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DJ Profiles




DJ Profiles

Keeping it in the family

An interview with Mike Fernino of Music In Motion

Mike Fernino, along with his brother, Steve Fernino, have been a fixture in the Southern Connecticut scene for over 17 years. They are one of the few brother-brother combos on the east coast, and work exclusively as a dual operation. Mike's company, "Music In Motion," performs over 500 mobile events a year, with Mike & Steve hosting just around 200 of those events! "I never thought it would blossom into this success," remarks Mike, who started "Music In Motion," in 1983. Mike had to borrow all the equipment to do his first school function. " It went so well," remembers Mike, "that my father went out and bought me an entire system, because he saw a great future in this business!" Today "Music In Motion" employs 10 full-time DJ/entertainers. Back in 1983, DJs were not the first choice of brides and grooms. " People would come up to me at a wedding and ask if I was a band". After I told them I was a DJ, they looked disappointed. " It was my job to win them over and prove that a DJ could be entertaining and a professional, suitable option to a band," says Fernino.

The trade-mark of Mike has long been his theatrical background. In grammar and high school, Mike actively participated in drama club, and had major roles in several musical productions. Now, today, he applies the theatrical background to his performance. " The key to a great performance is to put your heart into it, get involved, and make sure every section of your show is flawless! The "Music In Motion" show became what it is today when Steve joined up with his brother back in 1988. " I had long wanted to put my wireless microphone to good use, and by adding Steve, I was able to move around, entertain, and be visible at a wedding! Steve could operate, and I could entertain. What a great way to work. Each person has his job, instead of one DJ doing everything!" Mike & Steve have become one of the most sought after DJ teams in Connecticut where the competition is fierce! They produce up-beat party events that stand out, and are remembered.

Mike explains the formula, "We begin with the best sound and lighting anywhere! Our equipment is concert tour quality, not just standard. I want realism in the music and sound. The people must experience the performance, not just hear it! We add state-of-the-art lighting with intelligent effects and lasers to bring the performance to another level. You should see the faces on people when the bride & groom are introduced, and the house lights go off, as the beams of the Martin 812's follow the bride & groom out onto the dance floor. They begin the first dance, and red hearts circle around the floor! We use our dry ice machine so the bride & groom appear to be dancing on a cloud. This is what we mean by theater at its best!"

"Our guest participation is all coordinated, and synchronized. I know exactly where on the floor I should be at a given moment. This all goes back to the theater! People love it when a presentation looks like you put a lot into it, not just threw it together. We have a stage where I lead a lot of the crowd interaction numbers. People really respond to an entertainer that gets out into the thick of things. At the same time, I take pride in not over-doing it. You can be too much and turn people off also. My bride and groom are the stars of the show, not me; I just keep it all moving at a smooth pace. I also don't dress myself up in costume, I dress up the wedding party and family members. A routine goes so much further with the guests when they see the groom dressed up along with the wedding party. I will often then put some props on to join them, but once again, I let them shine. It works!"

Mike's musical background also plays a major roll in the performance. As a kid, Mike was classically trained on piano by his father, who was a professor of music. Mike brings along a Yamaha midi-keyboard to play customized parts, along with a vocal processor, so he can sing in certain parts. During his hand-jive routine he will sing a part to the crowd, and then they sing it back to him. Some of their large weddings get like a live concert at times with 300 people squeezed on the dance floor all singing back their part; it has an electricity second to none! He has them captured and he won't let go. This pace is kept up to the last dance. When people are leaving, Mike likes to listen in to hear what they are saying to the bride & groom. He wants to hear them telling the bride and groom that this was the best wedding they had ever attended. "Nothing else is acceptable in my book." The climactic ending to the wedding is when the bride and groom are in the center of a giant circle, with all the guests around them holding hands. Mike counts down as people all together hug the guests of honor in the center. As all the people converge on the center, the giant confetti blaster showers everyone with a colorful mix of streamers. Mike & Steve say goodbye using a vocal processor, that produces a great effect on Mike's voice! "We usually end to a standing ovation, which is the ultimate achievement. The people appreciated what you did so much, they stand there and applaud in unison. I still get goose bumps!"

Mike firmly admits that he couldn't pull all this off without his brother Steve. "Steve is the man behind the scene. I get the credit, being the front entertainer, but I could never produce such a show without his help! Most DJs can only bring out so much. As a two person production, we just can do more, plus I have my other assistants to help in the large productions!"

A typical wedding with Mike & Steve includes props, lights, dry ice machine, confetti' blaster, neon night glow sticks, and a second sound system in case of emergency! Mike remarks, " I've been called the King of Overkill, but that's ok!" Mike &. Steve are big believers in back-up equipment. They carry a full complete DJ system in their truck at all times. In addition, Mike always brings 2 copies of the bride and grooms first dance. " Being prepared for an emergency is the mark of a professional," says Fernino.

Speaking of professional, Mike was just recently voted in as the acting director of his local association, the" Connecticut Professional Disc Jockey Association." Mike's duties include, assisting the president, organizing the itinerary, and determining the direction of the "CPDA." "I believe in this association. If DJs work together in a cooperation, they will benefit far greater, than if they go it alone!

We can learn allot from each other, and I have already learned so much from my fellow professionals! I hope they can learn from me!" Mike commands one the higher price ranges, in his market. When asked how to get the price you want, he replied, " Be worth it to the client! Give more, and try harder. Bend, be accommodating, always with a smile, and always take pride in your work!"






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