Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Kanoya.
Justin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
From a very early age, I had an interest in DJs (specifically radio DJs). I remember holding up a tape recorder to a speaker, while playing a record, and introducing a song as if I was on the radio. When I was in high school, I worked for a DJ company and would work house parties, school dances, and pool parties. In college, I worked on the radio station (so I was able to introduce songs for real) and DJ’d at the on-campus “nightclub.”
For several years after college, I didn’t DJ at all. Yet I still found myself gravitating toward the stereo equipment when I was at a friends house. I always enjoyed playing music at parties and seeing how people reacted to what I played. In 2002, I connected with a DJ who had his own company in San Diego. I started working events for him and did so for a few years. After branching off on my own, I began working parties of all types.
While I worked mostly weddings, you could find me at a small house party, big corporate events and Lululemon stores (this is important to note for later). I noticed around 2014 that my bookings were declining. This also coincided with increased responsibilities at my “day job” as a marketing and brand specialist with the Port of San Diego and increased responsibilities as a spouse and parent.
As someone who has spent a 20-plus year career in marketing and PR, I knew the primary reason for this decline was my lack of attention to this area in my DJ business. I simply was not devoting the time and effort needed to grow the business and increase my bookings. I was tired physically and mentally.
I was in a place where I knew either the day job or the DJing had to go. Keeping things as they were was not going to be fair to my co-workers and my DJ clients. To make a long story short… I quit the day job in May 2015, with a goal of redoing my website and start to book as many weddings as I could.
One of the first blog posts on my website was sharing the story of how I came to this major life decision. In short, I talked about how DJing in those Lululemon stores, meeting their ambassadors and seeing how the employees were treated and encouraged to live a life that is meaningful for them. In just a few days, the blog post went viral within the worldwide Lululemon community.
They invited me to DJ their leadership conference in Vancouver in October 2015. A month later, Fitbit was hosting an event in San Diego that I DJ’d. That is where I began to get more involved with Fitness event DJing and have now DJ’d events in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
I continue to DJ several weddings and other events in Southern California, but I love that I am involved in the fitness event niche too.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I can’t imagine anyone would answer “no” to this question. There will always be struggles, but I firmly believe the severity of a “struggle” is only equal to how you react to it. You can struggle and give up, or you can struggle and meet the challenge and find solutions.
When you do find solutions, the struggle does not seem so bad and turns into a valuable learning experience to use the next time things are not going so well.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am a special and private events DJ. I specialize in yoga and fitness and weddings. I say this because I really believe these event types require a very specific skill set; from music programming to MCing and reading the crowd and adjusting moods on the fly.
In this day, anyone with a Spotify account and a big speaker from Costco can claim to be a DJ. Therefore I approach my events from the perspective that I am providing my service as an event professional. From the equipment I use to the manner in which I host and facilitate all the activities that occur during an event, I do so with polished and professional approach.
And of course, I use music to create a journey throughout the event that creates memories and ultimately an amazing party.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Resourceful… I do feel like a “jack of all trades, master of none.” While sometimes I wish I had a better mastery of some things, I am embracing this characteristic as an asset. I can do a lot of things well, and when I don’t fully understand something, I will do as much as I can to figure it out — either on my own or by asking for help.
- Website: djkanoya.com
- Phone: 760-809-6951
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: djkanoya
- Facebook: DJ Kanoya Productions
- Twitter: djkanoya
- Yelp: DJ Kanoya Productions