainment production and named it Lucky Aces.
Rob: One of my younger brothers started performing in a local café when we were both teenagers. I wasn’t interested in his job at the time, instead preferring to spend time with my first ever girlfriend. However, the end of that teenage crush happened to coincide with him being asked by a nightclub to become a resident DJ there. That opened up the spot at the café and I decided to give it a try, falling in love with the craft immediately. That’s 23 years ago and since I have had opportunities to perform at every type of venue and event, except for the big festivals where only the world’s top DJs perform.
Tash: How does performing at a wedding differ from regular or public events?
Rob: I’d say the biggest difference is that at a wedding, you are there to please the couple and their guests above anything else. That first means being an open format DJ who is familiar with all music genres and has an extensive library covering them. Secondly, it hardly matters what your personal music taste is, and you are also not there to experiment with brand new tracks or brand new styles. At most weddings, sticking to a tried, tested and proven-to-work formula gets the best responses and feedback. Of course it is fine to take some risk from time to time by dropping an uncommon track but it’s good to be prepared to act when that bet clearly doesn’t pay off and clears your dancefloor.
Some people state that weddings are the most difficult type of event to DJ at due to the diversity of the guests, them being of various generations, nationalities and backgrounds, all sharing one and the same dancefloor. This is especially true for weddings in Bali as couples often have guests fly in and attend from various countries.
Yoga: Playing at weddings is quite different from playing at public gigs.
At public gigs there is a much bigger audience, so we have to choose a broader range of music to create a vibe that suits everyone.
But for a wedding, we understand that it’s a really special day for our clients. So the main goal is to make their dream wedding come true. We do this by listening to what they imagine they want delivered from the musical entertainment side of things, and we make it happen as much as possible.
Lydia: There is such a big difference between performing at weddings vs performing for public events. But the main one being that for weddings, I find everyone is super pumped to just have the best day of their lives (of course the Bride and Groom but the guests also, who have usually traveled so far just for this one night!)….And it is our job to make sure that we deliver this for them!
This can also put us under a lot more pressure with wedding gigs, but it is also with a lot greater reward.
Whereas comparatively for a public gig, it's usually a lot more relaxed and it usually has a lot more freedom with that. We can try a lot of new songs and test out new songs that we’re practicing, it's a lot less pressure to perfume public gigs but a great opportunity for people to come and watch us and check us out before booking us for their big day or event (as we mainly perform private gigs so I like to do one public gig a week for this purpose).
Also generally for weddings, the song list etc are more curated and organised as obviously we love to play the songs that we know that the guests and the couple want to hear.
I absolutely love both of these performing platforms for different reasons.
Tash: What are your top 3 tips for clients who are stuck when choosing a musical ensemble?
Lydia: Tip 1 would be research, research, research. Make sure that you obviously get recommendations, however it's also important to do your own research by checking out all their social media platforms, looking at their song list and, if possible, going to see them live prior to booking.
Tip 2 would be to make sure that the band that you are selecting performs the genre of music that you love. For example, if you really love rock music and the band you are looking at does more jazz and pop, perhaps they are not the right band for you. This may seem fairly obvious but you would be surprised how many may not consider this. It is really important to make sure you choose a band that actually does the genre of the music that you wanting even though they may be able to play a number of songs that you are after, the song may not be performed in the way that you wanted as covers can sound and be performed much different to the original (for example we may play ACDC songs but perform this with a more jazzy or reggae feel)
Tip 3 Also make sure that the musical ensemble you selected has the right vibe and energy for the day you are wanting to create. For example, some music ensembles may be quite classical and more elegant (with every aspect from music selections to what they wear). They may be seated for their performance (for example a string quartet) and perhaps not doing so much interaction. However some bands get involved with the crowd more and have more movement. Both options are great for weddings, but it's really something to consider when booking your entertainment.
1. Select the desired vibe you want for the day
2. Discuss what instruments and players you want
3. Trust that you’ve chosen professionals
1. Ask your DJ for help. A good wedding DJ has tons of experience dealing with all sorts of wedding couples, and knows how to help in the best way.
2. Google and browse wedding websites for inspiration and recommendations. The Internet is your second best friend in this case.
3. If you’re still struggling after trying the first two tips, tell your DJ that you’re simply not sure and would like to trust him/ her to make the best decisions for the musical ensemble.
Tash: How should clients pick songs?
Yoga: We have a large song list, so our clients can choose anything from there. You don’t need to choose the order of the songs, that’s something we’ll do on the day by reading the mood at any given time. We can also learn songs or variations of songs on our list if our clients need us to.
Lydia: Clients should obviously have the main say in the songs that are performed in the evening and what I always suggest is to go through the band's song list and choose as many many songs as you absolutely love - the more the better! This way it gives the band a lot of scope on the day with the songs that they do decide to play depending on the vibe and energy at the time they can select them accordingly. I think it's also important to trust that the band you have selected is an expert in the field… So it's important to allow them to have a little freedom with what to play on the night also!
Of course for the special moment songs (first dance, ceremony etc) these obviously need to be a lot more tailored therefore I would suggest choosing songs that you love and are really sentimental to you. In most cases, the band is happy to learn a song or two that may be new for them (if they do not already know this song on their list), but this is something to check beforehand. And finally, for the ’special moment’ songs selections, I think it's important to make sure you understand the meaning and read the lyrics of the song before selecting. There are so many beautiful songs which sound romantic, but lyrically may not be as romantic as they sound (for example, most songs by Adele and Sam Smith are so beautiful and sentimental, but in many cases they are actually sad songs).
Rob: I always suggest to couples to, in the months leading up to their big day, take notice of songs that they hear while going about their daily lives and would love to hear at their weddig. Note these down in a list. This can be on the notepad on your phone or tablet, a handwritten list, your Shazam history, a Youtube or Spotify playlist or whatever other method is convenient.
Aside from that, sit down with your fiancee and take a moment to think together about meaningful occasions in the past where music was played. Maybe it was another wedding, a high school prom, the bar or club where you met or simple a discussion about favorite songs on a date. What songs were played or talked about that are meaningful to you?
Finally, most couples can easily come up with a dozen or several dozen songs that they love and would like to hear on their big day. Just put these in a list and forward them to your DJ. Or write him a Whatsapp message with the song title every time you hear a great track while going about your day. He’ll then use these as a guide on the day to make the perfect mix.
Tash: Why is it so important to get music sorted early?
Lydia: Music and entertainment is one of the main components of any wedding (in my opinion it is the main component of a wedding- hehe). Therefore it's very important to get the music sorted early. For weddings (and in particular Destination weddings) people book their entertainment years in advance.. Therefore it's really important to lock in your band or entertainment as early as you can in order to not be disappointed if they are unavailable on the dates you are after. Sometimes the band/entertainment options are more limited for destination weddings so this is really something to consider early on.
Yoga: We need time to practice and perfect the songs chosen. Different band sizes, versions of songs and any new songs need proper time to prepare. The more time you give us, the more we can rehearse and deliver exactly what you want.
Rob: If you start thinking about the music at your wedding early, as in at least 2 – 3 months before the day, you’ll have more opportunity and time to think about your favorite songs. This decreases the chance that beloved songs are missed and helps to make the night perfect, at least music-wise. Leaving it up to the last moment, as in just a couple of days before, means that things will feel rushed and certain great songs that would fit perfectly will not be thought of. There are typically hundreds of things that couples need to think about to make their wedding perfect. Some of these things unavoidably come up in the last few days, like a wedidng rehearsal, final layout/ decoration/ rundown decisions and a bucks and hens party. If you have already figured out your music preferences by then, you’ll have a much better time on the big day itself and less stress on the days leading up to it.
Tash: With music so accessible through phone libraries and Spotify, it’s easy for guests to just choose a pre-selected playlist. How does live music elevate that experience?
Lydia: It is definitely true that now, due to the accessibility of iTunes, Spotify, etc, it is easier for guests to provide their own playlist for their event/wedding. However, I believe I am not alone in saying that these alternatives are absolutely nothing compared to having live musicians/bands/dj's perform for such an important day.
For me personally, I love interacting with guests and getting people singing along, or guests playing along with the bongos as a more interactive experience for all. Having live music is also a great ice breaker for guests who may not know each other as it provides a talking point for guests. In addition, people can come and talk to us or request the song and it's a lot more involved than an iPod would be.
Having a live band and/or a DJ also means that you have flexibility with the evening and we can select songs according to the vibe or the mood at a certain time which is something that a pre-recorded playlist could never do.
So for me, it's a no brainer: Live music is the only way to go.
Rob: One thing that any playlist, nor any AI can do is observe the people on and off the dancefloor, sense the energy at the venue and choose the best track to play next at any given moment. This applied particularly during the party when guests are free to dance the night away.
It’s typically totally fine to have a Spotify list play during cocktail and dinner and although a DJ can elevate this experience by smooth blending of tracks, the added value (s)he can give is limited.
But for the party, his/ her human intelligence, smooth mixing skill and experience makes all the difference in managing the vibe and creating an exciting dynamic for everyone to have an unforgettable evening.
Yoga: We actually find the development of digital playlists very helpful. With so many versions of songs out there now, we actually use this to our advantage to deliver the exact versions and tempo for each song to our clients.
Tash: What are your most requested songs to play?
Rob: Although some professional wedding DJs argue that certain classic wedding songs have been overplayed and should be avoided for the sake of offering something different, I personally like to take a more nuanced approach and combine wedding classics with the occasional unexpected musical twist to keep the crowd engaged. When people are relaxed and have had a few drinks, especially towards the end of the night, they just want to hear what they know, what is easy to dance to and what they can sing along to. Here are some classics that almost never fail to do just that:
· Earth, Wind & Fire – September
· Kool & The Gang – Celebration
· Whitney Houston – I wanna dance with somebody
· Queen – Don’t stop me now
· The Beatles – Twist and shout
· Abba – Dancing queen
· Michael Jackson – Don’t stop til you get enough
· Stevie Wonder – Superstition
· Katrina & The Waves – Walking on sunshine
· Oasis – Wonderwall
· Beyonce & Jay-Z – Crazy in love
· Luis Fonsi & Justin Bieber – Despacito
· Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars – Uptown funk
· Sean Paul – Get busy
· Don Omar & Lucenzo – Danza kuduro
· Jennifer Lopez – Let’s get loud
· Shakira – Waka waka (This time for Africa)
· Calvin Harris & Rihanna – We found love
· The Black Eyed Peas – I gotta feeling
· Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera – Moves like Jagger
I could go on for hundreds more songs that have stood the test of time and have moved many hips.
Lydia: This one a tough one because it's constantly changing with the popular songs at the time. I think that social media (especially tiktok, instagram) and also popular movies at the moment have a big role in the songs that are popular songs now. For example the movie 'Crazy Rich Asians’ created a resurgence of the classic - Elvis Presley classic “Can't help falling in love”.
This song has obviously been around for a very long time but, since the movie's debut, it seems a lot of people select songs such as this for their big day.
Then there are the popular classics by Ed Sheeran or John Legend who always seem to be the front runners for song requests.
Yoga: Isn’t she lovely by Stevie Wonder.
It also happens to be the song with the most popular views in our YouTube channel.
Tash: What are some things that client’s don’t realize about performing at an event?
Lydia: There are so many things that clients perhaps don't realise about performing at events or weddings, and really, they don't necessarily need to know these things. But one major aspect for booking entertainment (particularly for destination weddings) is the importance for the musicians/vendors you hire to have the right paperwork and the right visa etc to work legally, as these things do get checked and they can be a major fine involved if you book someone who may not be authorised to perform.
Also, generally speaking, a lot of work and effort needs to go into the lead up to the wedding, particularly learning new songs, rehearsing new songs and this can generally be quite time consuming. It's not just about turning up on the day and performing. You are also paying for the years of experience and know-how of the chosen entertainment and the overall experience.
Rob: The answer is probably the amount of time that is spent behind the scenes apart from the actual performance. A professional wedding DJ spends the majority of their time at their desk dealing with booking inquiries, downloading and listening to songs, marketing their services, maintaining relationships with industry partners, preparing playlists, discussing music preferences with couples, checking wedding rundowns, making sound and lighting system arrangements, caring after DJ equipment, and other administrative tasks. I’d say 75% of the time I spend on my career is at my desk and only a quarter is spent actually going to, and performing at weddings.
Yoga: We have to realize that not all clients understand music performance and what it involves. Our job is to give them insight.
Some may not understand that we are only humans! We do have a limit on stamina, especially singers, which is why breaks between sets are crucial.
We need the appropriate technical rider to support our performance. Without that, you can really compromise the sound. And ultimately, while we do our best, not every song will be possible for us to perform.
Tash: Lastly, what’s your piece of advice to couples having a destination wedding?
Rob: From a musical perspective, I highly recommend to any couple planning their destination wedding to start the fun early and start the conversation with the artist(s) that you have booked (whether it’s a band or a DJ) at least 2 to 3 months prior to the big day. Use their knowledge and experience and allow them to guide and help you to make the best song selection for your big day. But you can also feel free to leave it up to them if you are really unsure what styles/ songs would fit best to make your wedding day unforgettable.
Yoga: Once you’ve established your song list and desired vibe for the day, relax and enjoy. That’s what we are here for, to help you have the best day you can imagine.
Lydia: My piece of advice would be to enjoy the process, make it fun, and don’t stress! In order to really enjoy the process you need to let go a little of the control, you need to trust the vendors that you've booked, particularly the planners who live and breathe weddings for a living.
This is why it is so important to do your research on planners/vendors prior to booking because this should take a lot of stress off your shoulders knowing that your day is in safe hands. Then just relax and get ready for the best day of your life!
Thank you SOOO much guys. You’re all so incredible at what you do and it’s no wonder you get booked so fast.
I’m sure this is going to help so many readers to get into the nitty-gritty of their musical journey.
To see and hear more from these guys, you can head to the following links!
DJ Rob Soundz