Hello Rochester: DJ Gabriel
Gabriel is a DJ, producer and songwriter. He’s been actively performing in the greater Rochester area for the past 6 years. He’s a vocalist and sound engineer for The 198th Army Band. He’s an FLCC alumni with an Associate Degree in Music Recording Technology. He can usually be found DJing at private events, colleges, bars, nightclubs and even for the Army!
1. When did you start DJing and what or who were your early influences?
I can probably pinpoint the origin of my DJ career to when I was eleven years old in my childhood bedroom. I downloaded a software called “Virtual DJ” and immediately fell in love with looping, sampling, messing with pitch and tempo and everything else involved with mixing music. At that point I was obsessed with all forms of Electronic Music. I’ve been a fan of Tiësto and Daft Punk since I was a child. As a teenager I was lucky enough to experience the rise of EDM with DJs like David Guetta, Avicii, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, among many other extremely talented DJ-Producers. I got my first opportunity to professionally DJ while I was a bartender at Oak Hill Country Club. It all started with one event that was pretty successful and ended up becoming a recurrent gig. This opened the door for several other DJing opportunities for other club events, private member-events, and eventually bars and clubs in Rochester.
2. What events and/or venues are your favorite to DJ at?
Events where the crowd is familiar and comfortable with each other end up being a blast to DJ for because people are just ready to have fun and let loose on the dancefloor. Whether it’s a group of high schoolers or a corporate event, if the crowd has the right energy it feels like I’m just partying with them. And of course, any opportunity to DJ outdoors in the summer is always great.
3. What are some things you consider when determining what song to play next at a gig?
The first thing is always reading the room and paying attention to things like the average age of the crowd, which usually gives me a good idea of what decade I can pull songs from (Everyone loves the songs they use to listen to as teenagers). I have tons of playlists with different vibes and moods that I can use to either fit or try to establish the room energy. And often songs just pop into my mind depending on what I’m playing at the moment, usually because these songs may have similar tempos, keys, or vibes. A lot of people may not be aware of the amount of time that goes into preparing sets, creating playlists and “auditioning” songs. It’s also very important to stay up to date with music charts and trending songs. My favorite trick is finding that one little group in the crowd that is just ready to party. Once I find out what music gets them going, it brings up the energy of the whole room.
4. How do you combine your talents of DJing, producing and songwriting into your craft?
I think one of the most useful skills I’ve gained in my experience playing music for so many different kinds of people is understanding and anticipating how a crowd may react to music. I’m able to watch and sometimes even experiment with how a crowd may respond to songs, or even sections of a song. This is something that has definitely changed my perspective when making music. If I’m making an upbeat electronic song, I try to imagine how a crowd might react if I played it live (I might even fantasize a little and imagine I’m playing it at a huge festival). The cool thing about playing so many hits by other artists is I can observe what people seem to gravitate towards and pick up on those tricks for my own music. On the flip side, I also like making chill beats that are essentially just meant to be played in the background while doing something else, which is exactly the type of music I might need to play at a function while dinner’s going on. So if I feel like a song I made could be played in either of those scenarios, I know it’s ready to be published.
5. How can someone listen to the music you create?
People can use my Artist Landing Page to listen and follow me on Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp. I’m hoping to release an album this year so make sure to follow my Instagram and Facebook (@lofigabriel), and to stay up to date with upcoming gigs!
6. Anything else you would like to add?
This past year has definitely been really tough for gigging musicians. I’d just like to encourage everyone to find ways to support our local musicians through these times and continue that support as we start getting together for live shows again.