Nightclub entertainment follows a certain credo — find a great DJ that knows how to get a party started. STADJ Music took this formula and shook it up with an unconventional approach: using female models-turned-DJs. Husband and wife team Edan and PC Miller founded their DJ academy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2008 and its success has proven there’s a market for attractive, talented female DJs, allowing the nightclub experience to evolve both musically and aesthetically. Here’s what Edan (aka DJ EM) and PC Miller have to say about staying on top of nightclub trends with STADJ Music (www.stadj.com):
Nightclub Confidential: What is the DJ training like?
Edan Miller: STADJ Music training is extensive and always evolving. We work like a music conservatory, where our talents are mentored by top NYC DJs from day one. We start by teaching CDJ-1000 and DJM-800 mixer, followed by cutting songs technique and beat matching. After the talent has control of these skills, they start working with laptop and Serato software as well as turntables, including Scratch Live for open format DJing. Some talents also progress to working with effects, midi controllers and Traktor DJ software for electronic music. We do not charge for any of our ongoing training. This commitment up front allows us to select the girls we want to work with as well as direct their overall skill development and drive the music styling in order to supply top-notch client-centric music programs.
NCC: What was the reasoning for starting this DJ agency?
EM: Worldwide there wasn't such an agency prior to [us]. STADJ Music is a fusion DJ production/DJ academy and talent management company. All of our talents continue to develop through our training program and their DJing is exclusive to STADJ Music. We are the only model/DJ company in the U.S. offering an exclusive roster of professional model/DJs, meaning they are professional models represented by modeling agencies (some with leading agencies) and emerging star lifestyle DJs as well through our company.
NCC: What do you look for in DJ applicants?
EM: The answer for this question is tricky — we need everything. Because most of our work is live, we need strong charisma and strong performance capability. Because our niche is that of producing top-notch model/DJs, the girls need to arrive with solid modeling portfolios or clearly show that potential. They need to have musical and rhythm sense, and the ability to follow direction under pressure well.
NCC: What are the benefits to having female DJs?
EM: The ratio between female and male DJs is probably 1:1000, while the ratio between gorgeous female model/DJs that know how to rock a party and male DJs is astronomical; it’s so rare it’s fictional. I say fictional because no one believes it until they experience our shows. The benefit becomes obvious once you've booked our model/DJs for an event. I guess that's why we've grown such a strong client list, especially for private events and nightlife weekly residencies, including Live Nation, Time Warner Cable, Rémy Martin, Mercedes-Benz and long-term weekly residencies including Harrah's [Resort] in Atlantic City and Avenue [in New York City].
NCC: How has this influenced the nightclub scene?
DJ EM: The NYC club scene now has a trend of hiring female DJs. Not one here or there, but many spots are hiring and promoting female and/or model/DJs. Who doesn't want a beautiful female DJ, especially if she's a great performer that aims to DJ what the client wants for their crowd? When we came out live third quarter 2008, we couldn't get a gig anywhere and had to produce our own shows. We are happy to see it grow as quickly as it has, especially since NYC makes global trends. Ultimately, we hope to inspire many females, not just models, to become pro DJs. To reach this goal seems like a no-brainer, since our model/DJs are desirable role models, and we are paving a path demonstrating the viability of the DJ field for girls as well as of the economic viability of model/DJs to the industry for marketing, promotions, etc. When females joined their male counterparts in the niche snowboarding industry a few years ago, the resulting mass commercial boom is [what] STADJ aims for with model/DJs in the DJ industry and beyond. We plan to get there via a superb and continuously evolving roster of talents, growth in the top model category and maximum exposure at great venues and for great brands.
NCC: Why are club promoters eager to enlist your crew of DJs?
EM: Because every club promoter would love to have a beautiful female DJing, and the sex appeal and promotions opportunities are obvious. That said, most club promoters expect little from female DJs musically, either from prior experience with one or preconceived ideas along the lines of “girls can't possibly DJ.” We are single-handedly turning those experiences and pre-conceived notions on their heads.
NCC: What styles and techniques do you teach that make these DJs stand out?
EM: We put a strong focus on selection and night programming. Technique is really important, but to have a flawless selection is what makes a DJ stand out. Your average partygoer and even club-goer doesn’t go for DJs who scratch madly or spin electro on four decks, they go for music and programming. We work as a music cooperative. Once a client tells us what their music aims [are], the whole STADJ group goes to work on programming. I can say with total confidence, we know how to hype a crowd from just about every music style.
NCC: What do you hope STADJ to evolve into?
EM: We are shooting for the stars. We believe we are way ahead of the curve and, as a result, will continue to lead the emergence of this trend as an organized whole. We plan to evolve to a well-rounded roster including multiple supermodel/DJs, such as our talent DJ Adi. We plan to do merchandise, have a school/showroom space, and maybe one day have clubs like the Playboy clubs — only the hook isn't solely sex appeal, it’s super-beautiful and ultra-talented model/DJs.
NCC: What other places do you hope to see your DJs a part of and working in, in the future?
EM: We want to have a weekly residency in Ibiza [Spain], one that encompasses the nerve center of the clubbing industry. We decided to open STADJ in NYC because it is the mecca of music, style, fashion and modeling. Ibiza is the mecca of clubbing, and we hope to take our NYC momentum there soon.
NCC: How do you get your DJs booked at venues?
EM: NYC is our backyard, so we've come to know its nightlife. We use word of mouth and/or target the spots we want to play. We go for residencies so we can rotate our talents, and we have a lot of support from our DJ mentor team including DJ Vikas (www.vikassapra.com), DJ Matt Heckman (www.iamdjm.com), DJ Brendan and DJ Ian. They're some of the best in the city, so we get a lot of recommendations for spots coming from them as well.
NCC: What’s the biggest booking your DJs have had so far?
EM: We have headlined mega clubs like Mansion [now M2 Lounge], performing for 2,500 club-goers, headlined the W VIP Lounge at Bryant Park (during this past season of New York Fashion Week) and a week of private events in Malaysia for Formula 1 and Mercedes-Benz.
NCC: What are the DJs’ responses after their first gig?
EM: They're breathless from performance. They say it's an amazing experience and can't wait to do it again. Many say they want to transition to only DJing, but we are quick to point out that they have to maintain and grow their model work to be a STADJ girl because we don't do DJs, we do model/DJs, and there is a difference. Also, our model/DJs know that our manager mentors always have their back. They are never alone when they play, so they are growing their DJ acumen in the safest and most organized environment for them.