On The Record: DJ 720
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Moving a crowd has always provided DJ 720 with an uplifting natural high. And now that he’s added video mixing to his arsenal, rocking crowds have taken on a whole new meaning.
The payoff has been huge, he said.
“It has opened up doors and helped me do gigs in places I wouldn’t have dreamt of. It has given me a new desire to push myself to be different and try to stand out,” said the DJ born Donald Dowd III. “I needed to embark in something new, (and) the visual appeal of videos was what I was drawn to.
“I figured if done right, it could be the next trend in clubs.”
Dowd, a purist of both scratch and boom bap basics, is a DJ with an esteemed appreciation for the old school crate carrying, pre-Serato days of DJ culture. These traditional attitudes are adopted to new school techniques.
A former DJ instructor at the Kalihi YMCA, he is also big on giving back. His role on the hit mixer team at 102.7 Da Bomb helps provide local radio listeners with blasts of energy on the regular. Mix show coordinator and fellow DJ colleague Jimmy Taco called Dowd’s work behind the scenes vital to the station’s success.
“I look at him as being my right hand man with helping me in all aspects of my job,” said Taco. “He never says no to any challenge and has always been super positive guy. His video mixing and editing are beyond my thought process.”
After nearly a year of research and gathering professional opinion he debuted his video mixing style on New Year’s Eve 2011, the biggest party night of the year. He has been an addict and proponent of the format ever since.
“We have a lot of talent here and the bar is always being raised which pushes me to stay on that level and try new things,” he said.
Dowd said the golden rule of a VDJ is to enhance and never deter the ebb and flow on the dance floor. His custom, heavily thought out edits and extensive library of hard to find videos put his services at an even higher premium.
The video mixing aspect is not for the impatient or the budget conscious, he said. The high cost of videos and venues not being equipped to run video pose the biggest challenges.
Dowd, who holds monthly residencies at NextDoor, Hula’s and Bar35, said he’s been able to overcome those challenges.
“Video mixing does not work everywhere,” he said. “Yes, you don’t want the focus to detract from the dance floor and have patrons looking at screens like zombies. It shouldn’t be the primary focus of the night unless the promotion or club puts it front and center.
“Now for lounges, bars, and smaller venues, videos gives patrons an alternative to sports or other programming. It holds customers longer, and in turn they spend more money.”
Dowd has taken his DJing a step further, integrating Instagram into his sets. It has been an instant hit, to say the least.
“As the music video plays, you can hashtag your photos and they will show up on the screen or screens the video is playing on, just as long as your profile is public,” he explained.
Already excited about the next undiscovered innovation that lies ahead in his industry, he said his actions will always exude old school values with next level intentions.
“I want to show that video DJing is more that some ambient loops or just regular videos that play and mix,” he said. “Also, I’m trying to learn new ways to present video and add other aspects such as lighting or projection mapping to help customize my sets. I would like show that videos can be catered to specific events and venues.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.