Meet the DJ
Alex Jay Johnson
From helping out in the local roller rink as a teen to DJing for Neil Young, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for Alex Jay Johnson. But, as we soon found out, his success comes down to a passion for music and a whole load of hard work rather than good luck…
Alex Jay Johnson is the highly motivated owner of DJ Felix Entertainment and held in high regard in his home county of Wisconsin. However, like many DJs, his early years as a DJ didn’t involve glamorous celebrity bashes or high tech gear. Alex got his start working in a roller rink – “Delavan Roller Rink, to be exact,” he says – after getting hooked on roller skating at age fourteen and being asked by the owner to help out with the afternoon sessions.
“I was asked to put some music on as the skaters came in the door for the afternoon skate. The amount of records was amazing! Since all the machines were turned on all I had to do was line up a record and lower the needle,” explains Alex. “As time went on I continued to play more of the music and bring in more CDs. I could see the skaters and how they reacted to certain songs, and thus I learned how to read a crowd. Just the energy from the crowd was enough to make me realize this is where I belong!”
Though 14 when he began cutting his chops as a DJ, Alex’s musical education started a lot earlier. After growing up in Walworth County (Wisconsin), he’d spent his childhood playing outdoors in the woods and swimming in the nearby lake with his friends. It was when he reached middle school that his love for a range of musical genres was born: “Middle school was when I really fell in love with music and began the entertainment life; high school is when I started my path towards the DJing I do now,” Alex says. “My friend Gary played a big role in helping me become the DJ I am today; helping me understand the older genres of music. I met Gary at a younger age and he has been a big part of my life since he pointed me in the right direction.”
It certainly was the right direction. These days, Alex runs a successful entertainment company called DJ Felix Entertainment, which sees him working more than ever before and taking his unique shows across the country. Where did he get the name though?
“Well, the story behind the name is short and sweet,” Alex tells us. “During the days of the roller rink, Don and Mary [owners] had a grandson joining them quite often, and his name was Jimmy. He was a young kid at the time and he always called me Felix. We never really understood why, but he did. As I started my business as a DJ, finding a memorable name was key – something easy off the tongue and which sounded good. I remembered Felix – and that was it! DJ Felix sounded way better than DJ Alex, and it sure was smoother off the tongue. I wanted people to know I was a business for hire and not just another DJ that plays only at clubs, so I added ‘Entertainment’ on the end...”
Through DJ Felix Entertainment, Alex plays all kinds of venues across Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as covering Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota, and works everything from fancy, high-class venues to outdoor events. He describes himself as a “mobile DJ in a digital mp3 music world,” and explains how he has “become accustom to the laptop world,” despite having learned his craft spinning vinyl just like the older days.
The music he plays obviously varies depending on his crowd, but Alex considers Top 40 songs his favorite to play. “Everybody knows oldies, but even mom and dad listen to today's Top 40, because there are more radio stations promoting the newer songs than there are playing classic oldies,” he explains. “Therefore, there is a better relation between the age groups when playing the songs everyone knows. Don't get me wrong I still love playing the oldies and classic rock, along with all the other genres of music, but keeping the floor full for a good portion of the night is what we like to see – and it makes great memories and awesome photos!”
Does Alex have any favorite tracks in particular to play, though? “There are a couple of songs I like to play back-to-back, and it starts the crowd off good!” He enthuses. “I start with ‘Celebration’ followed by ‘Love Shack’ and then into ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’. It's always – and I mean always – been a great mix to start the night off right.”
Setting himself apart from other entertainment companies in his surrounding area, Alex makes the most of having the largest club-style lighting show around, using DMX to deliver high energy displays and working the mic as an MC to create a winning package of great music, a stunning lightshow and positive interaction with the crowd. For this reason, Alex works just under 80 events each year by himself.
“With my large selection of lighting, including 83 ADJ effects, I offer the widest variety of lighting, as well as a 10ft high by 20ft wide lighting truss system by Global Truss and enough DMX cable to blow your mind,” says Alex. “I have everything you could possibly need at your next event, whether that’s fog, bubbles, lasers, monograms, pillars, up-lighting or projectors with 8ft by 8ft screens.” Interestingly, Alex’s DJ Felix Entertainment also offers a unique ‘spotlight entrance’ which involves guests of honor being spotlighted by his moving heads as they enter the room. “This creates a Grand Entrance that is top notch,” he explains, “and you'll never forget being in the spotlight as the center of attention!”
As with many DJs, the gigs Alex plays aren’t just memorable for his clients, but for him too. One that particularly sticks out for Alex was when an American songwriting legend was there. “I did a wedding for Neil Young's daughter, Amber Young, and he was present,” Alex says. “A lot of detail from that wedding is not talked about due to the level of secrecy, but we had a great time! It was held at a large hotel in downtown Milwaukee.” Another memorable gig for Alex was his set at Summerfest in Milwaukee: “You never forget coming up on the back side of a stage overlooking a healthy number of people looking back at you from the crowd,” he recalls.
While it was a childhood friend that inspired Alex to start his successful DJ business in the first place, he has also made a number of friends in the industry – including DJ Brian Redd – many of whom he relies on for any DJ-related issues that spring themselves upon him!
“We rely on one another for more support than you would think,” says Alex. “There is a select few I can bounce ideas off of when I really need help in a specific situation […] Social media has been the biggest help when I need to get a hold of one of my DJ buddies. With the instant messaging and texting improvements they can even help me out on the fly.”
It’s pretty clear that Alex, and indeed most of his friends, have an undying love for music and a passion for the art of DJing. But surely he must take some down time – to relax, to recoup, and to see his family?
“When I'm not DJing, I’m usually busy with advertisement and meeting with future clients and taking phone calls and so on...” Alex explains. “My wife and son are very understanding when it comes to the business. It does take up a lot of time during the week and when it comes to the weekend, well you can guess it: I'm not really home.”
That doesn’t mean Alex forsakes time with his family, though. Thanks to the success of DJ Felix Entertainment, they manage to take winter vacations on a yearly basis, to places like the Bahamas, Florida and Kalahari. But aside from these vacations, Alex is totally focused on his work as a DJ; telling us that he has very little time for hobbies, and introducing us to his mantra: “Why save work for tomorrow when it can be done today?”
With an attitude like that it isn’t surprising that Alex has some sound advice for up and coming DJs looking to succeed in the highly competitive world of DJing.
“Never sell yourself short,” he says. “Never DJ just to earn a buck: do it for the love of the music and the excitement of the crowd; for the energy, the passion and the satisfaction of a job well done. Just because people aren't dancing, it doesn't mean they’re not having a good time. Take the time to look around... Are they tapping their feet? Tapping their hands or fingers? Have fun and watch the crowd have fun with you; show them that a DJ is more than a person that pushes play!”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!
To find out more about Alex and DJ Felix Entertainment, you can connect with him online and via social media.
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